The Wire February 2008

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club

Issue 39, February 2008




The Clubhouse

The Old One

The old clubhouse did the Club good service for many years. In 1990, it replaced a somewhat smaller, rather tired, dark green cabin that had also done us good service for the previous ten years or so. Eighteen years is well beyond the life expectancy of a second-hand wooden temporary building. It was achieved with a lot of patching and mending, some structural paintwork, and a couple of new roofs.

However, it was inevitable that there would be a terminal failure at some point, most likely the floor, which would be impractical and uneconomical to repair.

The Project

We couldn’t afford to wait for the old clubhouse to fall apart before we set about replacing it. Apart from the time it takes to install a new building, there’s the uncertainty in finding something suitable. We didn’t think the Club would find it acceptable to spend half a year without a clubhouse, either in winter for the members, or in summer for the visitors.

Two years ago, with this in mind, John D started the project to replace the clubhouse. At that time, we thought we would be lucky to do the job for £40k. Apart from the widely varying cost of a second-hand modular building, delivery is measured in thousands and could be as much as £10k from the more distant corners of England . Fitting it out was likely to cost around £5k.

That sort of price is beyond the Club’s normal finances. We could plan for it, and put aside money each year for five years, but that would eat up all our operating surplus in that time. There’s a contingency fund for unexpected and unavoidable expenses, but if we’d used that, any large bill (such as the £25k that compliance with the EASA regulations will cost us) would bankrupt the Club.

So, John started the drive to raise the funds by voluntary contribution from Club members. The response was fantastic, and donations, pledges, events, the lottery, and gift aid have brought the fund up to a couple of bob over £22k. However, recently, it’s only events and the 49ers that have been adding to this, so we’re near limit of what we can hope for.

The New One

John had an idea of what would be ideal: a 250sqm modular building that would replace the existing buildings on the site. We monitored eBay and a couple of suppliers, and found one or two suitable buildings for £10-15k, at a time when we had nothing like that amount in the fund.

Finally, in January, a possible building turned up. At 180sqm it’s a bit smaller than we’d hoped for, but it’s still twice the size of the existing building. The supplier needed to move it quickly, which would put us under pressure to do a lot of preparation in not much time. On the other hand, the urgency also put pressure on the supplier, and the result was an extremely competitive price of £10k, plus VAT, plus delivery from Derbyshire, which came to £16121. In the end, John managed to negotiate the price down to £12807, including VAT and delivery.

After a fair amount of debate, the committee approved the purchase. The price outweighed the inconvenience of the timescale, and the scarcity of suitable buildings outweighed the fact that it was slightly smaller than our ideal. John, Nick, and Peter Fanshawe had seen the building and recommended it, given a suitable price, and a final visit by John and Barry Monslow sealed the deal on January 30th.


The delivery date of February 18th gave us just three weeks to get rid of the old clubhouse, clear the area, and build the 30 pads that the building sits on. This looked impossible, but Barry took most of the pressure off by moving the caravan out of the way, and hiring a crane to move the old clubhouse lock stock and barrel in its place.

Despite heavy betting to the contrary, it stayed in one piece, it is still much the same shape as it was, and it hasn’t collapsed much since. As a result, a lot of time was saved, and more to the point, we still have an operational clubhouse.

The pads need a week this time of year, because they need time to go off and they have to be accurately levelled. This left a week to get them built once the old clubhouse had gone.

The first few, at the front, had already been started before the building was moved. The weather kept fine, which allowed the rest to be built in plenty of time, and the final levelling went smoothly.


The new building arrived on February 20th. The first four units came on a fleet of three lorries, and two of them had to make a second trip to Derbyshire for the remaining two units. The one that stayed was equipped with a crane, and set about lifting the units into place.

The measurements we had been given for each unit were 10′ by 32′, so the pads were built on 10′ centres. At this point, it became apparent that the units were actually 3m by 10m. There’s only 4cm difference between 10′ and 3m, but that matters rather a lot over the width of six units. As a result, the pads were not quite in the right place. They were ok to hold the building in the short term, but the end ones have since been moved to their correct place.

Barry had inspected the building in detail, but you can see much more when the units are hanging from a crane than you can when the whole building is together. The units proved to be strong and well constructed, and even the central units, which don’t have any end walls, showed no distortion when they were being put into place.

It took the delivery crew all day to get the units into place, with the assistance of a number of club members, all equipped with cameras. It was getting quite dark when the last unit was put in place, and it was pitch black when the lorries finally left. The crew came back the following day to finish the joints and make it all waterproof.


Now the hard work starts. The building was partitioned when it arrived, but none of the partitions are where we want them, so they were all stripped out on the first weekend. Much of the timber, panelling, and doors will be reused.

