The Wire May 2004

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club

Issue 27, May 2004




From the Chairman

You may be aware that a 1″ paint brush was found to be fouling the aileron of the K21 during a pre-flight check a couple of weeks ago. This matter was raised immediately with our Technical Officer, the Technical Officer of the BGA, the UK agents for the Polish workshop who carried out the refurbishment last October, and the workshop themselves. Fair play to the UK agents – they immediately accepted responsibility and will pay any costs we incur in ensuring that the glider is safe. The BGA have carried out a review of the workshop’s procedures and are satisfied that they comply with current requirements.

We have been both very unlucky and very fortunate – unlucky in that the paintbrush was left there in the first place, and very, very fortunate that it was found during a pre-flight check. Since the glider returned from Poland, it has been flown on 64 occasions with over 14 hours in the air. This has included 6 test flights and 4 trial lessons. And it had been rigged and de-rigged twice!

So what caused the paintbrush to foul the aileron after being benign up to that point? We will never know. The lesson to be learnt is the importance of complete and thorough pre-flight checks before each and every flight, and if something doesn’t feel right – have it checked.

London Sailplanes have carried out an endoscopic inspection of both wings and the fuselage and have given the aircraft a clean bill of health. It is now serviceable, rigged and ready to fly.

The 7 Day Operation did not get off to the flying start I had hoped for. This is due to the somewhat wet weather we have had since 1st May. We are now open 7 days a week until 19th September (with the likely exception of Sutton Bank week and the Camphill expedition: check the Clubhouse for dates and updates).

Please make good use of this facility – it’s there for all Club Members!

My thanks to all those who have already volunteered for winch duties throughout the summer – there are still a couple of slots to fill – so if you can, please volunteer to help us operate.

A great deal of time and effort has been spent by many members in order to get the diesel winch serviceable – once again thanks to all concerned. Our new Winch Master and his Deputy, Martin Greenwood and Jonty Boddington respectively, will be ensuring that all winch drivers will be trained to operate the diesel winch – please look for notices in the Clubhouse. We will also be producing a schedule of dates on which it will be used in order to keep it serviceable and keep its drivers in current practice.

Trial Lesson Evenings will be starting soon – these are essential to us as a business, so why not organise a group yourself? If you can arrange a group, have a word with Jo!

Enjoy the season, enjoy your flying and be safe!



Aircraft News


The refurbishment of HSM is nearing completion, and the aircraft will be back with us around 15th May.


JXS, the new K8, will be joining the fleet as soon as the paperwork regarding its purchase and insurance are complete. JHK will be with us for the summer and we will then decide what to do with it.


The European Aviation Safety Authority are making changes that will eventually affect all glider pilots. Neither the CAA nor the BGA particularly want these changes, and are working together to minimise the effect on us.

The changes concern the registration of gliders. As of September 2003, all new gliders and gliders imported into the UK must be registered with the CAA rather than the BGA. This means that gliders will get full (and presumably expensive) CAA registration and a G-XXXX number.

Existing gliders will be subjected to this from 2007 onwards. Things may well change before that, though. Vintage gliders may well be exempt.

There’s a full explanation on the BGA web site, and glider owners should make sure they understand the implications of these new regulations.

The LS Saga

This finally seems to have been resolved in DG’s favour. From the DG web site:

The row over Rolladen-Schneider is really over, and DG Flugzeugbau is now responsible for the production of the LS8 as well as the further development of the LS10. Let me therefore reassure you that production preparations are in full flow in Bruchsal, that we’ve managed to hire a number of former LS employees, and that the first LS gliders should be finished as early as Summer 2004.


Spring Meeting

The meeting took place on the 25th March, in Snitterfield Village Hall. Thirty-eight people plus the Committee attended, with another 20 apologies for absence. This was a low turnout compared to previous years, and the only possible conclusion is that the Members are entirely happy with the way the Committee are running the Club.

This is a summary of the meeting, although some items have been updated and moved to more relevant sections of the newsletter.

Change to Club Rules

There’s been a change in terminology, that affects both the Club Rules and the Memorandum of Association. It involves the word audit, which has acquired some extra meaning in financial law. The Rules and the Memorandum both require the Club to submit its accounts to audit in the English sense of the word. Leaving this word would mean that we would have to be audited by the likes of Arthur Anderson (Insert name of reliable firm here – Ed.) at a cost of £5-6000 a year.

We knew this was coming, and we had intended to deal with it at the AGM. What we didn’t know, until almost too late, was that it would apply to the accounts for the past Club year. Hence the urgency to make the change.

The first item, to accept the short notice of the change, was accepted nem con by the meeting, probably because of the threat of an EGM to resolve the issue. The main item, to refer to Independent Financial Review throughout, was also accepted nem con by the meeting.

