The Wire July 1998

Issue 11

July 1998

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club


The News Letter

The weather has once again let us down, and it’s been a poor soaring season so far. However, as we write this, the sun is so bright that we can’t see the parchment, so maybe there’s hope.


Club News

Fame at Last

Barry Kerby hit the national and local press, and even Radio 4, over his field landing near Hungerford, and the subsequent impounding of his ASW20 by the landowner, with a ransom demand of £1000 to release it.

It took a legal injunction for him to get the aircraft back the following day. However, Barry’s unfortunate experience may well, in the long term, prove to be a great benefit to gliding in general.

In the meantime, Access and Visa do a nice line in platinum credit cards.

Rigging Area

The move to the new rigging area is complete. Picketting points are provided, and we strongly urge you to take advantage of these before the windy weather sets in.


Contact Numbers

In the event of an accident or emergency, we would normally call the number that you’ve told us is your home telephone number.

If you would like us to hold a different contact number, for example if you live alone, please give the details to the Membership Secretary, Geoff Butler. This information will be treated in confidence.

Who’s Done What

Scott Dumbleton went solo in June.

Mark Pedwell flew his Silver Distance in May, with a flight to Bicester in his Oly.

Tim Duckett flew Silver Duration and a few Silver Heights in the K18 on 25th July, one of the few days this year that has been good enough.

Chris Roberts climbed to 9800′ in wave on a day when most people didn’t bother to rig. We think this is a site height record, and eagerly await contradiction.

Longest Day

The Longest Day was celebrated this year on 20thJune, with Phil Pickett volunteering (no, he did, honest!) to start the day at dawn. The first flight was at 04:55 hours o’clock am in the morning, which must be some sort of record. The evening crew failed to make it much past 20:30, though, because the poor weather couldn’t compete with the barbecue.

There have been some mutterings that the Longest Day should be run on a Sunday, sometimes at least. The reason that we normally choose Saturday is that, in the past, we’ve found it difficult to persuade people to stay late for a Sunday evening barbecue. If you have an opinion one way or the other, please let us know, preferably before the Club Diary is published (hurry, hurry, only eight months left!)

The Web

At long last, and afer a couple of false starts, we have a web site up and running. It’s not complete yet, but it’s in the nature of things that it never will be. All comments and contributions are welcome, and you can email the author, Geoff Butler, from the Contacts page.

The address, split in two to make it fit the column format, is


It’s been tested on IE4, Netscape2 and Netscape3, and we’d be interested in anomalies that show up in other browsers.

(If nothing in this article makes any sense to you, then you probably don’t want to know about it anyway!)


Summer Operation


The Club will be operating seven days a week until Friday September 18th.

Club Week

The second Club Week is August 10th to the 14th, and all we can do is hope that the current spell of good weather lasts long enough for some good flying.

August Course Week

The course on the week of August 3rd has nine people, of whom eight are Dutch, five in the Bermon family and three in the Renes.


Aircraft News

K21 Ballast Weights

The missing weight has been found, in the bus where it was supposed to be, but slightly hidden in the rear wheel well.

K13 Mishaps

We’ve had two minor mishaps with CBW and CCT in the past few weeks, but both aircraft are back on line.

Landing Out

Any pilot who lands out in a Club aircraft, planned or otherwise, bears the responsibility for getting the aircraft safely back to Snitterfield.

If you’re planning a cross-country flight, you must have your retrieve crew organised before you go. You’ll have to include this information on the form that you now have to fill in to clear your flight with the Duty Instructor.

Retrieving is all part of the sport, and most people are happy to help retrieve, on the basis that it may be them who lands out next. Calling in at the end of the day and expecting to organise a crew on the phone is unlikely to make you popular.

All the Club aircraft have derigging and stowing instructions in the cockpit.


Safety Matters

Safety Officer

Bob Hill has resigned as the Club’s Safety Officer, after four years in the job.

During this time, he was also Chairman of the Engineering Group, and either of these jobs would be more than enough for one person.

Bob has made a huge contribution to the Club over the past years, for which we express our sincere gratitude.

We’re currently recruiting a team of three people to take his place as Safety Officer, a Leader and two Deputies. The leader will also be a member of the Operations Group.

If you’re interested in playing a part in this very responsible role in the Club, please contact Geoff Butler or Tony Palfreyman.

If you’d like to volunteer to be Chairman of the Engineering Group, though, you’re too late, because Lesley Blair has taken the job on.


The sheep have been a right royal pain this year, and we are actively looking for ways to keep them under control.

