Saturday 31 August 2013

Rhodesian Gliding Incidents

I was concerned that I personally had not seen or much on Rhodesian Gliding.

 A couple of article were compiled and loaded. please see the links below.

Opening of Umtali's Gliding Club

The Aileron Flutter

I then approached Mitch Stirling, Bob Manser and Mike McGeorge, Mitch and Bob agreed to help where possible but Mike sent in these photographs of Gliding incidents.

Please if there is anyone who can jot down a few memories our gliding please do so, it would be wonderful to get the opening dates etc and if anyone has magazines from our era would they please consider seeing if there are any worthwhile articles and advertisements (costs)

    Nr1: Remains of Slingsby Tutor, landing accident, pilot Alf Thompson.  Place: Thorn Park airfield,        Salisbury, Situated 10ks out on the Mazoe road, on the right, just past the present polo grounds. 1958.

Nr 2: Remains of Schleicher Ka 6 cr, Glider No 40, involved in towing accident when the tug, a Super Cruiser, hit a tree on take off, causing pilot Derek Ebden, to release tow rope, stalled trying to return to the airstrip.  Pilot broken ankles. survived.

Nr. 3 Vic Ginns, who restored the Ka 6 -40, handing over to syndicate member, John McGeorge on the 27th September, 1970 at Warren Hills, Salisbury.

 Nr. 4: Grunau Baby, landing accident, Thorn Park, Salisbury, pilot Alf  Thompson, view looking at the top of the wing,1958.

Nr. 5. John Cooper by task board, prior to his fatal accident at Mazoe.

Nr. 6:  Remains of John Coopers crash at the Salvation Army Howard  Institute, Mazoe, 1968.

Nr. 7  Result of incipient spin at Warren Hills, after releasing early  whilst on tow, Glider Spatz, pilot Godfrey Brown,. survived breaking both  ankles.

Nr. 8 : Godfrey Brown, pilot of the Spatz accident.  

Nr. 9. Rhodesian competitors of one of the annual competitions at Warren Hills Salisbury in the 70s

 l-r Unknown, Rad Sutcliffe (Gwelo), killed in accident at Gwelo., Mike McGeorge, Theo Coster, Harvey Quaile, (Gwelo), Peter Carlsson, killed in Super Cub accident, Warren Hills. John McGeorge.

Nr 10 Another view of Alf Thompson,s landing accident at Thorn Park, See Photo Nr 4 

Nr. 11 Slingsby Tutor before accident at Thorn Park, Salisbury 1958, see Photo Nr 2

Nr. 12. Alf Thompson, pilot in the Tutor accident, photo No 1, and the Grunau accident photos, No 4 and 10. He survived.

Nr. 13.Showing one of the wings that separated whilst pilot Di Fowler attempted a loop just under cloud over Mabelreign. The glider a Schleicher Ka 6. Fatal. Warren Hills 1970.

Nr. 14 This is another view of photo No 7. Relating to Godfrey Brown,s accident in the Spatz at Warren Hills, being attended to whilst waiting for the ambulance


There are these clouds and my glider. The earth is far away,
shut out by the cockpit perspex, smudged by the deep blue air,
her sounds muffled by the wind past the glider,
smells stolen by the height. And there is an estrangement growing
between me and the earth.

I should go down and land; struggle out of the cramped cockpit
and the parachute harness; and walk the warm mother again,
breathing her air and smells, humming her tunes.

But then I would never see the clouds so near again,
and each of them, overhead, would catch, like the earth today,
at a thin scar-string of a bygone love. 

Comments are always welcome, please mail them to Eddy Norris at 

(Please visit our previous posts and archives)

Ref. Rhodesia



At 3 September 2013 at 15:30 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Mike Daly (Air Rhodesia) Writes:-

Nr 2: Remains of Schleicher Ka 6 cr, Glider No 40, involved in towing accident when the tug, a Super Cruiser, hit a tree on takeoff, causing pilot Derek Ebden, to release tow rope, stalled trying to return to the airstrip. Pilot broken ankles.

Derek Ebden worked at Air Rhodesia as a “radio basher” during my time there. Really nice guy.

At 3 September 2013 at 15:31 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Julie Robins (UGHS) Writes:-

If you give me some time I will be able to put together a few facts for you about the Gliding activities at Grand Reef Aerodrome where my father - Ben Prescott - was an enthusiastic but often solo participant. He built his own glider at one point - a Baby Grunau I believe - and had more than one crash, once with my brother Frank on board (I think he was about 3 at the time). On that occasion I believe Dad fractured his spine - my mother was furious with him for taking Frank up, but men will be men!!

Harvey Quail who is in one of your photos was involved at one point but interest dwindled and Dad had to train a young African to drive the winch and a local kid to run with the wings when he was being launched. Karl Wolff (sp?) eventually joined him out there but I think the demands of his farm eventually meant he had to give it up.

I remember some nice Sundays out at Grand Reef around 1967 or so - it's where I learned to drive and I have a very strong memory of dad 'beating up' the runway when Mum and I were practicing in the car - he thought it was very funny, but I did not!

I'll get back to you soon, although no doubt your article will generate lots of responses. Pete (Robey) is very heavily into gliding and I have forwarded your article to him - I'm sure it will be circulated around his gliding club in Lasham where they have a very large and enthusiastic Vintage Gliding section.

Best wishes

(Judy - when you are ready then start writing - you must be in tune with the subject to write about it. Eddy Norris

At 3 September 2013 at 15:32 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Hal Bowker (RhAF) Writes:-

Just a quick note, I was busy writing about these gliding accidents as I knew a lot of these chaps and flew with the Gwelo mob. I don't know what happened to all that I wrote which was very incomplete and only half of it. It might have dissapeared into cyberspace or ended up in your inbox?? If you find it please delete it, I would like to Finnish it on my computer instead of this silly cell phone!

