Project Police Take On Tehachapi; Find Gross Buffoonery

Russ Erb

Originally published August 1997

On Sunday, 20 July 97, about 15-20 hearty souls laughed at the Project Police Blue Flu and gathered at Mountain Valley airport in Tehachapi for a wonderful family barbecue. This shindig was catered by the Raven's Nest, with wonderful burgers, hot dogs, salads, and brownies high in fructose and well deserving of a Project Police A+ rating.

Prior to eating, the Project Police paid a visit to Jeff Byard's hangar to view the many sailplanes he talked to us about at the June meeting. The SGS 2-8 was disassembled and sitting in its trailer. We also inspected the Standard Austria "S", which you would swear was an early fiberglass ship, but it is all wood construction. The Slingsby T-21b side-by-side glider was there as well. It was surprisingly large, or at least seemed large from the side-by-side cockpit.

The Slingsby T-38 Grasshopper (well at the opposite end of the aviation spectrum from the Northrop T-38 Talon) was also on display. This primary glider had a very interesting structure that would be a good case study for a beginning engineering class. It seems that any piece of the aircraft that was in compression was constructed of wood. Any piece that was in tension was a wire cable. If you missed it, there was an excellent series of two articles about primary gliders in the June 97 and July 97 Experimenter.

Unfortunately, the Project Police had to cite Mr. Byard and the other members of his group with gross buffoonery. A few weeks prior, while lowering the Bowlus BA-100 Baby Albatross from the hangar ceiling where it was hung, something went terribly wrong and the glider broke loose and crashed to the floor, causing much damage to the glider. They were let off with this relatively light sentence because fortunately no people and no other gliders were underneath it at the time. The glider will eventually be rebuilt.

Meanwhile, as we were all having a good time, the event's organizer, Gary Aldrich was piloting one of the two towplanes, and flew for most of the event. While we enjoyed watching the operations, we really enjoyed waving to him as he took off, usually with our mouth's full! About the time we finished eating, Gary finally stopped to refuel and joined us briefly. The Project Police also inspected the towplane, and after asking many questions, approved it for return to service.

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Revised -- 8 April 1998