The layout of the rooms has been planned since we knew the exact layout and size of the building. There is still some tweaking required to fit in with the positions of the ceiling joists, since you can’t fix a stud wall to a ceiling panel. That doesn’t stop everyone having at least one different opinion, usually expressed asThat’s great but why not do this completely different layout instead.

This is the layout that we’re going to build: loos and services on the left; corridor in the middle; office, meeting and briefing room, kitchen, members room on the right. There will be a ramp and steps at the back, and just steps at the front.

The first stage is to get the exterior doors and windows in the right places. Once that’s done, we can start painting it (hangar green, as if you couldn’t guess). Once that’s done, we can turn our attention to installing services such as gas, water, lights, sockets, and heating, and partitioning the rooms.

All of this takes a lot of volunteer labour, and the club is responding well to the insistent calls for assistance. Plenty of members have turned up to help, so it’s not just the usual suspects left to all the work.

John D has taken overall responsibility for the project, and Barry M is leading all the structural and service work. Once the room structure is in place, each room will be handed over to a room manager responsible for everything in that room:


Utilities Barry Monslow
Loos and shower Steve Pearce
Office Steve Brown
Briefing and Meeting room Geoff Butler
Kitchen Pete Merritt
Members room Nick Jaffray

Andy Balkwill will be coordinating their efforts, mainly achieved by being in charge of the purse strings. There’s a very clear directive that everything should be new or nearly new, and we don’t intend to fill the place with tat.

All of this will take months, and the new clubhouse won’t be operational until well into the flying season. It’s important to get it right, so it’s worth doing it properly. It’s also important to get it finished before it’s commissioned, because once it’s in use, work on it will inevitably stop.

There are future plans too: an apex roof, landscaped outside seating areas, and 24-hour power. Nothing has been decided about these, and the funds involved will not be available immediately because the clubhouse fund will be just about empty by the time we’ve done the essentials.

In Conclusion

There was much trepidation leading up to this purchase: was it good value; would it fall apart; would it do the job; would the members support it (no, not concrete shoes); in short, was it the right thing to do. Those fears have since been allayed. The boss of the crew that installed it said that, under normal circumstances, they would have cleaned it and painted it themselves, and probably sold it for £35k. It’s well built and will last longer than the old one. The planned layout satisfies our needs. And the members have voted with their time and muscles.

There’s a long way to go, though, and the clubhouse fund is not yet big enough to pay for everything we want to do. We will carry on fundraising, as well as seeking grants for example for green energy sources.

Every successful project works by having an individual driving it, with a clear idea of what needs to be achieved. The new clubhouse is John’s project, and he’s been pushing it hard for well over two years now. Everybody is responding by putting a lot of effort into the project, but without John’s drive, it would never have happened. Thanks, John!




Club Aircraft

The submission of transition documents for the club fleet is progressing, with packs for the K21, Junior, K18, and CBW submitted (as at 10th Feb), and CCT almost ready, with just HSM and the K8 to go.

Some of the private syndicates have already submitted their packs, while others are still daunted by the prospect.

Nick has prepared the packs for the wooden club gliders (with the guidance of Martyn& Phil), and in the light of experience gained has prepared a very unofficial guide, with suggestions as to how to go about the task, including links to useful website references. This has been distributed to syndicate leaders, and anyone else known to be doing the paperwork. If anyone else would like to have a copy, or wants to talk through any aspect of their transition, Nick is willing to help, if he can. Contact Nick at



Club News

New BIs

We have two new Basic Instructors: Nick Jaffray and Graham Macmillan gained their qualifications at the end of November.

This is not a time of year when visitors come flocking through the gates, and both have been struggling to get the first few BI flights under their belts.

Leading the Badge Ladder

A crew of volunteers offered to open the Club on Monday 7th January, Chris Burrows’ 16th birthday, in the expectation of sending him for his first solo. Unfortunately, the 30-knot winds were deemed just a little strong, and the day had to be cancelled.

The weather relented briefly on Saturday 12th, and Chris flew his first and second solo flights in the early afternoon. Being winter, they were just circuits, but the spot landings necessary to land on the concrete in a soggy airfield were as accurate as any on the day.

Mud Glorious Mud

Last summer, the state of the airfield taught us in no uncertain terms that ruts caused in the winter can cause expensive damage in the summer, when they contributed to a ground collision between the K18 and the K21.

From now on, on the recommendation of the Ops Group, the Committee are taking some of the responsibility for declaring the serviceability of the field. The worst areas are the middle third of the airfield, and the south half of the east end triangle, and these can now be put out of bounds.

