6.29.2016

The ASK 21 and the SGS 2-32 gliders comparison.

In Civil Air Patrol I have currently flown two gliders, the Schleicher ASK 21 and the Schweizer SGS 2-32. Here I am going to make comparison of the two aircraft, but focusing on small details and stuff I know about them rather than plain, on-paper specifications.

I will start with the first glider I have ever flown, the ASK 21. Built in 1984, it is in great condition for a 30+ year-old glider. It is a two-seater with instructor in the back and student up front and is of fiberglass construction. It has an extremely small cockpit, but like most gliders, a huge wing span. It has five wheels, one under the tail, one under the fuselage, a nose wheel, and one on each wingtip. This glider is quite special as it was used at the USAF Academy and that means that when you climb in, you're sitting where fighter pilots, or at least fighter pilots in training have sat. And they say that the view is just the same as from an F-16. But you can't climb straight up, and in my own observation, there are a lot less buttons and LCD screens.
view of a F-16 cockpit familiarization trainer or something like that 
ASK 21 being readied to be towed to the runway
The above and the first pictures are of the ASK 21 front cockpit. Just recently I was able to sit in the instructor seat while on the ground. It isn't a huge panoramic view, but I though it was pretty cool being in the back sandwiched between the wings. The rear has two storage cubbys that are just hollow sections in the wing. As far as I can recall, the rear had the same simple control stick as the front. On top of the control stick is a small silver button. Someone with a rotten sense of humor must have put it there, because we all now that should have been the gun button, not a radio switch, and that the opening in the nose should house a 20mm cannon, not a pitot tube.
On our ASK 21 there are peculiar burn marks on the instructor headrest, not, as I was told, caused by the instructor getting mad at the student but from the canopy being left open in the sun and causing a magnifying glass effect.


The ASK and the 2-32 are both aerobatic gliders. The ASK 21 has five-point harness. The straps all connect in the center at a knob that is attached to the left lap belt.The knob can then be twisted for the straps to pop out and the strap with the knob at the end of it can be simply tossed aside. The ASK has small windows that can be slid open and closed and have small vent hatches as well, they are useful for clearing condensation on the canopy on cold mornings. The canopies can be jettisoned if you get too crazy and need to bail out, the red handle on the top of the instrument panel in the first photo is the front canopy release. There are no explosive bolts, so you need to physically push the glass away and then reenact falling out of bed. Of the two gliders, the ASK is more compact and slender, but it may have a longer span and length but I am not sure.



The Schiewzer 2-32 is the older of the pair clocking in at 1966! It seems to be in good condition because it doesn't feel that old when you fly it. Unlike the ASK, the 2-32 is made out of aluminum. One strange feature is its "two and a half" person seating. Technically. two people can occupy the rear cockpit, granted that they are pretty trim. I decided to nickname the 2-32 the "Flying love seat" due to this unique feature. The 2-32 has a pronounced bubble cockpit, differing from the ASK canopy which blends more seamlessly into the rest of the airframe. Both the ASK and 2-32 have spoilers which are similar to airbrakes/flaps. (I think) The ASK has spoilers that come out of the top of the wing, but the 2-32 has spoilers on both top and bottom. The ASK spoiler control is a lever that is pushed or pulled, and a meaty push will lock the spoilers. On the 2-32 it is similar, but with a small notch for the lever in the locked position, but I think it still "pops" into place. I can't remember too well, I have only flown once in the 2-32.

The 2-32 cockpit actually reminds me of that of the F6F Hellcat from WWII. It has a deep, square kind of feel compared to the ASK which reminds me more of a reclining chair. Attached to the tow release knob is a funny little fellow, a stuffed smiley face with arms and legs.

Especially apparent in this photo is the control stick which has a foam padding, whereas the ASK has a solid plastic grip. The most "oldie" feature that strikes me is the harness system (I think it is a four point) and I could not figure out how put it together before receiving help from a squadron mate. The 2-32 has a metal skid for a nosewheel and I remember it making a ghastly noise on take off. If you look at the first 2-32 picture, you will notice the wingtip wheels with their interesting coil spring shock absorbers. Also, the 2-32 has a conventional tail while the ASK has a "T" tail. The ASK canopies open like car hoods the front hinging forward and the rear back. When the front opens, the whole instrument panel goes with it. The 2-32 meanwhile has a side hinging canopy that is all one piece.



This is probably one of my favorite pictures I have ever taken in-flight. I was trying to take a picture of clear sky and had no idea it would come out like this with the reflection.

Hope you enjoyed this post and found it interesting.

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