Young Meets Old - Project K8
Young Meets Old - Project K8
From time to time you stumble over something really special and that right in front of your door. That kind of describes how I found out about those 3 people.
Now, in the gliding world "right on the front porch" is probably a far stretched term, but living at least in the same state, should check that box for now.
Frederike (16), Michael (20) and Fabian (16) are pilots and student pilots from northern Hessen, Germany that besides gliding, have found something worthwhile. While most of their peers spend their time in front of gaming-consoles and tv-sets, they decided to start a little gliding project on their own.
As their airfield the „Dörnberg“, close to the city of Kassel does not have one single wooden glider in its inventory, they figured it would be a great idea to change that immedieately and so they started with "Project K8".
The idea of Project K8 is to bring at least one Alexander-Schleicher K-8 back into the skies above the Dörnberg. Being cash-stripped by the nature of being a student, they figured, that the only way they could reach their goal would be to do as much work as they can on their own. Basically buying a trashed glider and rebuilding it entirely. But even with doing that, they knew that it would be still financially extremely challenging for them. Nevertheless they started pursuing their dream in late 2013 when they bought an old, torn-down K-8 on a questionable open trailer from a town close to Stuttgart.
As soon as they brought the old lady to her new home, they began almost immediately with the rebuilding process. Not having a maintenance shop, they started stripping the horizontal and vertical stabs at their parent's homes and simultaneously started fixing a shed on their parent's property where they could store and work on the glider's bigger parts throughout the winter months. To raise awareness and maybe to find a little support from the soaring community they started documenting their efforts on Facebook. Not for long, until a noble donor supplied the youngsters with basic instrumentation and an old FSG-40 radio.
But as the work progressed throughout the winter months, they started to run low on material, tools and money. Quite frankly, their enthusiasm from the first months was dampened and the question if they would actually be able to get their dream plane back into the air was quite apparent.
...But than there was something that might be described as being in the right spot at the right time, or simply just plain luck.
The company "LANITZ-PRENA FOLIEN FACTORY GmbH" from Germany, famous for its "Oracover" foliage, which is currently seeing widespread use in the R/C sector, was looking for a proof-of-concept for their new "Oratex" fabric which shall be EASA certified to act as a new option for the resurfacing of vintage airplanes. Offering more stability, durability and ease of use over the old materials. They made the three youngsters and their old wooden lady an offer that they couldn't refuse.
Their old 1950's design K-8 is going to serve as a testbed for new aerospace materials of the 21st century! Unbelievable. With the approval of the concept in April 2014 they could finally start making bigger steps towards the airworthiness of their K-8.
Just few days ago they transported the stripped-down wings into the Oratex shop, where they started with the first steps. A big thanks on that point from the guys from the FSV Schwalm e.V. for lending them their K-8 trailer, since the Project K8 one's did not win the fight against the winter and rust. Unfortunately work will take a while, since they have to document most of their steps, for the certification process, which is why they also won't be able to make the first flights of their "Prototype" and instead let a qualified testpilot take the seat of their oldie. However that is a drawback that they are happily taking into account.
As of now, a lot of work still has to be carried out and Frederike, Michael and Fabian are assuming that it will take at least till the very end of the year to get all the work done. Besides the glider itself there are also a lot of unsolved problems. Mainly finding a trailer, missing instrumentation and material but they have found new hope in their project and are confident that they soon will be able to call themselves a private K-8 syndicate.
"It is astonishing how the soaring community has accepted our project and the good resonance we are getting from everyone is purely amazing. Thank you, everyone!“ Says Michael.
I can't wait for the maiden flight!