The Fabric Hangar

When the Club had to leave Tarrant Rushton, we eventually settled into Henstridge, where, because of the limited space, we were restricted to aero-towing only. We also had to rig the gliders every day before flying, and as a result, the T21 fell out of use.

After a while we were invited to take a glider to Old Sarum and share the facilities with the Bustard Flying Club. They were the only people operating there at that time and had about 6 or 7 powered aircraft housed in a huge hangar. It was decided to give it a trial so we took the T21 there together with a winch and operated this as a second site beginning October 1981. One instructor, a handful of enthusiasts, and, 75% of the hangar, just for our one glider and kit, unbelievable.

The Bustards rarely flew, sometimes only one or two flights a day and were more than happy with our presence and eventually suggested that we might move the whole operation there, which we eventually did.

We were able to house all our gliders in the hangar and all was right with the world for a time. Then the company building the ill fated Optica aircraft moved in and, of course, used the hangar for their own purposes. The Bustards also had to leave the hangar but were offered alternative hangarage.

There was a large concrete area which had once been the base of an ATC hangar and permission was granted for us to put our own hangar on this base and take over a nearby old wooden building as a Clubhouse.

Problem, big hangars cost big bucks, and we simply didn’t have unlimited funds.

Barry Thomas did some digging around and found an Ex MOD hangar that had been used in the Falklands. It would fit the concrete base and we bought it on the understanding that the covering had a ten year lifespan.

We had a wonderful time erecting it over a long week-end. The huge frame went up with the aid of a forklift truck and a couple of monkey like members with spanners. Then came the real fun, getting the cover on. Eventually we found a way and everything fell into place and was laced up securely. We had a home for the gliders.

Some time later when we were well and truly settled in, there was a disastrous fire in the main hangar but we were snug in our fabric tent.

When we moved eventually to Eyres field, we had a base laid there and took down the hangar and re-erected it on site. We knew the pitfalls then and did it all within a couple of days. It has given incredible service for about 26 years.

Dennis Neal