The Wire May 2012

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club

Issue 53, May 2012



From The Chairman

The Flying Season

March and early April saw some of the best flying we’ve ever done in that period since records began.

Then, towards the end of March I received an e-mail from the BGA reminding Clubs about the impact of drought conditions on our sport, in particular the hosepipe ban in force in much of the South and East of the country.

And then the heavens opened!

Our summer operation started on 30th April, and speaking with Phil, he can’t ever remember such a wet and miserable start to our seven-day ops. Hopefully, by the time you read this, there will have been some significant improvement. Just in case you didn’t know, we are now open seven days each week through to early September, so come and ‘fill your boots’.

Trial Lesson Evenings

Summer ops bring with them our Trial Lesson Evenings. This year we do not have enough volunteers to crew evenings with enough regularity to ensure that we can progress with hosting members of the public over three consecutive nights each week. Given this, we have decided that we will try and channel TLE enquiries towards Tuesdays and Thursdays and only exceptionally towards a Wednesday.

I appreciate that for many of us it can be difficult to commit to being available on a given evening each week, or every other week throughout summer, and that may be why our volunteer list is a little sparse. Thank you to those of you who have committed to being available regularly.

To ensure that we have sufficient crew for upcoming evenings, I intend to e-mail the week prior to the week of the TLE, confirming those who I believe I have as crew and asking for ‘one-off’ attendance to make up numbers. It would be good if we could get about ten people on each evening – although if there are more of us that would be great.

In addition, with each of my e-mails (see last paragraph) I’ll try to give an idea of confirmed bookings we have for several weeks in advance.

Trial Lesson Evenings are an important source of income for the Club. Without this income we would have great difficulty in managing our operation with prices as they currently stand, so the more of us that can support these evening the better.

Balancing Act

Running an organisation like ours is something of a balancing act between, on the one hand, satisfying the requirements of a flying club and the interests of its members, and on the other hand, satisfying the requirements of managing a commercial business enterprise.

There isn’t one ideal model that we can take off the shelf, and so we find ourselves on an ever shifting continuum, placing ourselves at neither extreme. At times I do find myself torn between what my heart wants to do and just soar with the buzzards over Stratford, and what my head is telling me because of my decades of accounting training and experience.

So, to sum things up, I need to be aware of, and ensure compliance with : BGA Laws&Rules, Operational Procedures, Corporate Governance, Business Plans, Funding, Companies Acts, Profit and Loss Accounts, Balance Sheets, and so on and on and on (and on). I’ll leave the flying bits to the CFI ! Hopefully, we don’t get the balance too wrong most of the time.

Trial lesson flights, both evening ones and those at any other time, are a way to balance the aforementioned. As a start, they bring in much needed income, they can be the source of new members, and they keep instructors current. Over the coming months we will be having the odd ‘TLE’ during the day and even on a Saturday. I’ll try and give enough due notice to minimise the impact on our normal operation, and of course I’ll also be looking for volunteers to crew the events so that we minimise the effect on normal club flying..

Also, over the coming months, we’re hoping that we’ll be once again entertaining Peugeot/Citroen Apprentices during weekday operations, where they’ll initially be doing some classroom work and then some of them will be flying with us. Again, it’s part of our attempt to tap into a source of commercial income. In addition, I’m exploring how I might be able to use corporate networks to also take something like this forward. I’ll take this opportunity to thank you all in advance for when I e-mail out looking for volunteer crews to support any such eventàà.

And Finally

Before I finish, there’s just a couple of reminders. The first is about the importance of flight logging. We have to keep a record of each flight flown from our airfield ( BGA Laws&Rules 1.9). Also, it’s the way we charge for flying, so has a financial impact on each of us as well. Logging is a responsible and important job and needs to be done properly, and to be honest it shouldn’t be too difficult. There have been occasions in the past months where individuals who weren’t even on site subsequently found themselves logged as flying. Please be careful when logging and please check your own flight logs at the end of the day. If there’s anything you’re unsure of please ask – there should be enough competent folk around to help out.

Finally, and also on the subject of records, are membership details. For us to be able to run the Club efficiently and effectively, it’s important that we have correct information about each member on file. In this case, ‘on file’ means in Glidex. Next time you’re at the Club please take a moment to log into your personal member area and check that we have your up to date address, email address, phone numbers, and so on, and most importantly details of your next of kin. If you’ve not logged into this area before all you need is your membership number, and your password initially defaults to your postcode. This is important, so please help us with this. Incidentally, your personal member area will also show you details of all the flying you’ve done, details of payments and any other activity recorded on Glidex – have a look.

