The Wire August 2007

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club

Issue 37, August 2007




From the Chairman

An Apology

I would like to apologise. The rain dance I performed at the end of April to allow us to make repairs to the airfield was too effective. What I danced for was two weeks of rain – I misjudged this by a factor of 7. I sincerely apologise to members of the Club, residents of Stratford, Evesham, Pershore, Tewkesbury and Upton-upon-Severn as well as investors in insurance companies country wide. Sorry!

More seriously, it has highlighted once again that our financial well being is totally weather dependant – since April 1st we have flown on 20 less days than we did by then last year, member flying is down 20%, visitor flying is down, income from trial lesson evenings is down by 50%, and the number of new members is down. On the bright side, course flying and voucher sales are up, though not enough to compensate!

But then again you already knew that we are weather dependant, didn’t you? – if we have unflyable conditions we cannot fly, therefore there is no income on these days, yet we still have costs that need to be paid. We had planned to re-invest around £10,000 this year as we have done in the past (and had planned to do in the coming years). Much of this planned re-investment is to allow us to stand still in terms of equipment and aircraft. New or additional ‘things’ would require much more financial investment.

We survive during times like these by stopping all but essential spending and using our reserves at the bank and going to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat again to refresh our memories as to how these lean times should be managed. We are in such a state now.

August has started well though, and Task Week has been one of the best ever in terms of total distance flown and individual achievements. More of Task Week later in this issue, but I would like to thank the Task Week organisers and coaches for their efforts and hard work in making this years Task Week so successful.

With any luck, the good weather will hold throughout the autumn and winter, prevent any recurrence of the floods and allow us all to fly much more than we have done. At least that’s what my copy of theLadybird Book of Weather Dances tells me will happen with my current dance!

Have fun, fly lots and be safe!




First Snitterfield 750s

The Wednesday of Task Week was The Best Day Ever. Phil King and Martyn Davies each flew 751K tasks. These are the first 750s flown from Snitterfield, and took 9:00 and 9:18 respectively. The task was Petersfield, Tuxford (near Lincoln), Lasham, and home.




The new EASA rules take effect soon, and there are implications left, right, and centre for all private owners, the club’s inspectors, and the committee. The BGA have started to send out information packs, but they don’t answer all the questions, and a lot of the burden is dumped on the inspectors.

Inspectors’ Seminars

The BGA will soon be holding seminars for the inspectors to explain the implications. These seminars are mandatory for all inspectors, otherwise they will lose their ticket. The idea is that each inspector will then be able to help each private owner that they look after, so that the EASA changes get handled properly.

Unfortunately, only inspectors are invited to these seminars, so we can’t send anyone else to help the Technical Officer, who’s responsible for all the Club aircraft.


Most gliders will need a G- registration. Older aircraft are exempt, but the list is small, and seems to be pre-1955 designs. The K8 and K13s are not, nor are Slingsby T51s onwards, and the newest exempt aircraft in the Club that we know of is the Skylark 4. The registration letters are carried on the tail boom and under the port wing. The BGA trigraph must still appear on the fin, and is optional under the starboard wing. That doesn’t leave much space for advertisements.

By default, the registration letters will be G-Cxyz, where xyz is the glider trigraph. The K21, for example, will be G-CGAG. The registration costs £60. Alternatively, you can choose your own registration letters and pay £160 for the privilege. If you took advantage of the relaxation that allowed two-character trigraphs (um?), we have no idea where that leaves you.


BGA C of A certificates disappear in September 2008, to be replaced by EASA C of A certificates. That means that no BGA certificates will be issued after September 2007. This is just bureaucracy for the owners, and costs £120.

Once the transition to EASA rules is complete, the annual certification should be the same for owners, and similar for inspectors since the actual inspection is unchanged. Time alone will tell if this is actually the case.



CFI’s Corner

Radios and Frequencies

One topic that I have had several comments on is the use of radios. As everyone knows 129.975 is the only frequency we can use for ground to air operation, yet it seems pilots are still using 129.90 to communicate with the airfield whilst in the air – 129.90 is for ground to ground use only.

On busy days, this causes problems for the overworked controller on the bus, and quite often the controllers are not that confident in the use of the radio and how to reply to the radio calls, so please use the assigned frequencies.

