The Wire January 1998

Issue 9

January 1998

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club


The News Letter

In the October meeting, we took it in turns to stand up and tell you how bad June had been. In the April meeting, it seems quite likely that we’ll take it in turns to stand up and tell you how wet the winter has been.

For a few of us, the silent telephone that has resulted from this has been a welcome relief.

It has, however, caused the editors of The Wire some grief because it’s hard to talk about things that are not happening, and harder to remind you about things that won’t start happening again for many weeks. So, we voted ourselves a holiday, and skipped an issue or two.

The editors of The YR, of course, have used the extra spare time to produce two more issues in its Stratford Globe incarnation. Thanks, by the way, for clearing up the identity of Christine Shepherd.


Club News

The Spring Meeting will be held on 26th March at 19:45 this year, in the Village Hall as usual.


Aircraft News

Charlie Tango

The refurbishment of CCT has kept Phil Pickett busy through the miserable weather. The aircraft is back on site, gleaming brightly, but it needs to be weighed before it can be test-flown.

Please try to look after it.

C of A’s

CBW had its C of A in December, and CCT has come back with a new C of A.

HDB, HRN, and DXP are planned to have C of A’s in February, and HSM and GAG in March.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, then, all C of A’s will be complete in time for the start of the season. Fingers crossed, touch wood.

Club Dl Books

Minor faults in the Club aircraft don’t necessarily get fixed immediately: if they were, the aircraft would be away from the field 90% of the time. The Dl books have a column for Minor Faults, but these tend to fill up with As Abovewithout anyone really knowing what the whole list of faults is.

When you find a minor fault, note it as normal in the Dl book, but please also write it in the back of the book. This will let the people who look after the aircraft see the whole picture, and possibly spot imminent problems, both or which are hard to do at the moment.


Land Rovers

The Land Rovers let us down this autumn. It’s a feature of the Law Of Universal Cussedness Of Inanimate Objects that they chose to do it at the same time.

They do, of course, get an enormous hammering on the field, especially with the seven-day operation, but that wasn’t the cause of either of the problems.

The RHD burnt a head gasket. When we lifted the head to replace the gasket, we found that the head was warped, and when we skimmed the head, we found that it was cracked. It’s problems like this that eat up the time of the people who do this sort of work for the Club.

The LHD had intermittent transmission problems, a graunching noise from the gearbox which sounded as fit was not properly in gear. We took it away to be fixed, and it took the garage several failed attempts before they finally sorted it out. It turned out to be something neither the garage nor any of us had come across before: the centre of the clutch plate had sheared off from the friction plate. Sometimes the clutch worked when everything happened to jam together, sometimes it just graunched.

As a matter of policy, we’ll be sticking with the Land Rovers. However, we’ll be reviewing this policy in the light of what happens in the near future.


Safety Matters

Cross-Country in Club Aircraft

If you’re intending to take a Club aircraft cross-country, there are some things that you must do before you go.

From the flying point of view, you must of course have the approval of the Duty Instructor, who is responsible for your safety. This approval is not automatic, whether you’re an experienced cross-country pilot or not. It also depends on the conditions on the day and the availability of the aircraft. You may also need to be briefed by an Instructor.

You also need a retrieve crew, even if you have no intention at all of landing out. This crew needs to include somebody who knows how to derig the aircraft and how to load it into the trailer, and there must be enough people to handle the derigging safely.

So, if you’re taking a Club aircraft cross-country, we’re asking for a piece of paper before you go. All you need to do is fill in is the names of the relevant people and leave it with the log on the Bus. Its purpose is twofold: it lets the Duty Instructor know that everything has been organised properly; and it lets the Club know who to talk to when the phone call comes in.

First Alders

We’re updating our records of who in the Club are qualified as Emergency First Aiders. We would like to know of anyone who holds this qualification, anyone who held it but let it lapse, and anyone who is interested in acquiring it.

Please contact Jo O’Brien if you fall into any of these categories. If there’s enough interest, we’ll organise a First Aid course to get everyone suitably qualified.


When you’re working with machinery on the field, or even handling the cable at the launchpoint, it’s usually wise to wear gloves. With certain machines, ifs also a requirement that you wear goggles.

While we recommend their use, we aren’t able to supply them because the current Health & Safety rules forbid it.


Common Senseless

The Nympsfield newsletter, Severn Skies, that found its way into the clubhouse, has given us an idea for a regular column in The Wire.

They run a column which is a list of some of the more common senseless activities of their members. The leader is about a winch driver who decided to swat a fly with his boot during a launch, and smashed the windscreen as a result.

We won’t be naming names, and The Wire will consider these snippets to be confidential. There’s no gossip going on in the Club, so your secret will be safe, but by far the best way to avoid all the embarrassment is to avoid finding yourself in the column in the first place.

Common Senseless

Pride of place goes to the person who left the gas on, unlit, in the oven in the piggery. We found it in January, and given the amount of flying we’ve done recently, there’s a fair chance that it’s been on for over a month.


An Observation

While I was learning to fly a glider, I noticed that my instructor always sat with his arms folded and his hands tucked in. He sat like this even while I was tying to land, when I would have preferred him to have his hands at the ready to seize control.

