The Wire April 1998

Issue 10

April 1998

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club 



The News Letter

The Club Spring Meeting was held on 26th March, with an attendance of about sixty members.

The Spring Meeting is traditionally an informal meeting at the beginning of the season, which coincides with the start of the Club year.

It’s at this meeting that fees are set for the coming year. This issue of The Wire reports on this and some of the other matters discussed at the meeting.


Club News


Membership subscriptions became due on 1st April, and are £150 this year. For those who are entitled to half-price membership, half of £150 is £75.

If you have joined since April 1997, there is a rebate against this year’s subs, and the details are in your pigeonhole.

Club Diary

The following events are planned for the 1998 season:

10-13 April Easter weekend
4 May 7-day flying starts
4 Mly Bank Holiday
18-22 May Sutton Bank
25 May Bank Holiday
27-28 June Inter-Club League
20 June Longest Day
6-10 July Club flying week
10-14 August Club flying
31 August Bank Holiday
18 Sept 7-day flying ends


Summer Operation


The Club will be operating seven days a week again this summer, from Monday May 4th to Friday September 18th inclusive.

The weeks beginning July 6th and August 10th have been reserved for Club flying, and we will not be selling any courses for those weeks.

We’ll be setting tasks on days that warrant it, but don’t let that put you off if you’re not a cross-country pilot, because the Club weeks are very informal and our main aim is to fly as mush as possible.

Staff Members

The instructors this summer are Jim Tyler and Phil Pickett. As usual, they’ll share the operation on approximately alternating weeks, doubling up when the number of course members warrants it.

Martin Greenwood will be driving the winch for half the summer. The other half of the winching will be shared between Ray Hopkins, Barry Monslow, and Maurice Noxon.

Staff Member Flying

In the past, the Staff Duty Instructor has often called on the Staff Winch Driver for instructor assistance when necessary. This has caused some mutterings of discontent on the airfield, so we’re putting down some guidelines to cover this:

  1. It will only happen if it’s really necessary
  2. The replacement winch driver must be a volunteer and must be relieved within one hour.
  3. A staff member may fly solo only if a volunteer replacement is available, and the flight is limited to one hour.

We hope that the above guidelines will encourage potential volunteers to view with sympathy any requests for assistance.


Aircraft News

C of A’s

All the Club fleet C of A’s, and the T21 syndicate have embarked on the task of completely re-covering their aircraft.

K21 Ballast Weights

One of the K21 ballast weights is missing. So, if you’re walking around with it in your pocket, amongst the ferrules and the pens, please can we have it back.

Motor Gliders

We’ve applied for a change to the conditions of our planning permission to permit us to launch motor gliders from Snitterfield. As yet, we have had no response from Stratford District Council or from any of the local councillors.

The essence of the application is: At most two launches per hour; Touring MGs may self launch; SLMGs and SSMGs will launch on the wire. We will be required to keep a log of all movements. We may have to accept temporary permission lasting two years.


Safety Matters

First Aid

The first aid course was run on March 7th, with a full complement of twelve people attending. The names of the qualified First Aiders have been posted with the First Aid kits. Thanks to those who made the effort.

We intend to run a regular course for new candidates which will also be a refresher for existing First Aiders, probably every eighteen months or so since the qualification is valid for three years.

The course is no great burden, especially if (as we hope) you never have to use any of it. If you are interested in doing this in future, please contact Jo.

The Top Of The Bus

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

It can also be 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, at least try to refrain from hindering it.

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


Club Flying

Sutton Bank

The Club expedition to Sutton Bank will take place in the week 18th-22nd May this year.

Club Ladder

We’ll be running the Club Ladder as usual this year. All you have to do is note your flights in the Club Cross-Country Book and everything else happens by magic.

Don’t forget that there’s a trophy awarded at the AGM at the end of the season for Best Flight in a Club Glider, and the Book is the primary source of candidates for the trophy.

