Glider Works in Bielsko Biała. 2021

Bielsko Biała 2021-01-19

Glider Works in Bielsko Biała.

SZD-51 Junior glider. 2014 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
SZD-51 Junior glider. 2014 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

Gliders in the Second Polish Republic.

The first completely Polish glider was the SL-1 Akar glider, developed in 1922. The structure was developed and built by Adam Karpiński. The design was amateurish, but successful enough to win first and second place in the first gliding competition in 1923 in Białka near Nowy Targ. The glider was single-seat, with a frame structure, wooden, with canvas wings and a widely spaced landing gear. After the competition, the glider underwent further modifications. Among other things, a cabin was built. Selected data: span 9.30 m; length 5.50 m; height 1.70 m; load bearing area of ​​12.30 m²; curb weight 75 kg, take-off weight 140 kg; minimum speed 45 km / h; speed min. descent 1.3 m / s; perfection max 9.

In 1935, two students of the Warsaw University of Technology, A. Muraszew and H. Tomaszewski, built a water-sailplane, which they marked MT-1, after their surnames. Wooden construction. The boat-shaped hull made it possible to swim, take off and launch. Moving on the ground was provided by an additional skid under the hull. The construction turned out to be successful and aroused the interest of the Polish Army. The tests were carried out in the waters of the Bay of Puck. In December 1936, the glider arrived at the Mokotów Airport. After the attack of the German army on Poland in September 1939, the Mokotów airport was bombed and the glider was destroyed. Selected data: type - sailplane; span 13.60 m; length 6.70 m; height 2.90 m; load bearing area of ​​16.00 m²; curb weight 115 kg; useful capacity 75 kg; take-off 190 kg; minimum speed 39 km / h.

Among the pre-war constructions, one should mention the PWS-101 glider, on which Tadeusz Góra made a record flight over a distance of 578 km, awarded with the Lilienthal medal. PWS-101 is a high performance glider. It was constructed and flown in 1937 for the 1st World Gliding Championships at Wasserkuppe. Selected data: span 19.0 m; length 7.27 m; height 1.55 m; support area 18.90 m²; curb weight 185 kg; take-off 312 kg; minimum speed 48,5 km / h; speed limit 200 km / h.

In 1937, Eng. Wacław Czerwiński started work on the successor of PWS-101, which was designated PWS-102 Rekin. Two prototypes were built and transported to Lviv. After September 17, 1939, the gliders were handed over to the Russians. They were transported to Moscow, where they were used. Selected data: flew on May 18, 1939; wingspan: 19.0 m; length: 7.32 m; height: 1.65 m; wing area: 19.3 m; wing extension: 18.7; own weight: 260 kg; total weight: 350 kg; speed limit 300 km / h.

These are just some of the selected Polish glider structures from the interwar period.

During World War II, Poland lost almost all its planes, gliders, and most of all, many great pilots. Four damaged specimens have survived from the gliders; Orlik, Salamander, Crow and Frog.

After the war, in the first months of operation of the aviation center in Aleksandrowice, the work focused on the preservation and renovation of property left by the German army; gliders, winches and more.

The Gliding Institute in Bielsko-Biała.

On January 25, 1946, the Ministry of Communication established the Gliding Institute in Bielsko-Biała, whose main task was to develop new glider structures. The problem was that the Polish pre-war documentation of gliders and design solutions has not survived. It was possible to use the post-German documentation, but the inborn aversion to that nation made an effort to develop own new structures. The Institute includes the Gliding Training Center in Goleszów, the Gliding School on Góra Żar and the Aleksandrowice Experimental Airport. The plan of the Design Office, headed by engineer J. Niespała, envisaged the construction of four basic types of gliders: the high-performance IS-1 Sęp, the training-performance IS-2 Mucha, the transitional (Salamandra appeared in this role), the school IS-3 ABC.

The salamander was easy to reconstruct, as one specimen from the pre-war period was hidden from the Germans. Later, the Institute also obtained the documentation of the Komar glider, hidden from the Germans, the structure of which was reinforced and several examples for training were built.

