The Wire January 2000

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club

Issue 16, January 2000


The News Letter

The winter is the time when we review the old season and prepare for the new. All this background work is going on apace, but none of it makes noteworthy news.

However, one piece of very noteworthy news is that Diana King has been awarded the O.B.E in the New Year’s Honours List, for Services to Sport. We are fortunate to have such a person as Diana helping us in the management of the Club.


Aircraft News

The K13s

CCT has already gone for its C of A, and the others will follow in turn.

The K21


The K21 has nearly completed its C of A, which has included some work on the gel coat and a repair to the leading edge of the port wing. It will be back on site in the middle of January.

The Single Seaters

The single seaters will start leaving the site soon, and should all be ready for the start of the season.

Private Aircraft

Private owners should be aware that the requirements of the C of A have changed slightly.

You will now require your altimeter to be calibrated within 2mb and your compass to be within set limits. This could take a little extra time to sort out, so think about it early.



Winter Flying Rates

Winter flying rates apply from 1st December until 29th February, Y2K bugs permitting. They are:

  •  £6 per launch, including 15 minutes flying time
  •  If you have three or more flights on one day, they each cost £5 instead of £6.
  •  £2.50 per simulated launch failure. These count towards the three-per-day.
  •  £4.50 for private aircraft launches.



The 1999 AGM

The AGM was held on 11th November in the Village Hall. It was attended by 58 people, getting on for half the Club.

Finance Report


The Treasurer reported on the accounts for the year to March 1999, which were accepted unanimously. The proposed charges for the year starting April 2000 were accepted with abstentions but without argument. Charges will be:

Full membership £ 170 +10
Associate membership £ 17 +1
Joining fee £ 60 =
Winch launch £ 5.00 +0.25
Flying time £ 0.25 =
Course, July – August £ 265 +15
Course, otherwise £ 230 +5
Course, for members £ 25off +5

Chairman’s report

The Chairman reported on the season. Membership was better than two years previously, so last year was a hiccup. Evenings were OK but the groups were smaller. Long courses were well down, short courses were well up.


The Skylaunch has been performing well, giving better height and fewer delays.


The Club is investigating on-line logging as the solution to many problems in the administration of the finances. The project will take place over the winter.


The Club has a new licence agreement with our landlord. The key points are:

  •  Number of sheep reduced from 750 to 380; no new-born lambs; a new flock each year (a ‘flying flock’).
  •  We rent the whole field, so there is no unusable sector.
  •  This is a new 25-year licence, as of 1st September 1999.
  •  The extra rental is £2000 pa, deferred for a year.

We hope that this will help to fix the problem of the sheep, and will improve our chances of flying during a wet winter.


Election of Committee Members


Derek Bennett and Dave Benton stood down during the year. Maurice Noxon is standing down, as are our longest-serving Committee members Pete Kenealy and Harry Williams, and our Treasurer of five years, Brian Tebbit. Geoff Butler and Peter Blair stood down after three years, per Club rules, and sought re-election.


Andy Sutton and Sandra Wood had been co-opted during the year. Chris Wooller is taking on the job of Treasurer. Andy Balkwill, Lee Ingram, and Roy Wood were nominated. That’s eight people for the nine available seats, so all were declared elected unopposed.


The Committee is now as follows.

Chairman Geoff Butler
Company Secretary Martyn Davies
Treasurer Chris Wooller
Vice Chairman &
Operations Group
Tony Palfreyman
Aircraft Derek Phillips
Engineering Les Blair
Marketing Andy Sutton
CFI, ex officio Pete Fanshawe
Andy Balkwill
Peter Blair
Lee Ingram
Jo O’Brien
Sandra Wood
Roy Wood


The CFI’s report


The CFI reported on the year’s flying, the changes in the Instructor team, and the superb cross-country flying in July and August, yielding a Club record 17244Km.


The expeditions to Sutton Bank and Camp Hill were very successful, with many badge flights and legs flown.


The CFI paid tribute to Jim Tyler, who will soon retire from instructing at the age of 70. Jim has been an instructor for ever, was a founder member of the Club, and has twice been our CFI.




Long and Meritorious Service: Jim Tyler. Contribution to the Running of the Club: Barry Monslow, for the generator and the solar panels. Most Flying Progress: Chris Wooller. Best Flight in a Club Glider: Andy Balkwill, 164Km in the Junior.The Club Ladder: Mike Coffee; 2nd Martyn Davies, 3rd Dave Benton. Cross-Country Achievement: Martyn Davies. CFI’s Award: George Sperryn, for dedication and tenacity and taking up flying at the age of 83. The Andy Coffee Trophy for Flying Excellence: Martyn Davies, for the first 500K from Snitterfield on an iffy day, 8 hours 20 in the air.


