The Wire July 2005

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club

Issue 31, July 2005



From the Chairman

I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

It’s been a frustrating spring – weather has been poor, several issues with the Skylaunch, at the time of writing no-one has completed a 300km cross country flight (last year this achieved mid-May, the year before it was the end on April), 0 (zero) volunteers to help with grass cutting (see notice in Clubhouse) – I could go on.

Given all that has happened (or not) it would be very easy for me to dwell on the negative – there are, however, many positives to tell you about. So how about the fact that we have already exceeded last year’s total income from trial lesson evenings? Or the fact that visitor numbers for trial lessons are also up on last year? Or the fact that Doris kept us operational whilst our Skylaunch was not very well – despite limping on one drum? Or that Task Week looks like being the biggest ever?

All this does not “just happen”. It is the result of 5% management and 95% dedication and effort from you, the Members. In the case of Trial Lesson Evenings and Visitors, the increase is in part due to the marketing effort we have undertaken, but mostly it is thanks to those Members who have themselves organised evenings or brought friends and colleagues for a trial flight. We cannot be complacent though – visitor numbers are the key to the Club operating at a profit or a loss – we also need visitors to help boost our membership. With regard to Doris, she was only able to keep us going because of the efforts of a small number of individuals who have worked tirelessly over the last 15 months to ensure we have a serviceable backup for times when the Skylaunch is unavailable. There’s more work that needs to be done to get the second drum serviceable – if you can help at all (even if it is just passing the required spanner) please contact Martin Greenwood or David Searle.

There are some new Trial Lesson flight types on Glidex – “Trial Lesson (Local Resident)” and “Trial Lesson (Local Junior)”. I am positively trying to raise the profile of the Club with the residents of the villages of Snitterfield, Bearley and Wilmcote. To this end we are offering trial flights to local residents at £20 or £10 for Juniors. There is also an article appearing in “The Snipe” – Snitterfield’s Parish Magazine – about the Club and details of the offer of cheaper trial lessons. I’ll post a copy of the magazine in the Clubhouse as soon as it published. Hopefully this will result in a more visitors and few more local members. In order for the Club to remain healthy, we need to attract around 10 new members every year just to keep our numbers constant, so please continue to make visitors welcome as you always do – hopefully some of them will join!

We have applied for planning permission for the vehicle shelter and the Glider workshop – we should know the outcome during August. Also during August you will see some new signs around the site – we have reviewed our requirements and hopefully we will not have to extract visitors’ cars from the trailer park any more! We also have plans to trial Plasma rope (see the next article) – this will start towards the end of the season when we have restored faith in the Skylaunch and Doris is no longer limping. We will also try to repair some of the lumps and bumps on the airfield – so there are lots of positive things happening at the moment.

Now, that light at the end of the tunnel – is it really “the light at the end of the tunnel” or is it someone with a torch and another problem?

Enjoy the summer, fly lots but fly safely!


Ground Equipment

We are currently investigating a replacement for the 4.5mm 7×7 stranded cable that we use for launching. The alternative is an artificial fibre rope called Plasma, also marketed under the name Dyneema. It’s used for all the ropes on modern sailing boats, and is enormously strong.

The rope is used extensively in gliding clubs in Germany, and there are many clubs in the UK showing an interest. There are five clubs prepared to commit to early trials, and the BGA is leading the initiative.

Stratford is one of those five: the CFI, Chairman, and Winchmaster are all strongly in favour of the new technology, as is just about anyone else who has had the opportunity to study it. Our involvement in the trials is being led by David Searle, whose background as a development engineer makes him the ideal candidate for the job.

As always with new technology, though, everyone is being cautious, because we’re not sure that all the components involved will work together smoothly. The dynamics of a winch launch are very complex, and the effect of a change like this is hard to predict, so nobody wants to be the one that takes the financial hit if there turns out to be an unexpected problem.

Plasma is currently in use at Bannerdown, and they’re reporting on their experiences for S&G. Unless we find anything unexpectedly negative in that report, we expect to start a trial at Snitterfield at the end of the season.

The advantages of Plasma are that it is much lighter than steel, and thinner for the same strength. It also lasts much longer, and is highly resistant to abrasion. The lighter cable will show less of a bow, changing the angle at the hook and reducing the vertical component of the launching forces. Furthermore, the smaller cross-section will cause less drag, which further reduces the bow in the cable. The result is a reduction in the stick forces required, and therefore the wing loading and the stress on the airframe. So, this means higher and safer launches, and we’re expecting an to get an extra 300′ at Snitterfield in typical conditions. Finally, the load on the Skylaunch will be reduced, and the tow-out will need much less power, so we may be able to use smaller vehicles and do less damage to the airfield.

