The Wire November 2008

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club

Issue 41, November 2008




From the Chairman

This article has been removed from the web version of The Wire by popular demand of a couple of people. The original is available on request.







AGM 2008

The 2008 AGM was held on 28th October in Snitterfield Village Hall. The main room of the Clubhouse is not quite ready yet to hold a meeting of this size. There were 48 members present, and 25 apologies.

The main speakers were the Chairman, Treasurer, and CFI. They all bemoaned the poor flying season, from their own perspectives. The picture is described in the Treasurer’s Report, below.

Tony Burrows lifted the gloom with a slide show that he’d made, a light-hearted view of the 2008 Task Week.



Treasurer’s Report

2007/2008 Season

Club flying was down 16% on the previous year, which was itself a poor year. Syndicate and cross-country flying was down, visitors were down, and new members were down as a result. Costs were down as well, except for £4000 spent on the EASA transition, and the accounts showed an overall £4233 loss on the year. This does not include the cost of the workshop, which is a capital expenditure project.

Review of the 2008 Season So Far

The summer has been very poor which has significantly affected our income again. For the first half of this year, overall income is down £9,000 compared to last year and of this, flying fees are down £4,600 and trial lesson income down by £3,400. Costs however are also down by £4,000, leaving us a net £5,000 worse off.

As a result of this and capital expenditure on the workshop, the balance of our cash reserves at the half-year was just under £38,000. We expect operational expenditure to exceed income in the second half by £13,000, based on last year. With £6,000 still to spend on the workshop project, this could leave us below £20,000 in reserve by next March.

The culprit has been the weather, with rain and high winds stopping us flying, and a waterlogged field in August that lost us five days’ of what is usually the best month.

What we need is a stonking 2009 summer with increased membership and trial lessons, but in any case, over the winter the Committee will be looking at marketing initiatives and potential cost reductions to redress the position.



CFI’s AGM Report


The Sutton Bank expedition resulted in some good flying – over 100 hours were flown by the 15 or so people attending with an average flight time of 1hour 40 minutes. Unfortunately, the winds all week were from the East and consequently there was no wave, but pilots were able to fly every day.

Sutton Bank had a gliding simulator which our visiting pilots were able to make use of.

The expedition to Camp Hill only attracted a small SoAGC contingent this year, and again the weather played a significant part in events. Once again it was poor and meant that pilots were not able to fly each day.

Task and Badge Week

Things did improve for Badge Week, and we were able to fly every day. We hired the Duo Discuss from the BGA for the week, and the aircraft flew 24 times compared with 18 the previous year. During the week, those taking part notched up: fifteen 100k’s, four 300k’s, one 100k/II diploma, eight landouts, and one 5 hour duration. In total we flew 208 hours for 6,266km (which is half the year’s total!).

New Instructors

The past year saw two new Basic Instructors, Nick Jaffray and Graham Macmillan, and one new Assistant Rated Instructor, Phil King.


There were no reportable accidents during the year.

Pilot Licensing

One thing of potential concern is the issue of EASA pilot licensing. These proposals are contained in a 768-page document that is currently being analysed by the BGA . The consultation document review has been put back to 15th December. Members are requested to monitor the BGA website for updates and advice and, when the time comes, respond appropriately. The BGA will issue guidance, as will the Club.

Ground and Air Radio Procedures

The radio procedures evenings scheduled for earlier this year did not go ahead, but will now take place in January. The aim, amongst other things, will be to encourage pilots to use the proper frequency (129.975) in a proper, professional manner. One day it may become a compulsory requirement.

Preparing for the Bronze C

Bronze C lectures will be held in Spring 2009. Details will be posted on the noticeboards and on the web site.



Club Trophies

Flying Committee Trophies

Best Flight in a Club Glider : Martin Palmer for his flying during task week in the K18.

Badge Ladder : Chris Burrows. Most Progress in the year: Chris Burrows who, in his cadet year, went solo, completed his bronze and cross country endorsement and attained two silver legs.

