The Wire November 1998

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club

Issue 12, Novenber 1998


The News Letter

This issue sees the start of a regular series of articles written by Diana King, which will focus mainly on safety issues.

Apologies for the late posting of some of the copies of the July Wire. A batch that were taken out of the pigeonholes in August vanished into a black hole and didn’t re-emerge until September.


Aircraft News

C of A’s

All the Club aircraft C of A’s will be starting soon, so that they can all be finished in time for the start of next season.


It’s that time of the year, when it is most important that the aircraft are cleaned at the end of each flying day.

This task is traditionally carried out by the same elite group of people each year, but new members are most welcome.

If you’re the one using the hosepipe, please be very careful not to get water inside the fuselage via the wheel box. If you do, you may cause extreme embarrassment to the next pilot who flies it.


Please make sure that your trailer is picketed down at the tie-down points. This is for the safety of your own aircraft as well as that of your neighbours.


Club News

The Committee

Following the AGM, the Committee for the next twelve months is:

Geoff Butler Chairman
Martyn Davies Secretary
Brian Tebbitt Treasurer
Tony Palfreyman Vice-Chairman &
Airfield Operations
Derek Bennett Marketing
Dave Benton
Les Blair Engineering
Peter Blair
Peter Kenealy
Maurice Noxon Site
Jo O’Brien Safety
Derek Phillips Technical Officer
Harry Williams
Peter Fanshawe CFI, ex officio

Safety Officer

Roy Wood is our new Safety Officer, assisted by Ted Smith, and Jo O’Brien.

Christmas Dinner


On Friday 18th December, we’ve booked Christmas Dinner in the Snitterfield Arms. The numbers are limited by the space available in the corner, about 24 places. The list is up in the Clubhouse.

Winter Flying Rates

From 1st December to 28th February, flying fees will be: £4.50 for a launch and ten minutes flying; £2.50 for a simulated cable break.


With safety in mind

For about the first half of my active gliding life I subscribed to the notion that gliding was a safe sport. We reasoned that you could just as easily get run over, that it was nothing like so dangerous as parachuting, and that all the processes and procedures kept us safe.

We pointed out to our sceptical non-gliding friends that gliders are rigorously inspected every year, and then again every day they are flown; that we have standard safety and checking procedures, and a comprehensive system of training and continuous education for all pilots.

With all this in place, we told ourselves, and anyone else who would listen, that we were protected from the ultimate penalty courted by people who regularly throw themselves into a hostile, unnatural environment. But were we right?

In the last 10 or 15 years my views have gradually changed. I have (or had – because some of them did not survive) friends who have

* flown without the main pin in!! (The wings fell off after the glider landed.)

* taken off with the elevator disconnected (one pilot survived)

* winch launched (fatally) with a disconnected aileron

* bungee launched with the airbrakes open (damaged the glider landing at the bottom of the hill, with the brakes still open)

* aerotowed in an ASH25 with the airbrakes open (the tug/glider combination’s tour around the tree tops was heart stopping)

* winch launched a K21 with the canopy unlatched (a good way of bending both ends of the glider at once, as the canopy smashes into the tailplane on the way past)

* flown with too little ballast (the level of fright depends on the glider and the circumstances)

* winch launched (fatally again) in an unfamiliar glider and inadequately firm cushions, which meant the pilot could not reach to move the stick forward or to pull the release

* wrote the glider off landing in an entirely unsuitable field, having got low in an area where “there weren’t any good fields”.

All these friends were experienced pilots and many of them were instructors.

I could go on, but we don’t want to depress you. Nevertheless I have gradually recognised, and had to come to terms with, the fact that there are significant risks in gliding and that we should face and tackle them, rather than burying our heads in the sand.

Simply to suggest stopping flying is not a constructive option, and to give up would literally deprive us of an extra dimension in our lives, a dimension which is beautiful, challenging and different from our earth-bound existence. Anyway, if we took up a nice safe sport like tiddlywinks, Murphy’s Law says we’d probably blind someone with a careless flick. So what should we do?

Let’s look at the common factor in the examples I’ve mentioned.

We’re talking about checks, procedures and systems, such as C of A and Daily Inspections, positive control checks, cockpit checks, pre-landing checks and standard procedures for field landings. Checks on their own are no substitute for good airmanship, skill and knowledge, but thoughtfully and properly used, they may prevent some accidents, like the ones listed here.

