The Wire October 1996

Issue 6

October 1996

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club


The News Letter

Last season, we tried to issue The Wire every two months. That became rather difficult, because of lack of time and material. We still hope for copy to arrive on the Editor’s desk for inclusion in The Wire, but, with the notable and most welcome exception of Pontius, nothing has been forthcoming.

There’s never too much happening at this time of year anyway, so this edition has been particularly hard to fill. Consequently, we’ve had to combine last October’s issue with next January’s, and the next one will be at the start of the flying season.

The YR

The second edition of The YR was published in September, continuing with its editorial policy of a mixture of old jokes and libel.


Club Flying

Launch Fees

The Club did pretty well financially last year. As a result, our Treasurer, Brian Tebbitt, has recommended that we should run the winter flying rates for an extra month, from November to February inclusive. This has been readily accepted by the Committee.

So, for that period, launches will cost a flat £4, with no charge for flying time up to 45 minutes. Simulated cable breaks will cost £2.

This only applies to Club members, including NSGC members, but not to visiting reciprocal members.


The National Students Gliding Club have been flying with us for a couple of months now, and everything seems to have been working out well on both sides. In principle, NSGC members have a choice of sites that they can fly at, but in practice we are seeing the same people turning up regularly, so we can’t be doing everything wrong.

Who’s Done What

Charles Stearman has just completed his Bronze, and Peter Blair completed his Silver with a flight to Nympsfield on the last day of the seven-day operation.

Two badge claims, which we weren’t sure about in the last issue, were a couple of Gold Distances, by Vernon Brown and Derek Bennett. Derek completed his Gold with that flight.

We still struggle to find out Who’s Done What. If you don’t tell us, we don’t know.


Aircraft News

Aircraft Group

The Chair of this group has been taken over by Phil Pickett. Phil will not only be responsible for the running of this group, but he will also carry out some of the C of A work himself. Work is programmed so that, if all goes well, all of the C of As should be complete by the middle of March.

As part of the C of A work, the instrument positions are to be standardized throughout the K13 fleet as much as is practical.

K13 CCT is in need of refurbishment and this work is under consideration at this time.

We require a few more seat cushions to be made. If you can help please contact Peter or Leslie Blair.

The T21

The T21 syndicate has been expanded slightly, from four or five people to sixteen. As a result, it’s been flying rather a lot recently, as the new members have become acquainted with the aircraft.


Safety Matters

Tony Palfreyman has agreed to become a Deputy Safety Officer for the Club.

If you become aware of anything that concerns you regarding Safety matters, please bring this to the attention of the Safety Group at the earliest opportunity.

To aid communications, Sandra Wood and Barry Monslow will be assisting the Club’s Safety Officers on Saturdays and Thursdays respectively.

The BGA has introduced new accident reporting procedures. This does not, of course, require any action fro the majority of Club members, other than the obvious requirement to avoid having an accident, but it’s all in the Club manual if you’re interested in finding out.

Single Cable Retrieve

When we’re running a single cable operation, it’s essential to bring the cable back as straight as possible. A big bow in the cable causes three problems:

  • The aircraft is pulled to one side on the ground run
  • When the bow leaves the ground, airspeed drops
  • Anything else inside the bow is in extreme danger

The retrieve vehicle must make every effort to reach the launch line as soon as possible, and must always be on that line well before the launch point. If the field is so soft that this can’t be done, it’s not safe to fly.


Club Notices

Club AGM

The Club AGM was held at the beginning of October. Despite our increasing membership, the attendance at the AGM is gradually declining, with less than half the Club present this time.

The Club meetings are important, because they are your opportunity to convey to the Committee your views on Club policy. We do take notice, and to illustrate the point, a significant policy was changed at the AGM.

At present, the Club only holds two such meetings a year, so it’s in everybody’s interest to have maximum attendance.

Roy Wood stood down from the Committee at the AGM. Peter Blair, who has been working on the Committee for the past year, has had his position ratified. Maurice Noxon has joined the Committee, and has taken on the role of Chairman of the Site Group. The Committee members are: Chairman Geoff Butler; Secretary Martyn Davies; Treasurer Brian Tebbitt; Vice Chairman Pete Fanshawe; Derek Bennett; Dave Benton; Peter Blair; Bob Hill; Peter Kenealy; Maurice Noxon; Jo O’Brien; Derek Phillips; Harry Williams.

Committee Minutes

As a reminder, the minutes of all Committee meetings are posted in the Clubhouse every month.


Much work is planned to be carried out on the Club’s equipment over the winter period. Already engineering improvements have been carried out on our two winches, with Peter Jones having made some wonderful looking items.

Bob Hill supported by Peter Blair and Peter Jones run the Engineering Group. If we are to have any chance of getting through the maintenance and improvement work planned before next Spring, we are going to need more help. If you feel that you can offer any assistance in this area, please make contact with any member of the Engineering Group.

As a reminder, if you’re helping with this sort of work on a flying day, it’s just as important as helping with the launching operation, and you will not lose your place on the flying list.

Club Video

Lee Ingram has made a promotional video for the Club. Copies are available from Derek Bennett for anyone who can promote the Club to other organisations.