We tried air horns on the tractors, which worked for a while until the sheep got used to them. If you do use the horns, please do so sparingly, because we don’t want to upset our neighbours.

If you see that the sheep are encroaching, don’t wait to be asked, just go and move them off the landing area. The occupants of the bus are in the ideal position to see a problem coming.


Flying Fees

It should be easy enough to pay for your flying: find your flights on the log, which tells you how much you owe for each; write the flight numbers and costs on the back of your cheque or on the cash envelope; and put the money in the box labelled Flying Fees, before you go home.

However, things have got so bad recently that the Club Bursars are seriously threatening to resign, and volunteers for that post are few and far between.

Some examples of the problems are: flights not logged down; pilots’ names completely wrong; log sheets almost totally crossed out and corrected; cheques bearing little or no relationship to the amount due; fees not paid on the day; people over £30 in debt. The list goes on.

Bear in mind that the Bursars have to reconcile the fees from 200+ flights per week, so make up your mind how much you’d like to take the job on, and if the answer is “not much”, then please help them out by trying very hard to get things right.

If we can’t persuade you by appealing to your conscience, the only alternative will be to do it by appealing to your pocket. We are also considering publishing the Debtors List.


Club Publicity

Many thanks to all the Club members, and their relatives, who kindly took leaflets and posters to the local library in May. Now you know why I was accosting people in the Clubhouse and asking “Where do you live?” – no motive other than to get local people to go to local places.

We visited 25 libraries in and around Warwickshire, and reports are that the leaflets well received. Particular thanks to those who had done this in the past and helped out again. I’ve been trying to get the name of the Club into the Warwickshire Library Database so that it appears in the sports section, but this seems to be taking forever.

If your library is outside Warwickshire, could you check next time you go to see if there is an entry for us in their information section. If not, please ask them to add it.

We’ve also visited Tourist Information Offices in the bigger towns. The moral is always to have a few leaflets about your person to leave at places like this (and please do let me know where you’ve taken them).

We’re sending out Press Releases, and newspaper and local radio coverage is increasing as a result. Well done to Derek “Flat Bottoms” Bennet for his interview on BBC WM, ten minutes of prime time Saturday Sports radio. We know the news is reaching the papers because you tell me when you’ve seen something (great, keep doing this and cut out the articles to show me!).

Valuable information is coming through in the answer to “How did you hear about us” on the Pink Forms. Do ask visitors to answer this to help us target our publicity more effectively.

Lastly, thanks are due to John Dutton, who has recently organised two week-long displays in Meriden and Solihull Libraries.



Pink Forms

We’re keeping the used Pink Forms in the box on the top of the bus for two reasons. One is that we need to keep the forms of everyone who’s applied for 28-day membership, because it’s the membership application and medical disclaimer. The other is that it has information about the effects of our advertising. It’s easiest to just keep all the forms and filter them later.

If you’re signing up a visitor who puts “Advert” in the “How did you hear about us” box, please make sure they (or you!) fill in which advert it was.


Controlled Airspace

Controlled Airspace: two words that are, to many glider pilots, anathema. In their minds, it goes against the “free spirit” ethos of gliding, and some people regard it as a restriction of their personal freedom. There is one thing for sure though: whatever your own view is, controlled airspace is here to stay, and we have to live with it.

From the very early days when all flying was on the “see-and-be-seen” principle, air traffic has grown rapidly, and this meant as aircraft became bigger, flew faster and there were more of them, that some sort of traffic management system was needed to prevent them bumping into each other. The original systems were procedural: no aircraft was allowed to route to a beacon unless its predecessor had reported clear by at least 10 minutes; similarly, no height changes were allowed until the controller had a positive report that a particular level was vacant. This procedural system, as can be imagined was (and is) cumbersome and slow, and so as radar systems gradually improved they were used to back up and interrupt the procedural system. In the early 1970s there was an about-face: the radar became the primary method, with procedural back-up.

There was, however, little point in providing a comprehensive control system to safeguard commercial air traffic if any Tom, Dick or Harry is permitted to pass through the busy areas, and so delineated areas, chiefly around major airports, were promulgated. In these, only certain types of flight are permitted, and the traffic is under positive control. This both expedites traffic flow, and provides traffic separation. These areas are generally prohibited to gliders, so a descending 747 can drop out of a juicy Cu, safe in the knowledge that there won’t be a swarm of gliders underneath. Protection is given to him – and also to you!

About five years ago, all UK airspace was given a classification letter between A and G (see Laws & Rules p12). The difficult one for glider pilots seems to be Class D airspace, where gliders are allowed to fly only providing they meet certain criteria – which most pilots/gliders from Stratford Gliding Club do not.