Churchill Awards

The BGA are still offering the Churchill award, which is a bursary scheme to encourage young pilots. In 1998, there will be awards of £100 each for pilots achieving their Bronze ‘C’ before their 18th birthday. The awards are paid as club flying fees.

Applicants must apply directly to the BGA: more details are available on request.

Associate Members

Associate Members can fly dual at Club rates at most once a month, and not more than six times a year.

Who’s Done What

Gordon Graham and Fred Glanvill went solo in March.

Tony Palfreyman and Phil Pickett now have Full Category Instructor ratings.

If you have achieved something worthy of note, please let us know by scribbling a note, addressing it to The Wire, and posting it to us in the pigeonholes under W.


Inter-Club League

After several years away, we’re entering the Inter-Club League again. The League is a competition between nearby clubs, with each club hosting the competition for one weekend.

In our case, we are in with Bidford, Shenington, Bicester, Weston on the Green, and Hinton in the Hedges. The League winner goes on to a regional competition.

Each club fields three pilots, in the categories of Novice, Intermediate, and Pundit, and the task or tasks are set by the home club on the day. Phil Pickett will be setting the tasks for us, and will also be organising the team.

The dates are:

2-4 May Hinton
23-25 May Bicester
13-14 June Shenington
27-28 June Snitterfield
11-12 July Bidford
1-3 August Weston

If you’re interested in flying in the League, or crewing for the team, please contact Phil. It’s not necessary for us to keep the same pilots for the whole season, or even for the whole weekend, so there’s plenty of opportunity to gain experience of competition flying in a reasonably relaxed environment, and we would like as many people as possible to take part.

On the weekend when we host the League, there will inevitably be some disruption to Club flying. At some point, there will be up to 18 extra aircraft waiting to launch for the League tasks. The best solution is to pull out all the stops to get them launched and away as quickly as possible, so we’ll be trying to beat our peak rate of 20 launches per hour.

Please be tolerant of this minor disruption to the flying season, because the Inter-Club League does a lot towards promoting cross-country flying throughout the Club.



Last year, one or two sweatshirts and T-shirts went missing. The low level of security was intended merely to make people think before they opened the cupboard.

Since that doesn’t seem to have worked too well, we’re going to keep the key in Pandora’s Box, so you’ll need to find an instructor if you can’t find Jo.

Common Senseless

Last summer, somebody took a T-shirt out of the locker, wore it on the field for a day, and then put it back in the locker, sweaty armpits and all. Yecch.


AGM of the BGA

The AGM of the BGA was held on 14th March in Oxford. One significant item of business was a proposed amendment to the rules of the Cross-Country Endorsement, by Derby & Lancs, to change the Motor Gliding section from a requirement to a recommendation.

The amendment was rejected by 3487 votes to 1566. SoAGC voted to reject the amendment, based on a unanimous vote by the Committee which was influenced by the equally unanimous opinions of the instructors on the Committee.


Gliding in NZ

We had a day to spare while we were on North Island, so we called in on Wellington GC, the largest club in NZ. We drove down the West coast in 30°C and drought, and then when we were about twenty miles from the airfield, the first drops of drizzle hit the windscreen (does this sound familiar?). By the time we got to the airfield, cloud-base was 500 feet and the air was full of moisture.

It turned out that the clag had been sitting there, trapped by the mountains, since the beginning of January, and the club hadn’t flown for the last six weeks (it even happens over there) of high summer. So we didn’t fly.

Geoff & Karin

PS. Omarama was better.


Pink Forms

We recently revamped the Pink Forms in two significant ways.

The liability disclaimer, which we believed to be an insurance requirement, was no such thing, and has been completely removed since it has no validity in law, and may even have been illegal.

The forms have always been temporary membership forms, and have always included 28-day membership of the Club, but this was always something of a secret. The 28-day membership, and the means of taking it up, are now explained on the form. This membership is no longer automatic, but requires some action on the part of the visitor. To take up the 28-day membership, visitors must now get their pink form endorsed by their instructor after the flight. This means that most of the burden falls on the AEI pilots, although in practice any Club member can do it.