Chairman’s Report

Laws and Rules

New editions of Laws and Rules will henceforth be given, gratis, to all Members as a part of their membership fee.

Visitors Booking Scheme

We will be operating a booking scheme for visitors. It will work on the day, and will mean that visitors who phone will be able to rely on the information that they get when they call. Too often, visitors turn up to find themselves at the end of a queue that has formed since they called.

Visitors are essential to our operation. Daytime and evening visitors contributed over 80% of our operating surplus last year, so we need them and we need to look after them.

CFI’s Report

The CFI encouraged the Members to plan ahead now for an enjoyable season, and urged us to do more cross-country flying. His goal is for Members to achieve fifteen 100K diplomas this year. To this end, the K21 will be available again for dual cross-country flying.

BGA Soaring Course

The BGA is running a soaring course at Snitterfield for the second year running. Simon Adlard, the national coach, will be running it with the aid of the BGA’s Duo Discus. It’s the week of 5th-9th July.

Duty Marshalling

The BGA is of the opinion that the role of the Duty Instructor involves being on the ground at all times. However, we can’t afford the luxury of a grounded instructor, and our best alternative is what is known in some circles as a Duty Pilot, and by us as a Duty Marshall. The role of the Duty Marshall is to take as much of the load as possible off the Duty Instructor, and on busy days, that role is essential.

Refresher Flying

Non-rated pilots need to complete their annual refresher flying by 7th June. This should be viewed as coaching for the future rather than an examination of the past.

The Questionnaire

The chairman presented his interpretation of the results of the questionnaire, which were published in The Wire in February. In order of support, the items are


1 Glider workshop
2 Kit shelter
3 Peri track
4 Landing areas
5 New temporary clubhouse
6 Upgrade single seater fleet

Little work has as yet been done on the detail of these, but they represent a priority for our planning. As ever, we will take opportunities as and when they arise, even if they are not highest on the list.


Club News

30th Birthday

The Club is 30 years old this year. We are celebrating this by awarding Life Membership to all of the founding members who are still flying with us. Several of these have already been granted it, but the new recruits to this elite group are John Dutton and Jim Tyler.

It’s That Time of Year Again

The Club year starts on April 1st, so any outstanding membership fees are by now well overdue. You can expect to be hassled if you try to fly without having paid up your fees.

And That Time of Year Again too

The Trial Lesson Evening season is starting soon, and we need as many volunteers as possible to help. If you can spare one evening a fortnight to help the Club earn thousands of pounds, please contact Jo (unless she’s already contacted you, of course).

New Hats

Rob Martin has taken over from Roy Wood as Safety Officer. Penny Broad has taken over from Andy Balkwill as Chief Marshall. Martin Greenwood and Jonty Boddington have taken over as Winchmaster and Deputy, respectively, from Gordon Graham and Andy Pullen.

Airspace Issues

At the Spring Meeting, Bob Hornell, the Club’s Airspace Officer, explained the recent events that have been taking place at Coventry Airport.

The German travel company TUI have bought the airport and are planning to run 20 flights per day through ThompsonFly. Warwick District Council have refused to grant planning permission.

We don’t yet know what changes might be expected in controlled airspace. We are receiving support from the BGA Airspace Officer in this, and Husbands Bosworth are also likely to be affected.

A standard glide slope straight into Baginton from the West crosses us at 3500′, and so goes at right angles through the approach into BHX. Consequently, Birmingham ATC are quite interested in this.

The CFI is in contact with Birmingham ATC, and he invited them to come and fly with us last year. They consider ours to be a professionally-run operation, and it’s important that we continue to be viewed this way when it comes to any battles that may happen over Coventry.

We’ll be inviting them again this year.

Useful Legislation

There is a Private Member’s Bill coming before parliament, which aims to limit the liability of volunteer sports coaches. In the current compensation culture, coaches are vulnerable to litigation even if there is no suspicion of negligence. This includes the Club and its instructors. The bill will remove a great burden from us, and will (well, might) reduce our rapidly increasing insurance costs.

The BGA are urging members to write to their MPs, asking them to support this bill. A form letter is available for anyone to copy or start from. Contact the Secretary for details, or take a copy from the web site, which is linked from the Club News page.



As of 1st May, we no longer have sheep on the airfield.

As a result, we will have to mow the field. We know now that this is a manageable task, and Richard Hobbs will be supplying better kit to do the work. There is, inevitably, a cost involved, but we feel it is small enough to absorb.

The main issue, of course, is safety. We’ve had several minor accidents with sheep over the years, and come close to having some major ones. There are other benefits too, as anyone who has driven a Land Rover down the south track first thing in the morning knows only too well.