Here at Stratford, we are very conscious of our proximity to the Birmingham TMA (itself Class D), so there is a general awareness of the geographical limitations around Snitterfield, and we keep clear of Birmingham airspace. But go off on a cross country and you may well find yourself near some other Controlled Airspace. I have recently received a letter from the BGA Airspace Committee Chairman drawing attention to the excessive number of glider infringements of the Lyneham Control Zone (again Class D). So far, no one has been prosecuted, but it is quite clear from the letter that the benevolent approach so far adopted by the Lyneham authorities won’t last long if gliders continue to barge through their airspace.

I am not for one minute suggesting that anyone from Snitterfield is involved. My brief is to remind everyone that it is an offence to infringe controlled airspace. Any pilot who does may be prosecuted and severely fined. And you would also have to answer to the CFI!

Bob Horsnell

Airspace Officer



We resisted the temptation to buy Bidford, which came on the market recently, on the grounds that the interest on the loan would be larger than our total annual income. The Avon Soaring Centre has now been sold, apparently for something approaching the asking price of £600,000.



The View

Rights, Privilege, Obligations

For no particular reason, I read a copy of the Club Rules, just to see what a Club member’s rights are according to the rules. You know what? We have none.

To have any sort of successful organisation, there must be some agreement about what we have a right to, what is allowed as a privilege, and what we have an obligation to do, for our £150 per year.

So I lay before you my own personal opinion, which is no way ratified, agreed or even seen by anyone let alone a committee member (except the editor) prior to publication.

As a full flying member (FFM), do we have the RIGHT to fly as, when, and what we want? The answer, I believe, is ” no”.

I believe an FFM should have the right to fly when it’s his turn on the flying list, which means with the Duty Marshall’s permission, but that can only be dual. (Associate members don’t have the right to even put their name on the flying list, except on a limited number of days per year: that’s a PRIVILEGE for FFMs.)

Solo flying is a privilege which can only be confirmed on the day by the Duty Instructor, based on his decision, which is often subjective, of an individual’s experience, qualifications and ability. The Duty Instructor is responsible – in the eyes of the BGA and the law – for the safety of all flying from the site.

If you have a right to fly dual, the Duty Instructor has an obligation to fly with you… but should he also have the right to refuse? I hope so! We’re all a bit potty, after all, and some more than others!

An FFM has the right to rig his glider whenever he chooses, but he still doesn’t have the right to pull it on line and fly. That’s at the discretion (again) of the Duty Instructor, and don’t forget that his (sorry, ladies, it’s a b*gg*r to keep finding the / key to insert /his or /her or /she. I’m not sexist (much), just lazy) …..anyway, don’t forget that his position is a privilege, subject the CFI’s and BGA’s approval. There are no rights, few privileges, and many many obligations there!

An FFM doesn’t have the right to go and buy a glider and store it at the airfield. He is OBLIGED to request permission for the privilege of storing the glider from the Committee, and from the CFI to fly it. The CFI has the responsibility to ensure the aircraft is suitable for the individual and the site.

Members (and that’s all of us) have an OBLIGATION to help everyone else. I’ve said it before but it takes several man hours of labour to launch each aircraft and that’s without considering the behind-the-scenes work carried out to ensure the infrastructure, organisation and, above all, funds for us all to keep flying.

I believe we have an obligation not to try to squeeze whatever we can OUT of the Club, particularly financially. A successful club is measured on what people want to put IN, those who argue to get something out only detract from the efforts of those who give freely.

I am very pleased to comment that, at this point in time, NONE of our regular members are detractors (the Chairman did not make me put this comment in, honestly!) Has the message got through? Do we merry band recognise the difference and act and treat detractors accordingly? It’s an issue in a small club which wishes to get bigger.

Should we accept those who take much more than they give because they still contribute to the club financially, albeit to a minimum by the very nature? At the moment there are precious few in this category, and we all accept that new members do take time before they find the confidence in the organisation.

In summary, we have zero rights, few privileges and a huge obligation. So why do we pay for the privilege? I think it’s because we are, after all, a Members Club, and we are all equal (I’ll resist the Orwell links until a future article!)



Pontius Adds

If you, the Reader/Club Member, have any views on this, or any previous articles, or anything else that gets your sheep/goat, please feel free to reply to the editor (anonymously at the editor’s discretion) and let’s get some discussion going from the membership about what WE feel is right and wrong about anything and everything. It’s healthy!

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