The Wire April 2005

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club

Issue 30, April 2005


This was to be the February edition of The Wire, leading up to the spring weather in March and reminding everyone to come and soar in the glorious conditions. Then it became the March edition, but the weather just got worse. Now it’s the April edition, the field is still soggy, and it’s still cold enough for snow and frost. But at last we’ve had the first hint of some better weather, so the moment has arrived to publish it: the first Movable Feast edition of The Wire.

From the Chairman

Those of you who were at the Spring Meeting will know that our 7-day operation this year starts on Bank Holiday Monday, 2nd May. We are kick-starting the season with ‘Members’ Day’ – cheap flying and definitely NO fancy dress! With a bit of luck the weather gods will smile on us and we can all get some good flying in – let’s see if we can beat the number of launches at last year’s 30th Anniversary Day. Incidentally, launches will be £3 and flight time in Club Gliders will be 15p per minute. I’ve just looked out of the window and it’s snowing – I think a word with the weather gods is in order! Speaking of cheap launches, any launch in a Club single seater before 12 noon will only cost £3. We are trying this to see if we could increase the utilisation of our single seater gliders at a time that they are more often than not on the ground – we will see if this proves to be an incentive.

I’m glad to say that the initial run of 40 ‘Trial Lesson Evening’ packs have all been taken – the 2nd edition is being printed as I type. Thank you to those who have taken them, I’m sure that we will reap the rewards for your efforts. They’re also downloadable from the Club web site, linked from Group Evenings on the main index page.

We’ve posted 300 letters to people who have visited us in the past to see if we can rekindle their enthusiasm. Those of you who pay your council tax to Stratford on Avon District Council may have seen our advert on the wall planner that accompanied the demand for money – it’s an attempt to raise our profile in the local area. So why are we bothering with all this? It’s simple! If we want to keep flying affordable for all, we need to attract more members and more visitors – the more launches we achieve, the cheaper each launch actually costs us.

Finally, there’s a lot of work being done around the site at the moment, particularly on preparation of the airfield, and for the rest of the season we will need to cut the grass. If you can help in this area please see Nick Jaffray, Martin Greenwood or Jonty Boddington, who will only be too pleased to accept your assistance. We also need Winch Drivers for the 7 day season, both paid and unpaid. Please help if you can.

All that then remains is for everyone to have a great season, and if you have set yourself some goals, for you to achieve them. Anything is possible – if only those weather gods would smile on us!


Spring Meeting

The Spring Meeting was held on 24th March in the the Village Hall. 42 members attended, with another 15 apologies for absence. There was no formal Club business to be conducted, other than the acceptance of the previous minutes.

Chairman’s Report

Financial Year ending 31st March 2005

There has been a decrease of £14500 in the Club’s cash reserves over the year. There were reductions in income across the board: launches per day -12%; member flying -17%; visitor flying -24%; TLE -50%.

However, it’s not as bad as it looks: there were more cross-country kilometres flown; and we had the most successful ever midweek operation ever, which almost broke even thanks to volunteer winch drivers in May and September.

Many of the reductions can be ascribed to less-than-ideal weather, such as an 11% reduction in days flown, including five days lost in August compared to none in the previous year.

The main items of expenditure were: HSM refurbishment £4500; Skylaunch refurbishment and repair £5700; K-series mandatory inspections £2000; JXS £2200.

Plans for 2005

It is clear that the cash reserve is essential, to act as a buffer in years like this.

There will a significant marketing effort to sell courses and Air Experience Evenings, but not with a corresponding significant outlay. We have a small ad on the Stratford on Avon Council wall planner that will be distributed to homes in the area. We have a pack of TLE material for members to use to bring in groups. We will be doing some direct mailing to bring in visitors and members.

There is expenditure in the offing: the kit shelter will cost £5275 plus £2878 if somebody else builds it; the glider workshop will be £18485 and £4385. We need to improve the instrumentation and radios in the Club fleet.

We will need paid and volunteer winch drivers for the summer mid-week operation. Phil will be running it for us, as usual. We also need volunteers to help with the rolling and mowing of the airfield. We will be trying to run four course weeks, spread across the summer months.


As a result of rules imposed by our insurers, no pilot aged 76 or over will be insured to fly solo in any Club aircraft. This is not acceptable to the BGA or to the many clubs that have it imposed on them, and we are working to get it changed. Whether we will succeed remains to be seen.

The CFI’s Chat

The CFI concentrated on safety. The accident statistics for the Gliding movement as a whole get worse year on year. The categories Winch, Stall/Spin, and Collision account for two-thirds of the UK figures.

Annual refresher checks will concentrate on these areas. Stratford has a good safety record, but it’s important that we don’t get complacent as a result.


We need more P1-rated pilots. P1 allows the pilot to fly with another Club member, Bronze or above, as ballast. It’s the first step to a Basic Instructor rating and beyond.

Club Notices

Ian Kennedy has been appointed as the Club’s Child Protection Officer, assisted by Penny Broad.