The disadvantage is the cost: it’s five times that of the steel cable that we use. It’s 75p per metre, or £1200 per winch drum. However, we’ve seen a rope that’s done 3000 launches on grass, and it looks like new, so it’s quite possible that it will last five times as long as steel.

Even if it turns out to be more expensive, it will be worth it for the improvements in our launching operation. Cheapness is not the most important criterion in such matters.


The Safety Officer

As most of you probably know by now I have taken on the role vacated by Rob Martin as the club Safety Officer and luckily for me I am being eased in gently by the Chairman and CFI. Just a few words about my take on the job.

Safety of ourselves and any visitors and guests we may have on site is of paramount importance for reasons I hope I need not state. In addition the reputation of the club and gliding in general can be seriously harmed by a poor safety record. Members are responsible for their own safety and the safety of all others around them and no one should feel reluctant to act in a situation they feel is dangerous or to highlight a potential danger.

How do I fit in to this? I see my role as a focal point where any member can bring safety concerns. I will then talk with the correct people in the club to resolve the issue, it will not get shelved or forgotten. Obviously the CFI has responsibility and complete control over safety issues with aircraft and all aspects of the flying. All issues should of course go to him. However I hope to work closely with our CFI and assist in any way appropriate.

To conclude as we are all told many times safety is largely a matter of common sense, so use it. I am not responsible for safety at the club, as said before we ALL are at ALL times. Please come and talk to me.

Take care, be safe, and have fun.
Stephen Farmer


A Member Wrote

One of my pet irritations at the club lately is the number of people who seem to forgotten how to properly act as signaller. The number of times I have seen different, sometimes very experienced, members of the Club have a cursory glance round, then face the bus whilst waving the bat, never changing their gaze from the bus, except for an occasional glance at the glider to see if it is moving and therefore change from Up Slack to All Out! Clearly this is dangerous, as they would not be aware of any glider which may have been out of sight behind the trees when they had their quick glance round. And how many members would attempt to stop a launch if this situation occurred, especially if the signaller is one of the more senior members of the club!

The correct procedure, as I understand it, is:

  1. Position yourself so: You have a bat in your hand; You are in front of, but not in the line of the glider; You are facing in the direction of the glider and towards the direction of normal circuit approaches; The log keeper can see you; You can see the pilot and they can see you; You can see the cable. On a ‘normal’ circuit day this would mean standing north-west of the glider facing south-east.
  2. Ensure that the skies above and behind the glider are clear of gliders on approach and other traffic.
  3. Point out the bleedin’ obvious to the pilot – they may not have seen it!
  4. If all is OK, give the up slack signal.
  5. Keep looking and listening and be prepared to give the ‘Stop!’ signal! Look everywhere except at the log keeper, namely: The normal circuit; Alternative circuits from the other direction; The pilot, who may pull off!; The cable. Listen in case someone else spots something you don’t and they stop the launch.
  6. When the cable moves, a hearty cry of ‘Moving Cable!’ if there has been a delay.
  7. Keep looking and listening (see 5)
  8. As the glider starts to move, and only then, change to the ‘All Out’ signal.
  9. Keep Looking and Signalling until such time as you are confident that the winch driver can clearly see the glider.
  10. Sit down and have a rest.

Reprinted from Issue 18


Aircraft News

Landing Incidents

GAG suffered a damaged nose wheel in a heavy landing. It has been repaired, at Dunstable, and is back with us and flying again.

CCT suffered a damaged wing in a landing undershoot. The repair is being done by Richard Kilham in Peterborough, and is expected to take a while or two to complete.

Neither of the pilots suffered any injury in these incidents.

Inevitably, the two incidents happened within a few days of each other, so we were down to two two-seaters for several weeks. It’s an inevitable conclusion that we need to keep four two-seaters in the Club fleet, because dropping to one during the summer would completely scupper our operation, both for Club flying and for the Trial Lesson Evenings.

Hangar Incident

HSM also suffered some damage to the D-box, near the starboard tip, in the hangar. Martyn Davies and Derek Phillips did the repair for us, and it was back flying within a few days despite the fact that many man hours were required to carry it out.