On the days when we have the corner active, the correct frequency to use is 129.975 and if, for whatever reason, Snitterfield Base cannot be contacted or you cannot get a reply, you should not enter the corner. Please resist the temptation to call control on 129.90.

I am aware of the reliability issues we have with the Icom for monitoring 129.975 and will try to address the problem as soon as practically possible.

And still on the subject of radios, I am planning to arrange a Radio Procedures Evening in the not too distant future. I will post a note on the CFI’s notice board giving further details. If you are interested please, add your name to the list so that we can gauge the interest for the evening.

This evening will be aimed at our newer pilots or just any pilot who feels that they haven’t got the know-how or the confidence to operate the radio correctly and use the correct terminology.

Over and Out!




Sutton Bank

Having looked keenly at the synoptic charts prior to our annual expedition to Sutton Bank on Saturday 19 th May, I was not enamoured by the prospects. At least, I remember thinking before I set off at 6:40am that the conditions would be doubtful until, say, Tuesday. But, it did not work out like that. Not at all, in fact. From the word go, the weather was much better than forecast throughout the week. For example, the forecast for the Wednesday was showing a vigorous front straddled across North Yorkshire plus further adverse weather for the Friday. We need not have worried. The Wednesday offered wave flights up to 9,000′ (9,000′ achieved by Mike Coffee – but we won’t dwell too much on thisà!) and Friday was an excellent day, with very strong cloud streets tempting us to the foothills of the Pennines . Phil Pickett flew to Catterick, 34km to the northwest, and climbed in wave to 8,400′.

However, to begin at the beginning. On the first Saturday, the wind was strong and westerly, ideal for ridge soaring and complemented by well developed clouds stretching westwards towards the Pennines . I was fortunate to find weak wave to 5,000′ near Ripon, 22km from Sutton Bank, before dropping back slowly to YGC in 38kts of wind at flying heights. The Yorkshire members were taking full advantage of the conditions; the log for that first day recorded in excess of 60 aero-tow launches, a remarkable figure. All the activity from YGC members on that day and during the following week was understandable; they had not flown at all in the week prior to our arrival. The Sunday and the Monday, were, once again, good soaring days with one wave flight to 4,500′ achieved on the Monday by Andy Sutton in his IS28.

Tuesday offered the wave conditions which everyone had been secretly (not) hoping for. Barry Monslow and Barry Kerby shared a height of 15,200′, much to the frustration of Mike Coffee who, try as he might, fell short by several hundred feetà! I see from my log book that I was not allowed to fly the LS8 that dayà.! Anyone want a syndicate partner? In all, twelve pilots contacted wave that day, including Jeff Gale who gained his Gold Height with a flight to 12,500′ in his Oly 463. Also, a special mention for Paul McAuley who got nervous when he found himself sucked up to 10,700′ (I jest Paul..!) and Sharon K who climbed to 9,000′ twice and who landed between those flights for refreshments. (A clear case of “putting on the style”.)

Whilst I missed out on the wave (I am trying to be philosophical, and not at all bitter, of courseà.), I did, on the same day, achieve the shortest flight of the week whilst sitting in the back seat of a K21. This was due to a rather low aero-tow rope break, between the south west escarpment and Hood Hill. Later, having encouraged Liz Pickett to launch to 3,000′, I succeed in failing to contact the wave. My apologies Liz. Gliding is a great leveller is it not, and none of us escape. (It is worth reporting that two of the YGC members achieved 17,500′ on this day to the south west of the site.)

On Thursday, five pilots climbed in wave. Barry Kerby to 8,600′ – congratulations Barry (I’ll say anything to get a go in the LS8..!) and a creditable climb to 6,100′ by Barry Monslow. (How can we stop him?)

The weather to the south on the final Saturday was limited by an encroaching front, but the thermals were excellent to the west and north of the site. The front damped down conditions later in the afternoon and offered a few spots of rain. Because of the front, YGC’s privately owned open class gliders were reporting difficult conditions to the south. They had declared Tuxford Power Station as the first of their TPs (124km from YGC). One of their pilots had reported using a sea breeze front to turn Malton, (29km south east); the last TP for the open class gliders’ 300km plus task, before returning home.