When I asked him about it, he said “We’re taught to sit like this because otherwise it unnerves the pupils if they see us shaking.”

Bob Hill


CFI’s Corner

Renewal of Ratings

There is a request posted on the CFI’s notice board for Pilots who have not yet submitted their Green Renewal Form to do so as soon as possible. There are at this moment in time 31 Pilots names listed as not having complied with this request.

Please check the CFI’s notice board and if your name is on this list, take the appropriate action to enable it to be removed.

AEI Ratings

From the beginning of this year, it is a requirement to hold a Silver C certificate prior to obtaining an AEI rating. Those already holding an AEI rating without having a Silver C will enjoy indefinite Grand Father rights.

Change of Regional Examiner

The role of the Regional Examiners and the way they are organised has changed slightly. One has been allocated to each Club in the Region and they will act as our Mentor.

They will be dealing with a lot of the work that used to be handled by the National Coaches or the hard worked Chairman of the Instructors Panel. Ron Smith, from Bicester, is our new Mentor and we hope that he will visit us at least four times in the coming year.

Air Space

The changes that have occurred with regard to Airspace in the last twelve months, and the changes that are only at the proposal stage for the coming two years have put the BGA on full alert.

There is considerable pressure from Air Traffic Units all over the UK wishing to increase their areas of airspace to meet the growing numbers of Air Traffic Movements. Rest assured that the BGA are making the strongest representation on behalf of the gliding movement to try and limit the effects that any changes may have on our sport

To enhance the BGA’s organisation dealing with these matters, each Club has now been asked to appoint an Airspace Representative. Bob Horsnell has agreed to take on this job for our Club.

The BGA would like as many professional or retired professional pilots or ATC personnel to be involved as possible, and so Bob is the ideal person to fill this appointment for us. Thank you Bob for offering your services.

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.


Press Coverage

A steady stream of “Press Releases” (that is news and views, not large feature articles) is being sent to local papers and local radio approximately once a month by Penny, with help and ideas from Geoff, Derek and Sharon. This started in October.

In order to see how effective this is, we need your help! Please make a note if and when you hear anything mentioned on local radio (yes, some people really do listen to the radio).

If you see something in a local paper, please tear it out and save it, and do it immediately, otherwise you will forget where you saw it or someone will use the page you want to put under the cat.

It would cost an enormous amount if we had to pay for a professional newscutting service to read all the twenty papers that were mailed last time. An up to date list of these will be put on a notice board in the dub house so that you can check the papers and radio.

We also need ideas for future press releases, achievements, interesting guests flown, and so on, remembering that there will be a two-to-three week time lag to get material into print due to weekly papers’ copy deadlines. Radio is faster to respond and Geoff is now skilled in being interviewed!

So please help us to keep ideas coming and keep your ears and eyes open and let me know what you hear or see.

More journalists and photographers are being lined up by Sharon to come to the club to get bigger feature articles in local papers. All this depends on people’s availability. Oh yes, and the weather.


Has There Been a Conspiracy?

It certainly seems that way! After all, has bad weather ever before prevented us from flying for two months?

What if it wasn’t just the weather?! What if the evil forces pursued by the intrepid reporter of The YR have been at work? Could they have funnelled water into the drains under the airfield, so that these were overloaded and could not take any more surface water? Could they have summoned the Rain God and conned him into dropping some very local rain on to our airfield?

To those with a fertile imagination, there are undoubtedly numerous other possible theories.

But maybe, just maybe, we are gaining the upper hand. Maybe those tireless determined club members present on Saturday 24th January unknowingly outwitted the evil forces by reintroducing the retrieve winch system to make flying possible again, against all odds. Let’s hope so. Nevertheless, we should probably all keep our eyes open. You never know!

An intrepid reporter of The
, wishing, for fear of
retribution, to remain



Chief Marshall

Our thanks are due to Sandra Wood, who’s standing down as the Club’s Chief Marshall after three years or so in the job. Andy Balkwill has taken over as Chief Marshall.

The Operations Group is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the airfield, and the Chief Marshall is a member of this group, with particular responsibility for all aspects of the operation of the launchpoint.

Andy would be interested to hear from anyone with new ideas or offers of help.

Duty Marshalling

On the whole, the Club membership rejects the principle of marshalling and the Duty Marshall. Why is it, then, that the Committee, who are there to implement the Club’s wishes, continue to insist on trying to impose marshalling? Sheer bloody-mindedness, or is there more to it than that?

It is often the case in spring and autumn that we reach the end of the flying day with members still to fly, and they either don’t fly at all or have a single, rushed, poor-quality flight. This can also happen in the winter, when the amount of flying is severely limited, and in the summer, when the limit is not the daylight but the end of the instructors’ twelve-hour shift. Less obvious, but much more important, is the end of the part the day when the weather is working.

The normal reaction to these problems is “Bad luck, they should get here earlier’. Perhaps (but perhaps not: if people arrive at nine, work ten hours, but don’t fly, they’ll soon stop bothering to come). However, that’s not the problem that we’re addressing.

