The Wire June 2002

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club

Issue 22, June 2002


The News Letter

The season is well under way, with some good early weather and some rather more unpredictable stuff in the past few weeks.

The Club is open seven days a week for the rest of the season.


Aircraft News

The single-seaters are all serviceable and have new CofAs. The K8 was damaged in the break-in within a week of it coming on site, and that’s been repaired, despite being nearly written off. The K13 that was more severely damaged will be back on site in the very near future.

The radios in the K21 and the Junior are receiving attention.


Club News

Break-in in March

We suffered our most disruptive break-in at the end of March. The two Kubotas were taken, and were driven over two wings on the way out of the hangar. The Shogun was, believe it or not, deemed worth stealing, as was the old scrap trailer.

The tractors and aircraft were covered by our insurance, apart from the usual excess payments and loss of no-claims bonus. The Shogun got as far as Wootton Wawen before they abandoned it.

The general hassle resulting from all this has caused us to rethink the way we do some things.

One Tractor Retrieved

A piece in the Leamington Observer, spotted independently by Penny and Ian, showed a Kubota B6000 as one item of a large quantity of stolen farm and garden machinery that had been found by Leamington Police in a shed on an allotment. It turns out that the Kubota is one of ours.

The Police have arrested two men in connection with the stolen property. We can only hope that this means that they won’t come back next month looking for more.


We’re currently suffering from too much grass, which is getting close to making the field unsafe to fly from.

Our attempts to cut the it ourselves caused another problem: the cut grass was picked up and dragged into the winch rollers, jamming them and allowing the cable to cut into them.

We’ve been quoted £1000 to cut and clear the field. We’re looking for a more sensible solution, in the short and long term.




We’ve been wanting to separate the ground kit from the aircraft for a long time, but the price of a container has been a deterrent. The break-in pushed us into the decision, at a quoted price of about £1500 including delivery. Some stunning negotiation by Pete Blair, involving letting the supplier reduce the price a few times, resulted in us paying £175.

The container is now in use as a vehicle store. The only machinery that is kept in the hangar is the winch and, perhaps, its tow vehicle if it can be left attached.

There’s room in the container for two small tractors or one large one, plus two Land Rovers, provided it’s packed tightly.

Keys and the Safe

We’ve started using the safe for the few things that really matter to our operation: the logging computers, vehicle keys, and the like. There’s also room in there for obvious things like Trial Lesson Evening cash.

There are no hangar keys or safe keys kept on site – this is an insurance requirement. Hangar keys are plentiful and can be had for the asking. Safe keys are currently rarer, and we’re keeping track of key-holders. If you think you need a key to the safe, ask. We’re also reviewing our safe key policy to cope with an unexpected absence of all key-holders.

The safe was a donation from Bidford, for which we thank them. I wonder if they kept a spare key?

Main Gate

If you’re the first to arrive in the morning and unlock the main gate, please make sure you put the lock back on the chain and scramble the combination.

Fuel Tank

The fuel tank must be locked with the fuel valve closed and the steel cover in place and locked.


Stratford in Non-Aggressive Take-over

Well, perhaps not so much a takeover as a major infiltration of the Vintage Gliding Club’s annual rally at Camphill. SoAGC contributed 24 (including the day-trippers) out of 80+ attendees. Camphill usually produces some good flights on a day or two. This year, the ridge worked every day without fail, the rain was minimal, although the wind was strong enough to ground some of the lighter old-timers (gliders of course!) for a couple of days, and Thursday morning gave us a sky with more lenticulars than we had seen in our lives! At one point there were 37 gliders on site and 30 of them on the ridge. The rally totalled over 570 hours flying and the bar ran out of beer on more than one occasion.

Tents produce the inevitable moments as David Searle arrived with one he had never seen before, let alone put up. This was followed by “Have you got a mallet I could borrow?” “Of course”, “You wouldn’t happen to have a spare sleeping bag too?” Graham MacMillan arrived with a tent he didn’t exactly know how to put up, not helped by the lack of 1 spacer, 2 grommets and 4 pegs. However he made up for this by bringing a Union Jack, which was shoved into the ground and saluted with all due disrespect.

The rally has several traditions, one of which is the daily bottle of wine for the best / highest / longest flight (awarded one morning to the woman who had her first solo on type without ever realising that she spent most of it in wave!). Another is the Camphill horn, awarded for various feats.

Steve Brown won it on Monday for child abuse (didn’t he read our policy on this?) after being accused of staying up too long by his son, Daniel. The charge was later reduced to Parental Neglect. On Wednesday, Mark Pedwell joined in by taking loads of photos with his digital camera of the wonderful wave he was up in, only to find that the disk was full to begin with.

