Hello GP Gliders!

By Tim McAllister

My relationship with new glider manufacturer Peszke S.C. began innocently enough with reading a post on the group rec.aviation.soaring (RAS) entitled “GP-10 New 13.5m glider from Poland” in December of 2013. Given the consolidation of the major glider manufacturers over the past few decades, the surprise appearance of a new manufacturer with an actual flying prototype sparked my interest. While there are some capable 13.5 meter span gliders being created from older designs, I wondered if this manufacturer was aiming to make a play for the 13.5 Meter Class market.

As a committed lower-end of the budget competition pilot, I had been exploring the developments in the new IGC 13.5 Meter Racing Class since the announcement of the class by the IGC. While the big money has increasingly been chasing longer span in the 18 Meter and Open Classes, I’m locked into the more affordable end of the racing spectrum and committed to doing what it takes to compete in the Club Class. But maybe 13.5 Meter Class? Was it possible to get Club Class/15 meter span performance (or better) out of new, clean sheet thinking in the new 13.5 Meter Class?

Investigating the RAS thread, more links were found related to the effort (most in Polish and through Polish aviation media), and the initial RAS comments as to the design’s photos and concept were very positive. Any time you look at a new, short wing glider, and read such comments as “stunning, wow, impressive, pretty, etc.” then you know the manufacturer is NOT heading down the path of the PW-5. Unlike the PW-5, around whose funeral pyre the IGC 13.5 Meter Class concept was conceived, the Peszke technology demonstrator GP 10 looked particularly pretty and crafted to be a racing glider. With a sleek fuselage, high aspect/thin wings, and delicate tail boom, at first blush this looked like a regular 15 Meter class racer. Sitting still, in pictures, it looked fast! Maybe these guys were on to something.

A short email later and I began a very fruitful relationship and indeed collaboration with the principals of the firm Peszke S.C. of Krosno, Poland. (Peszke is pronounced PESH-kah.) Chief designer and family patriarch Grzegorz Peszke, and his son and firm manager Jerzy “Jurek” Peszke are the principals of this young glider manufacturer. It turns out that Grzegorz had been a designer, constructor and international competitor flying R.C. gliders and had set records with his flying machines in both the F3B (R.C. glider) and F3E (electric powered R.C. gliders) classes. His passion for flight and aircraft design had been sparked by his father’s WWII exploits in the RAF/Polish Air Force “Warsaw” Squadron. When it came time to designate the models of his real “grown up” aviation dreams, the GP designation was naturally applied to the new designs.

With the passing months came many emails and Skype calls to see just what this company’s ambitions were for this glider and the soaring market – the 13.5 Meter Class in particular. It turns out that this “unknown” company had plans to turn their successful GP 10 technology demonstrator into the basis for a line of gliders, the GP 11, GP 12, and GP 14 – with electric propulsion options for the 12 and 14.

As part of exploring the background for the original glider, I discovered that Peszke S.C. and its predecessor companies had designed, constructed, and delivered hundreds of target drones to the Polish Army in the early-1990’s; has been delivering a line of propellers for Light Sport Aircraft (LSA), Ultralight, and Powered Paragliders since the early 2000’s. In the late 2000’s Peszke had, as part of an industrial cooperation project with the Czech firm JIHLAVAN airplanes, designed from A-Z and delivered two prototype LSA aircraft, the GP 1 and GP 7. The GP 1 has since gone into production as the Skyleader GP One, and the GP Seven is reportedly awaiting a production decision. And finally in an interesting footnote, or maybe a sign of the gliders to come, Grzegorz Peszke had constructed one, man-sized and “flight” rated glider before: the “RedBullina”, which “flew” in the Red Bull Flugtag competition in Krakow in the early 2000’s. “Redbullina” then went on to make a number of real flights.

The genesis of the 13.5 meter span GP 10 technology demonstrator came in 2011 with the initiation of a cooperative project to develop a pneumatic-powered motorglider within the framework of the Subcarpathian Aerocluster group of companies in Krosno, Poland. While the pneumatic motor proved wildly unfeasible, the resultant efficient Peszke airframe, seeking to squeeze the best performance from limited span, evolved as a glider which, with a little modification would be perfect for the newly announced IGC 13.5 Meter Class. Flight testing of the GP 10 began in December of 2013 and continued into 2014.

By the summer of 2014, and after some preliminary negotiations to become the North American sales broker, it was decided that I and the family (“Team EY” in the US contest World) should go to Krakow, Poland and investigate in person. More about this trip in my next post.