In February, t he central area between the two runway lines was declared u/s for cable tow-out, which meant that no Land Rovers could go there until the decision was reversed. The use of the triangles at each end is a decision on the day which depends on the Duty Instructor planning a safe operation which will not damage the ground.

The buggies don’t do much damage, so they can be used if necessary, but it is still far preferable to keep them on the tracks or firm ground. And, it goes without saying, any emergency landing, such as following a cable break, should just take the safest option with no consideration for the state of the ground.

The actual plan for the day will be made clear at the morning briefing. Often, in the worst conditions, it will include statements such as Don’t take vehicles on the green bits. This means what it says. Excuses such as

  • It’s ok, I was driving my own car, not a Land Rover
  • I only cut the corner a bit
  • I wasn’t at the briefing

have all been heard, and none of them are valid.

The members who spend time on a tractor towing a roller around at two acres an hour justifiably tend to get a bit fed up with repairing damage done by selfish and unthinking acts.

And if you do get your teeth rattled during a landing next summer, consider the possibility that it was you yourself who did the damage.

Warwick University Gliding Society

We’ve done a deal with Warwick Uni GS, similar to the one we had with Birmingham before the presidency of Doctor Death reduced it to nothing. It lets up to five of their members come and fly with us on any one day.

They fly at HB as well, but they have so many members (no, really) that they need our help just to get all the novices up in the air for the first time. Unfortunately, the weather beat them on the first few weekends of the deal, so they’ve only been here once so far. Nevertheless, we hope the deal will prosper – they’re a very active Uni GS, and we’re closer and much cheaper than HB.



CFI’s Corner

Loose Articles

It has recently been brought to my attention that occasionally the K13s have been found with the rear seat cushion left in after they have been flown solo. These seat cushions are only held in with a Velcro strip, and in many cases these aged strips are well worn, so really can’t be guaranteed to do the job. It would be perfectly feasible that during a solo flight the cushion could move forward of the seat and possibly foul the controls.

So if you have just had your check flight with an instructor and you are then going to fly the K13 solo, please remember it is your responsibility to make sure that there are NO loose articles in the cockpit and the rear straps are secure, which also means removing the cushion from the rear seat. Please don’t rely on your instructor doing this for you.

There have already been accidents involving K13s that have been caused by loose objects fouling controls and restricting control movement at a critical stage of the flight. We really don’t want it to happen to you.




The Glider Workshop

The new EASA regulations mean that we have little choice but to have a workshop on site. If we don’t, our inspectors will not be allowed to do any work at all on our aircraft, and even the most minor repair will have to be done commercially off site. The costs, in down-time and money, would be prohibitive.

The committee decided that the workshop was the highest priority of all the projects in the pipeline. The clubhouse was put on hold, because two projects like that simultaneously would overload the resources of the Club and the key members. Any such clear-cut plan is doomed from the outset, and the appearance of a candidate clubhouse building was too good to miss. Nevertheless, the workshop project is going ahead, as it must.

We’re currently looking at buildings big enough to hold at least two of the three major parts of an aircraft and allow them to be worked on at the same time. This means a fairly large structure, and it needs to be tall as well. The current plan is a steel building about 60′ by 20′, costing about £15k. It needs to be professionally erected, and then kitted out to suit the inspectors. The total cost is likely to be £20k. It will be sited alongside the main hangar, and one of the containers has already been moved to the other side.




LHD Land Rover

The left-hand-drive Land Rover has been fitted with low pressure tyres, which are much kinder to the surface of the airfield. The tyres are inflated to 15psi, and coupled with the large footprint, this means that the pressure on the ground is similar to that of a person walking.

The tyres are safe to use on the paved tracks. The only disadvantage is that their very size can do damage if full lock is used other than at minimum speed.

We’ll take them off and store them once the wet weather has finished, and go back to ordinary tyres for the dry summer.


The buggies have struggled now and again to tow heavy gliders on wet grass. The problem is traction, and it can help if two people go out to retrieve a glider.

They also do a good job of repairing landing ruts. Buggy drivers can help avoid damage to the airfield by driving a wheel along any rut they see, especially one that has just been made by the aircraft that they’re retrieving.



Aircraft News


The K18 has been back to Richard Kilham to have the leading edge problem remedied, and it’s back with us again. He did the C of A at the same time.


JXS is causing something of a problem, because we don’t have enough backup paperwork to achieve the EASA certification. Without it, an EASA C of A becomes a very expensive business, since every Airworthiness Directive that was issued during its long life has to be proved or re-implemented. It’s unlikely to be worth the cost.




The members present at the various clubhouse works took several or more photographs between them. The ones here and on the web are courtesy of Nick Jaffray, Penny Broad, and Pete Merritt.

Sharing is caring!