Where Your Future Flying Career Begins
© Darling Downs Sport Aircraft Inc operating as ‘Lone Eagle Flying School’                 ABN:47 865 769 573
It may not have the status The Wright Brothers first flight enjoys today, or the well documented flights of Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith, Amy Johnson, Bert Hinkler or the flight of the Vickers Vimy, which are all very significant events in our aviation history. However, this flight is a significant event in its own right. What was this event? Well, we need to go back to the year 1932. On the property "Aviadell" approximately 5km west of Clifton, Queensland, a young man by the name of Mr John J Bange, on the 13th of March 1932, climbed into the open cockpit of a frail looking aircraft with a 12 meter wingspan- The Primary Glider. 11am with Mr J Bange at the controls, being towed by a 1925 Chevrolet vehicle driven by Mr John Falconer the craft named the "Azure Star" made its maiden flight. Out of the logs he made of all his flights, this is how he described the first flight in "Azure Star"- First Entry- March 13th 1932. (11am) Test flight with J.J. Bange at the controls. Entirely successful. Quick Take-off, beautiful to handle. This was the pilots first solo. The landing as a stall and pancake from 10ft up. Max altitude 15ft. Distance of flight 100 yards. She stood the pancake perfectly. Wind 5m.p.h. landing speed 6m.p.h. Land speed nil-to 1m.p.h. A young man from Clifton had a passion for aviation, flown as a passenger with the pioneer flyers Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith and Lester Brain respectively during the "Barnstormer" days. He designed and built this machine in his spare time and test flew the "Azure Star" himself. He made many flights in the Primary Glider learning as he went and growing ever more confident with his aircraft. Many aircraft designs have the odd issue to overcome. However, from the first flight the glider was very successful. 1930 at the age of 22, when most of his peers in the district were enjoying the more social aspects of their lives,  Mr Bange committed himself and started to build the Primary Glider. So began the dream and long association of his aircraft. Even with his background in engineering, the project took him two years drawing, cutting and gluing. The glider was based on the design of the Zoegling glider flying in Germany at the time, a typical "open skeleton" fuselage of timber and rag. Even then in the early years of flight, gliding in Germany was becoming a popular sport. Knowing the design of the original glider had some problems; he modified the design so those problems could be over come and make the aircraft more durable. Such modifications included enlarging the rudder section, increased the length of the wings and also increased the height of the centre mast, which was positioned behind the seat, so he could employ extra wire bracing. Attaching this extra bracing to the wing strengthened the wing, so it was able to handle a higher shock load put upon the aircraft during the stress of a landing. The original Zoegling design found that a short Kingpost caused the stress and fatigue to the wings. Ultimately the wings would fall off during an impact of a landing. The new design was not that much different, and could be comparable to the centre mast design and bracing on a Drifter. And he also modified the design of the landing skid. As the Gliders that were flying at the time would have a tendency to run up on the nose during a landing and with the redesign the
objective would be to eliminate that problem. Of recent times it has been discovered Mr Bange had been in contact with a University in Adelaide, South Australia during the construction period of the Primary Glider, gaining and collecting important engineering and technical information that he could, to use during the construction. So in 1932 The Primary Glider, "Azure Star", 2 seater Model Z-B-1 was airborne. Mr Bange also went on to design and build the Z-B-11. It incorporated much of the design features of the Z.B.1, however, it had an enclosed cockpit with a nacelle that could be removed. The Z.B.11 was designed to be a single seat model. This is what Mr Bange wrote about the test flight- Model Z.B.11. October 27th 1935 Single seater. First Test Flight. Nacelle now fitted and machine a secondary. Flight Okay. Everything seems splendid. Lands easily. Pilots first flight in a secondary glider Mr Bange loved his aviation, and wasted no time in wanting to share this experience with any that were willing. Soon after the testing period of the Primary Glider and becoming ever more proficient and comfortable with his aircraft flying higher and further, he got to the stage where he made the decision to share the experience of flight in the Primary Glider. So the Aviadell Gliding Club was formed where Mr Bange became both founder and Chief Flying Instructor. From that point, all of his work and that of the club was entirely for the benefit and advancement of gliding flight. Mr Bange's first student was a Mr T.E Glasheen, as recorded in the Log of his first solo- April 22nd 1935(Easter Monday): T.E Glasheen = Distance 40yds.= Altitude 4ft.= landing poor. Skid. Wind 11mph. Remarks= A well controlled flight. A first solo. A severe skid at  landing. A perfect settling.  Instructor J.J Bange April 22nd 1935: T.E Glasheen= Distance 80yds. Altitude- 25ft. landing- very good. Wind 0. A well controlled second solo. A steady climb and nice settling. I had the privilege of talking to a Mrs. Bernie Stewart who has been associated with the family for many years, and would be remiss of me not to mention the help she has given me in providing some of the information contained in this article. One thing she mentioned to me was that Mr John Bange was a great advocate for promoting Women in Aviation, giving of assistance to any women who had any interest in wanting to fly his aircraft or aviation in general. This was a refreshing change to the general opinions and perception of that era of Women Aviators. This would be no real surprise then that his second student who went solo in the Azure Star was none other than his dear wife Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Bange, who affectionately was known as Bessie. She became known by this name early in her life and it was by this name that everyone knew her by. Bessie stood by John throughout the whole process from the construction to being part of, and many times, was the ground support as the operator of the launch vehicle to get the glider and Mr. Bange in the air. She also provided not just the physical, but emotional support and encouragement as well. Which Bessie Bange deserves the recognition for the contribution she made in the history of the Primary Glider and for the many successful flights the Glider made. Continue Reading