As regular readers may have observed, my gliding club owns a number of gliders, most of which are vintage wooden birds. These aircraft are great and I love them to bits, but they're not terribly shiny
. They're old-fashioned and relatively low performance, and so it was decided that we needed to aquire a high-performance two-seater to use for advanced training and cross-country flying. A promising contender was located - a Schempp-Hirth Janus B
that a club in Victoria was selling - and the club exec commenced negotiations... at which point, a miracle occured!
Well, not a miracle exactly
. But a wonderful event. There's a fairly high-profile South Australian tech entrepreneur who's been in the news a fair bit recently: Simon Hackett
, the founder of big South Australian ISP Internode
, who has also been on the board of the NBN
, and has been most recently in the news for his company Redflow, the local pioneering makers of zinc-bromine flow batteries
. Anyway, my gliding club has a long history with Simon - we taught him to fly, and he's been a generous supporter of the club over the years. But he's really outdone himself this time. We'd worked all the numbers and figured out that we could just
afford to purchase this aircraft if we maybe removed another one from service, or rearranged the insurance setup we had on the other aircraft, or some such thing... anyway, it was tight but just do-able, with a bit of luck. And then as the purchase was about to go ahead, Simon stepped in and paid for the Janus. All of it. As a donation to the club.
This all happened very fast. Last week a couple of club members went to Victoria to look the Janus over - and they returned home with it in a trailer. It arrived at the airfield on Saturday, to our very great delight. And so may I introduce to you our very own Janus B high-performance advanced training glider!
Here we are after removing the Janus from her trailer, in the process of rigging it prior to flight. As a fibreglass two-seater, she's the heaviest aircraft we own. Given that rigging a glider involves several people holding the wings up in position while connections are made in the fuselage, one wag started referring to her as "the Janusaurus", a name which seemed to stick.
And here's the Janus in all her glory. Quite something, isn't she?
I was thrilled to get a flight in the Janus. Here I am just before launch, with instructor Derek in the back seat:
It's definitely going to take a bit of training and practice before I'll be able to fly the Janus solo. She's a very
different bird to the ASK-13s and Ka-8s that I'm used to. My initial impression was that she felt a bit like a very shiny polished barge to fly - heavy, smooth and stable. The stick was heavier than I expected, and the rudders really require assertive stamping-on to be useful - no delicate little rudder nudges for this plane! It has a completely
different feel to the vintage gliders I've trained on, and is more complex as well, being a flapped glider that also has water ballast tanks (good for racing). There's going to be quite a learning curve here, I can really see that.
Here's a few more pics of the Janus taking off and landing. Isn't she pretty?
The Janus is going to be such
a wonderful asset for my club. Not only is she beautiful to look at (which does tend to attract new folk more than our vintage fleet) but she's a modern-style high-performance aircraft that will make it so much easier to train pilots for the transition between our old trainers and fast fibreglass single-seat aircraft, which thus far has been difficult to do. Also she'll be perfect
for the regular club soaring camps in the Flinders Ranges and Blue Mountains, as she's got the performance to be able to easily handle those more challenging flying environments, and as a two-seater it'll be possible for less-experienced pilots to join in the fun with an instructor teaching them how to fly in unforgiving mountain terrain. But best of all, she's perfect as a high-performance cross-country trainer. I'm hoping to learn how to soar cross-country this coming summer, and it'll be so much easier and better to do so in an aircraft like the Janus. I can't wait!