The Wire July 2008

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club

Issue 40, July 2008




From the Chairman

Club {n, klǔb} ‘An organization composed of people who voluntarily meet on a regular basis for a mutual purpose, for example a Gliding Club’.

‘Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few’ Commander Spock, ‘Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan’

Isn’t it great to be able to turn up at the Club, hop in a glider and fly! And if you time it right you might even get away with not having to get it out, D.I. it, put the parachutes in it, tow it to the launch point, do positives or put it away again after flying! After all – that’s what the Club is all about isn’t it? That’s why we pay membership fees and launch fees? Well actually, no it isn’t!

What needs to happen so that any of us can fly? I’ll assume that we all know about what has to happen on a daily basis and that for every flight we take, we should help on at least 7 other launches (if you are unsure about this, or dispute the number see me afterwards). What about all the other things we take for granted?

Let’s start with the airfield itself. It needs mowing, rolling, areas need to be repaired from time to time, the concrete areas need to be cleared of moss, grass and loose stones etc. Have you noticed any areas you’d rather not land in again? Did you report it? Who does these jobs? Obviously it is a few who donate their flying time to ensure the airfield is in a fit state to allow us to fly.

The vehicles need to be serviceable – it is really inconvenient if you arrive to find that one of them is out of commission. What’s more they should be able to take the misuse and disrespect shown by members. Who looks after our (yes they are ours – not the Clubs!) vehicles? Obviously it is a few who donate their flying time to ensure that we have the necessary vehicles required to allow us to fly.

It is a real pain when the Skylaunch is out of commission – luckily we have good ol’ Doris ready to step in. It doesn’t happen often and we have to put up with poor launches because the few members who can drive Doris are rusty, and that nasty steel cable… So who keeps the winches up to scratch and repairs cables when they break? Obviously it is a few who donate their flying time to ensure that the winches are available to allow us to fly, and to repair the cable as required during the day.

The final straw is when you’ve turned up, spoken to the Duty Marshal (you missed the daily briefing), brought the K18 to the front of the line (well it wasn’t being used!) and there are no blue strops to be found! Who makes up new strops? Obviously it is a few who donate their flying time to ensure that there are enough strops of all colours available to allow us to fly.

What happens if the gliders are unserviceable? Obviously the answer is that one or more of our few aircraft inspectors donate their flying time to sort the problem.

You may see a potential issue here – it is the ‘few’ who are undertaking all of the tasks that allow the ‘many’ to fly. This is not sustainable! Occasionally, the needs of the few will outweigh the needs of the many. The few can never (and should never) be taken for granted, otherwise they will disappear from our lives forever. We all must ensure that we contribute in as many ways as we can to ensure that all Club members achieve our ‘mutual purpose’ – which is to fly!

On the subject of gliders, you may be interested to know that as part of the normal C of A process for Club aircraft, our inspectors spent almost 600 hours carrying out the inspections and rectifying issues found. At commercial rates this would have cost each of us the equivalent of over £200 in labour alone! Needless to say the actual cost to the Club was nowhere near this amount – simply because of the dedication of a few of our members, who not only actually carried out the C of A inspections, but also instigated the rectifications and the extensive EASA paperwork that was required this year. I have already personally thanked the few for their efforts – perhaps you would like to thank them personally too, as well as those who look after the airfield, vehicles …

Fly lots, have fun but be safe!




CFI’s Corner

As the season hopefully gets under way just a reminder of a few things I would like to highlight to all pilots, and more in a way of a reminder, because we have all heard it before but we just tend to forget in the heat of the moment.

I would like to echo the latest advice from the BGA concerning the use of the 129.90 radio frequency. It would appear that complaints have been made to the BGA about unnecessary and excessive chatter on this frequency. This frequency is used by local parachute clubs to aid with drop zone safety and our ground radios can easily be heard all over the Midlands, so when using 129.90 please use it in a professional manner and use it for the purposes it is intended for, that is control to winch etc , not control to K21 etc . On that note can I ask pilots not to call control or the winch on 129.90 but use the correct frequency of 129.975 and hopefully this frequency will be monitored on the ground. The operations group will be assessing the viability of moving all ground communication on 129.90 onto PMR (Public Mobile Radio) style radios.

