At the end of 1938 the firm was supplying and servicing sailplanes and gliders to every club in the country and many clubs and owners overseas. Business was brisk in spite of German activities. Primaries, “Kirby Cadets”, sailplanes, were being produced in a steady stream.
The late Frank Charles, the well. known dirt track rider of that time, already the owner of a “Kirby Kite,” which he handled in a masterly way, persuaded the firm to build him a machine with “Rhonadler” characteristics, but with more up-to-date features. This machine was named by Charles the “Petrel”.
The “Petrel” was a winner from the start, and four more were built, two with a stabilised tail unit instead of the pendulum type of elevator.
NEW FACTORY 1939
In 1939 the production of sailplanes and gliders became an established industry, and the firm felt justified in forming a separate company, “Slingsby Sailplanes Ltd,” and built a new factory at Kirbymoorside. War broke out the day before the factory opened and all orders were cancelled. However, the factory carried on and finished its experimental types, which included a full cantilever wing version of the “Gull” and a two-seater high performance cabin type sailplane, the ” Gull II”.
In 1940 the “Kirby Kites” were taken over by the R.A.F for special duties, and later a “Petrel” with J.C. Nielan as pilot, was detailed for similar work.
The factory gradually became involved in war work, and sports gliders slowly faded out of the picture and bigger and grimmer craft appeared.
In 1941 the A.T.C. went glider minded with a scheme for encouraging its youthful members to build their own gliders. The firm loaned a set of “Kirby Cadet” drawings to the A.T.C. authorities to help the good work. Later firms commenced building the machines, and the “Kirby Cadet” is now the standard training machine for the A.T.C. Gliding Schools.