The first structure was the high-performance IS-1 Sęp glider, a wooden high-wing glider. The wings are equipped with slotted flap flaps and aerodynamic brakes of the AW system (Aerodynamic Institute in Warsaw). IS-1 Griffon has been approved for so-called "halny" flights and basic acrobatics. In 1947, the IS-1 Sęp glider took part in the Semadan gliding competition, where it was equal to foreign designs.

In July 1946, the pre-war Polish glider called Orlik was built and flown. In March 1947, the pre-war Polish training glider Żaba was renovated and flown.

In 1947, in the vicinity of the Aleksandrowice Airport, the PZL Bielsko Experimental and Production Company was built, which produced gliders until 2002. At the beginning of 1947, the construction of a hangar and workshops of the Gliding Institute began at the airport. The new office building for the Institute of Aviation was put into use in 1952. So far, the Institute has used the port facility. It must be emphasized that both entities; The Institute and the Aero Club operated in symbiosis all the time.

In the fall of 1947, the Gliding Institute built a series of 5 modified Salamander gliders intended for the sub-centers of gliding training on Mount Żar and Goleszów. The first high-performance glider was the aforementioned IS-1 Sęp glider. Then there were IS-2 Mucha (competition and training), IS-3 ABC (training). The IS-2 Mucha glider made use of the experience gained on the IS-1 Sęp. In the period 1950-1955, most of our pilots performed performance flights on the IS-2 Mucha glider.

At the Gliding Institute, the post-German Heinkel He-72 Kadett aircraft and 13 US Piper L-4 Cub planes purchased from the surplus, several of which remained at Aleksandrowice Airport. The Piper Cup planes were owned by the Polish Aero Club Headquarters in Warsaw.

Since 1947, in Aleksandrowice, numerous national and international glider records, set by great Polish aviators, date back. Also in 1947, parachute training began at the Aleksandrowice Airport. In the period from November 1, 1948 to October 1952, the Central School of Gliding Instructors operated in Aleksandrów.

The communists noticed that civil aviation was developing dynamically but arbitrarily, flowing out of the communist framework. Therefore, in 1948, they established the Universal Organization "Służba Polsce", whose task was to verify candidates for aviation and conduct communist education. The "Służba Polsce" branch in Bielsko-Biała dealt with the recruitment of young people, lectures, theoretical courses, and most of all "science about contemporary Poland". In addition, at that time, the Aviation League (propaganda, theoretical courses, modeling and basic parachuting) and the Aero Club (glider training, motor training, training and sport) were active in Poland.

With the construction of new facilities for the Gliding Institute (hangar - 1947, office building - 1952), the former facilities became the exclusivity of the Aeroclub.

Glider Experimental Station.

The Gliding Institute was established on October 5, 1948 and renamed the Gliding Experimental Station (SZD). SZD was then subordinate to the management of Zakłady Urządzeń Lotnictwa Sportowego (ZSLS) in Warsaw. The Glider Experimental Station, i.e. the famous Bielskie Szybowce, changed its name many times in its history. It started with the Gliding Institute, and it ended with the Allstar PZL Glider. However, the most recognizable name was - Szybowcowe Zakłady Doświadczalne. From the perspective of the past years, SZD, in its heyday, was the largest plant dealing with the design and production of gliders in the world. After introducing them to production, Polish gliders made it possible to equip gliding schools and aeroclubs with modern equipment, meeting the needs of the entire cycle of training and gliding performance.

At the beginning, these were gliders: the school IS-3 ABC, the training and competition IS-2 Mucha, the competitive IS-1 Sęp, the aerobatic IS-4 Jastrząb. The IS-4 Jastrząb glider was created as a result of the demand for an aerobatic glider. The skill level of our pilots continued to increase. The design of the IS-4 Jastrząb was developed in the period 1948-1949. The glider was characterized by high durability and a very high maximum speed.

In 1950, SZD cooperated with the Central Institute of Aviation on the implementation of the BSS (BSK) guided slide bomb project. In the early 50's, a team of designers from the Glider Experimental Station submitted concept drawings for the military slow-flying target SZD.

