written by Paul R. Jorgenson - Copyright 2001-2011

The BG 12/16 Sailplane - N7438

by Paul R. Jorgenson - KE7HR

This is a picture story of bringing a wonderful homebuilt sailplane out of the basement where it had lived for 25 years and getting it to fly again.

The start of the story was 27 years ago (1974) when I first flew solo in the sky. I have been hooked ever since. 26 years after my first solo (and some 10,000+ hours later), I was soloing again - this time in a glider. I finished my commercial glider license and started to dream of having my OWN sailplane. The price of sailplanes pretty well meant that this was just to be a dream. Then, on eBay (the internet auction), a Briegleb BG 12/16 sailplane went up for auction. The starting auction price was within reach.

I had read about the BG series of gliders - over 350 sets of plans had been sold (in the 25 years that plans were available) and almost 90 were still registered with the FAA. A pretty impressive installed base, for a glider. The most popular glider in the world had only sold around 700 total.

I emailed the seller, the stepson of the deceased builder. The glider was in a heated basement in Sequim, Washington, northwest of Seattle. The seller was able to show one of my best friends, Dick Peterson, the glider in person. Dick was VERY impressed with the sailplane. His inspection did not reveal any obvious problems and he gave it a glowing report - along with some pictures. Yes, it IS yellow.

N7438, in the basement, in Sequim, WA - it lived here for 25 years.

After a discussion with my loving wife, Gwen, I put in a bid. Others had gone to look at the sailplane and I had to wonder if my bid would be the winner. It was! I arranged to pick up the glider and its trailer the day after Christmas, 2000. There were several things that needed to be done to get the trailer road worthy, but we were able to patch it together in about half a day. Then I got a touch of the flu. I was down for a day and a half. Yuck. A trip to the hospital scared the sickness into remission and we attacked the job of getting the paperwork done and the glider loaded into the trailer. The builder of the glider was a machinist. To him an inch was 1000 divisions. He did not waste many divisions... The glider is a VERY tight fit into the trailer.

The trailer attached to the truck (back in Phoenix).

The loaded trailer (back in Phoenix).

We learned that every thing had a purpose (except for the mystery sticks - still don't know what they did...) and a small place to fit into. . We finished loading well after dark and came back to start the journey to Phoenix the next day.

The weather was very nice for the tow back to Phoenix, for December. It took us three days to get the nearly 2000 miles.

A couple of weeks later, when the intermittent winter rains stopped (it DOES rain in the desert!) the wings were put on the glider for the first time in 25 years. I was assisted by my wife, Gwen, and friends Harry Hiller (my best friend in Phoenix) and Bruce Thompson.

The fuselage coming out into the sunlight after 25 years!

The tire needed some air attention. The fuselage rests on its stand. Yes, it goes away when it comes time to fly!

It did not take long for a crowd of sailplane pilots to gather, nodding approval and making the appropriate pilot noises over the old ship.

The first wing is out of the trailer and moving toward the fuselage. Each wing is 25 feet long.

Harry and I pose for a picture after attaching the right wing.

The second wing went on - Harry and I are installing the attaching hardware.

Bruce, Paul, and Harry after the wings are installed. It is a fine fit. I think I will keep it!

This is the detail of the right wing as it attaches to the fuselage. The flap and aileron controls are not hooked up yet.

The instrument panel. Compass on top - altimeter, airspeed, and variometer on the bottom. The red placards have information about maximum speeds and weights that are allowable.

The flap handle and its detents. The builder did a spectacular job.

The rudder pedals and cables. The varnish, which protects the wood, is clearly seen to reflect the light from the camera strobe.

The right wing root in the trailer. The green bracket holds the end of the wing while it is in the trailer. It comes out before taking the wing out. Both wings have to be set off of the stabilizing peg outboard (as shown) to allow the fuselage to enter or exit. It is a really tight fit trailer!

And then it got dark. Caving headlamps really work well in the trailer...

The condition (annual) inspection by a certified mechanic (Thanks Nick!) and the Airworthiness Inspection by the FAA have been completed. When the paperwork is done, there will be more pictures of the glider in the air!

Created 21 February 2001.
Last updated 18 November 2011.
Copyright 2001-2011 by Paul R. Jorgenson

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