As of 1st April, launches in Club single-seaters that are logged before noon will cost £3, as an incentive to get the aircraft in the air, where they belong.

Thanks to all who kept Doris running through the winter. It did the job admirably when the Skylaunch went away early because of its gearbox problem.

Open Forum

The Chairman asked whether the Club wanted to keep the Spring Meeting. One person said “Yes”, and nobody disagreed. This is called nem con in the trade.

There was a suggestion that provoked much discussion before it degenerated into a general whinge, that the morning briefing should be held earlier, to try to get the operation started earlier. This will be investigated by the Flying Committee.

Nobody brought up the subject of the cost of the kit shelter and workshop.

Club News

An Apology

We managed to omit David Ireland from the list of Committee members published in the last edition of The Wire. This wasn’t part of any insidious conspiracy, it was a straightforward cock-up on the part of the Editor. Sorry, David.

Trial Lesson Evenings

We need volunteers to help staff these evenings. They bring in thousands of pounds, and are worth about £100 off the full subs for every one of us. If you can help out, one evening a fortnight, please put your name on the list or give Jo a call.

Official Observers

The fuss that the BGA’s letter to OOs caused has been resolved. The BGA took note of the furore, and has apologised, and recanted, in a conciliatory manner. Most OOs seem to have accepted the apology, and have renewed their OO ratings.

Anyone interested in becoming an Official Observer should contact the Chairman or the CFI. The only requirements are some common sense and a Silver ‘C’, and the signatures of John and Peter.

Task and Badge Week

The Task and Badge Week will run Saturday to Saturday, starting on 23rd July. The accent is on cross-country flying, but the organisers tailor the tasks to suit all abilities and experience, from pre-Silver to pundit.

Please sign the sheet in the Clubhouse if you’d like to take part. The K18 or Junior may be available, subject to the CFI’s approval, if you don’t have your own aircraft.

There will be a Duty Instructor to look after Club flying, so it will be a normal Club week once the tasks are away.

Subscriptions are Due

Subscriptions became due on 1st April, of course. Anyone who puts their name on the Flying List in the near future will be deemed to have rejoined, and their account will show the appropriate charge.

If you’d like to start paying by Standing Order, Nick Jaffray is the man to contact.

Aircraft News

Three Incidents

There were three incidents that put three of our four two-seaters out of action during the winter. They were all heavy landings which caused damage to the wheels.

These incidents are, by themselves, relatively minor. However, the disturbing thing is that in neither case did the pilot feel it necessary to report the incident.

This isn’t about blame – we don’t do blame. It’s about safety, and in particular the safety of the next pilot to fly what could be an unairworthy aircraft. If in doubt, talk to the Duty Instructor, or any Inspector.

C of A on CCT

When CCT came back from its C of A at Bicester, we had some serious concerns about the work done, so we didn’t accept it, which meant that we couldn’t fly it. All the problems have since been corrected.

As a Result

All of this meant that we had an embarrassing shortage of two-seaters for a period during the winter. At one point, we had none. Fortunately(!), the state of the field was such that we were struggling to fly anyway. The T21 (b.1949) continued to keep us going, for those prepared to brave the arctic temperatures.

Thanks to the T21 syndicate for allowing the Club to use the aircraft at times like this.

CFI’s Corner

A recent visitor from another Club expressed surprise to me at one of our practises. The object of his concern was the fact that a call of Live Cable was sometimes being made when the cable was observed to start to move at the commencement of a launch. The cable should be regarded as live at all times he said. Of course it should I responded and assured him that was how a cable at launch point was regarded by all Members. Oh he said, obviously not convinced.

His comments have run through my head a few times since then, and I have come to agree with him: We are wrong. So in future, if you wish to draw attention to the fact that the cable is moving, please just say Cable Moving. It explains what is happening more clearly than Live Cable, and helps make the difference clear in everyone’s mind.

I hope that you will look on this change as part of a constant auditing of our Operations in an attempt to achieve as safe an operation as possible.

Ground Equipment

The Computer System

There have been some changes to the computer systems recently. Here’s how the bits fit together.

There are two computers: the Laptop that we use for logging, and the Clubhouse computer that was originally for cross-country task use, but that has since taken on a wider role. The two are linked by a wireless Lan, driven by a router high up inside the south wall of the Clubhouse, with a range of a couple of hundred metres. If necessary, other computers can join this Lan. The computers don’t need to be physically connected to anything except power.

The router needs power, so it and the Lan only work with the generator running. It also receives our broadband connection and routes it to any connected computer. The cost of the connection includes the first 200Gb of data per month, after which we pay a fee of a farthing per megabyte for data transfer. As long as this capacity is used sensibly, the Club will accept these extortionate fees and won’t constrain use of the Web.

There’s a printer server, which is the box low down on the south wall. It’s permanently connected by cable to the Lan, and there’s a printer cable permanently plugged into it. The printer is available to any computer on the Lan once the power and printer cables are attached. There is no longer a need to connect the printer to a computer.