In the period 1949-1951, three experimental prototypes of gliders were designed and built at SZD: the unconventional, with a tail end IS-5 "Kaczka", the SZD-6X "Nietoperz" tailless, and SZD-7 "Osa" laminar wing glider. These constructions aroused great interest in the gliding world. In the period 1951-1953 prototypes of the following gliders were created: the competition SZD-8 "Jaskółka", the training SZD-10 "Czapla", the two-seater high-performance SZD-9 "Bocian", the training-performance SZD-12 "Mucha 100". All these gliders have been qualified for serial production for flying clubs and for export.

Until 1952, SZD was a plant where prototypes were designed, prototypes were built, flights and tests were carried out, and then the production was transferred to other assembly plants: ZSLS No. 2 in Jeżów, Glider Workshops in Lubawka (closed in 1951), ZSLS No. 3 in Poznań (closed in 1957) and ZSLS No. 4 in Gdańsk (liquidated in 1954), and in later years in ZSLS No. 5 in Krosno and ZSLS No. 4 in Wrocław. Over time, SZD Bielsko-Biała has also become the most important producer of gliders in Poland and in the world.

In the period 1955-1978, 573 gliders and 90 complete sets of gliders were exported for assembly in the People's Republic of China. SZD employees had a huge share in creating the gliding industry in the People's Republic of China, producing Polish gliders (ABC, Salamandra, Mucha 100), and in organizing the design office, in which in 1958, under the direction of Eng. J. Niespała first Chinese Jie-fang glider.

The main link of the plant was the design office. The other offices were; development technology office, prototype workshop, laboratory, flight test department. All of these offices were called the Gliding Research and Development Center. The workshops include; metal, carpentry, laminates, plexiglass, electroplating, paint shop, upholstery. Back in the era of wooden gliders, the plant had around 2,000 employees. When polymer composites became dominant in technology, production was simplified and the plant employed less than 1,000 people.

In 1958, on the glider "Mucha Standard", pilot Adam Witek won the title of world champion at the competition in Leszno. In 1960, on the glider "Foka", pilot Adam Witek won third places at the competition in Cologne (West Germany). At the same competition, on the "Zefir" gliders, pilot Edward Makula won the title of vice-champion of the world, in pilot Jerzy Popiel he took third place. In 1963, on the "Zefir 2A" gliders, pilot Edward Makula became the world champion, and Jerzy Popiel became the world vice-champion, in the competition in Junin, Argentina. In 1965, on the gliders "Foka 4", the pilot Jerzy Wróblewski became the world champion, and Franciszek Kępka took third place at the competition in South Cerney in England.

SZD was constantly looking for the best solutions, using their own experiences. This was done through the continuous improvement of existing structures (this is how whole families of gliders were created) or by building experimental structures.

In 1965, the SZD-27 Kormoran, the only all-metal glider in the history of the SZD, was built. Metal gliders were also developed at the CCCP.

It is worth mentioning here the change of the construction technology of gliders from wooden to plastic ones. The inspiration was the changes taking place in the German aviation, where in the second half of the 50s, the first laminate structures were developed. At the beginning of the 60s, the SZD plant began to use composites in its structures. Initially in covers of non-load-bearing elements with an undeveloped surface (no surface curvature).

The Delta-Bielsko Glider Works.

In July 1963, there was a reorganization of Zakłady Urządzeń Lotnictwa Sportowego, which resulted in the liquidation of the management of ZSLS in Warsaw. The newly appointed management, based in Bielsko-Biała, began to manage the company under the name Zakłady Szybowcowe Delta-Bielsko. At the same time, the non-local ZSLS No. 4 in Wrocław and ZSLS No. 2 in Jeżów lost their financial independence and from then on were branch offices with the rights of Directorate Departments.

In 1969, wooden construction performance gliders were created: "Cobra 15" and "Cobra 17". On these gliders, pilot Jan Wróblewski won the title of vice-champion of the world, and Franciszek Kępka won the third place at the Marfa competition in the USA in 1970.

