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On the flight line at the SOSA Gliding Club in Rockton, Ont., among all the modern gliders made of composite plastics, graphite and Kevlar, sits a very distinctive yellow and blue glider that shouts it’s from a different era. Made of wood, steel tubes and fabric, the Laister-Kauffman LK-10 (TG-4A U.S. Army Air Force designation) has tandem seating and once trained glider pilots for the D-Day invasion during the Second World War.
Retired Toronto documentary producer, Herrie ten Cate, has owned the glider since 1995 and restored it to airworthiness in 2000. His love for the LK-10 is clearly evident despite the fact the aircraft is a less than efficient soaring machine.
The LK-10 was designed by Jack Laister for the American Glider Program in 1941 to train pilots to fly the Waco CG-4 assault glider and was based around Laister’s previous design, the Yankee Doodle, a gull-wing glider built in 1938.
Laister and businessman John Kauffmann formed the Laister-Kauffman Corporation and built three prototypes, designated XTG-4, for the U.S. Army Air Force. The design was received positively and two batches of 75 airframes each were ordered. All were retired before the end of the war as the TG-4A posed vastly different flying characteristics than the assault gliders.
Shortly after the war, most were sold surplus and found their way to civilian gliding clubs across North America.
In 1946, Don MacClement organized the Queen’s University Gliding Club at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. The following year, members travelled to Syracuse, N.Y., and purchased two war-surplus TG-4As for $1,500 each and brought the airframes to Canada. The first flights took place at Norman Rogers Airport in March 1947. Sometime in the 1950s, the Queen’s Gliding Club sold ten Cate’s glider and it moved to the Gananoque Airport, where it remained into the 1990s when it was sold to ten Cate’s gliding partner at the time. In 1998, ten Cate began a full restoration of the TG-4A. He used original materials as much as possible and only replaced what was needed, making it one of the most original TG-4As still airworthy. The glider consists of a steel tube fuselage; the main spar is spruce and flying surfaces are made of birch.
The original Irish linen was replaced with modern ceconite that is more durable and resistant to deterioration from ultraviolet light. It is finished as it looked in 1948 while at Queen’s University Gliding Club, wearing U.S. Army Air Force trainer yellow and blue markings with Canadian registration CF-ZAJ.