One bottle of wine went to Bob Horsnell for an animated description of his first wave flight that day. However, his best moment came at the end of that Rally on Saturday when the final tradition was observed, nominating the Man of the Rally. This is a simple ‘clap-o-meter’ competition between the wine and horn winners from the week. It was finally down to Bob and a guy who had a habit of spending 7 hours at a time in his glider (why?). Liz Pickett is adamant that it was her cheering that clinched it but, whatever, Bob’s name is now on it for 2002. A good end to a great rally and it’s only 50 weeks to the next one!


Club Flying

CFI’s Corner

This year, all refresher flying for non-rated pilots must be completed by the end of July. Please return the Yellow Form with just the refresher flight details and the instructor’s signature. A further form will be available at the end of September to record the year’s flying.


CFI’s Week

The CFI’s Week will run from 5th August. Apart from the CFI, there will be several Full-Cat Instructors there for the week. If you want any rating renewal or specific training, this is the best time to do it. Please put your name on the list in the Clubhouse if you want to attend.

Cross-Country and Badge Week

Monday 15th to Sunday 21st July 2002

We are making plans for the Cross-Country and Badge Week next month. The list has been up in the Clubhouse for a while now, and we have good support already, with nearly as many people and aircraft as we can manage.

If you’re keen to sign up at this stage, especially to fly club gliders, please have a word with the CFI, Diana King or Martyn Davies first, to check availability of gliders, cables, and coaches.

The Week plans to help individual pilots and the whole group to achieve their soaring aims, with: short tasks within range of Snitterfield and other local airfields; longer cross countries when appropriate and possible; local soaring, especially for anyone hoping for Silver height or duration; possibly (But no promises! It will depend on the availability of aircraft, time and coaches) 2-seater training in local thermal soaring techniques; review of each day’s flying, to help improve your soaring and your cross-country speed; and, during non-soarable time, talks and discussions on soaring and other relevant topics.

Diana, Mike, Martyn, Barry, Phil

Club Ladder

The BGA have published a new set of handicaps. The reference aircraft is now the LS8 instead of the Discus. The changes are not systematic, as they were two years ago, but seem to be an attempt to make the handicaps fairer. The 2002 Club ladder uses these new handicaps.

Most aircraft have their handicaps reduced by between 2 and 5 points. There is one aircraft, however, which has had its handicap increased, reflecting its improved cross-country capabilities: The T21 has gone up from 48 to 50.

We’re also adding an administrative rule to the ladder: flights in the book will only be eligible for the ladder if they appear within two weeks of the flight. This is to make the ladder on the wall reflect the actual state of

the season, thereby encouraging competition within the ladder.

Who’s Done What

Adrian Flower and Paul Thornton have soloed. Robert Austin has completed his Bronze C. Mark Laver has completed his Bronze with cross-country endorsement. David Ireland has his Silver duration


Safety Matters


This season, the club has enough parachutes for every club glider. These notes cover some of the key points of how to look after and use them. At the risk of stating the obvious, we should remember that a parachute is there to save your life, or someone else’s, and we should care for them with that in mind. By the time a pilot decides to use a parachute, something has already gone badly wrong. At that time, you need to be absolutely certain that the parachute will work, so that you can leave the glider, if not enthusiastically, at least with some confidence that you will survive.

The second point to remember is that the way you care for a parachute may matter at least as much to someone else as it does to you – a pupil, or other club members on future flights. We all depend on each other’s vigilance. So what are the basic rules for these essential pieces of kit?

Care on the ground When not in use, they should be kept in their bags, in a dry cupboard or storage area. Between flights, on the airfield, keep them dry, out of the sun, and away from dirt and grease.

Pre flight inspection The parachute must be clean and dry. There should be no damage to the pack and no part of the canopy should be escaping from the pack. The harness should be in good condition with no damage to the straps. The ‘D’ ring should be properly stowed in its strap. All metal parts should be clean and in good order, with no rust. The elastic which springs the pack open when you pull the ‘D’ ring should feel strong and springy. Check inside the inspection panel; make sure that the pins are clean and undamaged, push them back into position if they have been partially pulled.

Carrying a parachute Never use the straps to carry a parachute and take care not to pull the ‘D’ ring when handling it. Ideally carry it in its own bag, or bodily in your arms.

Before you fly If you are new to parachutes, get someone else to help you put it on and brief you on its use. If you are an instructor, or an experienced pilot, help other people, especially those who are flying for the first time. Make sure that they know, not only how to put the parachute on properly, but how to use it in emergency. A trial lesson pupil’s life was saved in 1999 after a catastrophic lightning strike, because the instructor had briefed his pupil properly.

