Gliding and Motorgliding Magazine
The online magazine community for glider pilots worlwide
Home News Features Stories Shopping Gliding Photos IGC Editor - Val Brain
  The Development Of The Modern Standard Class Sailplane  
  By Ron Baker
Issue 3/2002

 
 

Ron, from Queensland, Australia, says "There are obviously gaps in this article and if I have missed out your favourite glider, then I apologise, It was extremely difficult to know what to leave out and what to put in". Ron, who has 1000 hours, flew his Silver distance in a Skylark 4 in the UK from Yeovilton to Old Sarum and gained two Diamonds out of Lake Keepit, New South Wales, Australia, in his Club Libelle (H205) VH-GJY.

The events leading to the formation of the Standard Class (originally called the Restricted Class) are somewhat clouded with the passing of the years. However based on the best available sources (Piero Morelli, Ian Strachan, Martin Simons and others) the following chronology is as close to the truth as possible.

The first date when the concept of a Restricted Class (later becoming the Standard Class) was discussed by the Commission Internationale de Vol a Voile (CIVV) was at a meeting in Paris, France, in February 1957. A design competition was devised and at the World Gliding Championships (WGC) in Lezno, Poland, was the first Standard Class competition. Adam Witek flying a Mucha Standard won it. During this competition the Organisation Scientifique et Technique du Vol a Voile (OSTIV) jury inspected and flew the various entries, with the ASK6 winning the design competition. Note, The ASK6 was variously called K-6, Ka-6, Schleicher K-6, Ka-6br, Ka-6cr etc. (K-6 is the GMI house style. Ed.) And the only certain thing is that over 4000 were built. There were later designs, in particular the Polish Foka series that out performed the ASK6, but none ever achieved its popularity.

The K-6 photographed, like the other sailplane pictures in this article, by Neil Lawson of The White Planes Co.

The design rules were quite simple. In essence they were, span 15 metres, no flaps or other camber altering devices, terminal velocity limiting airbrakes, a fixed undercarriage, no jettisonable ballast, no radio and no two-seaters.

The modern Standard Class sailplane came into existence with the advent of Glass Reinforced Plastics (GRP). And the first production GRP sailplane to fly in competition was the Bolkow Phoebus A. The Phoebus was a development of the FS24 Phoenix, the first "plastic sailplane". A Phoebus flew in competition in 1965, but I am uncertain if this was a WGC Standard Class event.

First flown in 1967 and utilising GRP, the Glasflügel Standard Libelle H201, a development of the "Open Libelle", rapidly became THE glider in Standard Class competitions. For low time pilots, the first off field landing was somewhat daunting, with the small air brakes. Speed control being vital!

A long forgotten fact is that early Standard Libelles had a fixed undercarriage! As did the Slingsby Dart 15. The Dart 15 was a composite construction, largely of wood, but with a GRP nose. When retracting undercarri