C.Jerzy Polish Aircraft 1893-1939 (Putnam)
Glider of the Piotrkow School Students
Five schoolboys from a secondary school in Piotrkow Trybunalski, Jan Gorzyriski, Lucjan Koenig, Waclaw Konarzewski, Stefan Laskowski and Jan Strahler, showed a great interest in aviation. Construction of kites was their favourite pastime. Their kite designs progressively improved and on some occasions were launched with a cat as passenger.
News about the first achievements of the early pioneers of flying excited the imagination of the young enthusiasts and encouraged them to undertake more ambitious tasks. They decided to build a man-carrying glider. Their design was based on the book by Michal Krol How to Build a Glider, which they obtained in Warsaw, but when they wanted to order 80 m (262.5 ft) of bamboo, which had to be imported from Japan, and other necessary materials they found they could not possibly afford the expense. They postponed their plans, but did not abandon them. For three years they patiently saved all the money they could until the required sum of 50 roubles (about ?5) was raised.
Then the materials were bought and construction of the glider began. Due to lack of tools and experience, the work progressed slowly and was frequently held up by the difficulties encountered. The original design was extensively modified, ailerons, rudders and elevators, which were absent from the glider proposed in Krol's book, being added. The craft was easy to dismantle and its components were kept in a small shed hired by the students, which also served as the workshop during construction of the glider. When the aircraft was finally completed, three and half years after the students first decided to construct it, a new difficulty arose. To fly it, special permission from the Russian governor had to be obtained. The whole matter was referred to officials in Petersburg and it took them three months to decide the issue. At last permission was granted on condition that the flights should be made from a pre-arranged place (this was the race track at Piotrkow) and that six mounted Cossacks and two policemen must be present during the tests.
In the last days of June 1913, the first flight was attempted. The mounted Cossacks proved useful, as they helped with the launch. The glider, piloted by Strahler, flew a distance of some 10 m (33 ft) and then due to lack of response to the aileron controls crashed to the ground. Strahler escaped with a few scratches. The glider was only slightly damaged and on the following day was ready to resume its tests, but on safety grounds the authorities banned all further attempts to fly it. The five students tried to continue their work in secret and intended to fly the glider from the lonely hills near their town, but the outbreak of World War 1 prevented this.
Construction: The glider was an equal-span biplane. The whole structure, including interplane struts, was built of bamboo and trussed with steel-wire ropes with strainers. All the fittings were made of sheet zinc by the students. The slightly cambered wings, with a total area of 26 sq m (279.9 sq ft), were covered with fabric. Ailerons were fitted to the lower wing only. A single, open vertical frame formed the fuselage. The pilot hung from his armpits supported by rests on the framework of the uncovered centre section of the lower wing and controlled the flight by hand-levers operating the ailerons, elevators and rudders. The cellular tail bay consisted of tailplanes, two full-chord elevators, which were mounted at the tips of the lower tailplane, and twin rudders. The rudimentary landing gear consisted of two wheels from a Farman biplane and a tailskid. The span of the glider was 10 m (32 f t 9 3/4 in).