If you are planning to take any of the club aircraft on a cross country where there is a risk of landing out, please make sure that there is a serviceable trailer for it. The best time to check the trailer’s serviceability is before you set off on your task, don’t leave it to your retrieve crew to discover that when they come to hitch up the trailer the tyres are flat and the spare wheel is missing and the lights don’t work properly, this will only lengthen the time of your retrieve. So when you come to ask the duty instructor to authorise your cross country, don’t be surprised if he refuses your request if you have given no consideration to the serviceability of the trailer.

I hope you all have a good season just remember fly safely and keep a GOOD LOOK OUT.




The Clubhouse

The clubhouse fund ran out of money at the beginning of May, with nothing really completed, and another £6-7k needed to finish the job. Rather than let the work stall, the committee decided to try to raise the money in the form of loans from members. There was some trepidation, because we would probably have to rely on members who had already contributed financially and physically.

Then, out of the blue, neither solicited nor otherwise coerced, a member offered the Club an interest-free loan of £12k to ensure the smooth continuation of the work on the clubhouse and workshop. The loan is anonymous, but there’s somebody somewhere wandering around with a hand bitten off.

The loan is for three years, which should give us plenty of time to raise the remaining funds.



The Workshop

Work has started on the workshop, which is sited alongside the main hangar next to the T-hangar. We hired a cutter and a digger and a bricklayer to build the foundations, and filled them with fourteen tonnes of concrete to take the footings for the frame of the building.

The building will be delivered towards the end of July. It’s a steel frame building with insulated steel cladding. All we gotta do is just build it, install the services, furnish it, fettle it, paint it, and polish it.



Sutton Bank

More out of stubborn determination than anything else, I set off for Yorkshire Gliding Club at7 am on the Friday with the pouring rain dribbling down my neck as I hooked up the LS8. A short distance from my house a van honked its horn at me. It was Jeff Gale on his way to work – he lives close by. We would meet again the following day at Sutton Bank.

The rain had eased a little by the time I had reached the toll road junction on the M42 and ahead of me was a break in the clouds with blue sky. In fact the blue sky was much further away than I supposed. The sun was over Nottingham . Travelling up the M1, the clouds closed in again and remained so all the way to Sutton Bank. But a least it did not rain.

Saturday was unflyable and the rest of the week looked doubtful due a forecast of easterly winds. Not good at YGC due to the closeness of the North Sea – 20 miles away.

Sunday: Morning dawned with sun and the rapid development of cumulus leading to over development. But, who cares, it was soarable in the NNE wind. Two local cross country flights were achieved to Pocklington GC and home, 86km. Star of the show was Barry Kerby who, always keen for public exposure, landed a K21 in a field close to Sutton under Whitestone Cliff. The cows in the adjacent field showed great interest in his unexpected arrival and numerous photographs were taken of the event which will, I am sure, surface in due course. The P2 was the ever patient (and diplomatic!) Paul McAuley.

Monday: I noticed that a single seat glider was ready to launch at 9:30 . The daily briefings are held promptly 9:30 at YGC at which it was announced that a YGC member had declared a 750 km flight, toCambridge , Talgarth and home. By the time the briefing was over, the glider had been launched. The clouds as far to the south as could be seen were over developing. Despite eight eighths cloud down south he turned both Cambridge and Talgarth and continued to Camp Hill before abandoning the task. At that point he fired up his turbo and returned to Sutton Bank in 33 minutes. He had achieved an astonishing 640km before abandoning the task and was in the air for over 10 hours. Just shows what can be done. The rest of us flew over the North York Moors, in good lift under the cloud streets towards Carlton Bank GC (40km there and back for those who got that far).

Tuesday: Mike Coffee flew to Garforth and back to YGC via Pocklington for a flight of 151km. The author flew down to Doncaster . Unfortunately, I discovered at York that Barry had deliberately hidden the pee bags behind the seat. He correctly calculated that I would have to return so that he could declare a flight to Pocklington and Northallerton; a distance of 125km. As far as I aware this was the only successful declared flight during the week by a SOAGC pilot. (Well done Baz.)

Wednesday: was disappointing with far too much cloud.

Thursday: The author managed to counterbalance his partner by landing the LS8 in a field to the south of Kilburn. Much to the amusement, I understand, of my dear friends, colleagues and associates who took the opportunity to watch the event front the edge of the hill with a score card in hand! The farmer (Cliff Banks) turned out to be a member of YGC who had been a member of the privately owned DG 500M bought in 1990. I enjoyed a very cordial reception – after, that is, he had pulled my leg by telling me that that removal of the glider would cost £220! Barry turned up in time to meet him and the following day, Cliff visited the site for a further chat with the pair of us.

