Byron Gliding History

HISTORY OF THE BYRON BAY GLIDING CLUB

By John Duffy

Tyagarah Airfield

The idea for a gliding club came about after a meeting of interested people at Dieter Horstman’s home at Ewingsdale in the early 1990s. The first operations were conducted from the western end of the Tyagarah strip using a Grob 109B motorglider belonging to Dieter. This aircraft was stored in the large Council owned hangar there and was derigged after each days flying with its wings folded back and slung from the tail unit to fit along the side of the hangar. This was heavy work but the members then were much younger and stronger!

The Byron Power Gliding Club was officially established in 1992 with its inaugural meeting being held at Tyagarah Airfield Community Hall. Giles Taylor, a local doctor at Mullumbimby, was elected as the club’s first president. Jack Iggulden, who was the Gliding Federation of Australia’s first member, became the club’s patron. Ian McPhee agreed to be the first “long distance” Chief Flying Instructor as at that time he was still living and operating at Lake Keepit Gliding Club near Tamworth.

Brian Marshal - Instructor
Brian Marshal – Instructor

Brian Marshal

Brian Marshall, Giles Taylor and Brett Iggulden, Jack’s son, were initially endorsed as the club’s first level 1 instructors at the Grafton Gliding Club in 1993, they later upgraded their ratings to Level 2 at Lake Keepit. There were about 15 members in the fledgling gliding club and apart from the 3 instructors these included Dieter Horstman, Rick Hutgren, Chris Newns, Alan McKillop and Chris Kelman.

The first real proposal for the airstrip at Tyagarah came in February of 1970 when a committee was set up to investigate the possible construction of a 3000 foot strip there. The land on which it was to be built was owned both by the Byron Council and the Dept of Crown Lands. The first 1000′ on the western end was owned by Byron Shire Council and the remainder, about 2000′ on the eastern end, was Crown land for which Council had to obtain a lease. Construction of the airstrip began in February 1971 with many district people providing a great deal of voluntary work in conjunction with machinery loaned by the company Wendell-West, then the proprietors of the Ocean Shores landholdings where the community of Ocean Shores is today. Land was set aside on the council’s portion for private enterprise, the first applicant for its use came from Air Gold Coast. Later the Tyagarah Aero Club was formed which used the council owned hangar and a community hall was built as well.

At first with very few facilities operating improvisation was essential and, with no windsock available, the initial substitute was a small fire, so that incoming pilots could see the direction of win by the drift of the smoke. The fire, however, didn’t stay small, escaped control and threatened to burn out the whole strip. Showing great ingenuity, the committee then erected a pole to which they attached a 30 foot length of toilet paper as a substitute windsock.

Following an engine cylinder head cracking on the Grob after a flight to Lake Keepit Dieter decided to return this aircraft to Germany for repair where it was subsequently sold. The club then approached Petar Novakovic, a Gold Coast eye specialist, and he allowed members to use his Grob 109B, VH XQG. This was leased by the club along with an option to buy if required. However Petar soon faced an ownership dispute with another party over this aircraft and the club was forced to look for an alternate aircraft. After several meetings at Dieter’s new home on his property adjacent to the airfield at Tyagarah it was agreed to buy a Schiebe SF25B Motorfalke with a 1200cc Stark Stammo engine.

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