|The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club||
Issue 34, August 2006
From the Chairman
Just when I thought it
was safe to venture out in to the open air after submitting our response to the
proposal, along comes
a proposal from the CAA to the effect that all aircraft in the
must be equipped with
transponders by March 2008 – that’s only 18 months from now! More later in this
issue and in the Clubhouse!
On the Coventry
Airspace issue, I’m expecting the Club to be formally invited to a meeting
sometime in September – I’ll update you when (and if) this meeting takes place.
At the end of July we
were promised by those that profess to know these things that August would be
the hottest on record. Ah well, so much for weather predictions! From a flying
perspective this season (with the exception of May) has been excellent. April
was our best ever April since records began (on a computer), followed by May
which was our worst May ever, whilst June and July were up there amongst the
best. This just emphasises that we are completely at the mercy of the weather –
if it’s good we do lots of flying and have funds to do things, if it isn’t we
don’t and we can’t!
What we have done since
March is complete the vehicle shelter, launched the New Clubhouse Fund, bought
a sooper-dooper brand new grass cutting device, updated Club glider
instruments, initiated our plan to obviate the need for hairspray by December
2008 (er… bought our first GPS data logger for use in Club aircraft!), had a
fund-raising barbeque, put up a fence, put up some signs on the fence (and
elsewhere on the site) and got a new computer (watch out for Glidex
This is in addition to
all the ‘usual’ hard work undertaken around the Club which has included filling
in some holes (plenty more still to fill!), upgrading the kitchen, general site
maintenance and much more besides.
What you have done is
lots of safe flying – already this season we have achieved a record number of kms
flown on cross country tasks! I hope you have achieved your goals and
objectives for this season, but if not, there’s still the rest of August and
September to go – so be positive. And don’t forget October can be very good
sometimes (I did my silver distance in October!)
The only blot on the
landscape is that we have had problems with unwanted ‘visitors’ resulting in
damage to, and theft of, members’ property. The message is simple – do not
leave any personal items of value anywhere on the site.
Have fun, fly lots, but
most of all fly safely!
The AGM is booked for
Thursday 19th October this year, a week earlier than planned because
the Village Hall wasn’t available when we wanted it. Formal notice of the
meeting and its agenda will be sent out in due course.
If you’re the current
holder of one of the Club trophies, please make sure that it’s nice and clean
in time for you to return it to be engraved for the next lucky (well, OK, skilful)
New Members’ Meeting
Each year, we invite
the season’s new members to a meeting, to explain what’s to come now that they know
a bit about the Club, and to clear up confusion about things that they’ve
already learnt. We also listen to complaints and criticisms from people who are
trying to get used to the way we work.
This year, the meeting
is provisionally planned for Thursday 5th October in the Village
Well, eight months into
my new role with not too many problems! Long may that be the case!
If I need to highlight
any one subject it would be airspace. Over the last few months I have had a
number of instructors report that they suspect that pilots may be unsure as to
where the boundaries of our local airspace are – usually the 1500ft Birmingham
CTA, or the corner when the extra height is not available to us. These pilots
are not always early solo pilots but those with more experience, and probably
just need to remind themselves where these boundaries are. So if you have the
slightest doubt please ask or consult the charts.
There should be maps
with the local airspace boundary clearly marked in all club gliders – if they
have gone missing please let me know and I will replace them. If syndicate
pilots would like a copy of the map please take one from the Procedures manual,
there should be plenty of spare copies.
With regards to Snitterfield
Corner, if you’re not already aware we now have new serviceable radios in the
K21, K18 and Junior so please feel free to use them to gain access to the extra
1000ft in the corner when it’s available. With regard to the operation of these
radios, if you’re not sure which knobs to twiddle please ask any instructor for
advice on how to operate them.
Along with these new
radios we have new Borgelt electronic varios fitted in the K21 and Junior and
these are a vast improvement on the old ones.
We have also invested
in a state of the art EW Micro logger, this is a logger and GPS combined (it’s
like a little black box) and is available for use in the Junior and K18 for any
badge flights you may wish to make. At some point in the future all badge
claims will have to be submitted to the BGA as an IGC file so the old
barographs will have to be replaced at some stage.
All of this new
equipment cost quite a lot of money, it’s your equipment so please look after
it, if there’s the slightest doubt about how to use it please ask.
Initial target: £10,000
The new Clubhouse Fund
now stands at around £11,500: we’ve met our initial target! So all we have to
do now is wait for it to arrive and move in! I wish…..
There’s still a lot of
hard work ahead of us. You will recall that when I launched the fundraising
effort at the Spring Meeting that I felt the total cost would be around
£30,000, and this is still the case. What has absolutely staggered and amazed
me is the speed with which we have raised the initial target of £10,000. This
proves that the membership as a whole wants a new clubhouse.
