Queensland Gliding

 in the S50's, 60's and 70's


Compiled by Kevin Rodda based on photos, notes, letters and log book entries provided by 

Max Howland, ex WWII pilot and instructor ... a pioneer of gliding in Queensland.


The Gliding Series


Marj Pegler and the K6


 The following gives some of the K6 (Romeo Victor) background. It is actually a letter written by Max Howland to Barry Deeth, ex glider pilot and commercial airline pilot. Barry was flying gliders in the sixties and in 1999 had purchased the K6 which had been in storage for years under a house at Charleville. It was suggested by Geoff Raph that Max tell Barry something of its history. Max lost track of Marj Pegler in the mid seventies.

Dear Barry

Geoff Raph saw me at our recent Aircrew Dinner and said you had purchased Marj Pegler’s K66. He thought you may be interested in some of its early history. While my war log book is formal my gliding log has photos and descriptions. So I have had a trip down memory lane. I was surprised at what I had forgotten. I will more or less list the data except for the bird bits at the beginning.

How come the K6? Marj Pegler, Cornwall Station, west of Quilpie had a working holiday in England in the early sixties ... poultry farm and all that. She learned to glide at Lasham with Derick Piggott.

When she returned home she decided to purchase a glider and fly in their station area. They graded a strip and built a hanger. She asked Derick what she should buy. His answer - the highest performance glider you can afford. The K6 was at the top of the scale in those days. I believe Harry Schneider handled the purchase. She contacted GFA and advised them of her intentions.

[GRV is an ES-KA6 ... built in Australia by Edmund Schneider under licence] 

I got a call from Bill Iggulden - ‘This girl we’ve never heard of is buying a K6 and plans to fly by herself in the west. See what you can follow up.’ I did make contact and it was arranged she would come in to Kingaroy during my May holiday and fly. My log book tells me she did advanced instruction flights. I notice that Ian Aspland did dual IF at the same time and I also flew with Frank Maiden. She expected delivery by August and it was arranged I would drive out to Quilpie with my family and our Hutter - the H17.

She collected the K6 from Adelaide and hit floods near Quilpie. When this happens the road bridge is out and traffic used the railway bridge - so the Ka arrived over the railway bridge.

August 12 1962 and the Howland family arrived with the Hutter. There had been more rain and the strip was flooded. The Pegler family was in Brisbane for the show and only Marj was at Cornwall . We dug drains, pushed the shallow water with boards, used brooms, and even a tractor. Finally we could car tow with the car one side of a pool and the glider the other. Hutter first. Two circuits. Then K6. Cable break first try then a circuit. My log book comment - ‘Handles like a thoroughbred’.

Rain again at night and a few more days clearing the strip. Three days later - Hutter first. Thermal. An eagle joined me low down and was circling and flapping as well. Very strange, I thought. It soon reached me, got behind me and I lost sight of him. I could hear his squawks and he appeared angry. He left the thermal when I did. Next, 34 minutes in K6 - spin and other trials.

Marj said a Cessna pilot a week or so previously had been attacked head on, talons down, by an eagle. It was apparently the breeding season and with plenty of other eagles they were very territory conscious of other ‘big birds’.Our own wedge tail eagle story continued to develop. Marj flew but mainly circuits. I did some soaring. At first the eagle left when I left the thermal. From my log book ‘To 2500 feet. Attacked by two eagles which flew in. Came 20 feet above, rolled, and dived down to break off just above the wing (which I had lowered). When I turned towards them they came in from straight ahead with feet down squawking loudly. They aimed at the canopy!’

On another flight the eagle left when it was attacked by a small hawk of all things. We tried throwing out toilet paper, pieces of meat, actuating dive breaks, swearing at them. (They would have heard me as I could hear them squawking). Where earlier they had tended to leave a thermal when I did, after I tried unsuccessfully to ‘attack’ them they stayed with me even down to the base leg. Marj was firing a shot gun and later a rifle. I notice from a log book note that on one flight Marj picked up a thermal at about 500 feet but was joined by the eagle at about 700.

Eagles at other places had sometimes formatted in fun but there had been attacks. I heard of one case where a talon was left in the wing. When recounting some of the Cornwall flying in later years I could sense some gliding people thought I had a good imagination - which rather amused me after my wartime flying. It was of course doubtful if Marj could successfully fly at Cornwall . She did get a permit to have a .38 doctored for blanks but by the end of the year she had decided to give up Cornwall gliding.

Christmas 1962. Kingaroy took their Kooka to fly in the 4th Australian Championships at Narromine. Quite a crowd of us went. From the log photo I recognise Jim and Harold Powell and Trevor Sherrard. Marj and I flew as a two seater pair. Up to at least the end of the sixties it was common for two pilots to share a kite in a contest - solved crewing and shortage of aircraft. The Howlands and Marj came to an agreement. Marj and her large car ( I forget the type) and the K6, and the Howlands with a team of four, and when suitable a caravan. As a teacher I had three holiday periods a year. The Ka would be left at Oakey (Marj did some power flying at D D Aero Club also). She would come in the three or more times a year and we would competition and holiday fly.

As available we used Gliding Club facilities at Oakey, Kingaroy, Inverell, (Narromine during comps) Benella etc. We slept rough, in the cars, in my 12 by 12 tent and in the caravan as appropriate. Over the years radio was acquired and an AH fitted. I will list the ‘events’ where the Ka was flown. All except once, Marj and I, and at times a few others flew eg. Keith Wright, Geoff Strickland. Our children stayed in the team until they became late teenagers. Cherie went solo but left gliding when she married. The main ‘events’ were -

1. April 1963 Qld. Gliding Championships at Oakey. I notice Ian and Alan Rogerson in one photo.

2. January 1964. Second Queensland Championships at Inverell.

3. April 1964. No.1 Queensland Gliding School at Kingaroy.

4. December 1964. 5th Australian Championships at Benalla. 

At the end of the contest a few Queenslanders were to fly part of the way home. It dawned a southerly gale. If you did a few turns in a thermal after the winch launch you would not get back to the strip. Marj decided not to fly and offered it to me - in shorts and with no preparation. I tore bits off maps and Ian, Maurie Bradney and myself gave it a go. Three diamond distances. Ian and I landed at Narromine and Maurie at Dubbo. Quite a day! On January 19 1965, in the K6, I got diamond height near Oakey and completed my badge.

5. April 1966 4th Queensland Championship at Warwick .

6. August 1966. 3rd Queensland Gliding School , Kingaroy.

7. December 66 Jan 67. Gliding tour to Benalla . 20,000 feet gain at Inverell.

The K6 was purchased by Ian Aspland, later sold to Jim Warner.


Marj's brand new K6 at Cornwall Station, Quilpie in 1962.


The K6 (Romeo Victor) is now being flown regularly by Kevin Rodda at Caboolture ...

> Second K6 at Caboolture 

> K6 Soaring Australia Cover


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