The London Gliding Club is perhaps the most obvious neighbour to Dunstable Downs. Many of our visitors come to sit and watch the gliders take off, land or sometimes carrying out aerobatics.
The club was inaugurated 82 years ago at a meeting in Bloomsbury. The first flying meeting followed the next month in Guildford. The club did intend to be based to the south of London but couldn’t find a landowner to co-operate. They moved to a site near Tring for a short while and then moved to Ivinghoe Beacon where they stayed until, ironically, the National Trust asked them to leave for spoiling the peaceful enjoyment by the public – how times change.
The club moved to there present site in October 1930. The flat field in the valley was used to land. To launch the gliders they were winched to the top of the hill (just down from where the windcatcher is today) and then launched by bungee.
We know exactly were this picture was – the hedge in the background runs south from the windcatcher.Later the gliders were winch launched from the hill until the 1970’s
Now gliders are launched either with an aerotow (behind a Robin DR400) or winched into the air using a winch on the field.
In the 1970’s hang-gliding came to Dunstable Downs and initially the hang gliders were unpopular withthe club because they often landed in the field that was right across the gliders approach to their landing area. Eventually the two clubs came to terms and relations are quite amicable. In the 1990’s para-gliding came to the Downs.
For much more information about the London Gliding Club, and to book yourself a trial lesson, go to their web site; http://www.londonglidingclub.co.uk