The Wire April 2000

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club

Issue 17, April 2000


The News Letter

You won’t be surprised to know that the subject of the Lottery Grant comes up once or twice in this issue of The Wire.

When we had a reasonable March, we were optimistic about the new season. Since then, we’ve been waterlogged more often than not. Nevertheless, with the good weather at the end of April, we’re now being optimistic again. Serves us right, I suppose.


Club News

Subs are now Due

We were predicting a cashflow crisis in March, with the bank account expected to get very close to zero. This is because the rent is due on 1st March, and subs start to come in on 1st April. The main cause of the situation, of course, was the purchase of the Skylaunch a year ago.

That’s why we asked people to pay their subs early if they could. The result was £3000 in the bank by early March, and 76 renewed Full Flying Members by 7th April. All signs of a crisis have been averted, and the Treasurer has been spotted smiling. Thanks to all those who responded to our plea.

Subs became due on 1st April, and this year it’s £170, or £85 for senior, junior, and family members. If you joined in the previous twelve months, the amount is rebated pro rata, and there is a slip in your pigeonhole with details of how much you owe.

As always, there’s month’s grace, so you can fly until the end of April, and you’ll merely be gently reminded to pay your subs with your flying fees. From 1st May on, though, you won’t be able to fly without paying your subs first, and in view of the number of people who helped us by paying early, we’re inclined to enforce this.

Who’s Done What

Roy Wood completed his Full Cat on 4th March, and Lee Ingram completed his Assistant Cat on 22nd April.

Jennie went solo on 19th March, and George a week later on 26th.

100 Years of Flying: Jenny and George conveniently arranged their ages to add up to 100, which gave Penny a good title for the press release, and George has turned into quite a celebrity as a result, with several papers publishing articles and BBC C&W Radio interviewing him on their breakfast program.

The Spring Meeting 2000

The Spring Meeting was held on the 9th March in the Village Hall. It was attended by 53 club members. This is a terse summary of the proceedings.

Chairman’s Report. The change in the terms of the licence has given us a new area of the airfield that we can use. This has meant that the club has kept flying even though parts of the field are sodden. Flying revenue is £1800 better than the equivalent wet period last year, enough to cover most of the extra rent. Club morale has improved as a result, and fewer members are likely to drift away.

Club membership stands at 126, six higher than last year. Last year’s drop from 131 seems to have been random rather than the start of a steep decline. The initiatives associated with the lottery grant are expected to yield some new members.

Lottery Grant. Diana King reported on the state of the grant offer, which has been superseded by events.

One requirement of the grant is that we expand our operation to make gliding accessible to more people. Target groups are young people, the disabled, and ethnic minorities. Penny Broad and Tony Murphy have already put a great deal of work into making contact with organised groups representing these people.

Diana spoke about social inclusion, making minority groups feel accepted rather than excluded, as can easily be the case. It is easy for well-meaning acts to appear patronising.

Lottery Grant: Discussion. Diana’s report was followed by a long discussion among the Club members. Many concerns were expressed: safety issues; risks in the air; responsibilities; we may need specific education in some areas; we are not trained carers, and group leaders will be required; the legal implications of dealing with vulnerable people, especially children; fears that the Club will have to change too much in order to buy the lottery grant.

In response, the people involved reported that many of the concerns expressed have already been considered, and that the Committee appreciates the need to manage the situation. We are already suitably sensitive in our treatment of visitors. Each group visit will be carefully assessed as to its suitability, and we will arrange visits in the evenings and on weekdays, as we do at present.

Many new points were brought up, and the Committee will need to apply further thought to some of these.

Written procedures will be produced to provide guidelines for everyone concerned. There will be training provided in specific areas, such as use of the hoist, and flying the adapted K21.

CFI’s Report. The CFI commented on the good start to the season, with several soaring days already, and as a result the level of currency in the Club is reassuringly high.

The seven-day operation will run from the beginning of May to mid September this year. Phil Pickett will be the Resident Instructor, apart from a couple of weeks’ break in the middle. Martin Greenwood and Barry Monslow will share the winching.

The trip to Sutton Bank, 22nd-26th May, is well subscribed, and there is a visit to Camp Hill 2nd-8th July. The Club badge week is 29th July to 4th August. The K21 will be allocated for dual cross-country flying again this year.