Friday and Saturday were very sunny but the thermals were rather few and far between. Little flying was done on those days. Nonetheless, approximately 100 hours were achieved at an average of (approx) 1hr 40min per launch.

The feature of the week was YGC’s gliding simulator which proved very helpful for aero tow refresher flying before flying the real thing. The simulator, designed and built in house, used the nose section of a Puchacz, had 3 screens and three projectors and was very realistic. Four SOAGC pilots took advantage of field landing practice in the Falke with YGC’s CFI Richard Cole. They all said how much they had enjoyed the opportunity.

Without doubt, a good time was had by all and we were very lucky to have had such good flying with an easterly component in the cold wind throughout the week. I have already booked for next year.




From the Editor

25-Hour Power

In the previous edition of The Wire, our junior staff reporter referred to the project to provide 24-hour power to the clubhouse. That’s what was written in the worm processor, that’s what the proof-reading department approved, and that’s what appeared in the pdfile that was sent to the printers. It is not, however, what appeared on paper.

The printers looked at the CD on every machine they have, and every one showed “24-hour”. Then they printed the page on every printing system they have. Half of them printed “24-hour” and half printed “25-hour”. Nobody has an explanation. Technology, phooey!

If this article makes no sense, and refers exclusively to twenty-four or twenty-five hour power, it just means it’s happened again.

24-Hour Power

So how does this 24-hour power work? It’s based on some seriously chunky 12-volt battery capacity, delivering mains voltage to the clubhouse through an inverter. The batteries will be on permanent trickle charge from any source available: solar, wind, and possibly given the weather over the past couple of years, tidal. Finally, there’s the generator, which will start up automatically as a last resort.

There are the obvious advantages of a permanent power supply, such as the option of a security system and the convenience of light switches. It also means that the genny won’t be running for hours just to power a computer, so its life will be greatly extended as a result.



Club News


Until the start of this Club year, we were running a Junior Sponsorship Scheme and a Cadet Scheme. We’ve renamed these schemes, partly to reflect what we actually do, and partly because theBGA suggested that the military association with Cadet should be avoided.

The old Junior Sponsorship Scheme is now just called Junior Membership, and all juniors will be enrolled into it. It started life in the days of paper logging, and was implemented by paper vouchers which approximately halved the cost of flying. It is now more simply another option in Glidex, where launches and flying time will be cheaper.

The Cadet Scheme is now called Junior Sponsorship, but otherwise the details are identical. It is based on a membership fee which includes all flying fees.


We run courses throughout the summer, in designated weeks, and while these courses are aimed at bringing visitors into the Club, they are also open to members.

A course for a member costs £225 and lasts five days, Monday to Friday. This cost includes all the flying fees for the week, guaranteed launches and time in the air, and the attention of the resident instructor. He won’t give you his full time, because there may be another course member and some club flying to be done, but you can expect to command a third of his time during the week.

If you are pre-solo, the intensive flying involved will bring your abilities on dramatically, and if you are not a complete novice there is a possibility of reaching solo standard during the week. The problem with flying just one day a week is the six days in between, when your flying ability tends to take steps backwards. There’s no time for that to happen during a course week.

If you are post-solo and still on checks, a course will let you get many or all of the checks done, and any solo flying you do during the week is also included in the course fee.

All the details of this year’s courses are on the Courses page of the Club web site, with the obvious proviso that it’s aimed at visitors. If you’re interested, talk to an instructor about it and contact David Ireland to book a place.



Gliding in Africa

This year I spent January and February in South Africa , mainly in the west and south of the country. During early November containers with 5 or 6 gliders in each arrive from Europe to fly in the South African summer. I spent 3 or 4 days at each of the principal sites, Bloemfontein and Gariep Dam in S.A. and Bitterwasser in Namibia, each of these can be found on the Web but you are still left with many questions unanswered. Taking your glider to one of these sites is costly, requires quite a bit of planning and is not without its problems.

During the next few issues of the Wire I will try and give an on the spot account of these sites which should help in your decision making.

