The Wire April 2003

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club

Issue 23, April 2003


The News Letter

A lot has happened since the last issue of The Wire. We kept flying through the winter, there are lots of projects under way at the airfield, and a new soaring season is about to start.

As you probably know, Phil Pickett has been incapacitated since the beginning of the year. He’s mending well, and hopes to be flying with us again in the near future. We all wish him well for a speedy recovery.


Aircraft News

Cs of A

The Cs of A on the Club Fleet are just about complete, with the final one, the K8, due back shortly. Thanks to Derek, who organised it all, and to everyone who helped ship the aircraft around the country.


There was a serious problem with the starboard wing of HSM: delamination in the area of the mounting block of the centre aileron hinge. This could have been very expensive to repair, but fortunately it has proved to be less serious than we first thought. The repair is under way.

This was picked up on a normal DI by Graham Macmillan… Very well done!

Private Fleet

There’s a shiny new ASW-24 on site, with the personalised registration letters SK.


Summer Opening

The original plans was to open the Club from June to the end of August for seven-day operation.

However, Phil’s situation means that there is a great deal of uncertainty over the details. At the time of writing, the Club will be open for the weeks of the 2nd and the 9th of June. After that, we’re dependant on Phil getting back to fitness. At this stage, we’re still trying to make arrangements to cover all the possibilities.

Apart from the organised opening, the Club can of course open at any time that a volunteer Duty Instructor is available. We would welcome ad hoc flying of this sort.


BGA Soaring Course

The BGA, in the person of Simon Adlard, are running a Soaring Course at Snitterfield on the week of 5th May. The Club will be open for normal flying during this week.


Badge and Task Week

Once again, the Club’s cross-country pundits are organising a Badge and Task week. This year, it’s the week of 26th July, the same week that produced such good soaring weather last year.

Numbers may be limited, and the organisers need to know who’s interested, so please put your name on the list in the Clubhouse.


Club News

The last 12 months were financially quite encouraging. Coupled with the support at the AGM of our financial plan, this has made it possible to open up the purse and spend some money on some much-needed projects.

The Drive

Every cloud has a silver lining. If you’re suffering from the jams on the M42, look on the bright side: the road topping that they’re removing is going to let us greatly improve the drive.

There’s a test area that has already been laid, and if that works out as expected, we’ll be laying the other 25 loads in the next few weeks. The estimated cost is £3000.

The New Bus

Our control bus is reaching the end of its life, after sterling service, and we’ve bought a new one to replace it. It’s currently being fitted out, using more modern technology than the old one, and it will be on line later this year.

This work will cost about £1500. Thanks to David Ireland for finding it and to Barry Monslow for leading the project.

The Loo Blocks

There are two new loo blocks in service, replacing the old one which was just past its best-before date. These are glass fibre units that aren’t subject to rot.

The units and fittings cost about £3000. Thanks to Lee Ingram for getting them here and to Martin Greenwood for leading the installation.


The Club is showing encouraging signs of growing back to the size we were before the Foot and Mouth epidemic. This is vital, because the Club is geared to 120-130 members, and we rattle around a bit in the field and the fleet that we have.

There was a meeting for new members in January, and 14 people turned up. This is far higher than the past renewal rate among our new members, so we have high hopes of another step up in our membership numbers.


This Year’s Fees

The AGM 2002

At the last AGM, the Committee presented an analysis of the financial situation of the Club, and a plan for putting us back on a sound footing after our recent drop in membership numbers.

The aim is to produce a surplus of £10000 in a reasonable year, to cover depreciation in the form of replacement kit and refurbishment of aircraft. The figures demonstrated that an inflation increase, which is what we had done in recent years, could be expected to generate a £3000 surplus in a good year.

These were the proposed fees for this Club year. They were accepted unanimously by the Meeting.

Annual subscription £225
Junior subscriptions £80
Associate subscriptions £22.50
Joining fee none
Launch fee £5.75
Flying time £0.28pm
Trial Lessons £30
Member’s Guest £15
Second Flight Club rate


CFI’s Corner

DIing Club Aircraft

It’s come to my notice that some people are signing for DIs without having the authorisation, which must be signed off in your logbook. If this applies to you, approach any Full Rated Instructor.

With few exceptions, only rated pilots will be authorised to DI two-seaters.


The implementation of the new medical system is still being tweaked by the BGA, and so I will be posting further information on the CFI’s notice board soon.

These changes are not major, but are nonetheless important.

It’s each pilot’s responsibility to ensure that they have a current medical. Glidex will aid you in this by reminding you at the appropriate time.

If you’re having a problem understanding the requirements or getting your medical, please speak to me.