Tasks will be set whenever appropriate at weekends. The Club Ladder and the Inter-Club League will be organised by Andy Balkwill. Orders for airspace maps can be placed through the Club.

The BGA have edicted that wheelbrakes must be operational if they are fitted. They have also strongly recommended that undercarriage alarms be removed, as a result of incidents caused by malfunctions.

We would really like to know about the achievements of our members. It’s important for backup to the lottery grant that we can document what we achieve, and the authors of The Wire would also like to know. Please drop a scrap of paper in the CFI’s mailbox if there’s something interesting to report.

Lottery Grant

We’ve been awarded a grant of £29081 by the English Sports Council. We’ve actually received about £25000 of that, with the remainder conditional on completion of a few outstanding items, which are actually all now complete.

The K21 hand rudder adaptation was installed in early April, wheelchair access to the clubhouse is complete, and we’ve installed a cattle grid at the inner entrance so that we can leave a gate open during the day.


Aircraft News

The K21

The K21 adaptation for disabled pilots has been completed. It consists of a hand rudder control, an airbrake locking stud, and wheels on the wingtips. The cockpit modifications can be removed so that the aircraft can be flown as normal. However, one effect of the mod is that the ballast weights are largely obscured, so extra care is required in this area.

The CFI is currently carrying out trials of this equipment.


There are chamois leathers and buckets available in the hangar for cleaning the canopies. Please do this as part of the DI. When you do this, please make sure the water is clean and not full of grit.

Ballast Weights

All the ballast weights have a value in pounds. This value isn’t the actual weight of the ballast, it’s the value in terms of the cockpit placard. A 140lb pilot with a 15lb ballast weight is equivalent to a 155lb pilot.

So beware: a 15lb weight isn’t “worth 20lb because it’s so far forward”, it’s worth 15lb and it actually weighs about 13lb.


CFI’s Corner

The Next Radio Course

Rick Irons has been very busy recently, but is now able to run another course in July. The exact dates will be confirmed as soon as possible. If you want to attend, please append your name to the new notice on the CFI’s notice board.

Field Landing Lecture

The Field Landing lecture and motor glider practice will be held in early June. Notice of this will be posted on the CFI’s notice board.

New Edition Maps

There is a new edition, number 26, of the half mil airspace map. Remember that you have a legal requirement to fly with the current map when flying cross-country.

This new map shows the improved airspace in our locality.

Bronze ‘C’

If any pilots wish to study for their Bronze ‘C’ papers, please contact the CFI.


Badges and Task Week 2000

Saturday 29th July to Friday 4th August

Following our first successful experiment last year with a soaring and cross country coaching week, we will be repeating the idea this year.

We have reviewed last year’s event and we are planning to improve some aspects of the arrangements, whilst obviously keeping the most successful parts the same. (But we are making no guarantees about the weather!)

Our aim is to

  •  help people to identify realistic plans for their soaring during the season
  •  provide help in achieving those plans
  •  help and encourage anyone interested in improving their soaring skills
  •  have some fun!

We will start to work on some of your plans earlier in the season if we can, so that the Badges and Tasks Week builds on your early season preparation. During the week the general idea is to:

  •  Set tasks on every day that cross country flying is possible (and probably a few when it is not!)
  •  Lead discussions and talks on any aspect of soaring which people want
  •  Hold group and individual briefings and coaching sessions at the level appropriate to your experience, to help you get the most out of each day
  •  Work with individuals to help you to devise or improve your progress plan

The programme and the Week is open to everyone, whether you are hoping for your first Bronze leg or looking for your 500km Diamond Distance.

However, if a large number of people want to come, it could overload the launching arrangements or the coaches (who are trying to do their own flying at the same time as run the coaching!), and make the week less valuable for everyone. In that case, we may suggest that, if possible, a second week be organised.

In order to get the best value from your week, we strongly recommend that you plan to be there for the whole week (regardless of the weather); that you make a commitment to some preparation beforehand; and lastly that you have a glider either to yourself or shared with at most one other person.

So that we can assess the real level of demand, would you please let us know by the end of May if you are planning to come, either by signing up on the list on the notice board, or by letting us know direct, on 01564-782951 or email <>.

Diana and Phil King.

Martyn Davies


Club News

Rigging Areas

When we’re flying on a good day from the East end of the airfield, we frequently get congestion near the launch point.

