The 1-26 glider is a close cousin of the 2-33. At my flying club (York Soaring) it is known as "The sports car." This is due to the fast airspeed of 60 knots needed to land to avoid hitting your tail wheel hard against the ground. Out of the few times I flew in the 1-26, it was always a truly magical experience. At first, it can be a little nerve racking transferring from the two seat 2-33 into the single seat 1-26. The main reason for being scared is that in the 2-33, you can have an instructor go up with you and make sure you understand the aircraft, but with the 1-26, due to it being a single seat aircraft, your first flight in it is always alone. To train you for the single seater, an instructor will take you up flying in a 2-33, but will pretend it is the 1-26 by asking you to fly certain speeds and attitudes.
The one change one will notice coming from the 2-33 is the 1-26's unique responsive controls. It is a very unforgiving aircraft, and will respond to even a centimeter of movement of the control stick. While on a mock training flight, smooth control of the aircraft of tow, and flight are the main goals to achieve to get onto the 1-26.Aside from being super responsive, the aircraft is very light. Only around half the weight of the 2-33, the 1-26 is great for finding and using thermals and will achieve target altitude faster than most older aircraft. When flying in another kind of glider, all the pilots at York soaring use the bright red 1-26 as a marker of good thermals when used by a more veteran pilot. When you see the 1-26 going in circles from miles away, all gliders in the area converge on it and join in the same thermal (a truly magical experience) While the light weight of the aircraft can be a positive factor for using a thermal, it is a problem when encountering winds. Due to the light weight, the 1-26 is usually the first aircraft to be grounded due to high winds. This is due to it being an easier target for winds taking the aircraft downwind away from the airfield, forcing the pilot to land in a farmer’s field (hopefully!) The only problems with it (besides the wind) is that it has limited visibility due to the design of the chair and windows and is harder to land due to the tail wheel and main wheel being closer together.
In conclusion, it really is a nice aircraft to fly. After flying the 1-26 successfully, I found an increased confidence in myself, and had discovered that my blood pumped a lot faster than it did in other aircraft. While it may be a little more cramped than a 2-33 or even a high performance grobe, you really do feel like a fighter pilot after stepping out of it for the first time.