The Wire September 2003

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club

Issue 24, September 2003


We think that it’s about time for a change, so we’ll be trying out some different formats for The Wire over the next few issues. We’d be interested in any feedback about what you think is better or worse, and what does or doesn’t work.

If you would like to read about particular subjects – reports of long cross-country flights in the T21, for example, or articles about the Stratford team in the Inter-Club League – we’ll do our best to provide them. Some suggestions, of course, are more difficult to implement than others, so we’re not going to make any promises.

We would, of course, also like to meet anybody who would like to contribute articles, regular or occasional.


From the Chairman

We’re coming to the end of what seems to have been a pretty good season. There have been lots of achievements, from first solo to first 300km, the club ladder is full, we have quite a few new members, and everybody seems to have done plenty of flying.

We took on several projects on the ground, which are all just about complete, and thanks to everyone who spent their time and energy helping out with these. The club environment has very much improved as a result .

One thing that happens at the end of the season, of course, is the AGM, which is booked for 30th October, in the usual place at the usual time. Formal notice will be sent out in due course.



Aircraft News


The K21 has gone off to Poland for new gel-coat and a general refurbishment inside and out. The quality of the result is, by all accounts, superb, and even with the cost of transport, it works out at about £9000, several thousand pounds cheaper than having it done here. When it gets back, it will also have a new C of A.

We expected it to take six weeks to complete, which means that we should get it back in mid-November, allowing for the five-day journey in each direction. This is a best guess, though, because it comes back on the return leg of the delivery of another aircraft, so we’re dependent on the timing of that.


HSM will also be fully refurbished over the winter. The fabric has just about reached the end of its life, and as a result the aircraft is unlikely to pass its next C of A without a significant amount of work.

We’ve decided to do the job properly, which will probably take a couple of months at the beginning of next year. We won’t know the exact cost until a full survey has been carried out, but we expect it to be £5-6000.


Charlie Tango suffered some damage in August. The tubework around the main wheel distorted, enough to allow the suspension units to pop completely out of place.

The damage was caused by general wear and tear, rather than any particular heavy landing.

Roger Targett at Nympsfield welded it up for us, leaving a couple of holes in the fabric to patch up. Instead of just patching it, Derek has replaced the fabric over the whole of the cockpit section, and Mark has painted it for us in its original livery.

We managed to get the aircraft back on line before the K21 went away, which is decidedly not the way things usually turn out, so thanks to everyone who pulled the stops out to get this done.

CBW and The Single-Seaters

The other aircraft escaped largely unscathed over the summer, to the delight of our insurers (and the CFI).


Ground Equipment


Taffy is the winch that we started with when the club moved to Snitterfield sixteen years ago or so, and it was our only winch for the first half of that time.

However, with the Skylaunch as our main winch, we have no need for more than one backup, and it takes time and money to keep it in running order.

So it’s gone to a new home, Oxford GC at Weston on the Green, where we hope it will be very happy.


The Darwen Transport Museum Trust has bought our old bus. The plan was to drive it back to its home town and restore it, although there was a serious rethink when they saw the state of the tyres. Those have now been replaced, and the bus has made the journey home.

It seems it’s a real curiosity, the last bus bought by the old Darwen Bus Company and the last of its type made in the U.K. They also have its sister, made the year before ours.

We’re pleased that it will be preserved and enjoyed by enthusiasts, owned by a Registered Charity, and not turned into a heap of scrap. If you’re interested in following its progress, they’re at

Kubota B7100

The orange Kubota has gone off to have its graunching noise removed. The problem is in the gearbox, and it’s gone away to have its bearings replaced.

New Trailer

There’s a new 3-tonne trailer on site, capable of moving Land Rovers around when we need to.

It’s locked on a hitch in a far corner of the trailer park. The problem, of course, is that not only is it extremely nickable, it can also be used to transport other things that are being nicked.

So, it must be kept out of the way, and it must be kept locked with the keys in the safe.

The Mower

We started the season with similar problems to last year: the grass growing rapidly and the borrowed 4ft mower not really up to the task.

Richard has since provided us with a mower with a 12ft cut, which makes the task of keeping the grass down very much easier.

The operation of this combination of Richard’s tractor and this mower is quite complex, and therefore it is restricted to a few trained people.


The Shogun, which was donated by a course member, has been repaired by Phil Pain. The repair involved welding the back half to the front half, which was rather necessary.

