The Altair was built between January 1956 and November 1958 with first flight on 20 December 1958. After a few flights the cockpit was lengthened and the glider flown by Cliff Gurr and Ron Adair to complete their FAI Gold C badges. Cliff set an unofficial Australian record for an out and return flight (between Gawler and Renmark) of 230 miles (368 km) in 1961. The glider was flown by only Ron and Cliff until Mervyn Waghorn joined Ron to fly it in the National Championships at Waikerie in 1967. For a period of time the glider was left in the care of some members of the Geelong Gliding Club. Doug Vanstan of the Geelong Gliding Club fitted a new canopy and rebuilt the aileron bellcranks to improve their operation. Subsequently the Altair was flown in competitions and at vintage rallies until the mid 1980s. On 31 March 1987 Alan Patching of the Victorian Motorless Flight Group purchased the glider from Ron for the sum of one shilling and named the owners as himself, Doug Vanstan and Ian Patching. It has been stored at Bacchus Marsh airfield since then.
The glider is the only 18 metre wing span machine to have been designed and built in Australia.
The Altair glider is a single place 18 metre span cantilever wing glider constructed from spruce and aircraft plywood. The laminar flow wing is completely covered in plywood with a ply balsa sandwich for the leading edge and the airbrakes are unique being located in the trailing edge of the wings. All these features were done in an effort to retain laminar flow over the wing and achieve a high performance.
The wings, empennage and top of the fuselage are painted white with the rest of the fuselage red.
Inscriptions & markings
The word ‘Altair’ appears on both sides at the top of the fin.