The Wire April 1996

Issue 3

April 1996

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club


The News Letter

We’ve done quite a lot of work over the winter updating the Club’s procedures and policies. These changes have been wide-ranging, and so we urge you to spend some time before the new season reading The Wire, the noticeboards, and the Club manuals.

Several people have asked about the status of articles published in The Wire. We welcome contributions from anyone, and we publish these more or less unedited without necessarily agreeing with the content. We always attribute these articles to the author. Anything else reflects Club Policy.

Last edition, we offered a Sales and Swaps section. Nobody took up the offer, so there’s no such section this time. The offer still stands.

The next edition of The Wire is in June. Until then: Good Flying!


Club Diary

The following events are planned for the 1996 season.


5-8 April Easter weekend
13-20 April Portmoak
29 April 7-day flying starts
6 May Bank holiday
20-24 May Course week
27 May Bank holiday
27-31 May Sutton Bank
22 June Longest Day
24-28 June Course week
?? July Task week
15-19 July Course week
5-9 August Course week
12-16 August Course week
26 August Bank holiday
13 Sept 7-day flying ends


Cross-Country Endorsement

The BGA have introduced the cross-country endorsement to the Bronze. Pilots must have this endorsement before they can fly cross-country. To get this endorsement signed, field selection and navigation practice must be carried out in a motor glider. Full details in The Manual. Pilots who already have got their Silver Distance may be exempt from this and should speak to the CFI.


Aircraft News

C of A

All the Club aircraft have their C of A’s, and so we’ll start the soaring season with a full complement of aircraft.

The Junior

The cable release knob on the Junior is the yellow one. The one low down on the panel is the rudder pedal adjustment.


Safety Matters

Irving Parachutes

Irving have announced that the life of their parachutes has been extended from ten to fifteen years.

Club Parachutes

Please float the club chutes with care. A chute left out in the rain, or lying on damp ground, will unsurprisingly get wet. A chute left on dry grass will become a comfortable home for all sorts of insects. A chute should not be carried upright, or worn while you walk the aircraft back.

Put the chute on before you get into the aircraft, take it off after you get out, and put it back in the clubhouse or bus when you’ve finished with it.

We use chutes as ballast, but that’s not what they’re really for, and it just might be You that pulls the ripcord and finds out what’s inside.


Just a reminder that it’s very strongly recommended by the BGA that all pilots should use a thin non-compressible cushion to minimise the risk of back injury in the event of a heavy landing. This, of course, applies to all aircraft, not just the Club fleet.


We have a new batch of seat cushions for the Club fleet, thanks to The Blairs. These have cost the Club several hundred pounds, and have taken a lot of effort to make, so please make sure we finish the season with as many as we started.

The Top Of The Bus

is a nice place to sit and chat, where you can join in with the spirit of the field without having to do any work.

It is also very distracting and disrupting for Control, who needs to be alert at all times to the activity at the launch point. If you’re not helping the operation, please refrain from hindering it.

There are matters of safety and efficiency at stake, and Control is quite entitled to ask you to leave.

Launching By Radio

It is the Club’s policy that the 129.9 radio may only be used for information. Launching mustbe controlled by visual means (in other words, the lights), and the only exception is to reinforce the visual Stop.

While it’s true that radio is very convenient, it’s not all that safe: we had an incident where noise from another station caused the winch driver to mistake Stand By as Up Slack; there was a case where the pilot came on the aircraft radio and contradicted Control; and on one occasion the winch driver wisely chose to ignore the Up Slack for a K7 being launched at Edge Hill.


So You Want To Soar

Well, you’ve seen it done and even had successful flights with your instructor, but now you need to find that thermal solo. Yet you seem to go round and round the circuit, watching others climb away. Why….

You’re in the queue waiting for that launch, and what are you doing? Chatting? Helping move the line forward? Very good, but without some prior thought, you’re effectively throwing your money away. Once the cable’s on, it’s too late to worry about it, and once you’re off the wire, it’s decision time about where to go, but does it matter as you’re probably in 4kt sink and 90 seconds away from circuit height.

Rule Number One. Notice the first thermic flight of the day, where they contacted lift, what’s the wind drift, what’s cloudbase.

Hot Spots are features that produce regular thermals due to some kind of differential heating or breakaway point. They are sometimes referred to as house thermals. I’d class the ridge, the golf course, Saville’s, and the farm on the downwind leg as my most regular house thermals.