It’s particularly useful for towing the winch, because its short wheelbase and power steering make it much more manoeuvrable than a Land Rover. The low platform on the back will also be a useful base for heavy pieces of kit such as a generator.

The Generator

The main generator has finally given up the ghost. We’ve been planning to replace it over the winter, but it decided the timing for us. Unfortunately, the backup generator also failed as soon as it was brought online.

There’s a new genny on order, at a cost of £6500, which will take five or six weeks to arrive. In the meantime, George has loaned us a portable generator to tide us over.

The capacity is limited, so please don’t overload it


The Summer Season

The original plan was to open the Club from June to the end of August for seven-day operation. However, a successful season and a reasonable weather forecast enabled us to extend this for two extra weeks.

Badge and Task Week

The weather didn’t turn out as spectacular as last year, but despite this, we flew 1800 kilometres during the five flyable days of the week.

Club Ladder

The ladder has produced some really high scores this year. The current top score, 9592, is the highest we’ve ever seen, and the 7th place score of 4041 would have been enough to win the ladder five years ago.

Despite the modest totals from the task week, which produced over 9000km last year, we still have well over 22000km in the book this year, our second best total, and new flights are being added throughout September.

Badge Ladder

The new Badge Ladder is aimed at providing a different sort of competition from the Cross-Country Ladder. Every badge flight counts, from first solo to 750km diploma, and the scores are intended to reflect the value of the flight in the context of the experience of the pilot.

Who’s Achieved What

There have been lots of achievements through the season. It can be difficult to track everything that’s been done, so apologies to anybody that we have missed:

First Solo: Emma Sharp, Mike Rayne, Ian McCambridge, Laura Maksymowicz, Lez Blair (re-solo), Jonty Boddington (re-solo), Chris Gall, John Young, Rob Martin (re-solo), Barry Jones, Richard Ellis, Robert Barlow.

Bronze C Badge: Paul McAuley, Chris Bingham. Bronze Legs: Liz Pickett, Laura Maks, Kate Findlay, Paul Thornton, Jonty Boddington (re-bronze), Ian McCambridge, Emma Sharp, Garry le Sueur.

Silver C: John Dickinson, Nick Jaffray, Stephen Farmer. Silver Legs: Richard Maks, Graham Macmillan, Mike Corfield, Jonty Boddington (re-silver), Chris Bingham

300km: Andy Balkwill, Mark Parsons.

Basic Instructor Rating: Bryn Floyd.

Assistant Category Instructor: Andy Balkwill.


CFI’s Corner


With the help of Glidex, we have successfully embraced the new medical requirements from the BGA. As a reminder, if you suffer any significant illness, you may need to get your medical re-validated. If in doubt, ask.

Refresher Flying

For non-rated pilots, annual refresher flying was successfully completed by the end of June. I don’t require any further paperwork this year, because Glidex gives me all the necessary information.


Irving GQ have recalled all their parachutes which were delivered between November 2001 and July 2003, because of a problem with the ripcord pin. It’s essential that any owners of these parachutes get them checked.

The BGA think that other manufacturers’ parachutes may be similarly affected. There are full details of this on the BGA web site.


Club News

The Drive

The work on the drive has turned out very well. The planings from the M42 are bedding in well in places, and this will improve with time. Thanks to Lee for organising this, and for doing most of the work as well.

Please drive sensibly, because the surface can still move around, particularly near the gate where cars are turning in. If we don’t let the surface bed in, it will rapidly deteriorate.

The New Bus

The new bus has been commissioned, and is working well as the club’s control tower.

We’re trying to look after this bus a bit better than we did the old one, so it needs to be properly DI’ed before you drive it. Also, the driving technique is distinctly different from all other vehicles in the ground fleet, so drivers must also be properly DI’ed before they drive it for the first time.


The Red Arrows

The Red Arrows displayed at Long Marston on 23rd August, imposing a 6nm exclusion zone while they were doing it which s flying.

The display lasted the best part of half an hour. The tracks were mostly East-West, a bit far away to see clearly but impressive nevertheless.

At the end of the display, they flew over to Snitterfield in Diamond Nine formation and turned precisely over us. I like to think that they were saying Thanks for stopping flying while they were displaying.

There are some more pictures on the web site at www.StratfordGliding.ARROWS.HTM

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