Procedures Manuals

There is a copy of each of the Club Procedures Manuals kept in the Clubhouse. These are marked Do Not Remove From The Clubhouse. This is intended to imply that the manuals should not be removed from the Clubhouse, that they should stay in the Clubhouse, and that the Clubhouse is their rightful home.

Please leave them in the Clubhouse and don’t take them out.

Peeping Toms

We were pushing for new OOs last season, but that’s been put on hold because of the changes to the Sporting Code, which were expected last October. Once that actually appears, we’ll start pushing again.

The Sporting Code is getting more and more complex, with changes that don’t matter to most pilots, and it’s getting more and more difficult to extract the details that do matter. It’s important that the Club has an adequate supply of OOs who understand the rules properly. The Club will require additional OOs next season.

Does this mean YOU?


Thelma Edlin, who has been running the kitchen for the last three years, has decided to take a rest, starting in early December. We would like to thank Thelma for all the excellent service that she’s provided to the Club in that time.


Winter Flying

Reprinted with permission from The Wire, October 1995.

Winter Flying

Last winter, we had several accidents and incidents caused by the state of the field underfoot. Some things that in summer might be minor irritations, such as over-enthusiastic tractoring, become a real hazard when people have their work cut out to remain upright.

Don’t rush. Take it easy when you’re driving, pushing, or walking.

Winter Landing

When the field was so hard in August, the landing runs were very unpleasant. At least some of the state of the field is a direct result of ruts laid down last winter.

Winter Retrieving

As a reminder to those that know, and as news to those that don’t, we don’t rent the whole of the field from Richard. The area that we don’t rent lies between the two hardstanding area at the SE and SW points, and comes out as far as the hole in the middle of the field that used to hold a fencepost.

Richard doesn’t mind if we land in that area in an emergency, or by mistake, and he hasn’t really grumbled when we’ve occasionally abused the situation. However, please try to avoid driving in this area. It gets very wet, and it’s hard to talk your way around two six-inch-deep Landrover ruts marking a shortcut to the winch.


The View From The Back

In the Bleak Midwinter

We try to ignore its approach, like trying to ignore oncoming flu, but no matter what we do, winter WILL come. Out come the flying suits and lined tank suits, boots and gloves, and every trip, for those who choose to make it, is more like setting up for a polar expedition. Not too far from the truth, really.

There is a lot we can do to keep warm: thick jumpers, thermals (if only!), two pairs of socks, volunteering for the bus or Land Rover. We may even get willing volunteers for the winch (do the heaters still work?) (Yes – Ed). At least the Land Rover is heated from the engine fumes, but keep a window open (which tends to defeat the object) or don’t breathe.

One thing is certain, some of us will be there, in the rain, wind, snow and ice (see what I mean about polar expeditions) trying to make sure everyone gets at least one trip to get their bums in the air. There can be some good flying in the winter conditions, soaring from the nearby ridge or with a good launch soaring the ridge near Wilmcote. All for only £4!

Snow on the ground is a beautiful sight from the air, but it makes everywhere look the same, including the airfield. It’s not unknown for a pilot to be lost directly above the airfield! No names, no packdrill.

We should all know the hazards of winter flying: misted canopies, ice on the wings, frozen pitots, even snow blindness with a low sun. Then there’s just being cold and not concentrating enough. If in doubt, don’t.

And if we don’t fly there are many other diversions whilst waiting for the inevitable (ie the Arms to open). This year we have the following entertainments scheduled for non-flying days:


  • The ultimate darts challenge between Harry and Neville. Nail-biting stuff seeing if they can subtract their scores properly. 
  • To compete with Bob Berry’s half roll and inverted landing, Andy Sutton will demonstrate his world famous triple roll and inverted landing technique in a Peugeot.

You can’t afford to miss these days of cheap flying and even cheaper thrills!


How much does it cost?

Gliding is one of the cheapest forms of flying – in monetary terms. An hour flying in a club glider costs £12 plus £4.10 for the launch, a total of £16.10 per hour. That’s cheap! And it’s even cheaper in winter!

But there are other costs associated with your flight. We launch an average of two gliders every 10 minutes. This 10 minutes takes at least six people: winch driver, tow car driver, log keeper, wing runner, signaller, not to mention the poor instructor in the back.

You also need a tractor driver to pull you from the middle of the field. Then there’s the time spent at the beginning of the day getting the gliders and equipment out and ready for the day’s flying. This is without mentioning all the hard work done away from the flying side. (You may have noticed things like the new electricity supply and that the clubhouse has been painted).

The real cost of your flight is nearer £16.10 plus two hours work. Even two five-minute circuits cost £10.20 plus four man-hours. If you’re flying your own glider the sums don’t change much, you still owe the other members of the club those man hours to help everyone else.

In the summer, when everyone wants to simply rig their aircraft and fly, it is very difficult for the Duty Marshall who is trying to find volunteers to drive the winch, keep the log, retrieve the cables, and so on. In the winter, there is the temptation of a warm Clubhouse and a bacon sandwich. Somehow we manage, normally by relying on the goodwill of a faithful few.

In all walks of life there are those that give and those that take. We have to expect it but we don’t have to like it. We all pay our flying dues on the day, we should also pay our other debts. The Club doesn’t just need your money, it needs your time.


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