|The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club||
Issue 48, November 2010
From the Chairman
This winter period will be very busy from a planning perspective – it always is! But this year I feel strongly that we need to make substantial changes to the way we market ourselves. The issue is the same – how do we get the message out there that we exist, and that we offer an affordable and environmentally friendly way to learn to fly?
We need to access all means possible to publicise ourselves without breaking the bank, and if that means giving a little away in the form of Trial Lesson Vouchers or Courses then I believe we should, though it will inevitably involve direct cost in the form of carefully targeted advertising.
At the Chairmen’s Conference held on Saturday 20th November, the BGA stated that they will be active in the PR arena to raise the profile of gliding in the UK, and whilst I hope we will benefit directly from their efforts we cannot just sit back and wait for it to happen.
In the coming weeks I will be forming a small marketing sub-committee whose remit will be to raise our profile specifically with the aim of attracting more members, but also looking to maximise opportunities in the visitor and corporate arena.
We do need to look at our membership offerings and perhaps consider ‘all-inclusive packages’, ‘fixed price to solo’ and ‘PPL to GPL packages’ for example. We have had several enquiries in past few weeks asking what we can offer in this area. There are people out there who want to learn to fly, but need the comfort of knowing exactly what the cost will be over a given period. If we cannot offer them a package, another club will!
After many years of substantial capital investment in non-flying aspects of our Club, it is time to concentrate on laying foundations that will allow us to invest in the flying side of our operation. After all, we are a ‘flying club’ aren’t we??
Have fun, fly lots, be safe
The 2010 AGM was held on Thursday 21st October in the Clubhouse. There were 46 members present, and 21 apologies for absence. The main speakers were the Chairman, the Treasurer, and the CFI. The main proceedings of the meeting are summarised here.
The 2009/2010 Season
The accounts show a surplus of £13.6k compared with a loss of £4.2k the previous year. Total income was up to £111.7k from £86.3k, due to increases in Club flying (£14.2k) and visitor flying (£3.7k) and the Peugeot event (£9.7k), offset by an increase in operating costs which were mainly down to two ARCs from the previous year appearing in these accounts.
The 2010 Season So Far
The finances for the current year look bleak. Member flying is already down £6.3k, and visitor flying is down £5.7k. We’ve never had such a bad year for Trial Lesson Evenings. The outlook is that we will make a £4k loss.
Winter Flying Rates
Winter flying rates, which were dropped in 2009 at the behest of the AGM, will continue to be unavailable.
Andy Balkwill is standing down as Secretary of the Company and of the Club, after seven years in the job. His place is taken by Rickard Maksymowicz, who will also carry on as Membership Secretary. Andy will continue to work on the committee.
Election of Committee Members
This is always on the agenda, and almost always is a report by the Secretary of “elected unopposed”. However, for the first time in the last 25 years, and only the second time in the history of the Club, this was not the case this year.
The committee can set its own size, within the broad range of four to twenty required by the Club Rules. The size is currently set at fourteen, based on the actual size of a workable committee of some twenty years ago, which we have seen no reason to change. The size is included in the announcement of the AGM, before any nominations are requested or received, and so is fixed in advance of the meeting.
The Club Rules state that, each year, a third of the committee must stand down in rotation, and may seek re-election. This is intended to be the way in which the Club membership keeps the committee under control. However, that doesn’t work if there are vacancies, and committee members could until now rely on being re-elected.
The committee has had less than a dozen members for several years now, and no new members at all for the last three or four. Committees like this get set in their ways, and run out of new ideas, neither of which is good. That’s what prompted the appeal, on several fronts, for new committee members. We didn’t expect such a big response, though.
Four members of the committee stood down and stood up again, and six others were nominated. The result was that there were ten candidates for seven vacancies, and that we needed to hold an election. This caused a certain amount of consternation on the committee, because we found this out less than two weeks before the AGM (inevitably, really, since the nomination forms only go out three weeks before), and we had no experience of running an election.
We came up with the mechanics of the election, which will be the Club policy on elections in the future, based on some fundamental principles:
- The election must be properly conducted, and seen to be so, because it is electing the Directors of the Company.
- The ballot must be secret
- The election must conform to the Club Rules, and the Articles and Memorandum of Association, which are the legal basis of the Club as a Company.
- It must be simple enough to run without confusion, and to produce a result on the night, within minutes of the ballot.
We decided to do it formally because it’s a complex vote, and we needed to find out how such an election would work.