We don’t expect a large take-up of this, and it’s obviously better to sell full memberships, but any potential source of new members needs to be pursued. The 28-day member gets a one-page pink combined Proof of Membership, Terms and Conditions, Guidelines for New Members, and Temporary Log Book, which needs to be signed by both parties and kept by the visitor.

Please make sure that they read the Guidelines so that they understand what will be expected of them.

This grade of membership is restricted, in that there are limitations on repeating it, and it only provides for dual flying in Club aircraft. Once they have Proof of Membership, they have all the flying rights of Club Members. It’s totally their responsibility to look after this form, and without it they will be unable to fly.

If they actually turn up again, of course, they are clearly potential members, and we have just 28 days to get them hooked.

Pink Forms

Please file all used pink forms in the box on top of the bus. We need to keep 28-day members’ forms, and we also want them for marketing information. Once we have what we need from these forms, they’ll be dumped in the Clubhouse as scrap paper.


PS. Omarama Was Better

Omarama is in the middle of South Island, and was the site of the World Championships two years ago. The site is surrounded by 5000′ hills, with a couple of 10,000′ ranges in the distance. We arrived early in the evening, to find that the forecast for the next few days was rain, but the wave was working there and then. There was only one aircraft available, though, an ASH-25. So we flew.

The pilot, Doug Hamilton, made it look easy. All you gotta do is just take a tow to 1500′, soar the ridges up to 5000′, work through the rotor up to 9000′, and there’s the wave, over the airfield, looking like a thermal street, to take you up as high as you want to go.

In Karin’s flight he did just that, climbing to 13,800′ in 30 minutes with the aid of 13.9kts on the averager in the wave. The off for a 220k flight in 1hr45 in total, over mountainous terrain where everywhere looks remarkably similar to everywhere else, and only the shapes of the lakes let you keep a hold on reality.

In Geoff’s flight, the rotor had turned nasty, so Doug had to go hunting, and by the time we got into the wave, it had stopped working and we only got 8kts up, which got us to 13,200′ and then time to hurry down into the approaching gloom. Full brake and landing flap let us achieve 6kts down (ASH-25s seem to prefer going up) for a landing which used up the last remnants of the daylight.

Omarama was very very much better indeed.

Geoff & Karin


The View

The Committee often get requests from various local organisations for a donation of a Trial Lesson Voucher for a raffle prize. These requests are always considered carefully.

There are literally hundreds of Trial Lesson Vouchers out there that have been sold over the past few years, and they are ALL still valid.

There have been some tricky moments when more people than we would have liked have turned up expecting to fly. We’ve learned from the experience and set up a system where we do not give the expectation to more than six people at a time that they will fly on the day.

This is the time to remind us all that we need to take care about what we say to people over the phone.

It’s all a matter of setting the right expectation. It all goes wrong if you tell someone they will fly and then something happens that prevents it, such as too many other visitors, club members not flown, or “technical difficulties”.

It’s in the nature of people not to understand things that they don’t want to understand. They will think “but you SAID I could fly”, and they will go away believing we don’t keep our promises, and tell their friends as much. Not good for selling more vouchers.

It’s far better to set a low expectation. It’s even better to set the low expectation and then exceed it. They will go away delighted! So please, when you’re dealing with visitors, remember we are all seen by them as representatives of the Club, and don’t make promises your Club can’t deliver. Explain how the system works (if you don’t know, ask), that way the right expectation is set.

OK, sermon over. That’s what you get for no, zero, zilch!! entries for the little quiz in the last edition of The Wire. So, the competition has been extended, and if you still want a free launch voucher – they are very rare (although some people seem to find them easily come by!) – now’s your chance. Best correct(ish) entry out of the Bursar’s money bin wins the prize!! Alternative answers will be repeated in the next issue of The Wire. No prizes awarded for originality, but lots of RESPECT!


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