The Wire June 1996

Issue 4

June 1996

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club


The News Letter

Welcome to the June issue of The Wire. We’re still on track for five issues a year, and the next issue is due in August. However, two months is proving to be a rather short production time, so we’ll review the situation next year.

Members letters

Next issue we will start a Members letters section. Want to express an option, give some feed back to Committee, get writing. For space reasons please try and be concise. The Editor will reserve the right to publish extracts only where he considers this appropriate.

Last date for possible inclusion in the next issue – 14th July and will be subject to space available.

For Sale/Wanted/Swop

Despite many people suggesting such a section no entries have been received for this month’s issue. Entries, which are free until further notice, are subject to space available – please be brief – and must reach the Committee by 14th July


Deputy CFI

After four years sterling effort in the job, Barry Kerby has resigned from the post of Deputy CFI.

Thanks were particularly due to Barry, together with Dave Benton and Peter Fanshawe, for the work they’ve put in over the past year training Instructors and AE pilots for their ratings. There was a critical instructor shortage looming, and it showed occasionally last summer when there was only one instructor on site at the weekend. Thanks to their hard work, that crisis has been averted for the time being.


Club Flying

The Fourth Of July

There is a group of about fifteen members of Bristol University Gliding Club visiting us from Sunday 30th June to Saturday 6th July. The details have yet to be finalised, but we are expecting seven solo pilots, seven pre-solo, and one instructor. They are bringing one single-seater with them, and will have the use of Club aircraft.

We’ve decided to use the same week as a Club Flying week. One of the main aims of this week is to give the instructors the chance to fly their solo hours, so instructor coverage for dual flying will be limited. The accent is on flying tasks of all sorts, from half hour bronze legs to 500k diamonds. One advantage of using the same week is that there should be plenty of pairs of hands available on the ground even when half the Club is queuing up to get round the turning point at Worcester.

This is intended to be a social week as well as a flying week, and there will be a barbecue at the end of the flying day on Thursday 4th, which promises to yield many of the blackmail photographs which keep did Club operating smoothly.

The Trial Lesson evenings for the Tuesday and Wednesday of that week are already booked, so we’ll be running those, but the Thursday will be kept free for the barbecue, and Team 9 get an evening off.


Safety Matters

Lookout and Thermal Discipline

I am aware of an increasing number of examples of poor lookout and flying discipline when thermalling. Causes appear to be various. Laziness, bad manners, lack of imagination, ignorance and aggression. Yes aggression. The logic of this takes several forms. One is “the other glider was not centred correctly, therefore I was not climbing as quickly as I could have done and so I positioned myself into what I thought was the correct place. It was the other glider’s fault for being in the wrong place that we got close”!. This is causing me concern and I am still considering how to address this matter further. Please see the current poster on the CFI’s notice board in the club house. (Comment from the DCFI – I always treat the other people round me as blind unpredictable idiots and fly accordingly, they might just make a mistake.)

Dave Benton, CFI

Knot in the shock rope

We’ve had several instances recently where a knot has been inadvertently tied in the shock rope at the launchpoint. We even launched an aircraft on a knotted rope once, and a knot is reckoned to reduce the strength of a rope by a third to a half.

We don’t really know why it happens, and why it’s started happening now. However, the knot certainly isn’t there when the Land Rover leaves the winch, so it must be the way the rope is handled at the launchpoint. If you separate the weak link unit from the parachute when you drop them off the Rover, logic dictates that there’s no way that a knot can appear.

But it’s still worth a little extra vigilance during the up slack.

As a reminder to occasional retrieve drivers: please remember to slip the weak link cable through one of the free rings on the weak link before you attach it to the Land Rover. This prevents damage to the shackles and weak links by keeping them off the ground during the tow-out, while ensuring that the weak link protects everything in the event of a problem.

Fire Above and Behind

The fife in the winch on May 25th has proved to be fairly minor, with the benefit of hindsight, although at the time it didn’t seem that way.

A sound insulation board was set alight, and in turn set fire to the air filter. The only damage to bits that matter was to a low-pressure fuel line and the cold-start and stop Bowden cables.