On the night, the election was run by two committee members, Geoff Butler and Ian Kennedy, and the members were invited to supply an independent observer, for which Humphrey Yorke volunteered. We used the briefing room, with a queue to get in and six places to stand and vote. As it turned out, with forty or so members voting, we got the result back to the Chairman within twenty minutes of the start of the ballot.
The four committee members who stood down were re-elected, so we must be doing something right. The new committee members are Jonty Boddington, Adrian Flower, and Dave Martin. The committee is now:
|Vice Chairman||Nick Jaffray|
|Vouchers and Courses||Ian Kennedy|
MG Planning Permission
We have applied to “change our planning consent to allow Touring Motor Gliders ( TMG ), Self Launching Motor Gliders (SLMG) and Self Sustaining Motor Gliders (SSMG) to be operated from Snitterfield Airfield with proposed operational restrictions”. Our application has been delayed several times by Stratford District Council, through no fault of our own, and is now expected to be heard in late November or early December.
If we are granted the permission, we will have some strict operational procedures which control the use of Motor Gliders, with the intent of giving our neighbours nothing to complain about.
- Only SoAGC members will be allowed to fly MGs, except by prior agreement. The CFI has authority over members but to a much lesser extent over visitors from other clubs.
- There are strict climb-out routes for MGs which avoid flying over the neighbouring villages.
- SLMGs and SSMGs will launch on the winch and will not be allowed to light up within 2nm of the centre of the airfield.
- There are engine-free zones over Bearley and Snitterfield.
- All flights must be logged and all MGs must carry a logger.
Infringement of these rules will result, in order, in
- Loss of flying privileges
- Dismissal from the Club
CFI’s AGM Report
Steve Pearce and Phil Pain completed their BI ratings in August. There were four pilots from various clubs on the course, and Steve and Phil were the only two to pass.
The Club has had no reportable accidents during the 2009/2010 season, nor in the first half of the current season.
We need more OOs. To qualify, you need one of the following:
- Hold an Instructing rating
- Be a Silver C pilot
- Have been involved in gliding over the last 3 years.
You also need the CFI and Chairman’s recommendation, and you need to read and understand the FAI sporting code.
If you think you might be interested in becoming an OO, even if you are a bit unsure what’s involved, please contact myself or Barry Kerby.
The Bronze C lectures will be run in early 2010 if there is sufficient demand.
Summer 2009 Flying Stats
|Club glider launches||4130||4016||3499||4030|
|Syndicate glider launches||817||876||702||870|
|XC kilometres flown||7803||18305||12549||29119|
|XC pilots on ladder||15||20||20||21|
|Ladder winning score||5234||7923||5120||9151|
|Visitor flights, including courses||511||949||588||871|
These figures speak for themselves. Almost everything is down from last year. The only increase over last year is probably due to the optimistic opinion, in the face of undeniable evidence to the contrary, that there must be some lift somewhere.
By the end of May 2010, all the indicators (launches, flight time, income) were telling me that we were on track for our best ever year. June soon put paid to that, followed by a dismal July and August. These are our peak months – in August we normally expect to carry out over 900 launches, but this year we never achieved more than 600 launches in any month.
The total kilometres we flew on cross country tasks was the lowest since records began (or at least since 2001).
It was evident in June that bookings for Courses and Trial Lesson Evenings were less than we would expect to have, and despite our best efforts the situation did not improve.
The total Course and Trial Lesson Income for this year is down 52% compared with last year, but it is not all gloom – there are some good things in the pipeline
October saw the first of hopefully many ‘Apprentice Scheme’ events. The apprentices are from Peugeot, Citroen, Jaguar, and Land Rover, and we have the opportunity because they undertake residential training in Leamington Spa organised by a company called Calex UK.
The scheme involves an hour or so in the classroom, followed by the option to fly for those that wish to do so. The key learning points from their perspective are: safety, and teamwork.
As part of their training they are encouraged to try out non-work related pastimes such as powerboat racing, sailing, rally car driving and gliding, with the intention of broadening their horizons and hopefully getting key messages across that they can take back to their workplace.
The scheme is government funded. We have 5 more pencilled in this year, with more in the new year. The hope is that this will add around £5,000 to our income for this financial year.
Flying Committee Trophies
Best Flight in a Club Glider: Daniel Brown, for three Silver legs in one flight in the Junior.
Badge Ladder: Shared by Daniel Brown and Dave Martin, with identical badges. Most Progress in the year: Dave Martin and Daniel Brown, both ab initio to Silver in a year.
First 300k of the Year: Phil Pickett, in May.
