Way back in the early Eighties my eagerness for any chance to fly any glider got me involved in several long aero tows ferrying planes I’d never flown before from one unfamiliar place to another. Predictably, those summer days got bumpier by the hour, and one time, about halfway along I noticed the port wing of that particular 2-33 flexing much more than its equally well beaten counterpart. That kind of observation, mid-flight, has a way of making you think.
About lots of things. First, pique at the seller for pawning off junk on an unsuspecting colleague. And if the buyer knew, fair enough, but then what about me? The more I thought about that, the less ‘pique’ seemed the right word. But who was at fault, or even at risk, was less important than having the aircraft hold together for just couple more hours.
That’s what I thought about most.
The wing was flexing right where that big aluminum strut attaches, no surprise. Inboard of there it’s stiff as a bridge. Rivets at that seam appeared the same as their counterparts under the other wing, but I watched them close during and after hefty bumps trying to detect any change… Like proving a negative.
Okay, so maybe it’s not an acute problem. But even if it’s been this way for years it’s still critical, isn’t it? Shouldn’t someone know about this? Never have I been so impatient to get back on the ground.
After finally landing I tried to keep personal feelings to myself while making a big deal about the floppy wing. The guy who took the paperwork didn’t seem concerned, so I grabbed the tip and shook it up and down, boing boing boing. Made me queasy, but impressed no one else…
Okay, caveat emptor. I wouldn’t be flying it again, that’s what mattered most. Then we climbed into the Bird Dog and headed home.
I never saw or heard of that glider again, knew nothing of its obviously long history beforehand, and to this day know almost nothing of its perhaps more important history since. I could have tried to keep track of how the floppy-winged bird and her new owner fared, but this was before the internet and I had no clue how to gather such information.
That’s easy these days, and when ultimately I did look up the N-number it had been deregistered… Had they decided it wasn’t worth fixing and declared it a wreck — or did they fly it broken until it came apart and was destroyed, along with maybe a victim or two?
No, a little more research revealed the aircraft was sold to someone in Canada in 1989, several years after the day I flew it. Had it been fixed? One would hope so, but given what we’d seen before, who knows.
Then, of course, it would have been reregistered Canadian style (all letters, no numbers). Does it still fly? And if so, how ‘bout that wing? All such information is available these days, somewhere…
Uh oh, now you’ve got me pawing through dusty old logbooks, wondering about any number of other heavily weathered beaters I toiled in back when, and what they’re up to now. Looks like this could take some time. Cancel all my appointments.