Historical information

The Golden Eagle is an original design by Geoff Richardson. Geoff commenced gliding in the early days of the sport circa 1933 in Melbourne, flying at Coode Island and Mt Frazer. In 1934, he began construction of a secondary type glider but scrapped it upon realizing that a better design was needed. He conducted further research and came up with a sailplane of similar size and general arrangement to the Grunau Baby but with a “Gull” wing using a Gottingen 535 wing section (the same as for the Grunau Baby). Geoff did all the technical calculations himself and even made up and tested a Casein glue for the construction. Geoff competed construction of his new sailplane (which he called the “Golden Eagle”) in 1937 and it was test flown at Laverton at the western edge of Melbourne in September 1937. On the same day, at Laverton, the Gliding Club of Victoria flew its new Grunau Baby 2 sailplane which it had imported as a finished machine from Edmund Schneider in Germany. The Golden Eagle was found to fly well, having a similar performance to the Grunau Baby. In the 1950s, the Golden Eagle was modified by rebuilding the front of the fuselage to enclose the cockpit with a Perspex canopy. A landing wheel was incorporated behind the skid. Spoilers were added to the wings and a trim tab to the elevators. The Golden Eagle has been flown with the VMFG (Victorian Motorless Flight Group) for most of its long life. When donated to the Australian Gliding Museum in 2016 by Alan Patching it was probably the oldest, continuously airworthy glider in the world. Having regard to the historical significance of the Golden Eagle, the Museum has decided to not to fly it anymore to avoid risk of loss or damage.

Significance

The exhibit is of great significance for Australian gliding history – the Golden Eagle is a flyable 1930s aircraft in excellent condition that was designed and built by an Australian gliding pioneer.

Physical description

Single seat wood and fabric sailplane finished with white wings, tailplane and rudder and yellow fuselage

Inscriptions & markings

Registration letters “FC” on fuselage nose port side, Australian flag, Vintage Gliders Australia and VMFG decals on rudder, “Golden Eagle” lettering in red on each side of the fuselage below the canopy, Aboriginal flag decal on port side of fuselage below the canopy.