Club Ladder: 1st Mike Coffee, 5234; 2nd Phil Pickett 3854; 3rd Barry Kerby, 2547.
The Derek Phillips Trophy for Club Ladder flights in a wooden aircraft: Tony Murphy.
The Tom Smith Cup for X-C Achievement, and the Andy Coffee Award for Flying Achievement were not awarded.
The Seaside Trophy: Jonty Boddington, for a failed 300k attempt that ended up beyond Peterborough, 20k from The Wash.
Winch Trophy: Tony Murphy.
John Simonite Memorial Trophy, Contribution to the Running of the Club: Allan Wright for being Doughnut Day Duty Instructor.
Fred Haines Shield, Long and Meritorious Service: Jo O’Brien, for organising TLEs since time immoral.
The Chairman’s Trophy: Andy Sutton for bringing Peugeot and the Apprentice Scheme to the Club.
Member of the Year, voted for by the Club membership: Dave Martin.
It’s Winter Again
Well, we’re well and truly in to the cold winter season and of course we have to think of all the things we need to keep ourselves warm and safe while flying during this cold and damp time of the year, so we wrap up in warm woollies, hats, windproof jackets and good waterproof boots.
So that’s you sorted out, but what about the gliders. We just drag them out of the hangar, DI them and go off and fly. One of the things I find we have problems with at this time of year are the canopies. We all know that when we have cold mornings and there is a lot of moisture in the air the canopies are difficult to clear, and as the morning goes on and the temperature increases the problem goes away, only to return at the tail end of the day but with an added and potentially very hazardous problem.
At this time of the year when the sun is low and the canopies are dirty and just starting to mist a little, it can make forward visibility very difficult and you just wouldn’t spot that single aircraft that is flying directly towards you or another glider that is in circuit. I know of one midair collision between two gliders where the low sun was a contributing factor to the accident. So can we make sure that when aircraft are DI’d the canopies are cleaned if necessary. We should do this as a matter of course but it tends to get overlooked, and I think if people can see through them they think that’s OK. Well, it’s not, so please look at them carefully.
While on the subject of canopies, if you are waiting for a launch and the canopy will not clear, please abandon the flight and put the glider away. Don’t think to yourself it will clear at 500ft, because the problem is that when you have a launch failure at 20ft and plough the glider into the ground you won’t get much sympathy from me. It’s me who will have to file an accident report and explain why this pilot attempted to take off with a misted canopy, so please think before you do it.
And after a good day’s flying, let’s not forget to clean the kit and that actually includes the Land Rovers and the winch and buggies. Please don’t leave things dirty for the next day’s crew to sort out. Remember, mud in wheel boxes can freeze at this time of year making things very difficult to sort out. If batteries need to be charged take them out and put them on charge.
A final point on cleaning down the gliders: if you are using the hose pipe, please try not to get water into the glider through any openings in the fuselage. This is especially true with the K13, K18 and K8, water can sit in the bottom of the fuselage and can cause corrosion problems with the steel tubular frame work, especially at the rear of the fuselage. So think before you get enthusiastic with the hose pipe.
So finally, just to remind you, it’s your kit and this includes the gliders, please treat them as if they were your own, sorry I forgot they are, as a full flying member of the club you own a share in everything so lets look after it.
The project to put a proper pitched roof on the clubhouse has been delayed a bit. We had hoped to get it done before this winter, but there were concerns about the ability of the building to take the weight, which persuaded us to engage a qualified structural engineer to design it for us. It would have been a disastrous mistake to make.
That’s now been done, and we are currently sourcing the bits to build it from. We’ll probably wait until the gales, rain, and snow have subsided before we set about building it, though.
Once we start, we’ll need all the volunteers we can get to help put it all together.
Thursday instructors are a bit thin on the ground at the moment, and there are a couple of Thursdays over the winter period when we do not yet have instructor cover organised.
The CFI is doing his best to sort it out, but the instructors are of course volunteers and there just may be nobody available.
The Club will be closed over Christmas on the 25th and 26th December, which are a Saturday and Sunday, and we’ll be open on the 1st and 2nd of January. We’re hoping to open on the Bank Holiday days, 27th 28th and 3rd, subject to instructor cover.
Thieves and Vandals
On the night of Tuesday 2nd November we had ‘visitors’ who managed to get the buggies out of the container and caused considerable damage to one of them. Both buggies were found the next morning in the woods adjacent to the airfield, and in addition they broke in to one of the old toilet units and stole some cable.
Some caravans were also damaged, and the keys from the buggies have gone missing. These keys also had a key to the LPG tank padlock, which has already been replaced.