Safety Matters

Safety on the Ground

A long time ago, a hillsite club bought a brand new K8. One of the sweetest K8s to fly, the “green K8” was greatly loved by all the members, even inspiring members to poetry and oil paintings. It stayed in the club for 30 years until one sad day a visiting club from a flat site in Holland towed it into a strong wind without anyone in the cockpit. The glider lifted off, flipped over and was destroyed. I always think that losing or damaging a glider through poor ground handling is one of the silliest ways to have an accident.

Now I’m sure that all of you reading this know how to handle your gliders safely in strong winds on exposed sites, but do you always remember when you’re back at home on a flat site at Stratford? Recently I watched some very dubious ground handling and glider parking when we had some strong rough winds at Snitterfield and, at the risk of insulting everyone, I thought it might be worth just reminding ourselves of the basic rules.

The basics are spelled out in “Laws and Rules” so when you get your copy of the new (15th) edition, have a look at the Recommended Practices on ground handling. The BGA Site Operations Manual also has a useful section on ground handling. Next time you’re at the club, have a browse through it – or have a look at it on the BGA website (under Info for Clubs and Members/Club Management/Documents). Now to the Recommended Practices:

Moving gliders around

RP1. A glider should not be moved without crew on the into-wind tip and at the nose unless towed by a vehicle using a rigid towbar and wingtip wheel. If towed by a vehicle using a tow rope, the tow rope should have a minimum length greater than the glider’s semi-span.

At Snitterfield we generally don’t have a crew member at the nose when towing, because the field is flat and it is therefore unlikely that the glider will overrun, but always be aware of the possibility that it might. Stop to get extra crew if in any doubt, for example, if there is a downslope or a tailwind. Never tow a glider close up towards obstructions. Stop in good time and manhandle the glider the last bit.

Always attach the rope to the belly hook. This ensures that if the glider groundloops, the back release operates, detaching the glider from the towrope and avoiding further damage. It also makes the glider easier to steer.

The driver of the tow vehicle should keep a watch on the wingtip holder and respond promptly to signals – either verbal or visual – don’t forget that the driver may not hear a call because of the engine noise. If towing with a car, the windows should be open and the radio turned off, so that the driver is aware and able to hear commands such as STOP!

Whenever the glider is being moved, someone should hold one wingtip – normally the into-wind tip – unless reverse towing gear is used. When passing wings from one person to another, the person handing over calls “YOUR WING” and the receiver of the other wing replies “MY WING”. This is clear and concise and avoids misunderstandings.

In stronger winds, additional precautions should be taken particularly for lighter weight gliders. The crew numbers should be increased, the airbrakes opened and care should be taken to prevent the control surfaces from slamming.

Particularly when towing into wind, someone should sit strapped in the cockpit to prevent the glider taking off and to hold the controls steady. When towing downwind, prevent damage to ailerons and rudder by using control locks, or by the person in the cockpit holding the controls, or by someone walking behind the control surface and holding it firmly to prevent it from slamming against stops or hinges.


It is preferable and easier to move the glider backwards. If a glider has a tail-skid, it should be lifted clear of the ground, using the handle provided (NOT the tailplane!) If the glider has a tail dolly or removable tail wheel, it should be attached. Always push on the strong, leading edge of the wing, not on the trailing edge of the wing or on the rudder or canopy. Whenever the glider is being moved by hand, someone should hold the into-wind wingtip, to steer the glider and to ensure that the glider cannot be blown over by a gust.


RP2. A glider should be parked across wind so that any gusts or unexpected shifts of wind will come from aft not forward of the wing. Lightweight gliders should be parked with the into-wind wing weighted and the tail skid/wheel picketed or blocked on its lee side. A tyre jammed under the nose will help to prevent the tail jumping over the block in gusts.

Always park gliders properly and use tyres, or other suitable ballast that cannot damage the wingtip, to weight the wings, even in calm conditions. If you get in the habit of doing it properly, it becomes second nature and then you are less like to be caught out by strong winds.

When weighing the wing tip down, put the whole tyre on the wing, not partly on the ground – this avoids it being bounced off by the wing moving. Avoid putting too much weight on the aft section of the wing, especially the more vulnerable fabric covered areas. Always take the tail dolly off to avoid it weathercocking, unless you have chocked or wedged it to hold it still.