Did I mention the Olympics……..?

Thank you and happy flying.


The Spring Meeting

The Spring Meeting was held in the Clubhouse on Thursday 22nd March. There were 41 full flying members present, and 21 apologies for absence.

Change of Hats

With Richard Maks’ election as Chairman after the 2011 AGM, the post of Club Secretary became vacant. The Club Secretary is an officer of the club, and is also the Company Secretary, with responsibility for the formalities of Stratford on Avon Gliding Club Ltd.

There were no volunteers to take on the job, so it has been split, with John Dickinson taking the formal role of Club Secretary, and Geoff Butler taking the part of the job which is now described as Meeting Secretary.

Requests for EGMs, Votes of No Confidence, and so on should be directed to John.

Fees for 2012

We are heavily influenced by the current state of the economy. We control our expenses well, but our income is subject to the whim of the members. We are in competition with nearby gliding clubs and other sports.

The provisional figures for the year that has just ended are reassuring, and our reserves have recovered from some significant expenditure on the Clubhouse roof and mains electricity. For these reasons, the committee is proposing that membership fees, launch charges, and flying packages remain unchanged for the coming year.

For flying fees, the committee is proposing the K8 be reduced to 20ppm, the K21 increased to 30ppm including junior members, and that other fees remain unchanged, reflecting the realities of the costs of running the aircraft.


Chairman’s AGM Report

Site Planning Permission

According to Stratford District Council, we have no valid planning permission for any building on the site, although we are challenging this. In many cases, it is due to the exact position of the building or the exact shape of the roof, and in one case, it’s because a building is too small.

Almost all the buildings have been in place for more than the necessary four years, so an LDC, Lawful Development Certificate, is a formality but an expensive one. SDC insist that we need LDCs but our planning consultant insists that we do not.

Motor Glider Planning Permission

The Section 106, governing our planning permission for motor gliders, was finally signed in February 2012. It gives us permission to launch TMGs, up to 15 per day between 09:00 and 20:00, subject to strict operational procedures. It also gives us permission to launch SSMGs and SLMGs on the winch. Everything we launch must be fitted with a GPS and logger. We still have some details to finalise for compliance with the permission. We are now developing a commercial business plan for the funding and operation of a TMG.

Club Web Site

The primary purpose of any company web site is to present the company to the public, and ours is no different. Its main aim is to attract visitors to the site and to the Club, and communication with the membership is secondary. Our site appears to be in the top 25% of gliding club sites.

However, technology has moved on, and the platform through which the information is conveyed is no longer up to date. Dave Martin is building a new site, based on the content of the current site, which will be available soon. It will provide our members with interactive access.

Twenty Five Years

This September marks the 25th anniversary of our first launch at Snitterfield, and we will be celebrating it in a way which will be announced once we know all the details.

Seven-Day Operations

Seven-day operation starts on Monday 30th April, and continues until a provisional date of 7th September, unless the weather justifies and extra two weeks. We will be open for the weeks of the Sutton Bank and Camp Hill expeditions.

Members Day will be on the 7th May, which is a Bank Holiday. The Trial Lesson Evening season starts on Tuesday 8th May and we need support for the evenings.

Club Flying week runs from Monday 6th August to Friday 10th August, and will be very informal.


CFI’s AGM Report


The BGA ‘s Safety Report of the year October 2010 to September 2011 showed no fatal glider accidents, and no Trial Lesson accidents. However, there were several incidents that could have been fatal.

There has been an increasing number of glider integrity incidents: 18 in 2011, compared to 16 in 2010 and an average of 8. This covers any incident where a glider is not properly prepared for flight. There are increases in rigging incidents (6 compared to 1), and loose objects left in the cockpit. Since October 2011 we have already had 5 canopies opening in flight. Diligence during the DI and pre-flight checks is crucial, and our on-line positive checks are a big part of this.

Field landing accidents are about average, but winch launch accidents are down. In 2011, there were no injuries resulting from winch launches (the first since 1974). There was one heavy landing, one wing drop, and six cable encounters. The BGA ‘s Safe Winch Launching initiative has played its part.


