Historical information

The exhibit is the prototype Kingfisher Mark 1 (serial number 23) built by Edmund Schneider Ltd and first flown on 8 July 1956. It was first registered as VH-GDH on 3 May 1957.

The ES57 Kingfisher is a small to medium size single seat glider that was designed to have similar control responses to the successful two seat trainer, the ES 52 Kookaburra, thus providing for a smooth transition for solo rated pilots to advance to a single seat machine. Edmund Schneider Ltd built nine Kingfishers and supplied kits for two more for construction by others. Harold Bradley (South Australia) built a modified Kingfisher with shoulder mounted wings.

Kingfisher serial number 23 was originally owned by the Waikerie Gliding Club (South Australia) (1956 – 1959). From 1959, it had a nomadic existence in the hands of a string of owners in New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory and finally Queensland, again.

In the early 1990s the glider was deregistered and flown as an ultralight sailplane. After a change in ownership, the glider was moved to Hervey Bay, Qld and re-registered as VH-GKN. After very limited use, the glider was sold again and placed in storage at Hervey Bay. In January 2004, the owner, who by then had moved overseas, entrusted the glider to Ian Patching and Geoff Hearn who moved it to Melbourne. Ian Patching returned the glider to flying condition in February 2004. Since then, it has been stripped and recovered with new aircraft fabric and requires finishing work.

The logged hours flown for the Kingfisher total approximately 190 hours from 549 flights.

The glider was donated to the Australian Gliding Museum on 3 June 2014.


The Exhibit is one of the Edmund Schneider Ltd gliders that was designed and built in Australia in the late 1950s. It is one of the four Kingfishers that are known to survive – the Bradley Kingfisher and two of the standard Kingfishers are known to have been destroyed – the fates of five are unknown.

Physical description

Single seat high wing wooden sailplane with plywood and fabric covering, in a partly restored condition.

Inscriptions & markings

Serial number 23