Prevent the rudder from slamming against its stops or hinges, either with a rudder lock or by moving the rudder to its full travel on the downwind side and carefully placing a tyre or ballast against the rudder on the upwind side. The Junior, although glass, is quite light weight and should be parked like wooden gliders, with the into-wind wing down.

Heavier gliders, typically modern GRP types, can be parked with the downwind wing on the ground.

This particularly applies to gliders which are very tail-heavy and will not weathercock. Parking with the downwind wing down also avoids the need to place tyres on expensive gel coat. The K21 has a wheel on each wing tip as part of the disabled adaptation, so it can swing around very easily. Always place one tyre (carefully!) on the down-wind wing and also one at the downwind side of the tail wheel to prevent this.

If in doubt or if threatened by sudden gusts or by squally weather conditions, someone should stay with each aircraft.

These guidelines apply to private gliders just as much as to club ones. If you leave your own glider badly parked, it may move and damage someone else’s glider or other property.

Canopy Care

It is very easy to damage a canopy and expensive to put right. Following some simple guidelines takes little time and reduces the risk. Don’t reach through the clear vision panel to close airbrakes or to release the cable, and don’t reach through the clear vision panel for any reason when the glider is moving. Never lift the canopy by the edge of the clear vision panel. If the canopy is stuck or will not open, ask for help – never try to force it.

Don’t leave canopies open and unattended, even on still days. It is a matter of a moment for it to be blown off or slammed shut and smashed. It is also a matter of a moment to shut and lock it.

Diana King, 21 June 2005


Club News

A Safety Issue

We’ve had one or two incidents and accidents over the years, including the recent damage to HSM, where members have been trying do too much by themselves.

So, please: don’t start getting the mechanical kit out of the containers until there are two people on site; and don’t start moving aircraft around until there are three.


Ground Equipment

The New Computer

To use the new Club PC, you need to log on to your own personal account. If you have set yourself a password in Glidex, your account will already be set up, and the password will be the same as you set as Glidex. If you want a user account setting up for yourself, then simply set your password on Glidex and your account will automatically be created on the Club PC within an hour providing the Club PC has wireless access to the Glidex computer.

What you can do: You will be able to access the internet, run any installed program such as NotamPro, Glidex and TaskNav. We’ve installed OpenOffice installed instead of Microsoft Office, which has all the products and features of MS Office, but it has the distinct advantage of being free. It will happily read any MS Office document, but is best to save them in OpenOffice format unless you need to have them in Office format.

You can save files to your own My Documents area, or to the shared folder called SOAGC. The hard drive is 80GB and there is plenty of space at the moment.

On the front of the PC is a floppy drive, DVD drive, COM ports (*2), Microphone socket, Headphone socket, USB port and a joystick port. The Floppy drive also has memory card slots, so you should be able to transfer data in or out of the PC on whatever you have. It will also connect to your data loggers, PDAs, etc if you have the correct cable.

What you can’t do: Install software! If you need anything, please ask. This is not allowed because the PC is the property of the Club, and we have to ensure that every piece of software that runs on it is properly licensed. Also, not every install package is to be trusted – a badly created install package may well cause other programs to stop functioning, or prevent programs from printing.

Your Responsibilties:

  • You are 100% responsible for any and all files you download from the web!
  • Always log off after you have finished using the PC.
  • Ensure that the PC is turned off if no one else wants to use it, and the front panel locked and the key stored in the usual place.
  • Ensure the PC is turned off before turning off the generator.
  • it will automatically shutdown after 5 minutes, and any files you have not saved will be lost!

How To Log In:

  • Press <Ctrl>, <Alt> and <Delete> simultaneously
  • Read and accept the warning notice
  • Enter your Membership number in the “User name” field, and your password in the field below

If you wish to change your password, press <Ctrl>, <Alt> and <Delete> and select “Change Password” and follow the instructions. Note that changing your password here does NOT change your password in Glidex and vice versa.


A Memorable Day

Yorkshire Gliding Club
Thursday 26th May 2005

One of the pleasures of gliding is the unexpected and so it was on the 26th May 2005, the Thursday of the Club’s expedition to Yorkshire GC at Sutton Bank. The weather was murky at breakfast time with low cloud and eight eighths cover. The wind was SW at 15 knots offering ridge lift on the north side of the bowl. However, with at best 800’cloud base and lift to 400′ the number of gliders permitted to fly was severely limited.