CFI’s Corner

Pre-Flight Checks

In early April, a very experienced Pilot was carrying out their Pre-flight checks prior to their 4th launch in the K21 under the eagle eye of one our most senior instructors. There would be no doubt, everything would be done exactly to the book. When they checked the ailerons for full and free movement, the Pilot felt a restriction, but on further movement of the stick, this restriction could no longer be felt. However, they carried out a detailed examination of the glider, and the tip of a paint brush was spotted nestling in the aileron circuit.

Would you have carried out the ‘C’ for controls check sufficiently carefully (bearing in mind it was the 4th consecutive flight) to have noticed the problem? If you had noticed it, would you have done something about it? If the answer to either of my questions is no, then you have something to learn from this incident.

Edition 30 Half Mil Southern England Map

Having supplied some 40 copies of Edition 30, I know that that most pilots who fly more than a couple of miles radius from Snitterfield already have this latest edition. Have you studied it? Just in case you have missed it, Pershore is now marked as an area of High Intensity Radio Transmissions to an altitude of 6000 feet. In other words keep away.


Ground Equipment

The Diesel Winch

If we lose the use of a piece of kit, in most cases it is at worst an inconvenience, albeit sometimes expensive. However, if we were to lose the Skylaunch, even for a short period, it would just about stop us flying, because there are very few winch drivers left with the experience to drive Doris.

We will be running training evenings on some Fridays during the summer, starting 4th June. The main aim is to train experienced winch drivers to use Doris, but the CFI will be taking advantage of it to do some instructor training too. There will be two instructors and four winch drivers on a rota, and they will be able to fly for free. There will be the opportunity for Club flying, as time permits, at normal rates. There are full details in the Clubhouse.

Diesel Fuel

We’ve suffered a spate of diesel thefts recently, and the rising cost in terms of money and aggravation have prompted us to do something about it.

The diesel tank is now housed in a solid building, which is the first deterrent. It’s also at ground level, which is the second, with fuel being delivered by an electric pump, locked by a Club key, and powered by the genny.

The tank housing is not for general access, so it’s locked by a key that is only held by a few Club members who are responsible for the contents. Anyone breaking in to the building will be greeted with a 120dB alarm, which is the third and biggest deterrent.


Safety Matters

Are you SAFE?

At 4.45 in the afternoon of 7th July 1984 , I nearly killed myself.

I was on a short 75 km task when I got low near the second TP. I found a good field in plenty of time. I tried to find lift in the local area, but found nothing. I started a circuit, still in good time. At 600 feet on the downwind leg I found a little lift, turned – and spun. I recovered, then the glider tried to spin the other way. The Oly 460 spins well and I was at perhaps 200 feet when I was back under control. By then I was too low to reach the chosen field safely and I crashed in the hedge. I was lucky. I escaped with a few scratches, a badly broken glider and severe, long-lasting, damage to my confidence.

Why did this happen?

When our sad retrieve crew arrived back at the airfield, a friend said, “I thought this morning that you looked very tired.” My first thought was “Well, why didn’t you say so before I took off?” But I quickly realised that it was not his responsibility to tell me if I was not fit to fly. That was up to me and I had failed to ask myself that day “Am I Safe?”


Using this simple aviation mnemonic could have saved me a lot of cost, trouble, and grief.

I=Illness. If you are not fully well, you may not be fit to fly. Even quite minor ailments such as colds or a slight tummy bug can be very incapacitating.

M=Medication. Prescription or other medicines may make your cold or other ailment feel better, but can adversely affect your ability to fly safely. (Before my accident, I had taken a hay fever remedy, which was stated to be non-drowsy, but was it really advisable?) Always tell your doctor or pharmacist that you are a pilot. Consider whether you really need to continue to take the medication. If necessary, refrain from flying (or at least flying solo) when taking any medication. Many drugs have unexpected side-effects, included drowsiness, reduced awareness of danger, over-confidence, disorientation – the list goes on! Check the box and get qualified advice.

S=Stress. If you are under mental stress it can be tempting to go flying as a constructive way of relaxing and coping with stress and to get away from your problems. This may be okay, provided that you are well enough to cope with emergencies – you may want to restrict yourself to non-stressful flying. (In 1984, my father-in-law died a few weeks before my flight, I was handling his affairs and was under pressure in several other ways.) Another form of stress is physical, or environmental, such as excess heat or cold. Make sure that you are comfortable, with suitable clothing for the conditions. Being very hot or cold dulls the brain and makes it difficult to concentrate.

A=Alcohol (and other drugs). ‘8 hours from bottle to throttle’ is the rough guide in the UK; other countries are stricter. There is talk of introducing a breathalyser for flying and a legal limit at one-quarter of that for driving. Caffeine, peppermints, water and other homespun remedies may make you smell sweeter or feel better, but the alcohol still only leaves your body at a constant rate. If you have had a long heavy night in the bar, you may still be over the limit to fly at midday the next day and of course you may be suffering from a hangover.