There are two rigging areas that we use, in the North-East and South-East corners, but we only ever use one of these at a time.

To ease the situation, we plan to use both areas at the same time when required.

New Members

Generally, we’re pretty good at helping new members find their feet. Just occasionally, though, we get somebody who doesn’t seem to quite fit in. The symptom is that they tend to stand around and not say much.

These are people who are likely to drop out of gliding before they get started, and we’d much rather hang on to people than let them go. So please, if you see somebody like this, make the effort to try to get them involved in the activities.


We’ve installed a payphone in the Clubhouse. We’ve had to do it because the honesty box wasn’t working, and we were paying several hundred pounds a year in phone bills.

The phone has several free numbers programmed into it. To use one of these, dial # and the relevant digit, and wait. After that, you may need to wait a bit more, because the speed dialling is optimistically named. You can also dial the free numbers in full, in which case they are still free.

Smoking Areas

Smoking is only allowed outside, and in the briefing room.

Bus Drivers

It’s always been the case that you should be checked out for driving the bus, just as for anything else on the airfield.

But for those who drive the bus without knowing what you’re doing, here’s a tip: The sign on the steering wheel really means what it says.

What it says is “Don’t drive away until the air pressure is up to 80psi”. The reason is that the brakes are held on by springs, and are released by air pressure, which is a fail-safe method. If you don’t wait until the air pressure is up, you drive away with the brakes on and help burn the clutch out. As you can imagine, changing the clutch plates on the bus is not something that we are overly keen to tackle.


Collision Avoidance

Several articles have been published over the years about avoiding bumping into other gliders or aircraft, including one in Sailplane and Gliding last year. However, the topic is so important that I make no apology for tackling it yet again. I have referred to several of these articles to prepare this piece; if anyone would like to read them in full, I can let you have copies.

Some years ago there was a poster that said “Collision is the Greatest Hazard in Gliding”. This doesn’t mean that you are more likely to have this type of accident than any other, but that the consequences are likely to be very severe if you are unfortunate enough to have a collision. You may very well be killed and, of course, so may the other pilot. This is regardless of whose fault it is.

Collision Avoidance is your own responsibility

How do we set about dealing with this responsibility? Where external control (such as radar or radio) is not used, the way we avoid running into each other is known as “See and be Seen”, or “See and Avoid.” I’m going to break these down into their separate parts and look at them in some detail, starting in this issue and concluding in the next.


This sounds quite straightforward: it means that we must keep a good look out all the time. But do we know how to do this effectively? Do we practise it all the time? Even something as apparently natural as looking needs practice if it is to be effective!

We can all practise and improve our techniques and our chances of seeing something as quickly as possible.

