After 22 years of flying, Austen, Geoff Harrison and Bob Sharman acquired the Harbinger – a glider that Austen had admired for some time. They joined the VGC and after the glider had been almost completely re-built, they thoroughly enjoyed gliding in their aptly nick-named ‘Orange Blob.’ They had many exciting adventures – some more memorable than others! In the early days I vividly recall driving down the motorway from Camphill to Lasham, Austen was driving and I turned round to look at the trailer and was horrified to see the Harbinger almost resting on the rear bumper, where it had slipped forward to, coming through the front trailer doors! We stopped very gingerly and between us managed to haul the glider back to its rightful position. We were quiet for some time after that experience.
After sampling various rallies in the UK the syndicate ventured overseas with a first trip to Amlikon in 1985. There was great flying there and great camaraderie and this was the start of the regular overseas trips to join the annual VGC rally.
Around 1990 Austen took on the role of VGC Treasurer which he maintained until the success and rapid expansion of the Club meant it was time to pass it on to a younger member. Austen officially retired from travelling around Europe to the VGC events, just before the 2004 Poland rally. Even after that, and no longer an active member of the VGC, Austen’s interest in gliders and flying continued, and he would often sit by the window with his binoculars keeping watch on the skies.
He was taken to hospital from home in August 2021, and passed away on September 28th, a copy of VGC news by his bedside.