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Slingsby T-53b - A Story of Restoration


The T53b was designed in the late '60's as a two seat metal sailplane. At the time Slingsby Sailplanes were looking to the future and at the time that seemed to point towards metal sailplanes.

The Royal Air Force were considering the modernisation of its fleet of aging T31's and T21's used by the Air Cadet Volunteer Gliding Schools throughout the U.K. Slingsby, located at Kirkbymoorside in Yorkshire really coveted the huge commercial benefit of their new T53b being selected for the replacement for the Royal Air Force's Air Cadet fleet.

One aircraft was sent to the Ministry of Defence Evaluation Centre at Boscombe Down and following preliminary testing another was dispatched to the RAF Central Gliding School. However the project was doomed following a disastrous fire at the factory which nearly ended Slingsby's days. The T53B was not adopted by the Air Cadet Gliding Schools and the old T31's and T21's served the service for a further 15 years.

When Yorkshire Sailplanes took over the production they added their own modifications to this aircraft and it became the prototype YS53.

This example of a T53b was one of the prototypes, and is being slowly and very carefully restored by Phil Older.

Aircraft Details
Best Glide Ratio29:1 @ 48kts
Minimum Sink Rate1.48kts
BGA Number1787
Tail NumberCTD

A bit about Phil

After spending several years as a technical teacher in the U.A.E. and Kuwaiti Armed Forces Phil returned home to the Isle of Man during 1997. During previous visits to the Andreas Gliding Club he had heard of this Ex ATC demonstrator aircraft that was hanging in a barn used for storing peas on the farm that now owns Andreas Airfield. Further research revealed that it was a T53b and it had been damaged by a heavy landing some years earlier. The owner was actually considering scrapping it.

How it all started

Phil is an ex Air Cadet instructor from 635 VGS where he had heard stories of the T53b being flown at Burton Wood. He thought he had some spare time and a little cash and so a rescue plan was hatched. Negotiations ensued and for the princely sum of 750 Phil became the owner of a somewhat bent T53b.

Six months later thirty years of grime were removed and the fuselage transported to Phil's garage. The wings, flying surfaces and the tailplane remain at Andreas since a domestic garage is not of infinite size. Phil is not in a hurry, he feels that if the job is worth doing it is worth doing well. To date all the control rods and various other parts of the control system are off for professional; refurbishment. The frames around the undercarriage are currently being refabricated and reassembled.

Phil wishes to acknowledge the excellent help his is receiving from Slingsby, who now build the very successful T67 all GRP primary trainer. Also mentioned in dispatches is Geof Bailey-Woods, he was the original test pilot of the T53 and has inspected the work done to date. The work completed to date includes the fuse skins around the undercarriage, a new frame 5, and a new wheel box.

If anyone wishes further information about this rare glider then Phil can be contacted through any of the committee members of the Andreas Gliding Club.

© 2012 Andreas Gliding Club Ltd - Registered in the Isle of Man. No 104048C
Registered Office: Cranstal Cottage, Port e Vullen, Maughold, Isle of Man IM7 1AN