The Colditz Glider

I recently watched the Colditz episode “Ace in the Hole” where they hatch the plan to build the famous Colditz Glider which was known as the Colditz Cock.  The intention was to build a glider on the roof of the castle and fly it over the barriers to freedom.

Anyway, Channel 4 recently commissioned to have a replica built of the glider to see if the plot would have worked for an upcoming documentary.  It did work:

So in bright sunshine and with much of the small village of Colditz gazing skywards the original launch method was employed;a bath filled with one ton of concrete was dropped down the side of the castle beneath the runway, providing the pulley-driven propulsion that catapulted the 19ft long and 33ft wide glider off the runway and into the air.

It was a glorious, though it has to be said short-lived, flight lasting just 15 seconds before the glider crash-landed and crumpled in the target field, flanked by houses on either side.

“I was running out of space and getting too close to the houses, so I had to bring it down,” said Patrick Willis who was controlling the flight of the glider through a remote-control transmitter linked to three receivers on the glider.

I was under the impression that there had been other versions made of this glider and flown, which means it isn’t a surprise to me that it “worked”.  But, this appears to be the first time the glider was flown according to the prisoners’ actual plan.

The Channel 4 documentary will be shown in early summer.

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