At 8 September 2013 at 10:00 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Gomo (BSAP 6017) Hill Writes:-

I was member i/c Concession when the glider crashed at Howard. I had to fetch the body and do the sudden death docket. It could well have been me taking the photo or in the group of 3 just behind the landrover. The SDD will have long ago been destroyed. However Doug Seccomb of BSAP was also at the scene – cannot remember if he was Mazoe/Mtoroshanga/Umvukwes at the time. Doug was last heard of as the Methodist Minister at Newcastle some years ago. He was a renown chronicler and might have some info.

At 10 September 2013 at 10:13 , Blogger Eleanor said...

Have I missed the story about Mike (or John) McGeorge with the snake in the cockpit?

At 10 September 2013 at 11:41 , Blogger Unknown said...

I was a jnr member at Gwelo in 77/78 - 12-13years old at the time - learned to drive in the old Peugeot bakki towing winch cables back down the runway! Used to drive the winch also - was learning to fly in the Blanic and the old BF they had there at the time. I remember Harvey Quail in the photo above and also Rad Sutcliffe's accident. The other guys look familiar but names don't ring any bells! My father was also involved with the club - Chris Pollard - He was in the BSAP, now lives in the UK

At 13 September 2013 at 10:59 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Your recent roundup of glider accidents included a photograph (Number 13) of the wreckage from a tragic fatal accident over Mabelreign. The photograph brought back memories as the house featured in the picture (see below) was my home in Bluff Hill.

The accident took place over a weekend and occurred while I and the family (wife and two small children aged about 5 years and 3 years) were out for the day. Although the accident is listed as having taken place in 1970, I seem to think it was a little after this date and probably around 77 / 78.

It was very fortunate that we were out for the day as the children could easily have been playing in the garden at the time as evidenced by the trycycle that can been seen in the picture. The family dog, that can also been see in the photograph, escaped injury.

By the time we returned home from the outing, most of the major pieces of wreckage had been removed from the scene.

Our neighbours, Steve Stevens and his wife Mary, came across to brief us on what had occurred. Steve was, at the time, a high-ranking policeman in charge of Morris Depot and the power behind the mounted escorts that were a part of every opening of Parliament.

Apparently the BSAP and glider club officails rushed to the scene of the accident. The fuselarge with the polit still strapped in was buried in a piece of open ground about 800 meters away from the house with the one wing landing on the house and a tremendous amount of smaller pieces of wreckage from the other wing spread out on the opposite side of the house and across two other properties.

The dog, a cross Labrador / Bull Mastiff that wnet by the name of “Nelson”, did not take kindly to the incident and attached one of the policemen when he entered the property as part of the investigation team. Mary Stevens administred first aid to his leg and he got on with the job while Steve kept the dog at bay.

The insurance claim involved repairs to the tiles on the roof, the replacment of two beam trusses and some minor repairs to the plumbing fixtures.

Kind regards
Brian Streak
(Ex: RhAF and RLI) TA

At 20 September 2013 at 14:33 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Mie Hamence (RhAF) Writes:-
(Image 13 refers)

The glider was a Schleischer Ka 6B, CASA (Central African Soaring Assn) registration: '09'.
I had bought a share for R$900 in this aircraft from Clive Booth (RhAF Avionics) in January 1973; sold the share about a year later & moving on to the slightly more advanced Ka6CR CASA '43'.

During one air tow at Salisbury GC in '09' the aircraft hit a large thermal; there was a tremendous 'bang!' behind the cockpit. I called the ground, but CFI Doug Elliot's voice drawled, "Ah get on with it!"

Nevertheless I cast off and landed tout de suite.

'09' was a nice little aeroplane.

More from Mike
I wrote that "the glider hit a large thermal and there was a tremendous 'bang!' behind the cockpit",
Please add: "No, I had not had the infamous Cashel Valley baked beans for breakfast"!
As ever,

At 15 April 2015 at 14:55 , Blogger Tezza said...

I was a member midlands gliding club 1970 - 1976 Recall Harvey rad Charlie Mogg Gerry and Alan susman all Harvey's family some here in UK Great days miss you all and them days by way Im terry Bowen

At 11 February 2019 at 15:53 , Blogger Unknown said...

To John Hepple In answer to a write up from Mike Hamence. Thank you for correcting the information on Tony Churcher. I am Lynn and Tony was my Husband at the time, he sadly passed away from cancer in 1975. Tony taught me to fly during our marriage and membership at Midlands Gliding Club Gwelo.
Judging from your write up I gather you were a pupil at Chaplin School, hence your correct knowledge of Tony for which I thank you. I had my accident in 1963, yes I did smash both my legs as well as broke my pelvis my left collar bone and cracked my skull. I was in a wheelchair for a considerable length of time but since 1972 have walked with a prosthesis and get about fairly easily. I live in the UK now, but Tony's daughters live overseas, one in Adelaide Australia and the other in South Africa. I am sure if Tony was still alive today he would be walking proud as he would have been a grandfather to a great grandson. Should you wish to contact me my email address

At 11 May 2019 at 08:49 , Blogger Unknown said...

To day I just found this site on gliding. I was one of the owners of 09. This brings alot of fond memories back of excellent times. I left Zim for SA and now reside in Australia. Love to catch up with any one.Best wishes. Clive Booth.11May 2019

At 30 May 2019 at 15:18 , Blogger Unknown said...

Is there any more information about the accident in the Spatz at Warren Hills?

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