(If you would like to check to see if you are clear of alcohol in your bloodstream, a Tester is now available on Site. Ask the Duty Instructor or Mary and they will make it available to you. Use of this Tester does not prove that you are fit to fly, and its accuracy of the Tester is not warranted by the Club, so it is there for guidance only. However, a positive reading definitely means that you should not fly P1. This Tester has been provided as an aid to Flight Safety, so please use it. – CFI).

F=Fatigue. Have you had enough rest and sleep, both short term and long term? (Before my flight, I had had several late nights and was definitely tired.)

E=Eating. Are you adequately fed and watered? Contrary to popular belief, gliding takes physical energy and you need to cater for that. Low blood sugar is a particular danger for diabetics, but can affect anyone who has not eaten for several hours. Know your own metabolism! Ideally you should eat a moderate amount of high-energy food before flying and, for a long flight, you should have something with you to maintain energy and your blood sugar level. Dried fruit and biscuits (especially muesli bars) are particularly suitable. Pay attention to hydration. Keep drinking both before you fly (plain water is ideal) and during the flight. For in-flight, an energy drink is useful. You can buy them ready made or make them up yourself much more cheaply: weak fruit squash or juice + 5 dessertspoonfuls of glucose powder + 1 flat teaspoon salt per litre is a good mix.

Other points to bear in mind include

  • Too much Caffeine is not good for you and can cause dehydration.
  • You should not fly shortly after an anaesthetic. 24 hours after a local (including dental surgery) and 48 hours after a general are the minimum periods advised.
  • Do not fly for 24 hours after Donating Blood. Don’t go above 5000 ft for 5 days.
  • Smoking reduces the ability of oxygen to reach the lungs. Smokers should start to use oxygen at lower levels (e.g. 8,000 – 10,000 ft instead of the more usual 12,000 ft) to reduce the risk of hypoxia.
  • Heart disease and obesity may both lead to short or long term incapacity to fly.
  • Eyesight – have your eyes checked regularly and wear glasses/lenses if needed. You can fly with monocular or colour vision defects, but need to adapt and learn to cope with the limitations.

If you are in doubt about your fitness to fly you should discuss the situation in confidence with the CFI and with your doctor. Take their advice. They may suggest that you stop flying for a while or perhaps that you restrict your flying to avoid situations that you may not cope with. If you have some illness or medical problem, you are required to bring it to the attention of club officials (normally the CFI) and abide by their advice or restrictions.

For further information, including the details of the current BGA Medical Declaration requirements, see

  • Laws and Rules for Glider Pilots
  • BGA Guidance notes on the medical fitness required for Glider Pilots
  • PPL Course book on Human Factors
  • Aeromedicine for aviators by Keith Read



Dave Benton

Dave Benton completed 50 years in gliding this February and has an impressive record as an instructor with a number of clubs over a period of 43 years. He has been a member of Stratford-on-Avon since 1989.

During his 50 years Dave has instructed at the Long Mynd (3 years), Lasham (28 years), Nympsfield (10 years), Portmoak (6 years), Bidford (10 years), Enstone (CFI for 3 years) and Snitterfield (CFI for 7 years). Needless to say he often had simultaneous membership of several clubs during this time, frequently travelling long distances between one and another.

He was responsible, in 1961, for the introduction of Aerotowing at the Long Mynd, instructing both tug and glider pilots in the art and was Chief Tug Pilot there for three years. Dave also flew tugs at five of the six clubs at which he instructed, for many years in each case.

On 4th April 1980 he launched from Portmoak, climbed to 37,000 feet in wave and, as a result, gained three UK height records (which he still holds for single seaters) – British national height gain, UK height gain and UK absolute height. For this he received a Royal Aero Club bronze medal.

I thought this record worthy of recognition by the BGA and, along with Neville Skelding who also supports the idea, nominated him for a BGA Diploma. I am pleased to announce that the BGA committee agreed and Dave received his Diploma at the BGA AGM in March.

Tony Edlin

Dave has done great service to Stratford GC, the other clubs that he has worked for, the BGA, and for the sport in general. I’m sure you’ll join us in congratulating Dave on an award that is richly deserved.


Diana King

Diana has been a glider pilot since she was sixteen, and held an instructor rating at the Long Mynd for six years. She has over 2000 hours in the air, and holds all three diamonds. She and Phil have been flying 618 at Stratford since 1991, and they fly at Shobdon in the winter for the wave.

Diana has been involved in sports administration for many years now, on the BGA Executive Committee and as Chief Executive of the English Ski Council, and she has worked on the Central Council for Physical Recreation and the UK Sports Council. She was awarded the OBE in 2000 for Services to Sport.

Not content with a CV like that, Diana is now taking over from Barry Rolfe as Secretary of the Royal Aero Club.

We’d like to congratulate Diana on this most prestigious appointment .

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