The master Glidex database is on the Laptop. We take a backup at least once a week, and there are printouts of each day’s flying that we could use in an emergency to recover all the data. Any other computer on the Lan can run Glidex to query the master database, so for example it can display and print the flight logs independently of the logging system. It’s also possible to update the database in some circumstances, for example to add visitors to the flying list. All this is only possible if the Laptop is in range of the Lan, of course.

There will soon be a new Clubhouse computer, mounted permanently in the Clubhouse so that it doesn’t have to be moved around. Each member will have a Windows XP Account on this machine that they can use as they want.

Ground Equipment

A few points:


  • There are changes in the pipeline to the winch training schedule.
  • A single-cable operation should swap cables half way through the day
  • Doris needs work and will be offline for a while.
  • The strops, including the weak links, need to be DI’ed at the start of the day. This should be done by whoever delivers them to the launch point.

Martin Greenwood, Winchmaster

Club Diary

Some of these dates are still tentative, and there are a lot of things still to go in there, but it’s a good start. The diary on the web site in Members’ News will be kept up to date.


24 March Spring meeting
25 March Good Friday, club open
28 March Easter Monday, club open
2 May 7-day opening starts
2 May Trial Lesson Evening season starts
2 May Members’ Day, cut-price flying
18-22 May Sutton Bank expedition
Club closed Mon-Wed and Friday
27 June – 1 July Camp Hill expedition
Club closed Mon-Wed and Friday
23-30 July Task and Badge Week (Sat-Sat)
1 September Trial Lesson Evening season ends
16 September 7-day opening ends (perhaps)
6 October New Members’ meeting
27 October AGM (perhaps)
24 December Christmas Eve (Saturday), club closed
25 December Christmas Day (Sunday), club closed

Common Senseless

Software Reliability

Recently, They reported that the Lan card had suffered a software failure and needed to be replaced.

Strangely enough, the Lan software failed immediately after the computer was dropped onto the floor. This apparently useful piece of information could have shortened the diagnostic process somewhat. In fact, all the expansion cards had been shaken loose by the impact. Re-seating them fixed the problem. Fortunately.

At the risk of stating the bleeding obvious…

Please do not drop the computer onto the floor. Or, for that matter, onto anywhere at all. Computers don’t bounce.


The Junior – Why Not Indeed

I agree with almost everything Stephen Farmer wrote about the SZD Junior in the last Wire, but I am one of those who describe it as a plastic or glass K8. This description doesn’t mean it has the same performance as a K8 but that it is designed to fulfil the same function, which is to be a basic club soaring machine.

Both the K8 and the Junior were designed to be robust, early solo club aircraft with docile handling and good soaring characteristics. They are both ideal for early cross-country flights such as Silver distance, and have good airbrakes for safer field landings. While both meet these requirements, there is about 30 years difference between them.

The K8 was introduced in 1958, and the Junior around 1988. During that time aerodynamics improved considerably, mainly because of the adoption of glass fibre construction.

With a best glide angle of 35:1, the Junior is about 30% better than the K8 at 27:1. Neither have good penetration but the Junior is a lot better than the K8, about the same or slightly better than the K18.

The Junior has a straight line minimum sink rate of 114 feet/min at 38 kts, the K8s min sink is 126 feet/min at 32.5 kts. It is also probable that the Junior’s min sink rate in a turn deteriorates proportionately less than that of the K8 because it is better aerodynamically.

As a result, the Junior will out-soar the K8, depending of course on pilot weight and ability. One exception is in very narrow thermals, when the K8’s slower speed and, therefore, smaller turning circle, may allow it to fly nearer the core of the thermal where the lift is greater.

Very popular with some club members, the K18 was introduced in 1974 to be a robust club glider with about K6E performance. It has the same wing section as the K6E but with a bigger span of 16.0 metres, probably to make up for the less aerodynamic fuselage. A best glide of 34:1 makes the K18 close to the Junior in this respect. Its minimum sink rate of 120 feet/min at 35 kts is midway between the K8 and Junior.

Both the K8 and the K18 are vintage gliders. There’s nothing wrong with that if you are an enthusiast, but we should recognise them for what they are.

I don’t know why the Junior is under-utilised, if indeed it is. It may be that some club pilots expect a better glide angle from it simply because it’s glass. Or are they perhaps ‘wood orientated’ and believe that moving into glass is a major step.

The latter is not the case, and in many clubs a large proportion of pilots have never flown wood. Usually their first single seater or first solo glider is an Astir, Junior, K23 or Discus. After all, glass gliders have been around for more than 45 years!

I personally find the Junior and the K21 much nicer to fly, as well as having better performance, than the rest of the club’s fleet.

The K21 has the best penetration, whereas the Junior has the best scratching performance of our club gliders and, as a result, will often stay aloft longer. This, plus a much better glide angle than the K8, makes it ideal for local soaring and early or moderate cross-country flights.

Tony Edlin

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