In 1971, the high-performance SZD-43 "Orion" glider with a wooden and laminate structure was built. An interesting feature of the sailplane was the ballast water tank with a capacity of 70 liters. On these gliders, pilot Jan Wróblewski won the title of world champion, and Franciszek Kępka won the third place at the competition in Vrasac in Yugoslavia in 1972.

The Gliding Experimental and Production Company. PZL-Bielsko.

In 1968, policymakers decided that the era of wooden construction gliders was over as laminate gliders were beginning to dominate. In May 1969, the Experimental Institute for the Development and Construction of Gliders was established, which in January 1972 was renamed the Gliding Research and Development Center. In 1975, it was merged with the Szybowcowe Zakład Doświadczalny and changed its name to Przedsiębiorstwo Doświadczalno-Produkcyjne Szybownictwa PZL Bielsko (PDPSz PZL-Bielsko).

The first Polish glider made of glass-epoxy composite was the experimental SZD-37 Jantar, on which Polish pilots in 1972 competed at the FAI World Gliding Championships in Yugoslavia. The international commission then awarded Jantar the title of the best 19 m open class glider. On the "Jantar" glider, the pilot Stanisław Kluk won the third place in the open class and at the same time the world champion title for 19 m wingspan.

Jantar prototypes started the whole family of composite gliders: SZD-38 Jantar 1, SZD-42 Jantar 2, SZD-41 Jantar Standard, SZD-48-1 Jantar Standard 2, SZD-48-3 Jantar Standard 3 and SZD-52 Jantar 15, differing in span, wing mechanization and fuselage design. In total, in the period 1972-1986, 1,041 gliders of the "Jantar" family were produced, of which 846 were exported.

In 1974, on the "Jantar Standard" glider, pilot Franciszek Kępka won the third place at the competition in Waikerie, Australia. In 1976, Polish gliders repeated the success. On the "Jantar 2" gliders, pilot Julian Ziobro won the world vice-champion title, and Henryk Muszczyński took third place at the competition in Rayskala in Finland.

In 1971, additional airfoils for the SM-1 helicopter were made at SZD. In 1973, a prototype of the SZD-45 Ogar motor glider with a push propeller was created, the serial production of which was 64 copies. A version of the SZD-45 Ogar F glider was also developed, powered by the Franklin engine. The flight took place in 1979, but mass production did not take place due to problems with the Franklin engine.

Successive composite gliders; SZD-50 Puchacz, SZD-51 Junior, SZD-55, SZD-56 Diana SZD-59 Acro. Gliders were particularly successful; SZD-50 Puchacz, SZD-51 Junior, 684 built, 497 of which were exported.

1989 year.

The social and economic changes of 1989 did not survive the SZD plant. It was a global problem for Polish workplaces, which, in the absence of experience in operating on the free market, and above all without the support of the government administration involved in enfranchisement, collapsed in turn. And the high reputation of the plant gained on foreign markets during the Polish People's Republic did not help here. In December 1996, the Voivode of Bielsko introduced the Board of Trustees. It didn't do much. Due to the interest of the well-known Austrian aviation company Daimond Aircraft Wiener Neustadt in the purchase of PZL-Bielsko, the court repeatedly postponed the declaration of bankruptcy. The Austrians established a Polish-Austrian company (DAI-SZD Sp.z o.o.) at the plant. As the endless negotiations between consecutive receivers and Austrian Daimond Aircraft regarding the sale of the company did not bring the expected finale, on May 7, 1999, the court declared PZL-Bielsko bankrupt.

What remained, called the SZD bankruptcy estate, was sold to two investors; the German company Aviotech (to eliminate dangerous competition) and Henryk Mynarski, a former employee of the plant (plant in Jeżów Sudecki). The SZD fixed assets were bought by a company with entirely German capital, Allstar Leasing sp.z o.o. The company leased it to Allstar PZL Glider and Solaris Aviation, which resumed aviation production at the plant in 2003. The company became the owner of the glider type certificates developed at SZD Bielsko: training SZD-50-3 Puchacz, training SZD-51-1 Junior, aerobatic SZD-59 Acro and performance SZD-55-1.

In the 90s of the 20th century, many good engineers left the declining SZD and launched their own companies in the aviation industry.

Written by Karol Placha Hetman