Refresher Flying

Non-rated pilots need to get your refresher flying done by 1st June. The forms are available in the Clubhouse, so once you’ve completed it, put the form in the CFI’s box. This is the only paperwork that I need from you now, because Glidex provides the details.

The requirements for rated pilots are as they have always been.

Club Triangle

We will have to change the Club 100k triangle, because there is a tethered balloon permanently Notammed at Pershore, at heights up to 6000′ AMSL, so this is now an exclusion area.

The Club Ladder

Each year, more and more people participate in the Club Ladder. It adds an extra dimension to many people’s flying.

It’s very easy to participate in the Ladder. All you have to do is record your flights in the Cross-Country Book, and you will magically appear on the ladder board.

The Ladder is for everyone, not just the pundits, and it’s all friendly competition and good fun. Have a go.

Duty Marshalling

The launch point works most efficiently when there is a Duty Marshall taking responsibility for the organisation.

On busy days, it’s important that there are people who are prepared to do the job. The objective is to avoid wasting time during the day, so that everyone who wants to can fly, and as many as possible can do so while the weather is still working.

The function of the Duty Marshall is to get the right people in the right place at the right time, and to ensure that all the other jobs get done, in order that the members spend as much time in the air as possible.

So, it makes a real difference if everyone who can does their share of this important task.

Penny Broad is taking over the organisation of the marshalling, so if you would like more information about the job, or to volunteer to help, speak to Penny.

Wing Covers

Please ensure that the wing covers are used. There are two large bins in the hangar to keep them clean when they are not on the aircraft. The only time they should not be used is when the aircraft is wet.


Good Practice

Our normal practices are there for a good reason, and are based on many years experience of what can go wrong. Don’t abandon these procedures, even if you can’t see the reason, because those things then will go wrong.

The Signalling Bat

The procedure is that the person who takes charge of the launch attaches the cable to the glider, and also signals with the bat.

Nobody else should signal the launch unless the responsibility is explicitly handed over. Your Bat or something similar is enough.

The following actual incidents illustrate the potential risks.

  • Somebody picked up the bat and started to signal while the person attaching the cable was crouched down out of sight behind the cockpit.
  • Somebody attached the cable to the aircraft and, being pre-solo, walked away from the aircraft and went away, leaving nobody in charge of the launch.
  • Somebody picked up a bat and started to signal, at the same time as the real signaller did the same thing.

Towing with a Tractor

If you’re towing an aircraft back to a launch line, the tractor should cross the line at right angles and stop when the aircraft is on the line. The final manoeuvring must be by hand.

Don’t try to turn the aircraft and pull it into position using the tractor: things happen very fast when the rope is at an angle, and that’s how tailplanes get broken.

The only case when it is OK to tow an aircraft into position is when there is no other aircraft on the same line, because then it’s behind the tractor all the way.

Release the tow rope using the back release. Never put your arm through the clearview panel, because that’s how canopies get broken. If there’s no slack in the rope, walk forward a few feet and lift the rope to pull the aircraft forward a few inches.

Once you’ve released the rope, coil it up and put it on the back of the tractor.

Clean Canopies

The canopies should be cleaned as part of each DI. Cleaning equipment will be available just inside the main hangar.

Wheel Brakes

Wheel brakes are for emergencies, and shouldn’t be used during a normal landing. We’ve spent a lot of money on the K13s making them fully operational. The mechanism is difficult to adjust, and is not particularly robust, so please don’t use them unnecessarily.

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.


Visitors and Trial Flights

Casual Visitors

We take pride in the way we welcome visitors to the Club. Apart from the money that it earns us, casual visitors are our best source of new members.

First impressions are important, so if you see a visitor arriving on site, go and talk to them and make them feel welcome.

If they’ve come to fly, introduce them to the person who is organising the visitors’ flying list.

There’s always somebody who’s responsible for flying with visitors on the day. It’s the Duty BI (or the Duty Instructor if there isn’t one), or somebody who’s been delegated to help out. It’s important that they talk to the right people early on, because that’s the way they get into the system. However, on a busy day, we may not be able to fly with them, so it’s important that we go through the correct procedure to avoid disappointment.

Trial Lesson Evenings

We’re running the usual system of Trial Lesson Teams this year: six teams on a two-week rota.

These evenings produce a huge amount of revenue for the Club. Without them, subs would have to be in excess of £300 a year.

So, we ask everyone who can to help out for one evening a fortnight. The more pairs of hands that are helping out, the easier it is for everyone. If you haven’t been volunteered already, please speak to Jo.