EASA Pilot Licensing becomes law in April 2012 and the transition must be complete by April 2015. The CFI and Deputy CFI will be the first to convert to the rank of Flight Examiner, but there is still insufficient information from the BGA to achieve this.

Motor Gliders

We need comprehensive briefing notes for visiting TMG pilots, who will only be accepted with prior permission. These notes need to be confirmed, so we will be performing some TMG trials in the next month or so. Two instructors have lapsed MG Instructor ratings and can refresh them, and four other instructors are in a position to get such ratings.

Olympic Airspace

Olympic Airspace lasts from 14th July to 14th August, and Paralympic Airspace from 15th August to 12th September, and is marked on the current air maps. It doesn’t affect us directly but cross-country pilots need to keep clear. Any infringement will be prosecuted, and there have been threats that a club will be closed down if any of its members infringe.

The presence of the Olympic Airspace will inevitably make all other airspace busier.



Club News

Club Ladder

The Club ladder is pretty sparse at the moment. However, when the recent dreadful weather turned into something more pleasant, Andy Balkwill and Mike Coffee flew high-scoring 360ks, with Andy getting home first to claim the First 300k Cup.

Clubhouse Security

Please, please, be very careful when you lock up the Clubhouse at the end of the day. It’s not just the risk of intruders, but if a false alarm is are triggered, Dave ends up driving out to the Club in the small hours of the morning to check what’s going on.


Winch Matters

Launch Procedures

The trial of the change to the launch procedure is now complete. The conclusion is that the dependence on radio is not ideal, and that in practice it doesn’t work well. The change has therefore been suspended until further notice, and we will revert to the method of waiting for a suitable period after the parachute has dropped out of sight.

The Wire February 2012

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club

Issue 52, February 2012




From The Chairman

How many glider pilots does it take to …………?

I did think about opening up a competition to the membership, with answers on a postcard to be put in my pigeonhole in time for the Spring Meeting, where I could announce a suitable winner with a suitable prize.

However, the more I thought about it, the more I realised that there are far too many variables to consider, and if I wasn’t careful it would consume all my waking hours and leave me no time to indulge myself in any flying!

It’s not that I’ve just realised since becoming Chairman last autumn what a complex organism a Gliding Club, or any Club for that matter, actually is. After all, I have been involved in Club management for a good number of years. but I suppose that as Chairman I’ve become more acutely aware of the ‘bigger picture’ and how each and every one us is vital to the Club’s operation, airside and behind the scenes. So, I’d like to sincerely thank everyone for their contribution in making us the success we are and ask for your continued support.

Just in case anyone is stuck in filling in the space in my opening question, some suggestions spring to mind: ‘launch a glider’; ‘maintain a glider’; ‘maintain a vehicle’; ‘complete a planning application’; ‘keep the site tidy’; ‘keep us safe’; ‘write a procedure’; ‘develop and manage our website’; ‘teach us to fly’ ……

I’ll stop there because, as I said, the list is almost endless and could become all consuming. Oh how (flying) life would be so simple if I could just turn up at the Club, jump into an aircraft, launch, fly, land and go home.

In all seriousness though, the reason we are members of the Club is that we want to fly, and it’s fair to say that by and large that aim is satisfied, and I’d like to keep it that way and indeed encourage us all to fly more.

This year sees our 25th year at Snitterfield. The Club moved here from Long Marston in September 1987, so it is something of a milestone for us. We have some plans for how to celebrate our quarter century tenure, but more of that in due course.

For now, let’s get out there and enjoy ourselves.

Happy, safe flying



Club News

Spring Meeting

The 2012 Spring Meeting will be held in the Clubhouse at19:45 on Thursday 22nd March. Please support the Club by coming along. The fees for the coming year are on the agenda for your approval, and, as always, there will be a general discussion at the end of the meeting, where you can bring up any subjects that concern you.

It’s Richard’s first General Meeting, so, just this once, please leave the rotten eggs and squidgy tomatoes at home.


The club now has a Twitter feed. You can follow us at for updates on doughnut days, flying reports, club events and more.

Flying Diary

Here are a few important dates in this season’s club flying schedule. The full diary is on the Club web site.


7th May 7-Day operation starts in earnest
21st May Sutton Bank
18th June Camp Hill
6th August Club Flying Week
7th September 7-Day operation may end

We will be running courses during various weeks of the year, and the full schedule is published on the web site, but is subject to change because we set the weeks to suit demand. We already have several course bookings.