When I’m on line, I always assess the sky: which other gliders are in range, which clouds can I reach that are active. You need to know cloudbase and your expected launch height for this. You also need to know the wind direction, since it isn’t good enough just to reach a good cloud. You must have an idea of the position of the thermal in relation to the cloud or ground feature, and the wind direction at your flying height is the key to the thermal’s position.

If you can’t see any gliders or thermals in range, revert to Plan A. Which house thermals are most relevant for the wind direction. Almost without exception, head upwind directly towards your furthest hot spot. If it fails, you can drift back downwind passing other choices on the way back to the circuit.

With our two-cable launch system, the second pilot can judge the errors or otherwise of the first. If he catches a thermal, you can go and join him, and if he comes straight back, you can do something different such as turning left instead of right.

It is most frustrating to watch a gaggle climb away as you wait for your launch. Once it is out of range, it is unlikely to be worth flying to join them because, although our hot spots produce regular thermals throughout a normal day, once the warm air has broken away it needs time to reheat before it can produce another thermal, and heavy sink will be present in the meantime. Therefore, timing is critical, and this is why it is important to watch gliders soaring close to base before you launch. Quite simply, know where you are going to before you launch, and get there as efficiently as possible (but that’s another story).


Brian Marsh, 247


From The Minutes


Flying members of the public is essential, not only because of the revenue involved, but also because all visitors are potential members.

Last year, we got ourselves into difficulties on a couple of occasions, when too many visitors arrived at once and we got overloaded. The cause of the problem was that we didn’t have the necessary procedures in place to handle the situation. Despite sterling work by many members on site, the result was frustration and delays for members and visitors alike.

This year, we’re trying to avoid a recurrence of all this by identifying responsibilities and setting limits. These are only guidelines, of course, which can be changed on the day by the Duty Instructor, and only apply on busy days.

Last year, we had a rota of Duty AEIs, and this will continue. This year, it will be formally the Duty AEIs’ responsibility to meet, greet organise, sign up, brief, and fly all visitors. Ideally, there will be two AEIs sharing a dedicated two-seater, which will give them time between flights to spend with the visitors. If circumstances are not quite ideal, some of the meeting and greeting and organising may be delegated to a specific club member, at the discretion of the AEIs.

One thing we must avoid if at all possible is putting the responsibility onto the Duty Instructor, the Duty Marshall, or the log keeper.

We’re also going to limit the queue to six visitors, which is equivalent to about two to three hours. If there are more visitors, they can wait to join the queue on spec, but it must be made clear to them that they will have a long wait and that we can’t even guarantee that they will be able to fly. At some point, the queue must be closed.

We have the two advertising boards available. The decision to put them out on the A34 should be made in the morning briefing, subject to the availability of aircraft, cables, AEIs, and ground crew. The boards should be brought in early if there are too many visitors present.

The final decision is the Duty Instructor’s, acting on the recommendations of the Duty AEIs and Marshall.

We hope that, with these procedures, busy days will be controllable, and we won’t overload ourselves again.

The Committee


Thelma Edlin will be running the catering again this year.

Churchill Awards

The BGA are reintroducing the Churchill Award, which is a scheme to encourage young pilots. In 1996, there will be 25 awards of £100 each for pilots achieving their Bronze ‘C’ before they reach 18. The awards are paid as club flying fees.

Applicants must apply to the BGA. More details available on request.


Membership subscriptions are due on April 1st Full flying membership is £130, junior and senior and family are half that, and associate is £13. Members who joined during the past 12 months get a pro rata reduction of £10.50 per month, or half if appropriate.


The annual rental charge for keeping a glider trailer or a caravan on the site is £30, due on April 1st. Anyone complaining that they haven’t had to pay in the past will be charged back rent.


Club Notices

Wanted: Engineer

Currently, Bob Hill does most of the maintenance of the Club machinery, including the winches and the vehicles. This is a huge undertaking for one person, and Bob is seriously overloaded trying to keep the Club running. We would welcome the assistance of anyone experienced in this sort of work who could help. With the planned increase in the Club, it is essential that we address this issue before it is too late.

Flying Fees

Please try to make sure you pay your flying fees on the day. The job of Club Bursar is onerous enough without having to chase people for small sums of money.

If you pay by cheque, please write the date and the flight numbers and fees on the back. If you use an envelope, please write the same. The flight number is the log sheet number and the flight number on that sheet. For example:



22nd June
2/15 £4.80
2/17 £5.40
3/7 £7.20


Reconciling late payments is such a problem that we are seriously considering levying a handling charge.