Club Notices

Trial Lesson Evenings

The Trial Lesson Evening season is on us again, and the first half of the calendar is already almost full. As usual, Club members have responded positively to Jo’s requests to make up the teams that run the evenings. If you’re new to the Club, or have somehow escaped Jo’s attention, and you would like to help, regularly or as a reserve, please get in touch with Jo.

These evenings produce revenue which is important to the Club, but there’s more to it than just that. Many groups come back year after year, and a few of the visitors each year turn into members. The air of enthusiasm and professionalism that we manage somehow to convey, even when we’re desperately short-handed on a damp miserable evening, is a big part of what we offer the visitors.

This year, we’ve made up Club Information packs, and we want every visitor to get one of these before they leave. We’re not yet sure of the best way to make sure this happens, so for the moment we’re asking the team leaders to organise it.

If you have a group of friends or colleagues that you’d like to bring along for a Trial Lesson evening, please contact Karin, who does the organisation. We’ll even bribe you with a couple of launch vouchers if you do.

Club Merchandise

Now that the English summer is with us, it’s an opportune time to remind you that you can buy nice warm Club sweatshirts for £15, cool summery tee shirts for £7 and polo shirts for £15, and caps for £3.

Jo 0’Brlen

Flying Fees

Seven-day operation has only | just started, yet the number of members not settling their flying fees on the day they fly has already reached unmanageable proportions.

Pay for your flying on the day: this rule applies to all members (including the Treasurer), and is only relaxed for those who collect and reconcile the flying fees. If anyone is interested in acquiring this particular privilege, I will be happy to discuss with them the associated responsibilities.


Brian Tebbitt, Treasurer

The New Coloured Cards

One of the functions of the six coloured cards is to help pilots to progress and relate specifically to their particular stage of flying. They also have other important functions, and to fulfill these, they must be returned to the CFI when they’ve been completed. To date, none have been returned.

Renewing Pilot Ratings

This year, every Rated Pilot needs to complete a Green Card. Start now. Get one and complete the right hand side of the front page. There, not too difficult was it. Now get on with your refresher flying which should be done during the next three months. In October complete the rest of the form and return to the CFI via his box. No form, no rating renewal.

The Glider Pen

The fenced-off area in the North-East corner of the airfield is a glider pen. Its purpose is to keep the sheep away from gliders which are pegged out overnight.

The gate just rolls away to one side to let gliders in and out, and can be left open when the pen is empty. Unfortunately, for structural reasons, the gateway is narrower than the ideal, so please be careful taking wingtips over the posts.

BGA Turning Point List

The BGA TP list has been updated. There are corrections to OKE, BAB, BAG, BRT, HAI, HOL, RIN, and many in Scotland. There are three new TPs in England:


  • BICESTER EAST (BIE). The rail bridge over the A41 o Aylesbury, 2 Nmi ESE of the town. Well clear of the Weston-on-the-Green zone and the Bicester circuit. A useful addition, Category A.
  • CORBY (COR) has been found difficult to identify as the road junction is now built up around it. A more distinct point COREY SOUTH (COB) has therefore been added.
  • ROADFORD (ROA). This is a reservoir tower between Launceston and Okehampton, used as a TP by local clubs.

Smokeless Joe

Smokey Joe is the chimney of Southam Cement Works, and is a landmark clearly visible twenty miles or so East of the airfield. The cement works is scheduled to close in summer of 1997.


During the last couple of months, we have had reason to believe that we have been having uninvited guests visit the site when we are not there.

The arrangements for locking the clubhouse and other buildings has changed. For obvious reasons, details will not be published here. If you do not know, ask when next on site.

There have also been instances of apparently deliberate vandalism to trailers. The police have been informed and will visit the site regularly. Please ensure that you have your current Membership Card on you at all times, but especially if visiting the site out of normal hours. The inability to produce a current membership card could entitle you to a free trip in a Panda car.

Bus Fare

There have been several cases recently where the money paid by visitors for their trial flights has not been handled properly. The worst of these was a £20 note found on the floor of the bus one morning, but cheques have also been left lying around, and often the flight documentation is inadequate.

The day’s log sheets have to be reconciled with the day’s flying fees, and things like this make it impossible for the people who do the work. They are justifiably peeved about it.

So please: if you’re paid in cash, make sure that it goes into an envelope with the flight details on the outside; if it’s a cheque, write the details on the back; if it’s a TLV, write the details on it; keep everything together on a clipboard on the bus; and make sure it all goes into the flying fees box.