So, what a week. What a site. So much to learn. Oh, I nearly forgot. Sixteen of us enjoyed the wave. The total hours for the week were 229 with Steve Brown achieving the most flying hours at 27. (Always best to give the CFI an honourable mention!) And, hardly worth mentioning perhaps, wave on six days and ridge lift in abundance as well. And last, but by no means least, Jeff’s Gold Height.

I have booked up for next year already………. you never know… I might even be able to beat the two Barry’s – if I am allowed in the LS8… I live in hope! No really, I am not at all bitter…!

Martyn Davies



Clubhouse Fund

On Saturday 4th August 2007 we held the Summer BBQ with all proceeds going to our Clubhouse Fund.

We raised the fantastic sum of £1,660. No costs were incurred in staging this event – all food, prizes, auction items and drinks were donated by members of the Club.

I’d particularly like to thank Pete Merritt and his wife Sally who not only donated all the food, they also prepared it, cooked it and served it during the evening. Thanks also to Chris Bingham who organised the event and everyone who donated prizes and auction items. Most of all, I’d like to thank everyone who supported the evening.

The fund now stands at around £19,800.




Club News


Our PayPal account was initially intended to be mainly a way for the public to buy vouchers spontaneously online. It’s turned out to be rather more than that. In fact, three quarters of our voucher sales are paid for that way, in preference to a cheque, even though the sale is done over the phone. On the whole, people who shop online seem to much prefer paying online as well.

A second way that we can take advantage of PayPal is at the airfield, where occasionally we have a visitor who would like to fly but can only pay by credit card. There is now a PayPal icon on everyone’s desktop on the clubhouse computer, which leads to a web page with all the relevant details. We can also accept payment of Trial Lesson Evening fees this way, which occasionally proves to be necessary.

Finally, we can now accept payments by members into their flying accounts. There’s a link to the PayPal pages from the Pages For Members index page.

PayPal charges us a 3.4% transaction fee. We pass this on as a surcharge for TLE fees and member payments, but not for sales to the public.




Vehicle Manager

David Ireland, who’s done the job for the past six years and more, is standing down as Vehicle Manager. The job will be taken on by Steve Pearce. The job responsibilities are to organise the maintenance and repair of all the motorised ground kit, with the exclusion of the winch.




Vintage Gliding Club Rally

22 nd to 30 th June

The VGC rally at Camphill is guaranteed to provide something for everyone to talk about: the standard of airmanship, so-and-so’s fantastic renovation of a vintage machine, the quality of the beer, just how Tom Edwards manages to keep his K8 aloft for so long, etc etc. This year’s conversation piece was The Rain.

Apparently, Camphill is also known by the sobriquet of “Damphill” – and this year it was just that, with rain some part of every day. Despite the daily deluge, we managed to fly every day except the Monday (this was the day that Sheffield got flooded). Fortunately, the airfield drains very well, so there were no problems with aircraft getting bogged down.

There was a little compensation for all the wet stuff as the ridge was working for most of the time, leading to some quite commendable flights, Jeff Gale winning the Daily Bottle at least twice for the best flight of the day. Significant cross-country was out, although a number of pilots did venture to the reservoirs (about equivalent to Evesham for us) as a change from pottering up and down the ridge.

Stratford GC has been well represented in past years; sadly not this year, with only seven of us (plus Pete Merritt for a couple of days) attending. The Blue Riband for numbers seems to have moved to Kent GC, who brought five single seaters. To our credit, though, we did take four aircraft, all of which were flown with varying degrees of success. Overall numbers, though, were noticeably down on previous years – obviously people had seen the forecast for the week and decided to stay at home.

The weather also disrupted the social side, so such delights as the Paper Glider Contest didn’t happen, and the Camphill Horseshoe Challenge was finally decided in the rain on the last night. But looking on the positive side, the “inside things” did happen and the beer didn’t run out.

So all in all, the Camphill Rally this year was a bit of a Curate’s egg. There was some good flying, much watching the rain, and a lot of tea drinking. Nobody moaned too much, despite the weather, though murder was very nearly done on one occasion!

I expect we’ll be back there next year, meeting up with old friends, seeing some superb aircraft, doing some flying Somewhere Else, having a week away. All good stuff. Even if you can only come for part of the time, try it!

Bob Horsnell



Aircraft News


The K18 is back, much sooner than expected. It’s been flying since the beginning of July. There’s a flaw in the shape of the leading edge near the port wing tip which will be rectified once the flying season is over. In the meantime, the aircraft is perfectly serviceable and spending a lot of time in the air.