So, where has the money
|The Stratford 49’ers||£705.00|
|Mid Season BBQ||£1,026.99|
It’s nice to see the Inland Revenue being so generous!
Now is the hard part. We
need to continue to raise money, but we can also look at alternative sources of
funding, and Richard Maks is actively trying to obtain grants which we can add
to the pot.
We can also start to
source a suitable building, which needs to be a modular building because of the
airspace issues we are currently dealing with, and plan for its installation.
To that end I’ll shortly be setting up a project team to manage this.
The final question is
‘when?’ The answer at this time is not known – it depends on how much more
money we can raise either from within or externally, along with a suitable
building becoming available.
What I can say now is
Well Done Everybody! – an absolutely magnificent effort from everyone.
The max pilot weight in
the Junior is back where it was, at 110kg (242lb). This has been achieved by
fitting a new placard to the aircraft. It appears that whoever came in and
weighed it last couldn’t read his own writing, and got the calculations wrong
as a result.
The CAA’s attempt to
make Mode S transponders compulsory for all aircraft flying anywhere in the
has caused a bit of a
furore throughout the gliding movement. The proposal shows complete ignorance
of gliding and the ways gliders operate, and imposes some entirely impractical
conditions, all in the name of improved safety. It fails to note the zero
collision rate between gliders and commercial air traffic, which is hard to
The BGA has urged all
clubs to object, and to urge all their members to object. It’s not only us: the
British Microlight Aircraft Association is equally incensed about it all, as
are the British Balloon and Airship Club and, likely as not, the British Paper
If we know your email
address, you’ll have received an email about this, and thanks to everyone who
has already responded to the CAA.
If you didn’t get the
email, it’s because your email address isn’t in Glidex (hint). There’s a web
page on the Club site, linked from the Members’ News page, with more
information than you want, and details of how to respond. If you can’t cope
with computers, there’s some paperwork in the Clubhouse.
It was all done at somewhat
short notice, purely because the effort involved in reading, understanding, and
recognising the implications of a forty-page technical document takes rather a
It’s rumoured that
almost a thousand glider pilots across the
have responded to object to this
The radios in the Club
aircraft have never been very satisfactory, and the varios are getting old and
cantankerous, so we’ve started to replace them.
There are new units in
the K21, K18, and Junior, which are the aircraft most likely to fly
cross-country. Any serviceable units that they replace have been installed in
other aircraft to see how they perform, with a view to improving
instrumentation across the whole fleet.
Our response to CVT’s
airspace proposal document was sent off on March 29th, before the
deadline and within budget.
It was a thorough and
professional document, and earned the thanks of the Committee, and the epithet
“fantastic” from Carr Withall, Chairman of the BGA’s Airspace Committee.
We are now expecting a meeting
some time in September. If they remember to invite us, that is, which is by no
means a certainty because they conveniently ‘forgot’ their legal obligation to
send the initial consultation document to us and to most other local GA sites.
In late spring of this
year, SOAGC launched (pardon the pun) its Junior Cadet Scheme. The scheme
offers a limited number of 15 to 17 year olds the opportunity to experience the
adventure sport of gliding and become solo pilots at minimal cost.
Cadets only have to pay
a scheme entrance fee of £275, which can be spread over 12 months, providing
they are in full time education and pass the selection criteria. This covers
their instruction and flying for one year. After 12 months, cadets will be
eligible to join Stratford Gliding Club’s ‘Junior Sponsorship’ scheme.
There are three cadet
places for a Saturday and three places for a Sunday. The commitment we’re
looking for from the cadets is to come as often as possible on their designated
weekend day, and also whenever feasible during the week in the school holidays.
While they are not
flying, cadets are expected to participate in all aspects of ground operations
such as glider retrieve, launch point duties, and flight controller, just like
every other Club Member.
Our Saturday cadets
are: Louis Deane, Tony Yates and Omar Awaad. At the time of writing we only
have one Sunday cadet – Dominic Tromans – but we’re interviewing another couple
of enthusiastic youngsters in early September.
I’m sure that all Club
members will make these young lads extremely welcome and we all hope they have
a great time learning to fly with us.
Richard Maks, Membership Secretary
Shortly after we had
begun to experience increased rates of breakage, we investigated the strength
of the rope.
The first of the recent
series of tensile tests indicated that there were some parts of the rope which
had been degraded to the point where breaks could be expected when used with
heavier gliders. The suspect region was cut out, and a further series of
tensile tests were carried out to validate the decision. Three samples checked
out in the 1400kg region, which leaves a useful margin over the strength of a
black weak link. This is why the rope was put back into service.
