Brief history of the beginning of gliding in Hungary
Couple of years after the First World War, former pilots sought new ways to fly due to the lack of motor planes, but in the beginning of 1920, flying and manufacturing of flight equipment were prohibited. After overcoming the obstacles, the first group was the Műegyetemi Sportrepülő Egyesület, (MSE – Sport Flying Association of the Technical University of Budapest) formed in the November of 1921. Even though they have created the conceptual design of the first Hungarian glider, because of the lack of founding at that time, it was not built. Even though an enthusiastic experimenter constructed the first Hungarian-related glider in 1924, it was damaged at the first landing – it was never repaired and the story of this first flight was soon forgotten. Gliding as an option for inexpensive flying was not considered again until 1927.
In April 1927, the first entry was made into the diary of the Hungarian Gliding, namely into the diary of the prospective flying class of MOVE. (Magyar Országos Véderő Egylet – Hungarian National Defence Association) István Petróczy – former military pilot, holder of the first Hungarian pilot license – who was the chariman of MOVE at that time, came up with the idea of gliding in Hungary. He discussed this with Mátyás Bernard – also a former military pilot – and the process of organisation has started.
In the May of 1928, the first gliders have been ordered from the factory of Alexander Schleicher, Poppenhausen, Germany, one Zögling and one Hol ’s Der Teufel. Later in the spring of 1929, two person was sent to Rhön, Germany to the Wasserkuppe airfield for flight training. The Hungarians did well, the news spread quickly and the popularization was started by the Hungarian journals.
On the summer of 1929 the ordered planes have arrived, and the preparations for first glider training were started. The student pilots – as it is standard nowadays – have been insured. The first “flying field” was located in the Buda-Mountains near Budapest in a valley which is called “Kútvölgy”. (Well-Valley) When the construction of the first buildings were started, a natural water source was found and a well was constructed atop – hence the name. The airfield was called Farkashegy Airfield named from the nearby peak – when the airfield was “relocated” to its current place, the name was kept. Before the first flights, a small hangar and a house was constructed. In the area of the former Budaörs-Farkashegy airfield there is a monument, and some ruins and buildings can be still found.
Diary entry about the first flight:
„While the roof structural beams being reinforced and the hangar is moored, the airplane parts that were brought up one-by-one have been put together with the lead and instructions of Mr.Reiner, and at 17h on the 21st of July 1929, the first glider is towed to the start site on its cart!!! After three short trials, the canvas on the right wingtip is damaged, and the first training session with practical flights is ended.”MOVERO diary entry 21. July 1929.
90 years ago with this act, gliding have been started in Hungary.
In a nutshell about the following events…
In the following years more flight clubs have been formed both in the countryside and in Budapest. One of them was the MÁV Brotherhood Sport Association’s Flight Class, (MÁV is the abbreviation of the Hungarian State Railways) which currently has the name of MÁV Sportrepülő Egyesület (MÁV Sports Flying Association) and it is the operator of the Farkashegy airfield. The first Hungarian Gliding Competition was held on the fall of 1930. In the meantime, gliders were continuously built – first existing types from abroad, then Hungarian constructions too – and the first Hungarian National Gliding Camp was held in Pipishegy airfield, near Gyöngyös in 1935.
As the front of World War II approached Hungary, the gliding activity was halted, but after the war, the glider pilots were the most optimistic in Hungary regarding the future of flying, and they searched and acquired many wreckage and while flights were banned, they were quite active in the workshops. In 1947 finally the ban was lifted and operations resumed.
Following the World War – sometimes with major restrictions, for example when cross country flights were not authorized – gliding continued and improved. Two-seater training was introduced, new planes were built and bought, and the airfields improved too. The former Farkashegy airfield in the “mountains” was not used after 1959, the new airfield was located down in the “Bia-fields” – this airfield operates nowadays. In the 50’s and 60’s as a central order, all decommissioned planes had to be destroyed – sadly almost all “early” construction were lost because of this.
From 1964, the clubs started to use the R26-S Góbé for basic training, which is one of the most widely known glider in Hungary. Meanwhile the usage of VHF radios started, which helped cross country flights a lot. From the middle of the 70’s the new glass fiber reinforced plastic constructions appeared in Hungary, which started a new era of high performance flights. With the end of the communism in 1990, the governmental support also ended, and in the following years most other sponsors also disappeared, therefore the clubs had to sustain themselves, and provide all necessary circumstances by their own.
Many gliding competitions and meetings were held in Hungary – Gliding Championship of Socialist States, Vintage Glider Rally, many World Gliding and European Gliding Championships, Aerobatic Championships. Hungarian glider pilots are successful, there have been a Hungarian World Champion both in gliding and aerobatic gliding. In 2019, between the 28th of July and 10th of August, Szeged is hosting the 11th Junior World Gliding Championship, where Hungary is represented by four talented young pilots in two classes.
The information and the pictures on this site – unless otherwise marked – are from the books of Patrik Ungár (A farkashegyi repülés, és a MÁV Sportrepülő Klub Története and A MÁV Repülőklub képes története 1929-1976). Thank you for those magnificent publications.
The drawing and the information of the “Karakán” are from the following book: Gábor Jereb, Magyar vitorlázó repülőgépek (ISBN 963 10 7126)