June 12, 2014

Wally Kahn's Opening Speech at the 2014 Nationals

After Wally was awarded his BGA Gold Medal he opened the 2014 Nationals here at Lasham with an emotional speech in which he donated his Glider number (4) to LGS.  The speech is reproduced here for your information:


Thank you very much last year’s BGA Executive for this great medal.


I am especially delighted because it is a reward for putting in more than you take out.  We are a self help sport and rely on each other to work for our clubs and the BGA to make gliding the great activity we all enjoy. Do please encourage all, but certainly the young to take this on board and they too should win medals.


My publicity slogan used to be “gliding is a unique sport – team work on the ground, individual effort in the air, brawn on the ground, brain in the air”.


Break Break – Our wonderful Manager, the Colonel Stroud ordered me to wear a tie or else and round here we obey!  Back in the dark ages we all wore sports jackets and ties when going gliding, then came the flying suit era and now happily it is comfortable clothing known as ‘gliding’ scruffy chic.

In 1944, just 70 years ago since I first came to Lasham, posted here in the RAF before we went over to France.    The following year I fell in passionate, all absorbing everlasting love when as a member of a small team was ordered to restart Oerlinghausen as an RAF Gliding and Rest centre and I started gliding.


I am able to boast that I have now been actively involved non stop in gliding longer than anyone else ever in the UK in the history of our sport.


Now forgive me, here comes an emotional bit.  At a BGA Council meeting in

1955 Philip Wills suddenly announced that from then on we would have competition numbers and without a pause said ‘I’ll have No.1 for myself, Nos. 2 and 3 for the Newcastle Club I represent’ and he stopped to take breath – I jumped in and claimed No.4, others followed suit.  Poor Philip, he was going to dispense more largesse to other friends but we beat him to it.  It was the first time we stood up to him and he did not like it!


Thus I have ‘owned’ No.4 since then, it has been on every glider I have owned. But the time has come and I have offered and it was been accepted by Lasham Gliding Society hopefully to adorn our flagship.


At the same time my daughter Christine who has ‘owned’ No.3 since 1976 when she and her husband bought Andy Coulson the Newcastle Chairman’s Kestrel has also ‘given’ it to LGS.


Now to the important bit – the comps!  How I miss them. Since my first in 1947 I have crewed, competed, task set, directed and tugged and pranged twice!  Now they are slightly different compared with my early days.  30 to one was the top L/D, mainly downwind dashes and when the first electric vario appeared followed by the Bohli compass so great in cloud we thought modern technology was magic.


So I wish you all a super comps, have fun, fly safe and may you all win!! It give me great pleasure to officially declare the 2014 Nationals and the Lasham Regionals open.