The Wire February 1999

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club

Issue 13, February 1999


The News Letter

This issue of The Wire is rather different from the normal Newsletter. We haven’t done much flying that we can write about, and anything regarding the immediate future will almost certainly involve exhortations about currency and not much else.

However, there have been lots of projects going on in the background, and many Club members have been involved in them.

So, although the flying side has been rather quiet recently, there is a lot to look forward to, and the Committee is taking this opportunity to make you aware of these developments.

The next issue will be back to normal.





Club News

Bronze C Lectures

A series of Lectures covering the Syllabus for the Bronze C Paper will once again commence on Tuesday the 16th February 1999.

The Lectures will be held in the Club House and will start at 7.15pm prompt. Each Lecture will last approximately two hours. These lectures are open to any member to attend even if you already have a Bronze C or have only just commenced your flying training.

If you are not looking to take the Paper at the end of the series of Lectures, feel free to attend only those of the lectures that you either feel you need, to bring yourself up to speed, or that you think you may find particularly interesting. This is a good opportunity to start bring yourself up to speed after this poor winter.

Details of dates of particular lectures can be obtained from the CFI.

Green Renewal Forms

If you have not completed and forwarded your Green Renewal Form to me, please do so without delay. I will shortly be posting a list of all those Pilots who have not yet submitted returns, in the Club House. If your name appears on this list you will be unable to fly Solo until I remove your name from the list. This will at least require you to speak to me personally, and may involve a flying and or verbal test with myself. You have been warned.

Peter Fanshawe, CFI


Sweat Shirts

Jo O’Brien has a new stock of Club sweatshirts with a new design. Most sizes are available, Medium, Large, and Extra Large, in Navy, Burgundy, Bottle Green and Black. A snip at the New Lower Price of £15.00


Planning Permission

The Club grapevine has been reasonably efficient on this, but we’ll tell you about it anyway.

Last year, we applied to be able to launch occasional two-seater motor gliders for training flights, and to be able to launch single-seater self-sustainers and self-launchers on the wire.

We had negotiated an application with the Stratford District Council Planning Officers, and they made no objection to what we were asking for.


The hearing happened at the end of October, suddenly. The Parish Councils had a week’s notice, but because our agent was on holiday at the crucial time, we heard about it just one day before.

The hearing itself was awful. The villages brought a 75-strong mob, who were allowed to cheer and clap themselves, and boo, jeer, and barrack anything they didn’t like. This behaviour is apparently acceptable, because the Planning Committee Chairman made no attempt at all to control it.

The Planning Officers made no objection to the application, and the Environmental Health Officer, who began by pointing out that it was a new experience for him not to object on the grounds of noise, actually spoke in our favour. He too was jeered.

Nevertheless, in the light of the atmosphere, with the resulting pressure placed on the Councillors by their constituents, the chances of success were not overwhelmingly good. In the event, the application was rejected by eight votes to one.

We have the option to appeal, within six months of the formal rejection. We’ve been advised that the only worthwhile appeal would be a public appeal, which requires us to be represented by a barrister. If we do this, we believe that we would have a very good chance of success. Furthermore, it is likely that we would be awarded costs, on the grounds that the Planning Committee chose to ignore their Planning Officers’ advice, and the BGA have intimated that there would be some financial support available.

Nevertheless, neither the appeal nor the services of a barrister guarantees success, but failure would be guaranteed to be expensive. Either way, there is bound to be bad feeling on both sides, which certainly wouldn’t do us any good.

For these reasons, and for several others that are equally valid but would take too much time to expand on, we’ve decided not to take the matter to appeal.


Skylaunch Winch

We’ve taken the major decision to buy a new Skylaunch winch.

We had a provisional order on their books as a part of our previous Lottery Grant application, and we’ve decided to go ahead with this order. This means that the winch will be on site in late April or early May.

The Skylaunch is powered by a 7.4-litre marine Chevy engine running on LPG, driving twin drums through an automatic gearbox. The engine generates a nominal 330HP, about half as much again as our current winches. It’s much more up-to-date technology, and very much cleaner, than what we have at present.

According to everyone we’ve talked to, including several clubs that run them and also the RAF GSA, the Skylaunch is robust and reliable. In fact, the RAF GSA is in the process of replacing all its Tost winches with Skylaunches. The maintenance required is much less than with our diesel winches, and one very strong argument in favour of a new winch is our need for the Club’s engineers to spend less time battling to keep the kit operational, and more time in more productive pursuits, possibly even finding time to fly.

