Gliding back in time - Schulgleiter​ SG 38

  • Seems like only yesterday, heck it was only yesterday that Krzysk sent me a first look copy of the Schulgleiter SG 38 Glider. When looking at the file names, I had no idea what I was going to see or be flying a few minutes later. Even after a short flight and the customary screenshot it still had not occurred to me why I thought I knew more about this really basic glider. Actually, I was thinking it was only one step improved from a hang glider - this one has a seat and rudder pedals.

    There was some instant interest by some of my glider heroes here at the forum that don't normally take much interest in IPACS gliding because they are Condor 2.0 fans. That was enough to peak my interest so off I go to Google the SG 38. My there seems to be a lot of information available on the web for a old wooden and fabric pre-1940s glider. Then my eyes drifted over to the summary box at Wiki and the "number built about 10,000" totally stunned me.

    OK, now I get it, this was the original Glider 101, as the modern press would say. Actually, in some countries that was exactly the designation assigned. When I got to the part about being the primary trainer for the Luftwaffe then I remembered a very detailed discussion of learning to fly in the SG-38. This was the beginning of a great book, held in high esteem, by most pilots - Luftwaffe Fighter Ace. In his own words, Norbert Hannig narrates his experiences earning A, B, and C glider badges while still in high school.

    After being rejected on medical reasons, a year or so later he becomes a real Luftwaffe pilot flying Bf 109, Fw 109 and Me262. You can download a free pdf copy of the book here Almost all of the first chapter is devoted to some excellent details of learning to fly a this glider.

    For those of you that are still interested but not enough to go read a book, here is what the UASF Museum has to say about their SG 38 on display in Ohio.

    When we think of the fighters and gliders of the early years of flight, we hardly picture a sloped wooden seat, made purposefully to seat a pilot and used by the Luftwaffe for training in the late 1930s and into the 1940s. The SG 38 was appropriately named Schulgleiter or "school glider" and the year it first flew, 1938.

    The Germans were facing strict limitations on powered aircraft after World War I therefore they turned to gliders for studying aerodynamics and training pilots. In 1933, the DFS or German Research Institute for Sailplane Flight was forced by the Germans to make all gliding activity in Germany centralized. Training gliders, such as the Schneider Schulgleiter SG 38, were developed for both the Hitler Youth Flyers and Luftwaffe.

    The Luftwaffe made its appearance in 1935 after the Nazis began their attempt at a rapid large-scale rearmament program. The expansion created a need for safe gliders used for student pilots in training. The DFS worked with Edmund Schneider, who had opened a glider factory in 1927 and was producing some of the world's best gliders, to design the Schneider Schulgleiter SG 38.

    t would appear that the design of the SG-38 was overtly simple and a bit dangerous looking, however the aircraft had to compensate for inexperienced student pilots. Would you believe that this training glider was actually launched with bungee cords from the hillsides of Mount Wasserkuppe in central Germany? The glider only remained airborne for a short time in order to prevent heavy-handed students from over steering and stalling the glider. Eventually, 9,000 to 10,000 SG 38s were built.

    After World War II, Schneider moved to Australia and continued to build gliders. This Schneider Schulgleiter SG 38 came to the USAF National Museum in 2010.

    I have attached some close up photos this display model.

    Here is how it got to the Museum in Ohio.

    BERLIN — Members of the 315th Airlift Wing here had a lesson in history on a recent mission when they helped bring back a living piece of it for the National Museum of the Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, Dec. 9.

    Per the Treaty of Versailles, post World War I German pilots were not allowed to fly airplanes with engines. They were, however, allowed to learn their basic aviation skills in gliders which were built out of wood and canvas. In the 1930s, German pilots started their flight training on the ground and eventually worked their way up to a real flight, taking off from the top of a hill. Gliders of that generation were very basic, but got the job done in teaching this new skill to a generation of young German airmen.

    Around 1990, workmen found an intact 1933 German SG 38 glider in the most unusual place. "They found it in a wall at the Tempelhof airport [in Berlin]," said Greg Hassler, the full-time restoration supervisor with the National Museum of the Air Force. "The Royal Air Force restored it back in 1990."

    Mr. Hassler and his team at the National Museum are caretakers for more than 350 aircraft showcasing the history of 104 years of aviation. When the museum was notified this glider was found and available, they jumped at the chance to add it to the amazing collection already on display at the museum located on Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Mr. Hassler and a museum specialist, Mark Miller, joined the 317 AS crew who were already on a training mission delivering passengers to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and with the approval from the Air Force, picked up the glider in Berlin. "This is a real piece of aviation history," said Mr. Miller. "We'll take it back to the museum where it will go into restoration, be reassembled and put on display."

    The national museum has more than 60 volunteers in their restoration shop including reservists who travel from Charleston on their annual tour. Tech. Sgt. Sherri St. John, an avionics technician with the 315th Maintenance Group, is one of the specialists lending their knowledge to keep history alive.

    "We had to build a special frame and mount in the C-17 to fit the glider for shipping it back," she said proudly as she worked carefully with Tech. Sgt. Billy Brewer, 317 AS loadmaster, in the vast cargo bay of the airlifter. A 1933 German glider is not your ordinary cargo and takes special handling so as not to damage it. Every aircraft in the national museum is a treasure with a rich history on display for all to see. "We're proud to be able to help bring it to its new home," said Capt. Jamie Turner, the mission's aircraft commander. "It's hard to imagine actually flying that." "It's made out of mostly wood and canvas," said Mr. Miller as he checked the condition of the glider like the proud owner of a new car. "For the age, it's in very good shape."

