1. The History and Evolution
  2. The Glider Pilot Regiment's History
  3. The Record of the Glider Pilot Regiment

The History and Evolution

The Upward Bound Trust was originally inspired during the year 1961/62 when Sir Frederick Hoare, Bt. as Lord Mayor of London took as his theme "Youth and Leadership".

Research as to what positive action could be taken by the Lord Mayor produced the astonishing fact that little or nothing was being done to stimulate young people in the adventure of the air. From that moment the idea to form a gliding school for young people between the ages of 16 to 21 developed rapidly, under the guidance of Brigadier George Chatterton, who was working in the Mansion House for the Lord Mayor at that time. He had commanded the Glider Pilot Regiment during the Second World War 1939/45. A number of the glider pilots who had served in the regiment received the idea with enthusiasm. They formed the nucleus of the instructors of Upward Bound Trust under the direction of Mr. A. Procter, a member of the regiment and a qualified instructor. The first Trustees were Sir Frederick Hoare, Bt., Lady Hoare and Brigadier Chatterton.

Messrs. Airtech Ltd. were approached for the use of their airfield at Haddenham, near Thame, and in 1965 the Upward Bound-Trust was founded and accepted by the Ministry of Education and Science. The main principal being to instruct young people between the ages of 16 and 21 to fly gliders, and to obtain their A & B certificates. The remarkable part of Upward Bound Trust in the early days was that the staff were all volunteers from the Glider Pilot Regimental Association.

Participating in this training did not only introduce young men and women to the adventure of flying, it was considered that training was given in self-reliance, self-discipline and courage, to say nothing of the mastering of airmanship, simple air navigation, ground discipline and maintenance. The added benefits were also that there was considerable physical effort ranging from walking to lifting and pushing during a day in the open which lasted from 9.30am until evening. To enable all types to take part, the Trust itself has deliberately always subsidised all participants. The cost of this training was £15.00 and remained at this low level for some time rising to £20.00 in 1973. But, due to its restricted membership qualifications, was unable to qualify for government aid, as did most gliding clubs. Fund raising, to enable the Trust to function, was carried out by Sir Frederick Hoare and Brigadier Chatterton and others. Additionally, some of the young people were sponsored further, sometimes by the county education authority, sometimes by an employer.

This was the beginning, but the men of the Glider Pilot Regiment, twenty years after the last war, taught a large number of young men and women their own motto - that "Nothing is Impossible". The Upward Bound Trust was able to come into being through the financial generosity of: - The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths - The London Parochial Trust - The Dulverton Trust - Lloyds. - The Pathfinder Association - RAF.

But continuance of the Trust was another of its aims, because it carried out a worthwhile function to society as a whole, so some course pupils were invited to become 'staff members. Enough of these staff members, it was hoped, would gain the experience, skill and desire to become flying instructors themselves, join, and ultimately take over from instructors whose flying experience started in war conditions.

In the first ten years of operation the scale of the ground equipment had improved and consisted  of a dual drum diesel powered winch for launching, two tractors, an engine-less coach used as a launch point classroom, canteen, restroom and signals base, and a hangar measuring 40 by 60 feet. The flying side was catered for with a T21b, T31b and a Blanik. Additionally, the Trust also operated a privately owned Bergfalke II. The Blanik and Bergfalke enabled training and solo flying in a higher performance machine to take place. However, the majority of instructors and staff joined together in the early 1970's to buy and operate a higher performance single-seat glider. The glider chosen was a Pirat. This relieved the Trust of the expense of providing for the advanced flying that was necessary to gain sufficient experience to become an instructor and helped to maintain existing instructor standards. This in turn enabled the Bergfalke to be replaced by a second T21b and enabled the Trust to concentrate more on providing elementary training for ab initios. The Bergfalke continued to be operated on a private basis. These two gliders, Bergfalke and Pirat, were the first private gliders to be operated at Haddenham along side the Trust.

The main function of staff was to facilitate the smooth running of courses. They operated the winch, drove the cable-retrieving tractor, and maintained the equipment. They flew less than course members did usually, but sometimes when weather conditions were not right for initial flying training or when good thermal conditions prevailed, they were given greater opportunities for flight.