And so we come back to where I started. Gliding is not a safe sport; let’s not kid ourselves, it has considerable risks. But used constructively, the systems, procedures and checks can help us to reduce those risks significantly to a level which most of us find acceptable.

Thought for the Month

Basic Flying

Try to stay in the middle of the air

Do not go near the edges of the air

The edges can be recognised by the appearance of ground, buildings, sea, trees and interstellar space. It is much more difficult to fly there

[seen in a Hang-gliding magazine, circa 1979]

Diana King



The 1998 AGM was held on October 8th, as usual in the Village Hall. About sixty people came, which is half the Club.



The General Committee made the following awards

1) Dave Benton, our previous CFI, was awarded Life Membership for putting up with us for seven years.

2) Peter Kenealy was awarded the Fred Haines Shield for Long and Meritorious Service.

3) Martyn Davies was awarded the John Simonite Trophy for Contribution to the Running of the Club.

The Flying Committee awards were:

1) Mike Coffee, the Cross-Country Trophy.

2) Tony Murphy, Best Flight in a Club Glider.

3) Mark Pedwell, Most Improved Pilot.

4) Dave Benton won the Club Ladder

5) Dave Benton also won the Seaside Trophy, with 325K to Devon (declared to Perranporth).

The Seaside Trophy is new this year, and has been donated by Phil and Liz. It’s awarded for the flight which finishes nearest to the coast.


Common Senseless

The gate to the airfield, the one by the trailer park, is held closed by an oval ring, which fits over the gatepost. The gatepost is bigger than the end post of the gate, and the oval ring is specially hand-crafted with one end bigger than the other.

Most people manage to put the big end of the ring over the big post, but there’s somebody, somebody, who regularly forces the small end of the ring over the big post. If only we knew who it was, we’d explain.


Ten Observations By A New Member

1) There are really two Clubs: one operates weekdays, the other, weekends.

2) Members’ cars are secretly microchipped to home in on the Snitterfield Arms.

3) The sheep population doubles with each low cable break.

4) There are twenty cars in the car park, but only ten members to be found.

5) Nobody admits to repairing Club equipment. Is it a crime?

6) Members are sent on their first solo when the rest are short of beer money.

7) There is a force field around the clubhouse, preventing members from getting out.

8) On early flights, the effect of the wind is heard rather than felt.

9) The weather is controlled by someone with a gross dislike of gliding.

10) The instructors’ catchphrase “I Have Control” covers everything, very reassuring.

See you at the launchpoint,



The View from the Back

I watched it from the back.

I was sitting near the back of the room at the AGM and had a good view from the back. As a Club we came very close to losing the Committee. Taken for granted by many, vilified by some, the Committee is the Board of Directors of Stratford on Avon Gliding Club Ltd. Few people have volunteered for any of the jobs they are doing, and, most were “made an offer they couldn’t refuse”. Certainly there are no perks, and many give up a considerable amount of their personal spare time to conduct Club business.

Remember, the Club runs as a business for 7 days a week in the summer, and yet most of the committee get only one day each week away from their other commitments, such as family and full-time job, to “go flying”.

Not many other businesses with a turnover of our Club have a board of directors who only turn in once a week and then spend their time on that day playing golf (although I’m sure there are and if you know of any, let me know as I’d like to apply for that kind of job!)

However, before I give the impression that the Committee are the only people giving up their time, I must point out there are many others who take on roles and duties without being committee members: the trial lessons and course members in summer don’t book themselves; neither does the money get from the paying-in box to the bank by magic; nor does the club equipment mend itself; nor do fences get repaired, holes get filled in; the list goes on.

There are many roles that are filled by willing unpaid Club members and thanks are due.

IN RETURN, WE SHOULD DO EVERYTHING WE CAN to make the loads of those willing to give their time easier. This isn’t done by asking for Extraordinary General Meetings, or expecting the bursars to have to chase people for non payment of fees (whether they be flying fees, membership fees or trailer/caravan/hangar rents), or moaning if the equipment isn’t as you’d like it.

If any of you feel you can do it better, there will be no opposition, volunteers are always welcome, and there are places available on the Committee. This is one business where you can’t be made redundant from your job.

My point is that we all do what we do because we enjoy it (usually!) and if events and attitudes stop the enjoyment then we are within our rights to simply stop doing it …but somebody has to!


Sharing is caring!