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Written by Zack Lutovac   
Friday, 22 November 2013 14:50

Mike Burns awarded by GFA 2013!


MikeBurnsGFA Awards Large

Mike Burns - a worthy recipient of the Harry Ryan award for Services to Airworthiness.

Mike has worked tirelessly for as long as we have known him to make gliding a safer and more enjoyable sport by ensuring that our gliders and equipment are properly inspected, maintained and repaired. He has always offered his services to the club free of charge and is always available to give advice or provide a second opinion if anything gives us concern on the airfield.

Safety has always been his highest priority and his Daily Inspector's courses are a source of valuable information and insight as to what we can do to keep our pilots safe. A course with Mike can never be done in a day and it can take four or more sessions before he will be prepared to authorise anyone to be a Daily Inspector who is going to be responsible for signing off an aircraft as being safe to fly.

There will be many gaps in this overview of Mike's involvement with airworthiness as we don't know everything he has been involved in, particularly in the early years when he worked out of Bankstown Airport and prior to that in New Zealand where he did maintenance to agricultural aircraft and other power planes.

We got to know Mike in the eighties, when he was the CTO for GFA for eleven years and was responsible for airworthiness. He investigated many accidents and identified the reasons for them and how this could be avoided in the future.

Mike was responsible for making modifications to the Blanik to extend its life. He extended the life of Polish gliders such as the Fokas and Bocians, that were out of hours, by putting in place a maintenance program whereby the glider's life could be extended if it passed an annual inspection each year. These gliders were burnt in other countries such as Germany which is very sad as they are still flying here today.

Now he has been with us in Tocumwal for over 20 years, where he has worked tirelessly on gliders, ultralights, and General Aviation Aircraft. Ingo Renner says that he had the pleasure to do some of the test flights in the modified motor gliders such as the Motorfalke with a Jabiru engine and the Jet Caproni. He stated that they performed brilliantly, which was a real credit to Mike.

Another highlight in Mike's activities were the restorations and repairs of Vintage gliders. First he repaired a Bocian, which had flipped over on its back at Bacchus Marsh. Our club had the use of this glider for over two years. Then he completed a partially built Condor 5 for a Japanese glider pilot. After that came the restoration of a 65 year old Olympia.

On the ultralight scene Mike has been, and still is, involved with the design, construction and certification of scaled down homebuilt Mustangs and Spitfires. He has helped many home builders with design enabling them to get their aircraft certified.

Mike continues to fight for the GFA to have the right to control airworthiness issues and retain the right to certify their own gliders.

In the nineties he modified the controls of a Blanik so that paraplegics could also enjoy flying.

As a man of many talents he also designed, built and test flew a hang glider in the sixties  the first in Australia. I have attached a photo of the first flight of his Rogallo wing on the Georges River in Sydney.

Skiplane2 Medium

Mike's contribution to the development of hang gliders has been recognised by the World Hang Gliding Association(WHGA) with the award of the WHGA Flex Wing Hang Glider Gold Air Awards. He actually sold Bill Moyes the first three hang gliders Bill ever flew.

Mike was also instrumental in developing the first Pawnee powered with a Ford V6 engine. This was a development that he hoped would make aero tows more affordable for glider pilots.

Mike spent many years designing an Australian made jet engine suitable for launching gliders as these were no longer available and it is necessary to always have a replacement available. Having watched this programme it was obvious that nothing less than perfection was acceptable.

As a founder of our club and club president for many years he has given us good advice on many occasions. The safety standards he maintains with our aircraft and flying operations are second to none and as far as gliding was concerned Mike went out of his way to help many times.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 October 2015 16:36