    Like all the other aircraft on display at the National Museum of the Air Force, the SG 38 German glider will be yet another window into the past showing generations to come what the original days of German military flight were all about.

    Wiki has some detail on the design and development.

    The SG 38 was designed to be a training glider for basic flight training by the Nationalsozialistisches Fliegerkorps (NSFK). The usual launch method was by bungee cord from a sloped hill. Because training was conducted solely by solo flight the aircraft had to be very easy to fly and also easy to repair. The high-wing design uses a kingpost and cable bracing. The primary structure of the glider is of wood, with the wings, tail surfaces and inverted "V" kingpost all finished in doped aircraft fabric covering. The pilot sits on a simple seat in the open air, without a windshield. The basic configuration was similar to earlier gliders such as the Stamer Lippisch Zögling and the Grunau IX, but the SG 38 was an entirely new design. Improvements included enlarged tail surfaces for better stability, a separate skid mounted on shock-absorbing springs, and an updated seat for the pilot.

    The SG-38 was built in Japan as the Tachikawa Ki-24.

    Schulgleiter SG38 (RAF TX1, Swedish G101, Finnish SG-1, Belgian SG38) 2 kits included (Kovozávody Prostejov KPM7228) DFS SG.38 Schulgleiter

    The SG-38 played a critical role in pilot training for the Luftwaffe in the Second World War, as a simple, but robust, trainer for the rapid increase in the number of pilots needed by Germany. It was commonly flown by bungee launch on the slopes of the Wasserkuppe.

    From 1949 to 1951 Spain's AISA produced 50 licence-built aircraft.

    In the UK, Elliotts of Newbury built a copy of the SG.38 called the Elliotts Primary EoN; its version first flown in 1948 and used by the RAF as the Eton TX.1.

    Earlier today, Krzysk released his Aerofly FS2 design of the Sorken SG-38 for public download. You can get it here Look for the green download box and follow the necessary instructions. After unzipping, change the folder name, make sure the files are directly under the new file name, then copy to your personal aircraft folder for Aerofly FS2.



    When searching the web for interesting facts or photos of the SG-38, I came across this training contraption. This probably pre-dates the Link Trainer by a couple of decades.

  • Great Model of the SG38. Only problem I've noticed with it so far is the left side of the stabilizer seems to be missing


    Is it missing in this image?

    Yep, sure enough. Maybe I can find one on eBay. Do you have trouble making an air start at altitude?

  • I can't imagine what took so long for this fix. Mr. K. musta had it in is office.

    As for the air start, this is strange. I can set the altitude for 5,000 ft and when I start I am at 300 feet. Try again for 4,000 ft, nope. I'm at 300 feet. Strange indeed. I just use the Instant Up key and with 4 or 5 rapid presses, I am gliding, weeeeeee.



  • Now everyone can experience FS2 from outside the cockpit. Anyone have any comments about flying the SG 38 in VR? Must be scary? =O:huh:8o


  • Flying the Sorken along the Florida Keys in the DLC is just about as relaxing as going to the beach and walking barefoot in the sand with the waves lapping over my ankles. My My. Thanks Mr. K.


  • For greater immersion these goggles work great when flying the SG 38 and are less than $25 delivered. I still get bugs in my teeth because I am smiling all the time but, that's life. Of course you have to wait for the slow boat from China for delivery at this price.

    I turned up the volume to listen to the wind and had a very pleasant surprise when the skid scrapped only the grass at Tavernaero. Very realistic sound, I suppose. I'm impressed with this one, for sure.


  • Hadn't noticed you can do that quick up thing... very useful Ray.

    Thanks for fixing this K.


    Yes, very useful for gliding. It is like having a silent retro rocket. One click = ~660 ft, 3 clicks - 2,000 ft. Quicker than a tow plane even. 8o


  • one click = 200m exactly... this may change at some point, e.g. to 500 ft to make it a little easier to judge on the average altimeter

    Exactly. Would you believe I knew that. :P In Florida, close is close enough. :/:huh::D Thanks.

    or ~ 660 feet.

  • The Start at Altitude glitch has been corrected. You can download the latest update for the Schulgleiter SG 38

    at GitHub.


  • The altitude start still does not work for me, allways changes to 2500 feets. Maybe realistic for this kind of glider as it never had been towed by a plane but I would love to start high in the Alps in VR.

    Best regards,


    i7-6700K @ 4.0 GHz, Geforce GTX 1080, 32MB RAM, 500 GB SSD, 1 TB SSD, 1TB HD, 32" Monitor 4K, Oculus Rift

  • Thomas,

    I just rechecked my SG 38 and it will start at whatever altitude I specific in the Location screen. Did you download the most recent version and replace the previous one? If so, I can send you a link for the one I am flying (which I downloaded yesterday).


  • Thanks Ray - yes, I downloaded the latest update but I made an error when installing it. Sorry for the confusion, my mistake.

    Best regards,


    i7-6700K @ 4.0 GHz, Geforce GTX 1080, 32MB RAM, 500 GB SSD, 1 TB SSD, 1TB HD, 32" Monitor 4K, Oculus Rift