The second K8, which was rigged and insured while the K18 was away, has been derigged and put back on ground risk.

Cirrus Data Sheet

Tony Edlin had his Standard Cirrus weighed recently. The result was a cockpit weight range of 78-79Kg, 172-174lb! It turns out that there is an error in the BGA data sheet that is used as the basis for the calculations.

One of the numbers used is the manufacturer’s figure for maximum all-up dry weight, which was on the data sheet as 330Kg. However, the flight manual states that this figure only applies to cloud flying and restricted aerobatic manoeuvres. For normal flight, the figure is 390Kg, and this is the number that should be on the data sheet. This gives an extra 60Kg of carrying capacity, which is not exactly trivial. Other limits such as C of G position come into play, of course, but the result is that this Cirrus can now carry a 105Kg pilot.

If you fly a Cirrus, you may find that you are entitled to a re-calculation and a new placard.



Synthetic Rope

The Tost head on the Skylaunch was damaged when it was hit by the parachute spinner. We needed a repair rather urgently, and our solution was to buy a second Tost head plus the parts to repair the damaged head. As a result, we now have Tost heads on both drums.

This constitutes a de facto confirmation of what we’ve all known for some time, that we will be using Dyneema on the Skylaunch for the foreseeable future.



Cross-Country Flying

Task & Badge Week
4th to 11th August

We don’t usually hold the Task& Badge Week so early in the flying season, but the coaches got it right again, and it turned out to be the best week of the year. Cross-country flights were logged on six of the eight days, and the day after it finished, the rains came back.

Star of the show was the Wednesday, which was a boomer. There were two 500K flights (Andy Balkwill and Phil Pickett), one 600K (Mike Coffee), and two 750s (Phil King and Martyn Davies). There were also four 100s, three 200s, and a 300.

In total, 24 Task Week participants flew 16900K in 294 hours. On the Wednesday alone, there were 14 flights for a total of 5034K, an average of 360K! The Club’s cross-country total now stands at 25900K, a very respectable figure given the iffy weather in May to July.

The long cross-country flights grab the attention, of course, but there was a good mix of badges during the week. The coaches set tasks to suit every pilot from Bronze onwards, and everyone worked towards their own targets. The BGA Duo Discus was with us again, with Pete Stratten in charge of it, and several pilots discovered what it’s like to fly something a little better than the Junior.

These are the badges claimed during the week.


750K Diploma Phil King
Martyn Davies
300K Gold distance & Diamond Goal Sharon Kerby
Barry Monslow
100K Diploma Part I Martin Palmer
50K Silver distance Martin Palmer (Silver completed)
Chris Bingham
5hr Silver Duration Chris Bingham

Badge Ladder

The flights during Task Week mean that the Badge Ladder has taken on a very different complexion. Nevertheless, the scoring system seems to be achieving its target, which is to award scores in the context of the pilot’s experience.

Currently, four of the top five places are held by established cross-country pilots who have achieved some big flights. However, these pilots don’t have that many other badge opportunities available. In third place is Martin Palmer, who’s scored for completing his Silver C, and a 100K Diploma Part II would put him clearly in top slot. Steve Pearce, in sixth place, could also take the lead by completing his Bronze C with the Cross-Country Endorsement.

The Badge Ladder really does seem to have achieved what it set out to do.



Judging Distance in the Air

Hold your arm straight out in front of you, and bend your hand at right angles with your fingers horizontal. Align the top of your first finger with the horizon. The bottom of that finger now marks the line of a 30:1 glide. Your other fingers mark 15:1, 10:1, and 8:1. Approximately, of course.

30:1 is the right order of magnitude for many of the aircraft that we fly, with some useful pessimism built in. If your aircraft flies slightly better than 30:1 and the airfield is on that mark, you’ll make it back, just, probably, sink permitting, but frightening yourself and everyone on the ground watching you.

If you fly in metric units, the calculation of the distance to those points is easy. From 1000m, 30:1 gives you 30000m range, which is 30Km, 15:1 gives 15Km, and so on. It’s harder in imperial units, but each 1000′ of height gives you 30000′ of range, which is a bit over 5.6 miles and almost exactly 5nm. It’s also 9Km, 8.4 versts, and 20 kilocubits.

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