To put the parachute on: Put your left arm through the shoulder strap first, and then your right. This avoids the risk of catching the ‘D’ ring and pulling the parachute while you are searching behind you for a strap. Bend forward slightly to hold the ‘chute on your back, while you do up and adjust the chest strap. Fasten and adjust the leg straps. All the straps should be firmly, but not painfully, tight. At this stage consider whether you would feel safe if you were hanging in the harness; be quite certain that you could not slip out or be injured by part of the harness moving into the wrong position.

As you get into the glider, make sure that you are comfortable and that the position of the seat and controls is compatible with wearing the ‘chute. Check the ballast is right for your weight plus parachute – most modern parachutes weigh about 15 lbs.

After your flight: Get into the habit of getting out of the glider with the parachute still on. You get used to getting out with the extra bulk, without getting caught on anything. In an emergency, you are less likely to undo your parachute straps automatically with your cockpit straps before you bail out.

Leave the parachute tidily in the cockpit for the next pilot, unless there may be a long delay or if it seems likely to rain, in which case it may be better to put it back in its bag and into a safe place, such as on the bus or back in the cupboard.

When packing the hangar, check that all parachutes are removed from cockpits and from the bus and put them back in the cupboard in their bags.

Using a parachute: When might you need to bail out and how should you decide? The most common reason is a mid air collision, but there are other causes of catastrophic mechanical or airframe failure, such as rigging faults, unconnected controls, failure of a vital component, lightning strike or break up of the aircraft because of loss of control in cloud or exceeding the maximum speed. (And before you think this list sounds melodramatic, I have personally known examples of every one of these problems.)

When something of this sort goes wrong, you probably have a very short time to decide what to do. Thinking about it in advance in the safety of your armchair will help you to make a quick decision if you ever need to. You may hear debates about whether to stay with the aircraft or whether to jump; you have to make your own mind up, but aim to do so with as much knowledge as possible.

Here are some examples of different decisions made: A Kestrel pilot, just off aerotow, heard a clunk and found the aircraft increasingly uncontrollable. Knowing that his parachute was new gave him confidence to bail out. The rudder had come adrift. An ASW20 pilot took off without the elevator connected and made a number of erratic passes up and down the 900 ft high ridge before crashing into the hillside. He was killed. A Ventus pilot had a mid air collision at about 3000 ft in a thermal and decided to fly to a nearby airfield to land. The aircraft went out of control at low level and crashed, killing the pilot. A very experienced instructor carried out spin training with a pupil, after which there was a large bang followed by severe oscillations. After they had landed safely, the rear fuselage failed and the tail fell off. An RAF pilot took off on a winch launch in an ASW19 without the elevator connected. He reached the top of the launch, rolled the glider and jumped out, making a safe parachute descent. An ASW 17 pilot heard a loud bang and saw dust rising up from the cockpit floor. The aircraft appeared to be controllable and no damage could be identified, so he landed normally. The tyre had burst.

Clearly, your decision whether or not to jump may not be easy, unless the aircraft is uncontrollable or the damage is obviously major. The borderline or unclear situations are harder to decide. If you know you have a problem at a good height and the glider is still controllable, try out the controls to see what happens. Simulate the kind of manoeuvres you will have to do if you want to land. If you can call someone nearby on the radio, ask them to fly close enough to see what damage there is – but don’t ask them to make your decision for you. That has to be your own responsibility.

If you are not very high, you must decide quickly because every second counts if you are to have enough height for your parachute to open fully. Try to stay calm. Jettison the canopy and undo your cockpit straps. How easy it is to get out will depend on the G forces and the condition of the glider. You may be able to roll the glider and roll out over the side or you may need to push yourself out some other way. Don’t worry about damaging the instruments or anything else in getting out, but avoid getting caught on anything, such as the panel, oxygen bottle or other fittings. (This may be your once-in-a-lifetime chance to roll a glider or kick the instrument panel without getting a b***cking from the CFI!)

After you are out of the glider, make sure you are clear of it before opening the parachute, but don’t mess about. Look down at your chest and find the ‘D’ ring. Grip it with your right hand, put your left hand on top and use both hands to pull firmly downwards. Once the parachute has opened you can look down to the ground. Keep your feet and knees together and try to relax and roll as you hit the ground.

Other preparation: Think about the situations which might lead to you bailing out. Visualise them and work out how you would get out of your glider in a hurry. Practise pulling a parachute when it is due for repacking. Go on a parachute course. This is not a sensible plan for everyone, but it can be useful for young, fit people. If you ever do need to use your parachute in an emergency, at least you will have some idea of what it is like and what to do after you have jumped!

Diana King


Winch Driving Fundamentals

Our Skylaunch Winch has been developed over the past 30 years in an endeavour to make driving as simple as possible and eliminate past operational problems, and also to make it a more attractive and acceptable form of launching.