Nonetheless, Robert Barlow was determined to achieve his 5 hour duration flight in the YGC’s K8 which would follow on from his 2.30 hr flight in the same glider the day before. That flight had been achieved in ridge lift and the expectation was that the 5 hour flight would also require the ridge. However, he was advised to wait for an increase in the cloud base, an improvement to the visibility and, hopefully, to the ridge lift. He took off at 12:36 showing the same disciplined and careful approach to his flying that he had demonstrated the day before, and landed at 17:57. Paul McCauley had launched a few minutes before at 12:24 for his 5 hour attempt but decided that the conditions were too uncomfortable. He took the decision to land, to get reorganised, and to eventually to launch again at 13:57. This time he was on his way to a successful flight in the much improved conditions.

There was an approaching clearance noticeable at this time. In fact, it was an approaching cold front and the early morning cloud was associated with this front. With the cloud base at not more than 1,000′ Mike Wood, YGC’s gliding guru, decided to launch in their DG 303 at 12:47. By weaving behind the tug through the gaps now opening in the clouds he released above cloud base at 1,500′. Significantly, he did not reappear. Given Mike’s experience of the site, his 10,000 hrs in gliders, 4000 hours in power, and known love of wave flying, the conclusion was that he was climbing in wave in the clear air beyond the frontal edge to the west of the site. So began a series of wave flights beginning with Derek Bennett at 14.04 and ending with Phil Collier’s launch in YGC’s DG 303 at 17:04. Last to land was Steve Brown at approximately 20:00hrs.

In addition, the following SGC members flew: Derek Bennett 10,200′. Sharon Kerby 13,200′. David Searle 10,200. Martyn Davies 12,000′ & 14,000′. Barry Monslow 15,200′ (This was the highest climb on the day and it followed on from his having achieved the highest climb (10,500′) the day before. Politeness forbids me from revealing the height of the aerotow!! But, his tactics were spot on. He had decided to tow to the west of Dishforth – a distance of 11 nm. But I digress…) Jeff Gale 10,400′. Phil Collier 12,500′. Steve Brown 13,500′. Chris Roberts 12,500′. Lee Ingram 12,800′. Phil Pickett 13,700′.

Arising from the above achievements the following Badge claims will be submitted. Five Hour Duration: Robert Barlow and Paul McCauley. Gold Height: Lee Ingram, Sharon Kerby, Phil Pickett & David Searle.

The day was the more remarkable because of the contrast between the breakfast time weather and the weather later in the day. It was hardly flyable in the early morning, and the conditions gave little if any hint of things to come. The possibility for wave flying had been touched upon at the morning briefing but no hint had been given of the strength of the conditions experienced. The wave flying began with Mike Wood’s flight at 12:47. But the cold front clearance did not make full its impact until approximately 13:30. Or rather it was not until then that the conditions inspired the necessary confidence for SGC members to begin launching in earnest. Derek Bennett launched at 14:04 and he was the first SGC pilot to connect with wave. Sharon launched next at 14:08. The strength of the wave was such that there was no discernable blip on her logger trace to mark the point her release from the tug. (The Pawnee tug’s mean rate of climb was approximately 6 to 7 knots with a single seat glider on tow.)

An unusual feature of the day was the absence of low level lenticular clouds. The wave was marked by numerous cloud streets down wind and to the east of the blue hole caused by the wave. This was the jumping off point for most pilots. Lenticulars were visible at great height (which turned out to be 15,000′ plus with their leading edges well over the Pennines). Unfortunately, the new airway above the Pennines prevented climbs above Flight Level 125. Unfortunate, because the primary wave would normally be situated in that area. Indeed, the position of the lenticulars might suggest that the really high (diamond height) climbs may have been marked by those clouds.

The visibility was stunning. Morecambe Bay (on the west coast) was visible at a distance 54 nautical miles from above Dishforth Airfield and Scarborough was in view to the east at a distance of 37 nautical miles. I had not flown in such good visibility in 39 years. The last time I experienced similar conditions at Sutton Bank was in 1991. It had been a long, but worthwhile wait.

Most pilots entered the wave to the SSE of Thirsk at a distance of 5 nautical miles from YGC. However, one member exploited 6 knots of mixed lift above the site up to 5000′ before contacting 10kts of wave up to 10,000′.

The heights recorded above are above site, QFE. The elevation of Sutton Bank is 920′, so Barry Monslow’s achieved height was just over 16,100′ QNH.

Indeed, a memorable day.

Martyn Davies

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