However, it appeared
that we had not eliminated all of the damaged sections, and as we all know the
strength of a chain is that of its weakest link. This is what prompted our
decision to get the Dyneema replaced ASAP. We will do a full investigation of
the rope which is removed, and a sample has been sent back to the manufacturer
for their analysis.
The pattern of weakness
lends strength to the argument that the recent spate of breakages has been
caused by an incident in July, which could have overheated a significant
stretch of the rope. This occurred when the rope jumped through a gap into a
position on top of the guillotine guard, we think during towout. The next
launch therefore progressively heated up the plate on the guard, and eventually
started to overheat some of the fibres of the rope as they passed over the hot metal.
It’s the heat that has damaged the rope.
We have notified Skylaunch
of the design weakness, and are in the process of designing and fitting
improved rope guidance devices in the tunnel to prevent it from happening
The damaged rope still
managed about 2800 launches before it was replaced. The rope on the other drum,
which appears to be in perfect condition, has done about 1700 launches.
David Searle, Project Engineer
Task & Badge Week
The Task & Badge
Week is an annual event, where Club pilots of widely varying levels of
experience face flying challenges intended to widen their horizons and ease
them towards the next level of their flying career.
It’s organised by five
of the Club’s most experienced cross-country pilots, but it’s not just about
cross-country flying – there have been many Bronze and Silver legs claimed as
part of the Task & Badge Week.
There were 27 Club
pilots signed up for the week, and “Turbo” Tom Edwards was visiting as usual
with his miraculous K8.
This year, the Club
hired the new BGA Duo Discus X, and many of the Club pilots took the
opportunity to fly dual cross-country tasks in this high-performance aircraft
with its high-tech cockpit. Pete Stratten, the BGA Chief Executive, was here to
coach people who wanted to fly it. The Duo did eleven cross-country flights and
six local soaring flights during the week, with just one relight, for a total
of nearly 25 hours in the air.
The week started with a
bang. Unfortunately, it was the sound of thunder, lightning, and a tropical
storm, the likes of which hadn’t been seen since a Trial Lesson Evening four
weeks earlier. There was enough rain to cause flash flooding in the area.
Things quickly got better,
though, and Sunday Monday and Tuesday were good enough days for the best Club
pilots to fly 300km tasks. Martin Palmer flew Silver Duration and Silver Height
in his K6CR, and Charles Stearman flew 70km for Silver Distance in the Club K8.
Wednesday and Thursday were
characterised by a chaotic and changeable sky, with three thunderstorms during
the night between. Consequently, the tasks that were set were much shorter, but
they still offered a challenge to everyone who took them on.
Friday was forecast to
be a cracker, and the big task for the day was set at 507km, with four pilots
declaring it. Unfortunately, some high cover meant that the day didn’t really
get started, everybody left late, and all the 500s were abandoned part way
inconvenienced by a 40kt southerly upper wind, which made it hard to get away
from the airfield (the Duo managed, of course). There were wave bars all over
the sky, though, and most pilots tried (but failed) to get high enough to
contact the lift. Then the rain threatened, everybody ran for home, and the
A Coach’s Viewpoint
The Task And Badge Week
coaches are delighted to be able to report that the participants flew in excess
of 12,000 kilometres during the week, and that they logged a total of 319 hours.
Only the first Saturday was lost due to the weather gods, who thereafter
redeemed themselves and with a bonus added. What a contrast to last year when,
by sharp comparison, we suffered one of the worst summer weeks.
Worthy of particular
mention are the seven 100km diploma flights achieved. These flights included
the speed leg. Unfortunately, due to a technical problem, one claim was
unsuccessful. Nonetheless, the coaches applaud all seven pilots who flew at a
minimum handicapped speed of 65kph, the speed required for Part Two of the
diploma. They deserve the satisfaction they must be feeling.
In addition, there were
21 flights of between 50 & 100km, 27 flights between 100 & 200km, 10
flights between 200 & 300km and 9 flights in excess of 300km. And, 11 out-landings
– all successful. Through no fault of his own, Mike Corfield was required to
pay £150 for the removal the K18 from a field between Pershore town and
Worcester. I should mention one flight as being particularly meritorious: Tom
Edwards’ out and return flight to Lasham for 250km in his K8.
Last, but not least, we
should like to thank Pete Stratten for overseeing the Duo Discus flying. Almost
everyone who wished to fly the Duo did so. If you missed out you will be top of
the list if we can book the Duo in the future.
The coaches enjoyed the
week and we trust that our enjoyment was shared by everyone lucky enough to
have enjoyed such good weather. Our sympathies to our many absent friends.