First 300k of the Year : The first (of not very many) was flown on the same day by Martyn Davies and Andy Balkwill. The trophy was awarded to Martin because he just beat Andy on points.

Club Ladder : 1st Martyn Davies, 5120; 2nd Phil Pickett 4286; 3rd Mike Coffee, 3792.

The Tom Smith Cup for X-C Achievement: Phil King for the longest cross country flight of the season at 430k.

Committee Trophies

Winch Trophy: Jonty Boddington, who has taken on much of the responsibility of Winchmaster during the year.

John Simonite Memorial Trophy, Contribution to the Running of the Club: Nick Jaffray, for his steadfast support of the Chairman whenever it is needed.

Fred Haines Shield, Long and Meritorious Service: Derek Phillips, who has received this award once before, in further recognition of the fact that he is a key member of the inspector group and because of his willingness to pass on his invaluable skill, expertise and knowledge to others.

The Chairman’s “Cup” (a memento and a bottle ): was awarded to a number of individuals whose contributions to the clubhouse project were exceptional: Dave Johnson, Barry Monslow, Pete Merritt, Chris Bingham, Neil Campbell, Bob Horsnell, Paul McAuley, Humphrey Yorke, David Ireland.



The Clubhouse

The Clubhouse is almost operational, and we will be able to move in once the kitchen is ready, which is expected to be within a couple of weeks. Thus far, we have raised £27,817.62 and spent over £35900. Equipment donated would have cost us between £3,000 and £4,000.

There are still some major items of construction required, such as a pitched roof, and we expect to spend another £15,000. However, given the Club’s financial state, it is not a certainty.



The Workshop

The main structure of the workshop is complete, and work has started on fitting it out. It’s reached this stage in record time, thanks to the ministrations of Barry Kerby and Dave Benton.

Once it has been commissioned, it will become a controlled area. Only Club inspectors will have the authority to enter, and others may only enter with their permission and presence. This is to ensure that the inspectors can work according to the strict EASA rules.

The workshop has cost upwards of £20k, money that we could ill afford. However, without it, our inspectors could not work on Club aircraft, so even the smallest repair would send the aircraft off site. The workshop is the only way that the Club can run a manageable operation.

Syndicate aircraft can use the workshop, under control of an inspector, but Club aircraft will have priority. We expect that there will be a charge for this, probably £5 or £10 a day, but no decision has yet been taken on the detail.



Club News at the AGM

Coventry Airport

Coventry airport’s planning appeal has recently been rejected and TUI have announced that they will be leaving the airport this winter. It seems that the airspace consultation issues we have engaged in over recent years will no longer impact us.


Sharon Kerby has taken on the role of the Club’s Marketing Officer, with the priority being to develop a proper marketing strategy for the Club. The goals are to raise awareness of the Club, attract visitors, and attract and retain new members. These will be achieved by targeted advertising, a PR offensive, and a revamped web site.

Visitor Flying

When you answer the phone about a trial lesson, please be sure that the duty BI that we can accommodate the visitor. Decisions about BI flying are made at the morning briefing, and there is a visitor flying list by the phone – check it, fill it in, and tell the BI. Please don’t commit the club to something that we cannot honour.

State of the Airfield

The airfield is in a poor state, in part due to the dreadful weather in August. We need to start repairing and rolling as soon as possible, and we need volunteers to help with this. We also need to find a way to mark damaged areas without the markers becoming an obstacle to operations.



The Committee

The Club Rules require a third of the Committee to stand down each year. This year, Hayden Wells resigned from the committee and from the club, and John Dickinson, David Ireland, and Richard Maks are standing down and seeking re-election. There were no other nominations, so the committee is unchanged:


Chairman John Dickinson
Secretary, Aircraft Andy Balkwill
Treasurer Chris Wooller
Vice Chairman Nick Jaffray
CFI Steve Brown
Membership Secretary Richard Maksymowicz
Vouchers and Courses David Ireland
Site Chris Bingham
Publications Geoff Butler
Bursar Liz Pickett
Vehicles Steve Pearce
Ian Kennedy



Comments from the Floor

These comments were made during the meeting, and in the open forum at the end.

