Free Flight April, 1990

by Kurt Moser,

Windsor Gliding Club

Going over some old club records during the long winter months, it dawned on me that, for a small club, Windsor has done a fair amount of homebuilding. Considering that on average this club has never had more than twenty-five members, no fewer than eleven significant creations have emerged from club membersí basements.

Starting with the founding of our club in 1961, its existence was then based entirely on a Schweizer 2-22 which was built by club members from a kit and first flew in 1963. CF-OZS was flown for the beginning years as trainer and mainstay to 1966. It was later flown by the Chatham, Ontario Air Cadets. Henry Preiss joined our club about that time and, being a keen soaring pilot and a superb craftsman, he was soon involved in building an HP-11, a popular Schreder kit then. He finished the ship in short time and CF-PNK was flown in our club for several years. Starting 1968, probably because money was tight and used gliders were not available, at least five club members started a fierce homebuilding spree in the mid-60ís. All of them tradesmen, handy with tools, and used to working to close tolerances, they found building easier than buying. Werner Kilsch and Alfred Scott preferred wooden ships and were able to acquire plans from Finland for the PIK-3C, a derivative of the "Vasama" and considered comparable in performance to the then famous Ka6CR. The PIK-3Cs first appear on our flight sheets in 1968. CF-UXL is still flying in our club today, but the other, CF-WIP, was lost during an outlanding in 1986.

Having flown a Ka6 and PIK myself, I would say the PIK had an edge over the Ka6 in climb. The Ka6 however, made up for it in running a little faster. In any case, the two wooden PIKs were the only ones in North America and created attention when they were taken on many trips to US sites.

About the time these ships made their debut, Werner Kilsch, Henry Preiss and Hans Berg embarked on new projects. Each of them were building versions of the then emerging HP-14 kit. The ships were re-designed into side by side two-seaters with dual controls, retractable gear, increased span 58-60 feet, and full span 90į flaps. One, the RHJ-7 had a V-tail, the other two RHJ-8s had T-tails. Performance was 36-38:1 which was remarkable at the time for two-seaters. The ships were featured in the 1974 Soaring Sailplane Directory. The designation RHJ stood for "R" for Richard Schreder, "HJ" for Henry and Joyce Preiss. All three first flew in our club within a month of each other in 1970. CF-AJS (Henry Preiss), CF-AXX (Hans Berg), and CF-AJT (Werner Kilsch) were impressive to say the least. I can still see them come in for a landing, whistling with full flaps in a steep decent, a sight to behold, and for a while, ahead of anything comparable. Each of them was later sold, two to the USA, one to a western Canadian club. As far as I know, two of them are still flying.

In the mid seventies Richard Schreder developed a new bonding process which no longer necessitated riveting of the wing skins. Three club members embarked on projects using this new method. Henry Preiss was completing yet another two-seater, CF-FIN. With the cleaner wing, another increase in L/D performance was achieved in the RHJ-9 which was the shipís official designation. Not to be outdone, Hans Berg completed a 60 foot span single-seater in 1980, C-GBVF, called the RHJ-10. Hans made 500 km flights with this ship, both in Ontario and in Pennsylvania. It was sold to the USA and was lost a year later when it broke its tiedowns in a storm in 1988.

Dana Nuttall built a beautiful HP-18 from the original Schreder kit with the side stick. It was first flown in our club in 1968 and was probably the only HP-18 with a cg hook for winch launching. C-FETQ* was sold to someone in the Toronto area where it is still flying. (* C-FETQ was flown by COSA member Udo Rumpf in this yearís Nationals. ed.)

Henry Preiss left our club sometime in 1978. While working for Dick Schreder in Ohio, he completed the only HP-19 ever built (see free flight 5/81 pp14/15). The ship was an all metal 15m single seater with winglets and remark-ably good performance. Henry flew the glider at our a club whenever he came visiting until he sold it sometime in 1985/86. Of all the homebuilders he was perhaps the most active one. Amazingly, he is probably the only person I know who single handedly built a four bedroom home, a two seat RHJ-8 and trailer, all in the span of 24 months. Having built no fewer than five sailplanes from scratch, this article is a tribute to Henry Preiss, Hans Berg and all the other homebuilders who spent many evenings over long period of time in order to create their own dream ships. A salute to the homebuilders in our club and everywhere else.