If there are 30 members on site, we need 60 launches for them. If one of those members chooses to arrive earlier to improve his chance of flying, fine, but we still need 60 launches, it’s just that somebody else is at the bottom of the flying list. Viewed as a Club, failing to achieve those launches is a disservice to the members, and viewed as a business, it is a financial loss caused by under-use of the fleet.

The solution is to have the club fleet spending more time in the air and less on the ground, and that is the main aim of the Duty Marshall.

There are avoidable delays at the launch point, and the Duty Marshall will try to avoid them by getting pilots into aircraft and making sure they are ready when their cables arrive. (As an illustration: if everyone wastes just one minute, leaving their cockpit checks until the last moment or waiting for the launchpoint crew to notice them or waiting for that interesting cloud to come in range, during the day we’ll waste an hour, which is ten launches or five members’ flights.)

Another function of the Duty Marshall is to make sure that people don’t miss their turn to fly just because they’re not at the launch point. Winch drivers, retrieve drivers, tractor drivers are all out of sight and easily out of mind. It’s always been accepted that people who are doing Club work on flying days, in the workshop or on the field or whatever, don’t jeopardise their position on the flying list just because they’re not helping at the launchpoint. Out of sight in the Clubhouse is a different matter, of course.

So, the job of the Duty Marshall is to keep the launchpoint running smoothly and efficiently, improving the flying for the members and reducing the frustrations for those left on the ground. That’s why we persist with the scheme, and we’ll continue to do so until somebody comes up with something better.


The View

When I was asked to find some more material for The Wire, I asked what would be a suitable subject to write about. The answer wasn’t obvious considering the weather in December and January.

CURRENCY. (n. time during which a thing is current; money in actual use in a country; other commodity used as a medium of exchange.)

I know we’ve had a slack time over this winter, with more lost weekends due to weather (n. atmospheric conditions prevailing at a place and time, a combination produced by heat or cold, clearness or cloudiness, dryness and moisture, wind or calm, high or low pressure, and electrical state of local air and sky.)

The way the field has been, we should have been conducting lifeboat drills every time more than eight people turned up in the Clubhouse to comply with Sea Navigation Acts, and not exceeding four knots down the drive to comply with rivers and canal speed limits. We would probably need a fishing licence to move the sheep!

But am I really the right person to write about the money side of things?. Much better Brian should write about that as our Treasurer. Anyway, the subject I’ve chosen is CURRENCY!

That definition of weather is only half right as we’ve known it recently. The atmospheric conditions have been everywhere, all the time: cold, lots of cloudiness, moisture, wind, low pressure, and lots of air but not much sky to be seen!

The result has been a lack of CURRENCY coming into the club from flying and launch fees because few, if any, have flown since the launch fees were pegged al £4.50. So, if we haven’t been paying any flying fees to the club then either we’ve been flying elsewhere or we haven’t been flying at all.

Flying elsewhere is good for you. You get to fly from a different site, often with people you don’t know and who don’t know you, so you’re perhaps more on your mettle. You get to see how other clubs operate and you can make your own decisions on whether their operation is better or worse than ours, or simply different. You get to aerotow perhaps.

Above all you get more experience and that can only be good. There are several other clubs in the area: Bidford, Edgehill, Husbands Bosworth, and further afield is the Long Mynd, Hinton, Nympsfield. Did you give them a try and ply them with your CURRENCY and help your own CURRENCY (n. time in which a thing is current)? In this case the “thing” is EXPERIENCE. (n. actual observation of or practical acquaintance with facts or events; knowledge or SKILL (n. expertness, practised ability) resulting from this).

CURRENCY increases EXPERIENCE and SKILL. So when the field eventually does dry out and the rain eventually does stop and sun eventually does shine, remember to keep passing on your hard earned CURRENCY to the Club. SPEND, SPEND, SPEND! (Brian will like that bit) Use your CURRENCY to increase your CURRENCY, with INTEREST! (n. I. a feeling of wanting to know about something. 2. money paid regularly in return for money lent or deposited) Take your pick whichever definition you like!

If you haven’t been flying at all, then you’ll need something to help improve your CURRENCY such as simulated cable breaks, launch failures, and circuits and all those other good things that instructors love doing so much!

To help you, here’s a competition with a prize. There are lots of acronyms in our sport.


  1. What do the following acronyms, TLAs and abbreviations stand for (or, where they don’t stand for anything, what do they mean): 
    • CFI
    • ASI
    • VSI
    • FAI
    • GPS
    • PIO
    • QFE
    • QNH
    • WULFAR
    • Vne
    • Va
    • Vs
    • Vd
    • HASSLL
    • IMSAFE
    • DALR
    • FL


  2. Put these in order:Vne Va Vs Vd

Please put your answers in the pigeonholes, under Z.

First prize goes to the first correct answer out of the hat on Saturday 21st February. If you’ve just received The Wire in the post and this date has already passed, Bad Luck.

The prize? A free cable break! How’s that for helping you with your currency!




Thought for the Day

Most of the problems of sheep on the field would be solved if only we could find a flock of Party Sheep.

Sleep All Day, Graze All Night. Baaa!!

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