Minutes by Email

This was the first time that the minutes and accounts had been sent to the membership electronically and there may have been one or two teething problems. There were reports of PDF documents that had not been received.

Winter Flying Rates

It was suggested that, in view of the current financial situation, the winter flying rates should be suspended. The rates are £7 per launch, with flying time free, and represent a cost to the Club of about £500.

The Committee has since discussed this. The winter flying rates were approved by the members at the Spring Meeting, so the Committee is not at liberty to overturn that decision, and the rates must stand. The Spring Meeting is constituted as an EGM, so decisions made there are binding.

Spring Meeting Minutes

In the past, we’ve minuted the AGM but not the Spring Meeting. However, the decision on flying fees is currently made at the Spring Meeting, and it should be formally documented. The committee will review the procedures.



To The Editor

[These two letters are representative of the emails I’ve since received on the subject – Ed]

These two letters have been removed from the web version of The Wire by popular demand of a couple of people. The original is available on request.








Glider Fault Rectification

You will appreciate that we have now passed the magic threshold of 28th September 2008 and that we find ourselves in a ‘regulated environment’ for glider maintenance for the first time since 1947. The only exceptions to this will be the Annex 2 gliders of which we have two types on site: the T21 and the Skylark 4. Apart from these, all gliders will need EASA C of A Certificates and will need to be approached differently when rectification or servicing work is undertaken.

All our privileges – pilots, inspectors and the BGA itself – are reduced due to the influence of EASA. In practice therefore, there will be a limitation on what we all can do when working on gliders including inspectors and the BGA, who will no longer be allowed to modify gliders as has been the case since 1947.

So where do we go from here?

First of all, it is worth stating that the inspectors will be only too keen to help you and to authorise you to proceed if at all possible. After all, it has been known for inspectors to enjoy some flying, occasionally!

Otherwise, if an inspector is not available, be assured that one will assist with the problem as soon as possible. But, until they can do so, you must declare the glider ‘unserviceable’ if the work is outside your privileges. There may be, therefore, what you might well regard as anunnecessary delay, before the glider can fly again. (I am sure my colleague inspectors would privately agree with you – but of course, you will not be able to remember where you read this..!)

The inspectors will appreciate your assistance (indeed, that is often essential) and we will also be willing to discuss with you your thoughts where servicing is concerned. If you are interested in technical matters, then of course, there will be a meeting of minds when you speak to us. However, I am sure that you will understand that the inspectors will have to make the final decisions.

Please be assured that we will do our best to minimise ‘down time’ as we are as keen as you are to see gliders flying.

The following should be helpful to you. I understand that the BGA is addressing these matters in its discussions with the CAA with a view to achieving a more enlightened approach.

Members privileges : Rigging gliders; Inflating tyres; Lubricating hinges (antifreeze oil and grease required); Cleaning& polishing; Removal of seats; Removal of batteries; Removal of non permanent instruments (iPacks, GPS units).

Not permitted unless authorised : Disconnection of bearings, controls, pushrods& cables etc; Repairs; Removal of instrument panels.

Barry, Derek, Martyn, Phil.



One Year On

Having just passed the first anniversary of my membership, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the club for the very generous cadet scheme that has enabled me to progress so far so quickly. When I started I never really thought that I would be able to achieve so much in such a short time. I never thought I would be able to win two trophies at the AGM.

A very big thank you to everyone who has helped me, including the instructors and the ground crews. Also to those who have helped me to learn new skills such as painting, trench digging, concrete laying and aircraft numbering!

Thank you all very much,

Chris Burrows



Christmas Do

The annual Christmas Do will again be at the Stratford Oaks Golf Club on Friday December 5th. If you want to come and haven’t booked, contact John ( ) soon.

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