Who’s Done What

Andy Pullen has gone solo, and Paul Williams has re-soloed after a long absence from gliding.

Lee Ingram (HB) and Dave Johnson (Nympsfield) have flown Silver Distance.

Geoff Butler, Bob Hill, Bob Horsnell, Nigel Spedding, Brian Tebbitt, and Sandra Wood have AEI ratings.

Derek Bennett, Sharon Edlin, Mark Parsons, Phil Pickett, and Roy Wood have Assistant Instructor ratings.


Official Observers

The OO side of cross-country flying is normally left to a few people in the Club, which frequently adversely affects their own attempts to fly. There have even been days when badge flights have been abandoned for want of an OO on site.

To alleviate this problem, we’ll soon be suggesting to some of the more active members in the Club that they should become OOs.

If you’d like to become an OO, or if you’d like to volunteer before you’re pushed, please contact the Chairman. The criteria are a Silver ‘C’ or 3 years active in Gliding, and the approval of the Chairman and the CFI. To get over the initial hump, Phil and Diana King have kindly volunteered (before they were pushed!) into running an evening talk on the subject.

Their aims will be:

  1. To encourage OOs
  2. To ensure competence, by ensuring that OOs are conversant with the current rules, and are capable of interpreting the rules
  3. To have some fun

The talk will be held on Friday June 28th, 8-9:30, in the Clubhouse. Sorry that it’s a Friday, but the Trial Lesson Evenings do rather get in the way of the more convenient days. It’s not just for new and prospective OOs, but also for anyone who would like a refresher, or who’s had difficulty understanding the Sporting Code.


From The Internet

From: JPAviation@aol.corn

On March 22, Jim Payne claimed the World Record for Speed Around a 100 km Triangle. Flying his Discus A from California City and using the Sierra Wave, he achieved a speed of 235.3 kph (146.1 mph). This is the first World Record over 200 kph.

From: Mike Cohler <>

There’s a soaring weather web page at

From: Mike Cohler

I have been told that Glaser Dirks, which went into receivership earlier this year, has been rescued, and they will continue to supply gliders, motor gliders and spares. Apparently a customer who had ordered a DG800 realised that the only way that he would be able to get his glider was if he bought the company!!


The View From The Back


There is a peculiar phenomenon in Germany, where it happens so often that they have even coined a name for it. Radio announcements are flashed to warn others that they are about! The villain of the piece is normally from what used to be Eastern Europe, but even the best intentioned of people can still add themselves to the ranks. I have no evidence, but I’m sure doctors and priests may even have done enough to count themselves amongst their numbers. Their actions are dangerous to themselves and, more importantly, to others. These people have killed.

Who are they? What have they done? Do I know anybody like this?

The name they are given is Geisterfahrer or GHOST DRIVER. They are the ones who, normally through unfamiliarity with the motorway systems of Germany, end up DRIVING THE WRONG WAY down the Autobahn! Accidents are caused by them either driving headlong into other road users or, more often, by drivers who are caught by the unexpected and swerve to avoid these ghost drivers. Who would expect to see someone coming towards them in what is effectively a one-way system?

Ghost drivers are danger both to themselves and to other road users. We wouldn’t do that, would we, even on an empty motorway?

Let’s consider when you’re in circuit at an airfield. It is a one-way system designed to arrive at the final turn in the right place, at a safe height and speed and with safe alternatives always available. We have all seen pilots thermalling at circuit height at the turn onto base leg. We have all seen pilots flying upwind in what is effectively the downwind leg because they’ve got themselves out of position scratching away in weak lift.

It may be acceptable to thermal at these points on a cross-country flight when in circuit to a farmer’s field – as long as you can still keep your options open enough to still make that vital final turn at a safe height and speed if you don’t manage to get away. It cannot be acceptable in the ordered circuit necessary at a busy airfield even if you are keeping a good lookout.

We all want to “get away” but there has to be a point where you commit yourself to landing and put all thoughts of thermalling away. There has to be a point where having scratched away downwind you decide to return and join the circuit. There has to be a point that you will join without obstructing the traffic already in circuit.

Do you know where these points are ? Or are you a GEISTERFLIEGER?


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