The Skylaunch costs £55000, which is a not inconsiderable sum. Despite three wet winters in a row, and two poor summers in between them, we are nevertheless in a position to be able to buy the winch without overcommitting ourselves and going into debt. Just. We will, however, be depending on the majority of next year’s subscriptions coming in promptly, so please bear this in mind when we start pleading with you to pay up. We also have pledges from members for financial backup, should it be needed, amounting to £15000. We don’t expect to have to call on this backup, but it is very reassuring for the Committee to have this level of support from the membership.

There is also the possibility of financial assistance from a Lottery Grant, but the decision was taken on the basis that we are not reliant on this, and any money from that direction will be a welcome bonus.

From the pilot’s perspective, the new winch will be very similar to the current winches, although the extra power will make a great deal of difference in light wind conditions. The driving technique, however, is very different, and all our winch drivers will need to be trained to drive it.

This new winch will be the foundation of the Club for the next ten to fifteen years. No doubt it will lead to a few operational changes, which we are sure will result in better flying for all of us.


Grant Applications, 1999

Undismayed, following the rejection of our Lottery application last year, we are formulating a further application for Lottery Capital Funding to be submitted in March. The application will be in respect of the new Skylaunch winch, £55000, and a disabled adaptation for a hand rudder for the K21, £3500. We shall, in addition, be applying to Stratford District Council for a grant towards our project funding for the above facilities. The application to the Lottery will be for 50% of the total costs; a sum of approximately £29,250. Stratford District Council may be willing to offer an additional grant of £7-8,000, if we can demonstrate that the new winch and the disabled adaptation will benefit the people in the Stratford area.

It is our intention, therefore, to approach other local sporting organisations, disabled groups and young peoples organisations. Tony Palfreyman is assisting with the disabled, and Harry Williams has been helping with contacts for junior participation.

I must also comment on the development work that Neil Campbell has undertaken in with regard to a hoist for lifting people with ambulant difficulties both into and out of the K21. I believe that we are the first gliding club to address this issue. All credit to Neil for his work on this.

Tony Murphy has approached the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust which has a particular interest in the Snitterfield Bushes, adjacent to the airfield, which is well known nationally. We hope to agree a mutually supportive arrangement which will offer them our limited on-site facilities and in return, develop a relationship with the local schools and local groups who are participating in the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s programmes. We will, of course, be offering them the opportunity to survey the local area from the air. Tony anticipates that the schools may well be interested in the history of the area including Snitterfield airfield.

We cannot, of course, rely upon the monies from these applications. There appears to be less money available for grants to sporting organisations from the Lottery and, at the same time, the number of application is increasing. We are, as a consequence, planning for the future without grant aid as well as with it.

We consider that our application will be weak in one area in particular – recruitment increases. Compared to, say, a multi-sports organisation, it is unlikely that we will be able to demonstrate the same future increase in both participation and membership. We are predicting an increase of 20-25 members only net over five years. We are, therefore, preparing a detailed Sports Development Plan to counterbalance the anticipated membership recruitment deficiency, compared with other applications.

We shall be making a concerted effort to encourage members to stay in membership from one year to the next. The membership figures would benefit enormously if we could retain only one or two of the approximately 30 members who do not renew at the end of the membership year. A meeting is planned at which we hope to speak to the members who names do not appear on the log sheets. Jo O’Brien is researching this.

Other areas that we shall be addressing will be: (i) an improvement in the numbers of women members as a percentage of the membership as a whole; and (ii) the need to encourage participation from the ethnic minority groups in the West Midlands. Derek Bennett is addressing the latter in addition to his normal responsibilities as Marketing Group Chairman.

The need to encourage participation by people from the lower income groups will be addressed by freezing the prices of Trial Flights for the next five years. All the above initiatives are a necessary requirement if we are to satisfy the Lottery rules and the criteria set down by Stratford District Council.

If anyone out there has any proposals for recruitment initiatives that we have overlooked, please contact me. I should be delighted to hear from you.

Martyn Davies



Stratford GC Development

One of the requirements of the Lottery application is that we create a Sports Development Plan, outlining our targets and ambitions for the club and all the members over the next few years.