Getting Paid

It’s important, not only that we get the payment for the visitor flight, but also that all the payments are filed properly. The Club Bursars need to reconcile all of this, and they need the details to be correct. In particular:

  •  They must have the cash, or the cheque, or the voucher
  •  They must know the membership number of the visitor, written on the envelope or the voucher
  •  In the case of the new BGA vouchers, they really really must have the voucher, because we don’t get paid without it.

Sorry, but the job’s not done until the paperwork is complete!


Club News

Standing Orders

We’ve introduced a way to pay your membership fees monthly. The details were published with the announcement of the Spring Meeting.

The scheme has started reasonably well, with 20 or so members taking it up. If you want to join but missed the April deadline, it still might be possible to enrol you if you talk to Nick soon.


We’re faced with the study on increased airport capacity in the Midlands and elsewhere, and any changes to Rugby International Airport at Church Lawford, Birmingham, or Coventry, are likely to increase the amount of controlled airspace and affect us for the worse.

The first enquiry got close to the end before it was legally challenged over the omission of Gatwick from the study. The second attempt has recently started, but it’s still in the study phase.

There’s a long way to go before anyone will know what’s happening.

We all hope that the economically attractive option of including Redhill airfield into Gatwick will decide the matter.

The Committee

The Committee is currently:

Chairman Geoff Butler
Secretary Nigel Spedding
Treasurer Chris Wooller
Deputy Chairman &
Operations Group
Tony Palfreyman
Marketing Andy Sutton
Site Lee Ingram
Aircraft Andy Balkwill
Engineering David Ireland
IT John Dickinson
Flying Accounts Nick Jaffray
Richard Maksymowicz
Ex officio CFI Peter Fanshawe
Co-opted Member Jo O’Brien


Talking can damage your health

Checks and inspections are vital for safety, but only if done properly. If you forget or skimp all or part of your checks you may – or may not – live to regret it.

Consider a summer morning (remember those?). A day with a good forecast, a clear blue sky, that crisp feeling of air that’s unstable; could it be the day for that elusive badge flight? Everyone rigging – DI – maps – barographs – loggers – declarations.

Just as you’re in the middle of the job: “could you just help me get my wings on?”, or “have you any barograph tape you can let me have?”, or “you’re an Official Observer aren’t you? Could you sign my declaration?”

Well, you like to be obliging, so you say “of course”. You stop what you were doing, you help to rig someone else, you find a pen, you seal a barograph, even simply chat about the weather, and then what? Do you methodically go back to exactly where you’d got to in the DI? Or do you get distracted by another job, so that you forget where you’d got to? Think about it now – and when you’re doing your DI.

Try another scene. At the launch point, a two-seater is preparing for take-off, P2 is doing the cockpit checks, P1 is listening and watching to make sure the pupil’s doing it all correctly. Somebody comes up to talk to the instructor: “May I fly the K8?” or maybe another instructor “I’m going to take a break for lunch – can you hold the fort?” Or maybe even “Hello, haven’t seen you for ages, fantastic day, isn’t it!” And then a discussion develops.

We all do it. Every one of us. And while we’re talking, the pupil is distracted, the instructor isn’t watching, not properly, and what happens? Maybe nothing. But think about what may happen. (Or perhaps the instructor, realising that he hasn’t been paying attention, goes through the whole process again with the pupil, and in the meantime a cable sits idle, wasting soaring time for us all.)

It’s not only the two-seaters. How many times have you been interrupted in the middle of your cockpit check in a single seater? Quite a lot, I bet.

Remember the awful facts – numerous people have had serious accidents through failure to complete their checks properly. Make sure you don’t join them or cause anyone else to do so!

What can we do to make a difference? I would like to suggest a Club protocol, where we all

  •  Understand the importance of ‘vital actions’ such as: rigging and control connections; daily inspections; cockpit checks
  •  Recognise the risk of being distracted from these vital actions
  •  Never interrupt other people in the middle of their vital actions. Wait until they’ve finished!
  •  Politely discourage people from interrupting us when we are engaged in our vital actions. Refuse to be drawn into irrelevant conversations whilst doing rigging, inspections or checks.
  •  If we really cannot avoid being interrupted, go back to the beginning and start the checks again. At the very least, run through them in our minds and remind ourselves where we had got to.

Diana King


Tip of the Day

(Actually, Tip of October 1995, The Wire issue 1)

Hold your arm out straight with your fist clenched, with the top of the knuckle of your index finger on the horizon. The bottoms of the knuckles of your four fingers represent glide angles of 30:1, 15:1, 10:1, and 8:1.

And of course, if you know the glide angle to a point on the ground, you can work out how far away it is.

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