Motor Gliders

Last summer, we were granted permission to fly motor gliders from our site, subject to some conditions. These conditions form a legally binding agreement with the local council called a Section 106.

This document needed to be drafted by the council solicitors and then signed by us, the council, and our landlord. This process does appear to have been somewhat drawn out, but that’s the pace that which the council work at when they go through the due process of completing these sort of things. That said, it nonetheless required very frequent prompts and effort on our part too.

The good news is that the Section 106 was signed by all parties on Thursday 9th of February, was completed by the council on Friday 10th, and is in the post (no, really).

I’d like to express my thanks to all those involved in getting us to this stage, but particular thanks have to go to John Dickinson for his dogged pursuance of council officials to get us to this conclusion.

The committee are formulating an appropriate strategy to exercise our permission to fly motor gliders. There is a lot of planning detail needed here. The quietest of the breed, the Rotax Falke, is our preferred aircraft, but they are difficult to come by, either for hire or lease, or to buy.

A reporter and a photographer from The Stratford Herald visited the airfield on the 11th, and we spoke to them at length about gliding in general, the way the airfield works, and the reasons for our planning application. The article appeared on the 16th, and was straightforward, factual, and represented our position reasonably well.

Nevertheless, we are about to ‘enjoy an increased public profile’ again!

If you are approached by anyone asking for any comment on this subject, be polite in your response but refer them to me please.




CFI’s Corner

Pilot Licensing

With all the regulatory changes and proposals that are currently in the pipeline, it’s inevitable that you will hear some interesting rumours around the club.

I thought it might be timely to provide you with a quick update on a small number of significant issues. The following detail represents the facts as discussed frequently between CAA and BGA.

EASA Licensing


  • Anyone flying an EASA aircraft will in the future be required to hold an EASA licence
  • The law changes in April 2012
  • There is a three year window for compliance – i.e compliance by April 2015
  • The CAA will be making EASA licences available from July 2012
  • The CAA are not anticipating issuing EASA licences to national PPL holders and glider pilots etc until later in the available window, i.e closer to 2015 than 2012
  • A joint BGA / CAA plan to transition glider pilots to EASA licensing with minimum aggravation is currently under development, with a target completion date of April 2015

So point 1. There is no rush to convert a JARPPL, UK PPL or NPPL or gliding certificate to an EASA compliant piece of paper. The BGA will be providing detailed advice on this subject as we approach 2013/2014

EASA Pilot Training


  • All pilot training will in the future be required to be delivered through an EASA compliant Approved Training Organisation (ATO)
  • The law changes in April 2012
  • There is a three year window for compliance – i.e compliance by April 2015
  • The BGA and CAA have been discussing the subject for over a year now. Plans for a large ATO that looks very much like our current training organisation i.e central admin/quality system and instructing at gliding clubs, with minimum CAA involvement, are currently being discussed in detail.
  • We anticipate achieving ATO approval at some point in 2013. This will ensure pilots being trained at clubs will be compliant with the new rules in April 2015

So point 2. The BGA is already planning to ensure that clubs are not encumbered by high levels of bureaucracy and significant cost that can in fact be kept at a proportional and compliant level through modification rather than wholesale redesign. The BGA will be providing detailed advice on this subject as we approach 2013/2014.

EASA Cloud Flying and IMC


  • The NPA consultation closed a few weeks ago
  • The EASA working group dealing with this subject, which includes a BGA club member, has been advised that they will be reforming soon to consider the consultation responses
  • In due course, that working group will provide details of the comments and respond through a Comments Response Document that will be subject to further public consultation
  • Once the CRD has been dealt with, there are further processes, including political discussion, prior to anything being enshrined in law

So point 3. Until we hear from EASA, we have no way of telling how this subject is developing. The CRD will give us a feel for how we need to work on this issue going forward.

All the previous information was recently circulated to clubs by Pete Stratten from the BGA. EASA is coming and we cannot ignore it and bury our heads in the sand. For all our Bronze C pilots that have their cross country endorsement and above, the changes will be very minor. The major changes will be in the pilot training and the instructional side of things but at this moment in time there are still a lot of loose ends to tie up.