We believe that the doors of the container where we keep the buggy were closed, but not locked – though we cannot be 100% sure that the ‘visitors’ do not have a padlock key. In addition to the above, the clubhouse patio door was left open on the same night. We are extremely fortunate that our visitors did not try the door – who knows what damage they would have done! As it is, this visitation will cost our Club around £600.
As we cannot be totally sure the ‘visitors’ do not have a padlock key we will be replacing them all very soon. If you already have a padlock key then you will need to obtain a new one – any committee member will be able to help you with this. These padlock keys are not restricted to a select few – any member can have one.
WE CANNOT ALLOW THE SITUATION WHERE A CONTAINER OR A CLUBHOUSE DOOR IS LEFT UNLOCKED EVER AGAIN – WE MUST ALWAYS ENSURE THAT EVERYTHING IS LOCKED BEFORE WE LEAVE THE SITE UNATTENDED.
Here are some golden rules that everyone should adhere to:
- NEVER leave keys in any vehicle after putting it away. Had they been removed from the buggies they would not have got very far with them, and we would not be faced with the repair bill and the inconvenience, not to mention the considerable voluntary manpower of those who are repairing them!
- NEVER close any door locked by a padlock unless you can lock it. It can be especially difficult to see if the container doors are locked when closed, especially now it is often dusk when they are checked.
- ALWAYS follow the ‘Clubhouse Locking Procedure’ when locking the clubhouse. It is simple, common sense and only takes a minute. It is displayed, as it always has been, on the main Clubhouse door
- ACCEPT the responsibility for ensuring that this doesn’t happen again. It is not difficult, and we cannot always rely on the usual few to carry out these duties – it is possible that none of them are at the airfield at the end of the day.
We must ensure that we always leave the site as secure as possible.
Winch Matters 22 was issued because we have had another cable pickup, on Saturday 16th October. It was primarily issued to the winch driving community, but it contains a number of issues that were overlooked at the launch point as well, so it is reprinted here.
The wind was from the North, and the launch point had been set up on the South East corner, with the winch on theNorth West corner.
Because the towout flag had not been placed, the towout was aimed to a point guessed to be the appropriate distance upwind of a visible glider. This turned out to be on the south pitch, so the towout was effectively aimed at the launch point trailer.
The North cable was dragged further to the North, and then a second glider was put on line on the North pitch, and the South cable used to launch it. Almost inevitably the cables crossed, and from what was seen at the launch point, the shackle or nylon disc on the active (South cable) picked up the North cable, lifting it and inflating the parachute.
Every cable pickup since we started using Dyneema has been down to ignoring Club Recommended Procedure, and the relevant Winch Matters. Cable pickups are totally avoidable.
Follow the points below
- The towout flag will be required before first towout.
- Use a marker cone 75 paces or so in front of the winch, dead in line with the towout flag.
- Get the towout driver to straddle the cone with the Land Rover wheels while pointing at the flag.
- Straight towout is vital.
- If the winch driver is not definitely sure that the towout was good (no bow, and in line with the launch point flag) then they must draw in slowly the least damaging cable before launching with the remaining cable.
- Inactive cables never need to be dragged out of the way to clear them from the proposed active cable. If it seems necessary, you are doing something wrong. Stop and fix it, keeping the winch driver informed.
- If there is doubt about which cable is safe to use, consult the winch driver before deciding.
On Saturday 6th November we held our 3rd Annual Bonfire Night, which was attended by over 150 people. All the organisation was done by Chris Bingham, with the assistance of his usual band of helpers: Pete Merritt and Sally (a typically splendid barbecue), Daniel Brown (explosives), and Phil Pain (arson).
This year’s guy broke tradition by not being an image of a Club member. To the general approval of everyone involved, it was an accurate representation of that dreadful man from the GoCompare adverts.
Everybody commented that it was a great evening with a terrific firework display. All in all, the event raised over £650 for the Clubhouse fund.
Chris Bingham and Pete Merritt are plotting a Christmas Do on Saturday 11th December, in the village hall.
They need to know numbers in advance so they can plan the details of the evening. Please sign the sheet in the Clubhouse, next to the kitchen hatch.
We are regularly asked why we bother to put The Wire in envelopes. We could leave a pile in the clubhouse or deliver it electronically.
One common complaint is that Nobody Told Me That. So, we address copies of The Wire personally to every Club member so that we can reply Oh Yes We Did. Members are much more likely to read it when we do it this way, especially members who don’t visit the Club very often.
Also, it’s the prime source of second-hand envelopes.