Rubbish Skip

The green metal trailer is not a skip. Please do not use it to dispose of rubbish such as scrap cable, banana skins, and (in one instance) socks.


As always, we are trying to sell courses to the public this summer, at a cost of £215. Club members are welcome on these courses, and only pay £190. Contact Karin if you want to book a place.

We can, in theory at least, run a course any week when nothing else is booked. In practice, however, it’s much better to have as many course members as possible during any particular week, both because of the social side and because of problems of ground crewing. To that end, we have chosen a few weeks that we will sell as our first choices. These are: 20-24 May, 24-28 June, 15-19 July, 5-9 August, 12-16 August.

Who’s Done What

Graham Macmillan and John Lowe have completed their Bronze ‘C’. Adrian Overing went solo in February and Chris Nock in March. Roy and Sandra Wood have bought an ASW-15B.


From The Internet

From: Herrie ten Cate

If anyone has ever wondered why it’s important to properly park-up a glider, just the read the following story.

TORONTO. High winds blew a jet off a loading gate at Toronto Airport. A Transport Canada spokesman says a 9Okph gust of wind caught the Canadian Airlines 7-67 under its wings and turned it 90 degrees away from the gate.

From: Ian Strachan Chairman ICC GFAC

I am pleased to announce that the terms of IGC approval for the Cambridge GNSS FR Models 10, 20, and 25 have been agreed today 16th January 1996, and take effect from this date.

From: Ian Strachan

GPS Selective Availability May Be Turned Off By The US Government

The Selective Availability error system is deliberately applied to civil UPS signals by tbe US miitary. If SA were to be turned off, the effect for all of us would be that the average error of civil GPS would decrease from the present 100m to 10-15m.

The legislation has been passed by the US House of Representatives. It still has to get through the Senate, and be signed by the President, before SA is turned off.

A date of 1st May 96 for a possible SA turn-off has been mentioned, but there is no guarantee that this will happen, because of the option that the DoD still have in the legislation.

From: Graham Skelly

Lasham Gliding Society now has a Web site at

From: Ian Johnston

Starting 19th Feb 1996 the official Web site of the BGA will be found at bttp://

Unfortunately, it’s the wrong organisation. The url given turns up a page starting “Welcome to the British Gilding Organisation”.


The View from the Back

Caterpillar Season

Well, the soaring season is about to start, if it hasn’t already by the time you read this. All those who have been flying during the “closed” season know we weren’t closed at all. We’ve been here in the cold and damp, just waiting.

We’ve waited for the low cloud to disappear, and the ice to clear from the wings and canopies. We’ve waited for the field to dry out enough that the Land Rover can cope without floats and we can walk across the field without needing a life jacket. We’ve waited for the low cloud to rise before the sun fell. We waited for the snow to stop falling. When all the waiting was over WE FLEW! Often briefly, and then we waited again, for the canopies to mist over and stop flying for everything but the T21. Flying a T21 in winter is best described as bracing! When we could no longer fly, we waited for the ‘Arms to open.

The waiting is nearly over. Soon we’ll be discarding the flying suits and winter boots for T-shirts (sorry, polo shirts), shorts and trainers. The winter caterpillars will turn into butterflies and all those who chose to forgo the “pleasures” of a cold wintry field will turn out to rig their gliders expecting a couple of “check flights”. BUT BEWARE! If you haven’t been flying regularly, ask yourself “How current am I?” Can you honestly say you are in practice enough to cope with emergencies. Is your judgement really up to it? The winter has been the opportunity to keep your skills in tune in less than ideal conditions. Sideslipping, awkward circuits, launch failures, stalling and spinning, field landings: all have been practised during the short winter flights, so that when the sun starts shining for longer than 3 hours a day most of us are ready.


As instructors, we have to work to guidelines regarding the number of refresher flights recommended dependent on previous experience and currency.

If you’ve been away from flying for more than four weeks, you can expect a number of check flights over a number of days. See The Manual for details.

These are the guidelines to get yourself current, but the ultimate responsibility has to lie with you to ensure you are as current as you can be, by flying as often as you can in as wide a range of conditions as you can. Keeping in practice can be fun and has been cheap with the winter flying rates.

The butterfly season is short. Next year, why not join the caterpillars. All you need is warm clothing, warm boots, and a sense of humour, but you must have that otherwise you wouldn’t have joined!


Sharing is caring!