Lottery Grant

The Secretary reported on the Club’s history of lottery bids, mostly successful, leading up to the current offer of £29081 from the ESC, and a possible further grant from Stratford DC. This grant, of course, comes with conditions.


Most of the conditions have been, or soon will be, met. We are committed to working with disabled pilots, and we will soon have done the following:

  •  Converted the K21 so that the rudder can be operated by hand
  •  Built Neil Campbell’s hoist to assist disabled pilots into the K21.
  •  Replaced the loo block with a new building with disabled facilities
  •  Provided disabled access to the Clubhouse


Sports Development

Diana King presented our Sports Development Plan, which is intrinsic to the lottery grant. The plan provides guidance for the development of the flying of all pilots, and defines the means to measure this development. The ESC require us to prove that their money has actually achieved an improvement in all aspects of the Club.


The Chairman


The Chairman paid tribute to the three people who undertook the huge amount of work involved in the successful bid: Martyn Davies, Diana King, and Brian Tebbitt.

They each received a gift of a fountain pen.



Are You Getting Enough

How many of us can honestly say that we are always in current practice in gliding? Or do we wish that we could fly a bit a bit more often and have more hours in the logbook at the end of each year?

Flying is a complicated activity. It requires us to perform physical, technical manoeuvres in a fast moving vehicle, to use our judgement about distances, heights and relative speeds and to do all this in an alien and potentially dangerous environment. To do this safely and skilfully requires some natural ability, regular training and lots of practice.

Recently, the yearly average flying hours done at Snitterfield per member varied between 21 hours (1995) and 12 hours (1998 – admittedly a year of poor weather). Given that instructors and keener members probably fly between 40 and 80 hours a year each, the average across the rest of the membership is probably nearer 8 hours a year, or about 10 minutes a week. Can we really persuade ourselves that we can be even half-competent at this level of practice? (Think about the amount of time you spend at the wheel of your car!)

Apart from simple quantity and experience, frequency and regularity are critical factors in what is known as ‘flying currency’. How often do you fly? How often do you visit the club? Are you a fair weather pilot? Do work and family commitments claim your attention to the detriment of your flying?

Most of us have many demands on our time and flying often has to take a back seat. Ideally we should simply resolve to fly more often, but if that is difficult, we need to understand the consequences and we can still take some action to help protect us in spite of our lack of currency.

If you know you aren’t flying enough, what can you do about it? Here are a few ideas to get you going. Pick something that fits your own circumstances and resolve to pay attention to your own flying safety every week, even if you don’t fly every week.

Thinking about flying

  •  Watch and listen to weather forecasts as though you were about to fly
  •  Keep an eye on the sky; what is happening? Is it soarable today?
  •  Read an aviation book or magazine, relevant if possible to your own flying
  •  After you have flown, discuss your flight with an instructor or experienced pilot; ask for suggestions about suitable aims for your next flights and for useful reading material before then.

The day or morning before flying

  •  Think back to your last flight; what did you do? What went well? What could you have improved?
  •  How would you like to build on what you did last time? How could you plan to achieve that?
  •  Look at the sky: what is the wind direction and strength? How much cloud is there? How high is the cloud base? How will the weather change later in the day?
  •  If you hope to soar or go cross-country: what are the thermals likely to be like today? What is the state of the fields and crops just now?
  •  Think about vital actions: when did you last have a launch failure? – mentally revise the drill. Have you done any stalling or spinning recently? What is the standard recovery drill? – visualise it in your mind.

If you need a check flight, look on it as an opportunity, not as something to be endured! Make time to discuss your thoughts with your instructor and ensure that you learn something new from the flight, or practise something valuable.

And finally

  •  When you are making your New Year resolutions, how about one to increase the amount of flying you do to more than the club average?
  •  If you are already above average on hours, well done, but don’t get complacent! Regular pilots with thousands of hours still have accidents. How about a resolution to increase your flying by 10% this year?
  •  Aim to fly, even if it is only a circuit, every time you are at the club. (If your health is below par, or the weather is beyond your abilities, take a flight with someone else.)
  •  And for everyone: resolve to discover something new every time you fly!

Diana King


Club News


When Chris Wooller took over as Club Treasurer, he not unreasonably stood down as Winchmaster. Gordon Graham has taken over, with Andy Pullen as his deputy.

