Off to Krosno, Poland

Taking my first look at the GP in the Peszke workshop - August 2014

Taking my first look at the GP in the Peszke workshop - August 2014

How I came to visit the Peszke HQ in Krosno, Poland

My interest in newer glider began back in 2012 when I was exploring getting out of my SZD-55 and into a new (or new to me) glider for serious cross country and racing endeavors. While I am a very committed Club Class racer, the new 13.5 Meter Class adopted by the IGC had some appeal as the gliders were designed to be smaller, lighter, and newer than most club class gliders. Plus I was looking for an affordable new-build glider that would avoid the oncoming re-finish and myriad “fiddling” issues that many club class gliders come with. While I decided on another used glider club class glider for the immediate future, getting in on the ground floor of a new class still had appeal to me.

Continuing to look at the current and out-of-production less than 13.5m span gliders, as a group, the gliders I looked at had definite shortcomings. I desired an easier to deal with airframe size and weight, but with some bump in performance over my current 40:1 ride, preferably with flaps, and a sleek, modern look. Water ballast, even if it did not allow for the prodigious wingloading of the bigger wingspan classes, would be an extra selling point if it could be found. Then the RAS post about the GP 10 crossed my computer screen…

After months of emails exploring the direction and ambitions of Peszke S.C. for its GP 10-based line of gliders, and a very productive set of exchanges of view regarding features of and for the new gliders, I made the decision that one of the GP gliders was likely in my future. More than that, maybe this could be more than just a new glider for me as the Peszkes seemed very interested in my opinions and guidance in the direction for the gliders. Now to convince my wife, Susan, that I needed a new glider AND that we possibly should consider going into business representing this great new line of gliders. While she was impressed by the numbers and the pictures of the GP 10, a lot goes in to making a single successful production glider, and the Peszkes were looking to roll out three gliders! We both agreed that we needed to go to Krosno and meet with the Peszkes and see the GP 10 in person!

Summer trip to southeast Poland!

Krosno, Poland is a very charming, former industrial city located in the far southeast part of Poland in the foothills of the beautiful Carpathian Mountains that form the border between Poland and Slovakia. Having been to Southern Germany a couple of times to pick up a glider for the world championships, the region reminded both of us of German Schwabian Alps.

While the city of Krosno has a large airfield, next to which the factory is located, the easiest thing was to fly in to either Krakow (our choice) or Rzeszow, and then make the drive to Krosno. The post-communism boom in Poland was on view everywhere, as the modern Poland has certainly displaced the old communist era Poland to large extent. We were booked in to a wonderful and affordable spa hotel in a former manor house in the countryside and after check in settled in for a restful evening preparing to meet with founder Grzegorz Peszke and his son, Jerzy, the CEO of the firm.

In the morning, as we found our way to the Peszke office, we became slightly lost and inadvertently met the security officer at the old PZL-Krosno factory located on the edge of the Krosno airfield. While the production of aircraft at PZL-Krosno has been long ended in favor of producing agri-business industrial products, Peszke S.C. is still able to make use of some critical parts of this aviation industry infrastructure for its production and finishing processes.

The Peszke offices are located in Krosno, Poland adjacent to the airfield. They are a part of the Subcarpathian Aero Cluster cooperative.

The Peszke offices are located in Krosno, Poland adjacent to the airfield. They are a part of the Subcarpathian Aero Cluster cooperative.

The Peszke S.C. offices and factory space are located in a beautiful, new construction building just outside the border of the Krosno airfield. After our meeting and many questions it was time to see the production spaces and the GP 10 glider. The forward work spaces house a dizzying array of high-tech equipment from industrial cutters, a laser 3D mapper, CNC machines, etc. Most of this is the property of various members of the Aerocluster Group of companies that allows its members time on the machines for their various projects and production efforts.

Into the Peszke Workshop

Peszke S.C. has a dedicated space in the rear of the building for the production of its propeller lines and ample room to grow its glider production. Evidence of the prototyping and validation testing of their other projects was neatly placed around the outside, with evidence of ongoing development of the gliders scattered all around. After months of discussion, there was the GP 10 - rigged and in the middle of the production area. It was most definitely real and the inspection could begin.

Up to this point in our explorations of the GP Gliders as glider and as a business, Susan was the skeptic and I was the pie-eyed optimist (roles usually reversed). On first seeing the glider in the flesh, Susan can be quoted as saying “that looks like a real racing glider.” Well, of course, it had the wings, tail and reclined cockpit of a modern composite glider. But it looked like a production 15m glider. Its proportions just looked, well, right.

The Walk Around

My first instinct was to do a walk around. Look at the glider’s lines. But first, Grzegorz wanted me to get in the cockpit. Foregoing the walk around, I eagerly accepted the offer as the canopy came off the glider. As a prototype/technology demonstrator, the cockpit was sparsely appointed with a seat pad in the seat pan, an adjustable seatback with integrated headrest, a center control stick, flap position control on the left side, and a very minimal pedestal instrument panel holding just an ASI, Altimeter, and Ball-and-Slip Indicator.

Time to get in...will it fit? Will it fit well? Settling in, it fit very well indeed with good elbow room and good visibility all around. Grzegorz then walked back to pick up the tail, which he did with hardly any effort at all to show me the visibility in flying attitude (and let me make wind whistling noises for some pretend flying). Some minutes of quiet reflection in the cockpit followed, then out and up to do the walk-around.

A few things stood out for me. First, the very neatly integrated winglet/tip wheel combination that is aiming for the performance gains of so-called “split” winglets now coming into commercial airline service. The split upper and lower winglet treatment is yet another step toward totally optimizing the performance obtainable out of 13.5 meters of span. The horizontal stabilizer will be aerodynamically fair’d as one unit into the extension of the vertical stabilizer’s aerodynamics above the surface of the horizontal stabilizer.

Additionally, the overall finish was unusually good for a pre-production glider, this in spite of the Peszkes both apologizing for the demonstrator’s “rough” surface condition. This bodes well for their attention to detail in future production gliders. And probably the most elegant part of the machine was its control system linkages and design, with all carbon fiber control rods and beautiful integration behind the cockpit in preparation for automatic hookups in the production gliders. With test pilot reports of very satisfactory handling characteristics, I wish I had been able to take it for a short hop.

I'm looking forward to receiving our demonstrator model later this year and to seeing the GP 14 Velo at the World Gliding Championships in Pociunai, Lithauania in August 2015.

Tim McAllister "EY"