However, there’s a well known saying, that if it’s possible to break something then a gliding club will achieve it.

I recently witnessed a situation where a cable retrieve had just finished and a slight cable overrun had occurred, leaving a single strand over the side of the drum. Starting a launch under full power with the wire going nowhere leaves nothing to the imagination. When I enquired as to the problem (as though I didn’t know) I was told not to worry this has happened 26 times before.

Clearly if this is the case, the reasons must be established and acted upon. Are drivers not following sound operational procedures, or are they not really cut out for the job or feel they know better. Cable overrun, pulling chutes through the rollers, dropping cable on top of the winch: sorry, this in the majority of cases is the outcome of drivers who are not focussed on the job, and it’s time to stop making excuses.

I have spoken to Gordon Graham, our Winchmaster, and sympathise with the problems he has to continually address. Having done a three year stint myself in the distant past, I can only say how grateful we should be that someone is prepared to take on the responsibility, together with his team of instructors.

We are very fortunate to own a £60,000 piece of equipment which is second to none, and capable of giving us trouble free service for many years. This will certainly not be the case unless we take more care, be more aware, and take good heed of what we are taught.

Rather than continue with example after example it may go a long way to improve the situation if I highlight the main areas of conflict. In spite of all the improvements made in the hardware over the years, the basic rules of driving have never changed.

1. After towout, unless the cables are clearly under tension, make a visual inspection of the drums to ensure there has been no overrun.

2. Keep the handbrake applied and only take it off for a launch.

3. Stop the top of the launch in good time, say 15 degrees to the vertical. There are no bonuses beyond this point, it’s all downhill from here on, with a high risk that it can go wrong, so completely cut all power. The pilot will then know that it is the end, and a nice relaxed release will ensue without a release under tension, or a hard back release which does hooks no good.

4. Tow car drivers should reduce speed to zero without braking over say the last 50 metres.

5. Allow the parachute to drop at a distance from the winch which will allow you time to assess its true speed, thereby avoiding pulling the parachute through the rollers.

6. Always be prepared for a cable break.

Can I remind members that all pilots are encouraged to become winch drivers. It does form part of a pilot’s training to know what goes on at the other end as well as doing your bit. The qualifications are that you are solo and are blessed with common sense!

It’s a pleasant way to put something back into the Club and can also be quite a satisfying achievement to get it right. It’s also the warmest place in the winter, but don’t spread it around.

Good driving
Dave Benton


The View

There was a rift between to two tribes!! Sides taken and stood by – two camps setting out their beliefs and wants. It’s almost a case of religious bigotry between the two tribal sects who worshipped the same God in different forms: the great god Tractor who comes in the forms of Fergie and Kubo.

“My god’s better than yours ‘cos he does wondrous things – he can tow the aircraft back so we don’t need to push them”. “No!”, says the other sect, “My god’s better than yours ‘cos he does that and mends the holes in the drive!” “No!” says the first sect, “my god’s better than yours because he is gentle and causes no harm”. “Ah! but he’s coveted by others” retorts the second. And so it went on for months after the gods Kubo were taken away…

And so the two tribes had no true god to worship for months. “Let us all worship the god Fergie henceforth” cried one tribe and they set out into the land of concourses in search of their god. The two tribes worshipped the false god Landrover for a time but all knew he was a false god and didn’t really do the job. It did neither him nor the tribes any good.

And then a visitation came: the god Blue Fergie. It came almost as an apparition. It appeared and stood unused, forelorn and alone, bleeding from an axle as if seeking sainthood. But it was unwelcomed and cast out by both tribes.

And then a great gift was given. A Kubo god was found reborn in a stable in Bethleamington (an allotment shed actually) and the devils who sowed the dissent between the two tribes by taking a god away were themselves taken away and are to be stoned and crucified by the judges (If only!! Ed). Great rejoicing in the streets followed and Kubo was decked in a new coat of many colours and his body pierced so that they would know him again.

And the other tribe searched for the god Fergie in the land of concourses. And they searched, and they searched, and they searched…

Kubo was welcomed, but was sad and lonely, because all know that gods must work in pairs to perform their duties swiftly as their prime role as retrievers of aircraft. Kubo was alone but he knew where to find others of his likeness easily and swiftly.

And the followers of Fergie began to despair and lose enthusiasm in their search because he could not be found and Kubo became lonelier.

A decision must be made. The waiting can go on no longer. A companion must be found, for the Summer was upon the tribes (and the insurance was about to pay out). Kubo would have a companion – another Kubo – and the Oracle Lea said this would be good and would please most of the combined tribes (75% according to the website). And so it came to pass…

Continued in the next edition

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