Weak Links

At the behest of the CFI, Gordon has changed the weak link arrangements on the cable. Instead of three links attached to the cable, we now have single weak links permanently attached to the strop. There is a selection of strops at the launchpoint, with the strop colour matching the weak link colour.


The main reason for this is the occasional need for a red (3) weak link, for heavy single-seaters with water ballast, and the desire to get away from black links for the K13s. Five permanent links in the set is not really a practicable arrangement.


A second advantage is that it will make it easier to replace tired blue links, which are our main source of broken links and lost strops.


Finally, the link in use will be visible to the pilot, although use of the wrong link is a very rare problem.

South Side Operation

Despite the wet conditions which would have prevented us from flying last year, we have been able to fly using the south edge of the field, the use of which we acquired as a part of the licence changes.

Please think carefully before you drive across the wet parts of the field, though, because the field is exceptionally wet, and can be easily damaged. Some areas can only be crossed on foot.

We’ve managed to run a two-cable operation, with the result that we’ve achieved 30-40 launches per day even in the short days of early January. There are areas near the cross runways that are dry enough to land on, so we can retrieve the aircraft with minimum damage.

Winter Programme

There will be several series of lectures run over the winter. They will be held in the Clubhouse, starting at 19:30. Contact the CFI if you wish to take part.

Check the notice board and the web site for the latest details.

Bronze ‘C’ Lectures

There will be a series of Bronze ‘C’ lectures. This year, they will be spread over the winter period, unlike previous where they have been run weekly. The lectures will start on Wednesday 1st March, with Meteorology. The dates of the other lectures will be posted on the CFI’s notice board.

RT Licence

There are two courses for pilots wishing to obtain a radio licence. The first of these, which is already full, starts on 17th January. The second will be in early March, and there are several places available.

Develop your Flying

This series of lectures is aimed at all levels of experience, and should prove of interest to everybody. The first is on the Tuesday 1st February, and covers The psychology and planning of cross-country flying. The next, on 21st February, covers Thermal Flying, and on the 6th March, Task Setting. There will be a lecture on Field Landings, which we hope will include video and slides. The date of this is yet to be set.


The View from the Back

New Year Resolutions

We all make them….and then break them. We start out with the best of intentions and make some form of New Year’s Resolution then either something gets in the way or we “lapse” and forget to carry on with our best of intentions.

Often it doesn’t matter too much, although that can be a matter of opinion, like giving up smoking. We all know it’s bad for you but many continue, others try to give up, and others never started and can’t honestly see why anyone would even want to start in the first place. For some it’s a habit that could be broken (but often don’t want to) and some it’s a physical craving which makes giving up even harder but still not impossible, it’s down to the individual.

But we still all know it’s dangerous and not particularly good for your health and you can’t really make it safer. Take the analogy over to gliding: it’s a bad habit in the eyes of some (usually the wives or partners) which could, with a little willpower, be broken (but we don’t want to!) To some it’s a craving that we have to do every week and we get grouchy if we don’t “get our bums in the air” even if the weather is a bit wet this time of year. The withdrawal symptoms can be very physical and the flight simulator on the PC gets a bashing (a bit like one of those artificial cigarettes or a nicotine soaked patch!)

However, there the analogy ends. Any form of flying, and all forms of machinery, can be dangerous, and if we do things wrong it can definitely be not particularly good for your health, but we don’t want you to give it up our flying habit because we can always make it safer. We all develop bad habits as we grow older (like taking up smoking) and, once started, they can take a little willpower to break.

So let’s think about which habits we want to break and which we want to carry on with. OK, we’ve all decided to carry on with the flying habit, how do we make it safer? We give up the bad habits associated with it, like not carrying out positive checks as part of the Daily Inspection (after all, we’ll do it at the launch point) – definitely bad for your health! Or like flying when the canopy is misted up, or driving tractors around the launch point and amongst the aircraft, or over-ruddering on a final turn, or opening airbrakes without thinking if you really need them yet. Like not looking out enough, or not considering “eventualities” as part of our pre launch checks, like only coming down once every three or four weeks “just to keep current” (because you’re out of the habit?).

Regular flying is a safe habit, irregular flying is a bad and unsafe habit.

If you want to make any important resolutions for the New Millennium, break the bad habits and keep the ones you want to carry on with, regardless of how obnoxious some may consider them!


Thought for the month

Expect the unexpected. If you rehearse the unfamiliar, it becomes familiar.

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