(OPENSOARING, 18. october 2018, Boris Kožuh)
Vintage Glider Club, an international club of vintage glider fans Vintage Glider Club organises an annual autumn gala dinner at the end of the season. This year’s event took place in Volketswill, Switzerland on 6th October. On this occasion the prizes and certificates for the most remarkable achievements were awarded. The most distinguished award INTERNATIONAL RALLY CHALLENGE TROPHY was presented to our renowned friend Jiri Lenik from the Aeroklub Rana, the Czech Republic. This is an annual VGC award for either the best restoration or a newly built vintage glider.
At the International VGC Rally organised in Stendal, Germany, Jiri’s Šedy Vlk (Sivi Volk), already presented in OpenSoaring, was awarded a top rating. Vintage Glider Club (VGC) was founded in 1973 by vintage glider enthusiasts under the vision of Chris Willis. One of the club’s objectives was and still is to maintain and preserve the rich gliding history and to ensure that the machines which crafted the path of gliding history will still be there for the next generations. These unique machines should remain where they belong – in the air, under the clouds.
Chris Wills was the first and long-term president of VGC. We were introduced to each other in 2004 at the VGC meeting in Gliwice, Poland, where I participated with the glider Olympia 419. I do not know what attracted him more – my glider, Slovenia or my trailer. By the way, the trailer was far more vintage than most of the aircrafts while among the trailers it was definitely ranked first. It more resembled a railway wagon than a glider trailer. But for the lack of iron wheels, many might have mistakingly attempted to get on it. Chris Willis took this opportunity to invite me for an interview about the history of gliding in Slovenia and Yugoslavia. He also encouraged me to become a member of VGC so as to help found a club of vintage glider fans. This function has since then been performed by the Aeroklub Krila gora.
Let’s get back to our friend Jiri. Although I am completely ignorant of what the future has in store for vintage gliders, I can make an objective and yet emotionally coloured claim that this century will be characterised by Jiri himself. Besides having restored a large number of gliders, he has also completely rebuilt some of them, not to mention the ones he has repaired.
JIri is also closely connected to our country and the glider pilots. I have known him for many years ever since I acquired interest in vintage gliders. He first visited our country four years ago when he attended the event organised by the Aeroklub Krila gora – the »Slovene section« of the Czech club of vintage glider fans (POTK) at the airport Grobnik. The section so far consists of three members: Niko, Klemen and me. It was then that our guests from the Czech Republic flew in a two-seat aircraft towed behind a vehicle. They practise towing but only with single-seat gliders (e.g. ŠG-38 or Hols der Teufel). Jiri and Josef visited the airports in Lesce and Bovec, and on their way home also the airport in Postojna. Last year Jiri and some other Czech pilots attended the event Sinj Gliding, and on their way back they spent some time in Škofja Loka to check our new acquisition- Stingsby Skylark-2. In autumn he returned to perform some minor technical repairs. Thanks to Jiri’s reputation and his favourable report BGA issued a Certificate of Airworthiness.
For more than five years my Olympia has been most of the time at the airport of the Aeroklub Rana in the hands of Jiri who takes care of it better than I could. They became an inseparable »flying« couple – wherever he goes, Olympia accompanies him. He more than successfully competes with it at the annual vintage glider contest at Rana airport. Several times he was the only one to fly the complete discipline, although Olympia is always the only aircraft originating from the pre-war period.
On this occasion the friends from Slovenia and Croatia would like to congratulate Jiri on such a remarkable achievement. It is priceless to have such a friend in the world of aviation.
If the town of Ptuj organises the vintage aircraft event next year, we should definitely invite Jiri, since nowhere in the world could we find a more reputable guest than him. He might fly the plane Hols der Teufel, the plane that two years ago went into a tailspin at a low altitude. The pilot was not seriously injured while the plane was almost completely destroyed. Jiri has been repairing it and by the next year it might have been restored. As an illustration I am including a photo taken after the crash. I would also like to mention that the aircraft concerned is an elderly relative of my Olympia. Both aircrafts were constructed by Hans Jacobs: Hols der Teufel in 1928, and Olympia in 1938.