We see this as an excellent opportunity to create a blueprint for the club’s future which, in addition (we hope) to landing a chunk of Lottery money for the new winch, can help us to develop the opportunities and achievements for everyone flying at Snitterfield.

The Plan splits into two major sections, along the following lines:

1. Increasing membership (both temporary trial lesson members and permanent members), with particular emphasis on groups who are under-represented in sport, such as young people, women, the disabled and people from ethnic minorities. We are looking at plans to interest and recruit people from these sections of the local population, as well as, of course, anyone else who is interested in learning to fly with us. We also want to reduce the numbers of people who leave the club.

2. Improving the standard and quality of flying which we all do, as well as maximising the fun and enjoyment. In particular we would like, among other things, to: Improve rates of progress at all levels; Increase the number of pilots flying cross country, and increase cross country distances flown by the club as a whole; Increase and improve our competition participation (by pilots and officials).

The two sections of the plan should be supported by secondary programmes for the development of club instructors, officials and administrators.

Some of the points in the Plan are led by policies from the Sports Council, who will assess our Lottery application, but we anticipate that the ideas will bring benefit to the club as well as meeting policy requirements.

We hope to bring you more information about the Lottery application and this Plan at the spring meeting, when we will be looking for your support as well as your comments and additional ideas.

As part of the plan to develop opportunities for club pilots and to improve rates of progress for pilots at all levels, we are running a “Club Badges and Tasks Week” from 24th July to 2nd August.

The aims of the week will be to help members to: Identify your own personal short and long term flying goals; Set up action plans and programmes to help achieve your goals; Achieve badges and extend your cross country and other soaring experience.

Everyone will be welcome! More details will be announced nearer the time, but if you are keen to develop your flying and have a lot of fun doing so, please reserve the week in your diary now!

Diana King.



Winter Flying

I’ve spent some of the winter flying cross-country in an LS-1f. There’s also an SB-10 (22m, flaps) and an ASW-27 (15m, flaps) in the fleet, but one step at a time.

The bad news is that I’ve been flying the LS on a soaring simulator, not for real. The good news is that it’s a rather good simulator, given the constraints of an ordinary PC, and there is plenty to be learnt about cross-country flying from my perspective as a cross-country novice.

SFSPC runs under DOS on Windows 3.1, 95, or 98. It’s produced privately by a couple of German aeronautics engineers who are also glider pilots, and it shows. It’s good in a way that Flight Unlimited (now gladly defunct) and M*cr*S*ft Flight Simulator aren’t.

It claims to run on a 486, or even a 386 at a push, but you have to turn the level of detail right down to get sensible performance. On a reasonably fast Pentium with the detail turned right up, there’s no sign of any sluggishness even when spinning out of a cloud. Allegedly.

It needs a joystick. There’s no chance of using the keyboard for flight controls, although you do need to use it, inevitably, for a lot of other functions. It also supports the use of rudder pedals, or a simulation by a twist-grip joystick, but I decided that I can already fly coordinated turns tolerably well (check this with CFI – Ed), so I haven’t bothered with this too much.

The instrument panel is fully equipped, with a moving map GPS, a vario that switches between climb rate and target speed, and a final glide speed calculator. There are plenty of ground features that let you fly without the GPS, though. There’s even a fully-operational yaw string.

It’s realistic, for a PC simulator. If you take a winch launch instead of a tow, there’s a good chance that the only cloud in range of the field won’t be working and you’ll have to hurry home. Thermals vary in size, profile, and strength, and are usually turbulent, and they’re weaker and more difficult to work near the ground. If you leave your gear down, it’s slightly noisier and performance goes through the floor. And if you get the flaps wrong, you can pull the wings off.

There are a few deviations from reality, though: you can ask it to tell you about things, which is useful; you can pause and fetch a beer, which is more so; and most unrealistic of all, the compass works.

It’s fun to fly, but there’s more to it than that. There are plenty of things that it can teach you, too: the difference between flying into wind and with the wind, at different wind strengths, for example; and how to use the calculators and what happens if you don’t. It also reminds you that if you push your luck, you’ll come a cropper sooner rather than later.

SFSPC is well worth the money. It costs DM79 for a CD and a booklet, plus DM15 P&P, plus DM15 if you pay by bank transfer rather than Eurocheque. That’s about £35, which is good value these days.

They’re on the web at

and on email at

It’s well worth a try.


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