Overall, it was a
thoroughly enjoyable week, largely due to the efforts of the coaches who put so
much work into organising the week and the day-to-day flying, and supporting
the Club pilots, many of whom have limited experience of this sort of flying.
Allan Wright and Humphrey
Yorke kept the operation running as Duty Instructor and Winch Driver, and
Sharon managed to find a
press release amongst the achievements of the week.
Finally, all the
participants owe thanks to the few Club members who were not participating, but
who spent a large part of the week running the launch point and Control and the
airfield in general, jobs which get taken for granted but without which the
Task & Badge Week would not be possible.
July was a spectacular soaring day, at the end of a long period of hot weather
and cloudless skies. Cloud base was predicted to be 6000′ or 8000′, depending
on who you read. Consequently, most of the pilots who managed to fly that
afternoon felt pretty smug about reaching between 8600′ and 9000′ QFE.
Smug of the day,
however, was Phil Pickett, who got CBW up to 9800′, dual. QNH, that’s a 10000′
cloud base. He was flying with Mike Harris, a 28-day member who has since
joined us, and who probably thinks this sort of thing is normal. It isn’t,
The Cross-Country Ladder
Ladder is doing well this year, with 26 pilots in the X/C Book and 21000km
flown by the end of July, largely fuelled by good weather for the Task Week.
The total by mid August
was 25839km, which breaks the Club record of 25598km of two years ago, with six
weeks still to go.
The Badge Ladder
The Badge Ladder is
well supported again this year, but we know that there are several eligible
flights, mostly 100k Diplomas, that have not been registered. Please let the
Ladder Steward, Phil Pickett, know if you have a badge flight under your belt
that hasn’t appeared on the ladder. There’s a form in the Clubhouse to make it
Pershore and Environs
There’s a farmer near Pershore
who really doesn’t want gliders or other aircraft landing in his fields. It’s
not malicious, he just has a lot of young stock that are easily panicked. The
disincentive is financial, as Mike Corfield discovered to his detriment when he
landed the K18 out during Task Week.
Now that we know about
this, the area is no go for landouts, and anyone who does so faces a hefty bill.
There are maps in the Clubhouse, showing the general area. He doesn’t own all
these fields, just half of them, but we don’t know exactly which ones.
The job of Flight
Controller is a responsible one. There are safety issues in that you are the
link to the winch, and legal issues in that we are obliged to log all aircraft
movements at Snitterfield. We use a public radio frequency, so there are procedures
and courtesies to observe. And, of course, the log is the source of members’
All of this means that
it’s important that the Flight Controller does the job well and keeps the log
The current logging
laptop is ageing, and there will be a new one soon. The old one will be set up
downstairs on the bus, where it can be used for adding visitors to the flying
list, and for members to check their day’s flying details. Both of these are
currently sources of unwanted interference for the Flight Controller. The
computer in the Clubhouse can also do these jobs when the bus is in range, but
somehow it is never used that way.
Because of the responsibility
involved, the job requires discipline, and familiarity with computer
applications is a necessity. It helps if you know the names of the members too,
but we have radio comms with the launch point so that doesn’t matter so much.
If you haven’t done
this job and would like to, or you have but you’re out of touch with recent
changes, please ask at the morning briefing, or talk to the Duty Marshal who
will arrange to get you some help. We’ll put a job description on paper once
the flying season is over.
The winter is a good
time to learn to do this job, because it’s out of the wind and quite warm on
This article is reprinted,
without permission, from The YR, Edition One, June 1996 (Editor’s
note: AEIs are what we now know as BIs):
Instructor Performance Standards
The recent training of
new Instructors and AEIs has generated considerable interest in the Club about
the qualifications required. For those Club members who aspire to move up to
instructing, the following is a guide to the standards of performance required.
If you feel you can
meet these criteria, please apply to the CFI for an aptitude test.
|Skill Factor||CFI||Deputy CFI||Full Rated Instructor||Assistant Rated Instructor||AEI|
|Ability to instruct||Leaps over tall buildings with a single bound||Leaps over tall buildings after a running start||Can only leap over buildings without spires||Crashes into buildings when attempting to jump||Bumps into buildings|
|Speed of reaction||Faster than light||Faster than a bullet||As fast as a bullet||Would you believe a slow bullet||Shoots own foot with bullet|
|Perseverance with pupils||Stronger than an elephant||Stronger than a bull||As strong as a bull||Thinks like a bull||Smells like a bull|
|Resourcefulness in emergencies||Walks on water||Walks on water occasionally||Washes in water||Drinks water||Passes water|
|Communication in flight||Talks with God||Talks with angels||Talks to self||Argues with self||Loses argument with self|