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Record 17 of 291
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[Thomas Leech on glider, North Cronulla sand dunes, Easter 1932] [picture]
Bib ID 979866
Format PicturePicture, OnlineOnline
Online Versions
Description 1932 
1 photograph : gelatin silver ; 16.3 x 11.4 cm. 

Thomas Leech is sitting on a glider on a beach at North Cronulla in 1932. The pilot seat is a chair made out of wicker. The glider rests on a track. In the background 2 onlookers.


In June 1929, the National Geographic magazine published an article, with 40 photographs, detailing gliding activities in Germany. This article sparked interest in gliding in many countries around the world including America, Australia, Japan and South Africa. In South Australia both the Adelaide University Engineers Gliding Club and the Gliding Club of South Australia were formed within hours of the magazine's arrival. The Gliding Club of S.A. bought a primary glider from Percy Pratt of Victoria, for $200. Their machine arrived, by train, at Parafield on 31st December 1929 and they were operational before the University Engineers, who spent their summer vacation building their glider for a total cost of $34. The first club-built primary glider in South Australia. The Aero Club's Chief flying instructor, Mr. George Kenneth Rice-Oxley, took quite an interest and instructed for both clubs. He had Frank Roberts, an Aero Club aeronautical engineer at Parafield, build him a glider based on German plans.

The design was refined somewhat, covered with silk instead of cotton, and with fairing behind the pilot. In August 1930, Rice-Oxley broke the British Empire gliding record while slope soaring for 62 minutes at Sellick's Hill, south of Adelaide. Not bad considering most primary glider flights were of about 2 to 3 minutes. Rice-Oxley's flight caused a young engineer, Laurie Davey to sell his partially completed powered biplane to futially completed powered biplane to fund his design and building of Australia's first sail-plane. With the experience gained in the biplane, he used the photos and descriptions in the 1929 National Geographic as a basis for his design. His 62ft wing-span "Miss Australia I" was completed at Blackwood, in the Adelaide Hills, in August 1931. During the mid 30's there were no fewer than 10 gliding clubs in South Australia, using primary gliders.


Inscriptions: "North Cronulla sand dunes, Easter 1932", written in pencil on verso.

Condition: good.

Title devised by cataloguer from inscription and reference.

"D. Grimshaw"--Written in pencil on verso.

Also available online

Subjects Leech, T. D. J., (Thomas David James) 1902-1973 -- Portraits.  |  Gliders (Aeronautics) -- Australia -- Photographs.  |  Engineers -- Australia -- Portraits.  |  Cronulla (N.S.W.) -- Photographs.
Occupation Engineers.
Terms of Use No copyright restrictions. 

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