With help from a lot of sponsors three glider pilot veterans came to Renkum in the Netherlands. On the program, a flight in a glider.
When asked about the last time they flew in a glider, they start laughing: “Well, in September 1944!”
It didn’t look good arriving at glider-airport Terlet, home of the Gelderse Zweefclub. Cloudy, no sun en kinda chilly too. Would it be possible for Frank Ashleigh (92), Denzil Cooper (96) en Roy Roberts (92) to go up in the air today?
The big question everybody involved must have had, when they got up in the morning, seeing the grey sky.
And, how typically Dutch, that question stayed unanswered till the last moment. That didn’t made the pleasurable anticipation any less. But after pilot Arjan Vrieze’s briefing the sun came thru and everybody made a sigh of relief.
But the clouds weren’t disappeared yet. In good hope all left for the planes. The prospect of flying in these beautiful, slim and white gliders, the veterans were all beaming. “With which plane am I flying?” and “Which is mine?”
They were helped into the gliders asking a thousand questions about the completely different gliders as they once knew and telling their pilots all kinds of stories about the big Horsa’s.
When seated the last camera’s were checked as there was the intention to record the flights and stream them on big screens at the Renkum Airborne.
Then, suddenly there was a “Go’. And there they went, with approximately 10 minutes in between.
How different then a Horsa
The camera’s did their job and the veterans landed on Landing Zone Z, now the property of farmer Tinssen who intermediately cooperated when he heard the veterans wanted to land on his ground. Veteran John Crosson (KOSB) waited for them alongside the LZ. Also he arrived by glider in 1944.
Frank Asleigh had flew himself for a while “Arjan asked me if I wanted to make the turn. I tried to maneuver the plane as I would the Horsa.” He starts laughing: “But I didn’t steer steep enough and Arjan shouted More! More! Waugh, that really was different than the Horsa”
When asked also Arjan starts to laugh: “If I would have let him do this turn, we would have made a flight over Arnhem!”
The Horsa was much bigger than this glider. To make a turn with the horsaglider you only had to steer a small two degrees. The curve Frank was making was to gentle.
“If I would have done this with the Horsa, well that would have not ended well!” Frank was having fun: “It took three men to take me out of the Glider!” he laughed.
Frank, Denzil en Roy came out of the gliders with a big grin and that did not disappear from their faces anymore!
(Big thanks to Jan Boelens, Fred Hageman, Jaap Mons, Karel Noy and Jan Overheem for the images. To see all the photos, click on the picture above this article)