Monday, 13 February 2012

Confessions of a Glider Groupie – my Glider Collection

Part 2 – Plastik by Roland Paris

My second most favourite glider is also stationary.  I prefer my gliders airborne, but when I saw this glider plastik by Roland Paris I was unable to resist.  Strictly speaking I did not buy it for myself but for MDL, but since I have encountered transportation problems and he doesn’t really have the space to properly display this beauty it is staying in my house for the time being.

There are any number of mounted glider models advertised on the internet.  Most of them are made in the Philippines and worthy enough, but they are hardly works of art.  My little plastik is!  It was designed by a genuine artist, one Roland Paris who came from Vienna but worked mainly in Berlin.  He is famous for his metal statues of birds, women, and such like, though he turned his hands to all sorts of other media as well, including painting.  He perished towards the end of WWII, apparently.

The glider plastik came with a newspaper article which explained that it was cast by the firm Paul Kraas, an old Berlin family owned business that specialised in quality castings.  It had been commissioned by Herman Goering as a Wanderpreis (a trophee which is kept by the winner for one year and then passed on to whoever is best the following year) for best performance by a glider pilot in the NSFK (National Sozialistisches Flieger Korps) Mitte (Germany was divided into three areas for purposes of glider flying, the statue was for the middle group).  The newspaper article said that the Gruppe Weimar was the first one to win the trophee, and it was bestowed by Goering himself.  The article is not dated, but I think it comes from the late 1930s.  I have no idea whether any other casts were made of this plastik.  The dealer thought not, and extensive googling did not yield any more information.

The article also said that the plastik was supposed to symbolise a glider which soars above the clouds, high above the earth which is indicated by the round bit at the bottom.  Well, my impression of the plastik was different from the start.  As far as I know, every cloud has three loops – not two, as in the plastik.  To me those are not so much clouds as two hearts, somewhat broken to be sure but hearts all the same.  You notice how the two hearts support and embrace each other?  Despite being broken and incomplete, they retain the strength to support a large glider, the symbol of a soaring spirit and hopeful endeavour against ridiculous odds. 

Gliders, like so many of the flying machines depicted in my favourite scarf, are quite different in their approach to flying than motorised airplanes.  While an airplane relies on fossil fuels to forge ahead, sometimes going full steam against the forces of nature arraigned against it, a glider works with those same forces and makes use of them.  An airplane seeks to dominate, a glider seeks to cooperate.  The skills necessary to pilot a glider are much more subtle, and require much greater awareness of the conditions it encounters, than those required to fly an airplane.  Flying gliders is all about guiding and understanding and going with the flow, following the principles of WuWei.

That’s why I am so fond of my plastik and why I have chosen to feature it as my Valentine’s Day post.  For surely the qualities needed to successfully fly a glider are very similar to those needed to have a happy long-lasting loving relationship.  So I don’t believe my interpretation of the plastik which I call Two Broken Hearts and a Glider is so very fanciful after all!

Happy St Valentine's Day!