Flying has always taken place, weather permitting, on Saturdays and Sundays. Though in winter there is often only flying on Sunday. Pupils attended on either a Saturday or Sunday when the trust started. Nowadays, the trust runs the Solo Course on Sundays and the One Day Course on Saturdays. The One Day Course is only generally run from April until the end of September. This is to hopefully avoid disappointment due to cancellations due to the worse weather during the winter months. Each Solo Course pupil has in the past received and continues to receive 3 - 6 launches each flying day, thus the course duration is 8 weeks plus as the average time to solo is 45 to 50 launches. On any one day the total of Solo Course pupils on the airstrip varies from 4-6 although imminent examinations, holidays, or other personal reasons can lower the number on a particular day. The One Day Course is generally 8-10 people and the Trust likes to concentrate on young people groups, though adult groups are catered for.

The heaviest costs the Trust have to bear are fixed annual charges (certificates of airworthiness and insurance). The weekend only flying and the voluntary nature of the enterprise limits the utilisation of the gliders and consequently the flying income. The low price of the Solo Course training is deliberate. This is subsidised by income from the One Day Course and donations from Individuals and Business.

The Trust has evolved, as many organisations do, and in 1996 applied to the Lottery Commission for a grant to enable the fleet to be upgraded. This application was successful and £28,200 was awarded. The Trust used this money to help purchase two ASK13 gliders. An ASK8 had been purchased some years before. One of the T21b's was sold and went to Zimbabwe and the other one was sold to a syndicate and is still based and flown at Haddenham. The T31 was sold to a syndicate and although for many years it was based at Dunstable it has now returned to Haddenham. It is known all over Europe as the "Blue Brick". The other privately owned Haddenham based gliders are a Sport Vega, Open Cirrus, a Janus CT and the most recent arrival, an ASK6cr.



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The Glider Pilot Regiment

During the Second World War the first Airborne Units of the British Army were formed in 1942/3. Among them, was the Glider Pilot Regiment. This regiment was designed in order that the pilots of the gliders should not only be fully trained Glider Pilots but also trained soldiers who would be able to fight on the ground. All were volunteers.

The Royal Air Force gave these volunteers a full three months elementary flying course in powered aircraft at several of their flying schools, and subsequently advanced glider training. At first the Regiment was developed on the Battalion basis, but later it was changed to Wings and Squadrons and Flights, as it was based on the airfields of 38 and 46 Groups, RAF.

The training glider was an 8 seater named the Hotspur. The operational gliders were the Airspeed Horsa, carrying two pilots and 28 odd fully equipped soldiers - pay load 6900 Ibs. The largest, the Hamilcar, had two pilots and carried such loads as tanks, 25 and 17 pounder guns, trucks and Bren-carriers etc. Some 1,800 gliders were landed into operational battles of Europe, and 6,000 tons of men and equipment were landed in support of the Airborne Divisions. The gliders were towed by the RAF of 38 and 46 Groups flying bombers such as the Halifax, Sterling and Albermarle.

The glider pilots of both Wings fought on the ground in every capacity, suffering 50% casualties and winning over 170 awards for valour. After the disaster of Arnhem the casualties of the Glider Pilot Regiment were so great, over 60%, that officers and NCO Pilots of the Royal Air Force had to be injected, and these had the distinction of flying, fighting and dying in the Battle of the Rhine crossing.

The Glider Pilot Regiment served in Palestine and subsequently flew light aircraft and helicopters in the Middle and Far East, and with the Air OP Royal Artillery founded the now distinguished Army Air Corps.

The Glider Pilot Regimental Association is several hundred strong, and it is from this that the early instructors of Upward Bound were drawn. This is a living memorial to the Regiment, in handing on its high traditions in a practical manner to the coming generations of this Country.



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The Record

Glider Pilot Regiment

Battle Honours and Overseas Service

1943 -1957

Italy and Sicily

Greece

Yugoslavia

South France

Normandy

Holland

Germany

Palestine

Malaya

Total all ranks taking part in landings

409Officers
2,893Other Ranks
3,302Total


Total killed, missing, wounded and Prisoner of War - 1,500
Honours and Awards
D.S.O.3American Star3
C.M.G.1Polish Cross2
D.C.M.7Croix de Guere4
M.C.24A.F.C.2
D.F.C.28A.F.M.6
M.M.31M.B.E.8
D.F.M.52B.E.M.2
Total Awarded 172

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