In this issue, I will comment onBloemfontein . Having arrived at Johannesburg Airport you can save yourself a lot of trouble by taking an internal flight to Bloemfontein and pick up your hire car there. Getting out of Johannesburg Airport and the city itself is quite a headache. At Bloemfontein Airport ask directions for Bains Lodge and the Kenilworth Road , you are only 2.5km from the gliding club entrance. Your container will possibly be loaded at Lee on Solent during September and arrive 6 weeks later via Port Elizabeth . The overall cost is about £2,000 which includes marine insurance. Your glider insurance company will most likely increase your premium about £150 for flying in South Africa . Since your glider will be picketed outside a set of covers would be advisable.

The airfield is large and the buildings and hangars indicate that in the past it was a very active gliding club but sadly it now has only 14 active members, so income from overseas visitors is important for their continued survival. There is a small camping area but most visitors live and eat off site.

These expeditions to Bloemfontein have been the responsibility of Dick Bradley for the last 6 years. He is a glider pilot himself who has lived in S.A. for many years. He is quite often assisted by Reb Rebbeck from London G.C. There are six 15 metre glass gliders for hire and launching is by aerotow only. A trailer is available for retrieves kitted out for an LS-7, otherwise retrieves are by aerotow, and landing out is not a problem. I put all obvious questions to Dick and Reb and was told that there were currently 3 gliders on the list for container space for the coming season, so you would be wise to book 2 seasons ahead.

All the basic facilities you could possibly require are available: oxygen refills, computer downloads for onboard Nav equipment etc. etc. The main gliding period is 15 th November to 28 th January.

Whilst I was there (10 th – 13 th January) the S.A. nationals were in progress. The start was wet, only on the last 3 days was it possible to fly short tasks in the order of 200km. It was interesting to see that competitors were of the older generation with their expensive toys towed by 4 wheeled drive vehicles. The weather this year had been very wet so there were no significant flights to report.

It would be wrong to say that airspace was a problem there but there are restrictions which can limit the departure of gliders on cross-country flights. I understand that controllers at Bloemfontein Airport are not the most co-operative.

In conclusion, I was not altogether switched on by Bloemfontein for a number of reasons. Let’s be honest, the principal reason we go to these type of venues is that we are looking for better weather and longer flights that can’t be achieved in the U.K. Bloemfontein city is close at hand but is nothing to shout about and a car is essential. Overall, there are no guarantees on weather conditions and I don’t think it’s necessarily good value for money, there are better places in Europe . Also, of course, you must not ignore the pending political situation.

Dave Benton



Gliding Terms,

Set by K13. All the answers are gliding terms or acronyms.

Clues across

1 Seeing a tall pine surprisingly keeps one on the level (9)

9 Trunk road motoring organisation warns: it’s very busy up here! (4)

10 Only one lira required for management in the banking world (7)

11 It changes direction of attack and causes panic (4)

13 Kites, oddly, show the pace of progress aloft (3)

15 Lift lid when it’s warmer on top (9)

16 Question Newton’s height when setting the level in Brighton (3)

18,19d Crushed fly experienced before take-off (6,3)

20 Cover up, oddly, a place you say you can see (3)

22 Let tub run dry when it’s all over the place (9)

24 Many fly from here; not, alas, His Majesty (6)

26 Pull the control line and get a real going-over (4)

27 Perform hell dances when going up and over (10)

31 Helpful information for the afternoons only (5)

33 Showing tiredness, without a number, going from side to side (6)

35 Act strangely where the skies are managed (3)

37 It senses when to tip up (5)

38 Feeling exciting urges, time to turn in (5)

Clues down

2 Report when a pair or ten get mixed up and too close (7)

3 Some space outside the bedroom is compulsory for fliers (7)

4,32 Striking cry when the last man goes for a quick get-away (3,3)

5 Left behind when everything taken but not wanted by fliers (4)

6 Pliers launch fliers. Crazy! (4)

7 It takes an irate mover to show life’s ups and downs (10)

8 Use a lever to cure an attitude problem (8)

11 A northerner without a number controls the swingers (3)

12 Alarming cry when one’s down it (3)

14 Her malts will perk you up (8)

17 Experience a gut-wrenching feeling when on the pull (3)

19 see 18 across

23 Lead in if you are way under, so to speak (7)

24 Where a hole eventually may appear from behind (3)

25 It’s so lonely by oneself (4)

28 What an appropriate place to plan flying moves (3)

29 Understand what it means to go with the flow (5)

30,36,21 What cosmetic surgeons do before moving off (4,2,5)

32 see 4 down

34 It gives, oddly, a feeling of breaking wind. Best avoided! (3)

35 Cater alternately for a bit of airspace management (3)

36 see 30 down

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