  •  How good is your eyesight? Do you know? We are not required to take a medical before flying in gliders, so it is our responsibility to know how good our eyesight is, and have regular check-ups at the optician. If you need to wear glasses for driving, then you must always wear them for flying. In bright weather, wear good quality sunglasses. Polaroids or ultra-violet filters make it much easier to spot other aircraft.
  •  Your flying hat should have a minimal or no brim.
  •  Keep the canopies clean and free of scratches.
  •  Keep your attention outside the cockpit. Use audio varios wherever possible, do all your navigation preparation before you take off, programme the GPS and other gadgets in advance. Learn to use new instruments on the ground, not in the air!
  •  Maintain a constant and steady scan around the whole sky, not just the bit where you are heading. People likely to hit you may come from the side or behind. Keep your eyes moving, scanning in an organised way. Concentrate on an arc of perhaps 30 degrees for a few seconds, investigate and identify anything in that area, and then move your eyes on to the next arc. This is a physical and mental activity and it takes practice and determination to do it well. It is a scientific fact that the aircraft which you are going to hit will continue to have the same relative bearing to you and will appear to be motionless against your field of view (assuming that both aircraft are in steady flight). To prove this to yourself, try it with a friend, walking at an angle towards each other on the ground! Look therefore particularly carefully for things that don’t alter their apparent position, and keep monitoring them.
  •  When you have found and ‘logged’ all the other aircraft and their direction of flight, remember that you not only need to constantly “update this log” but also to keep looking for the one you haven’t spotted (perhaps someone over-flying our airfield). It is the one that you haven’t seen that you are going to hit
  •  Closing speeds are very rapid, especially head-on. Imagine flying at 60 knots towards another aircraft flying at the same speed from a mile away, it will look quite small, but you are only 30 seconds away from hitting it. You have plenty of time to react and alter course, as long as you have seen it! If either of you is looking the other way for even a few seconds, you may not have enough time left by the time you do see each other. Now suppose the other aircraft is a military jet, flying at 450 knots, 7.5 nautical miles every minute. If you start a typical thermal turn when it is 3 miles away and looking very small (if you have seen it at all), it will be only half a mile and 4 seconds away when you complete your turn 20 seconds later. You will not have time to react, so let us hope that he has seen you and has taken avoiding action. Even if you were looking the right way all the time, you need to be quick to recognise the tiny speck in the sky when there is still time to do something about it.
  •  Whilst en route and flying roughly level, the aircraft you are likely to hit, at the same height as you, will appear level with the horizon. (The situation in circuit or while thermal or ridge soaring is different. We will look at that next time.)
  •  When they have nothing to look at, your eyes naturally focus on a point about 6 to 8 feet away. You will improve your chances of seeing other aircraft if you try to look at and focus on something such as a cloud in the area you are scanning.
  •  Gliders allow a better view from the cockpit than many other aircraft, but there are still blind spots. Know them, and check regularly that they are clear. If you are by now feeling a prickling sensation at the back of your neck, that is entirely healthy and will encourage you to keep your head on a swivel! Next time I will look at the idea of random separation, which keeps us safer than we might expect, at least some of the time, as well as how to “be seen” and how to “avoid” other aircraft.

Diana King, March 2000



There were a couple of incidents last year of fires caused by car catalysers. These run very hot, and are designed to heat up quickly.

The fires happened when cars had gone to retrieve a glider that had landed out in dry crop. The cars took the trailers near to the aircraft, and the catalysers set fire to the crop under the car.

As it happened, the gliders were rescued, but at least one car was written off.


The View from the Back

So, we’ve finally got something from the lottery people! After years of handing over my £1 and hearing that unique sound of the card being read and the ticket being printed (it sounds like someone sowing a gusset in Mike Badwin’s factory), I feel like my investments have finally matured.

After a dodgy couple of years when we’ve had to clamp down more than normal in spending so that we had enough money to buy the winch without bankrupting ourselves (and even then there are several members who have lent their own money to make sure we could afford the investment, and many more who paid their subs early just to prevent any cash flow problems over the financial year end as our dues to our landlord became due), the taps can perhaps open a little.

What would we like to see the money spent on and how much should we hold back for that rainy day? We’ll all have our own ideas and we should let the committee know.


It won’t be long before we have a long list of wants and the money won’t seem enough, just to prove the truism that “the more you’ve got the more you want”.


It’s a sound business practice to keep cash flow as positive as possible, which means we still want and need all the money that we can earn and to expect payment of all the money that’s owed. Just because we now have some money back in the bank doesn’t mean we don’t need everyone to pay their dues promptly. That includes items such as membership, flying fees, trailer rent, hangar rent and caravan rent. We may currently be comparatively “cash rich” but we are far from “volunteer rich”.


I’ve harped on about this before but it still needs saying: every time one of us forgets to pay our flying fees, or forgets to pay out trailer rent, someone has to administer the fact. In any business you’ll see that admin is one of the largest overheads.

If only businesses could reduce their admin charges, we would all get cheaper products. In a club like ours we don’t pay an admin dept, although many clubs do. Instead, we rely on volunteers, and hence get a comparatively cheap product. It’s the duty of all of us to ensure we make their tasks as easy as possible, or we’ll have to start paying people to do those functional chores. That’s one thing that will make a hole in the bank balance very quickly.


Please, please, please pay your dues as they become due. We may currently be cash rich but that’s no excuse to withhold any payments that are owed, it just p*sses off the people that have to keep chasing…. and they’d rather be flying!.


And remember we’ll soon have the capability to track, on the club computer system, who owes what and for how long it’s been owed, and transfer that info to the flying system. So if, for example, you’ve not paid your membership by the 1st May, the Duty Instructor will know and will have the right to refuse flying privileges until you’ve paid up. We could even find out if you still owe Mary for the price of a cup of tea!!!


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