Historical information

The Slingsby T31 is a two seat training glider that came available in 1951. It is, in effect, a two seat version of the single seat Kirby Tutor. The T31 was marketed by Slingsby Sailplanes both as complete aircraft and kits of parts for assembly. The Australian Gliding Museum’s example (currently registered as VH-GDB) is one of five of this type to grace Australian skies. Three including GDB were assembled in Australia from kits supplied by Slingsby’s in England, the other two were delivered as completed airframes. To date only four remain of which two are airworthy. This aircraft began flying in at Caversham in Western Australia (the then home of the Gliding Club of Western Australia) in July 1956. It was badly damaged in a crash in June 1958. The wreckage was sent to Schneiders in Adelaide for repair. However, the Club decided against having the repairs done, opting instead to buy a new ES52 Kookaburra. After a couple of years, the wreck was purchased by a member of the Waikerie Gliding Club whereupon the glider was rebuilt with some modifications, including a more rounded and better streamlined fuselage nose. It returned to the air in October 1961 at Clare in South Australia. The ownership of VH-GDB passed through a number of clubs, including at Dubbo in New South Wales, Wimmera in Victoria and Pioneer Valley at Mackay in Queensland. Eventually, it came into the hands of Bill Riley of Tocumwal in New South Wales who held it in storage for many years. Riley donated the aircraft to the Museum. It has been restored to airworthiness and is flown at vintage glider rallies and on Museum open days.


This exhibit is an excellent example of a Slingsby T31 Tandem Tutor, a type of glider that was used by a number of clubs in the 1950s and 1960s for dual training of pilots to the solo capability.

Physical description

The Slingsby T31b Tandem Tutor is an open cockpit, tandem, two-seater glider with high, pylon mounted two piece wing supported by double, wire braced, steel tube struts. The glider is fitted with a main wheel, rubber-block sprung, wooden nose skid and steel leaf sprung, brass shod tailskid. The basic controls of aileron, rudder and elevator are not supplemented with pitch trim. Wing lift spoilers and both aerotow and winch releases are fitted. The instrument panels in both cockpits are fitted with an airspeed indicator, cosim variometer and altimeter. This red and silver painted wood and fabric covered aircraft is in excellent condition having been restored to full airworthy status by the Australian Gliding Museum.

Inscriptions & markings

SLINGSBY – T31b (nose – both sides)

DB Australian Gliding Museum (rudder – both sides)

It has been given Serial Number GFA/HB/12 and is registered as VH-GDB