I’m pleased to say that our club has been asked to take part in a trial for the new EASA compliant instructor course. This means when our candidate completes his course he will be one of the first EASA compliant Flight Instructors in the country.

Club Flying Week

Formerly known as Badge week or Task Week

We’ll be running an informal Task/Fun Week this year during the week of 6th – 10th August. There will be help and task setting available for all those who want it, whether you’re after your Silver, Gold or even Diamond badge! And if you just want to do your own thing, that’s fine too! Allan will be Duty Instructor for the week.

Club gliders will be available for tasks alongside normal club flying, and Julie has agreed to provide catering during the week. Everyone’s welcome, so come along and enjoy the fun!

If you would like to come down for the week, please put your name on the notice in the clubhouse.

Bronze C Lectures

The Bronze C Lectures start on 23rd February, with lectures on: Navigation; Air law; Principles of flight; Meteorology; Radio; and Airmanship. They finish with the Bronze C Exam on 26th April.





23rd February Principles of Flight Part 1 Steve F
1st March Principles of Flight Part 2 Steve F
8th March Principles of Flight Part 3 Steve F
15th March Navigation Part 1 Andy B
29th March Navigation Part 2 Andy B
5th April Air Law Peter
12th April Meteorology Martyn
19th April Airmanship&Radio Steve B
26th April Exam Steve B

They are aimed at pilots who hope to complete their Bronze this season, but everyone is invited if they feel they would benefit from a refresher.


The expedition to Sutton Bank will be on the week starting on Saturday 21st May. The one to Camp Hill will be on the week starting on Saturday 18th June.



Operations Group

The Ops Group has recently become active again, after a short period of dormancy. Its aims are to review Club procedures and ensure the safety and consistency of our ground operations.

The group acts as a consultation forum for almost all the club’s activities, but excluding instructional flying matters which are the responsibility of the CFI. The group formulates policy, but the final decision on any matter rests with the Club Committee.

Apart from the group’s chairman, currently Nick Jaffray, its members need not be committee members. Unsurprisingly, though, there is a big overlap, and about half the group’s members are also committee members. They are: Chris Bingham (Site Manager), Steve Brown (CFI ), Bob Horsnell (Airspace), Dave Martin (Site Security), Pete Merritt (Chief Marshal), David Searle (WinchMaster), and Graham Thompson (Safety Officer)

The first recommendation by the Ops Group, accepted unanimously by the committee, concerns our launch point procedures, and is discussed below underWinch Matters.



Winch Matters

Launch Procedure

It’s always been the rule that we leave the second cable alone until the first launch is complete. There are two potential problems that this avoids: the second cable can always move, for example as the result of a misunderstood message; and moving the cable can spin the winch drum and lead to a pile of rope and a wrap-up, since the brake is off during the launch. This rule is well understood in the club and is rarely overlooked.

However, it’s not always obvious when the first launch is complete, because the strobe light on the winch is not visible from some launch point positions. Depending on the wind conditions and the launch height, it can take quite a long time between the parachute disappearing from view, and arriving back at the winch.

So, we’re adding an item to our launch procedures to address this issue: once the first launch is complete, the cable has been retrieved, and the brake is back on, the winch driver will call Control that the second cable is ready. This will normally be heard at the launch point, but Control can relay it by radio, or preferably by using a Mark One Thumb to avoid unnecessary radio chatter.

This will become a required procedure on 1st March, which will give us a chance to communicate it throughout the Club. Until then, please use this procedure by agreement at the morning briefing.



A Rather Special Flight

Bagnères de Luchon

Bagnères de Luchon is a small spa town in the Midi Pyrénées. Situated at the confluence of two valleys, at an altitude of about 2,000′, the local ridge tops are some 4,000′ higher. It’s well worth a visit if you’re in the region.The following is an extract from our holiday diary:

After our daily swim it’s off to the airfield, for Phil has booked a flight for 15:00hrs. As always on French airfields, there’s no hurry to get in the air, and as we wait for another chap to have a flight before us, we watch the paragliders approaching in a disciplined pattern. Their approved approach is all plotted out on the clubhouse wall, and they all have to comply. Crossing the runway on approach is not allowed, for good reason, for we can see how it could become very busy at times.

Phil’s instructor, Jacques, seems rather surly. He doesn’t speak a word of English and is obviously a little apprehensive at the prospect of flying johnny foreigner. This would soon change when he realises communication isn’t too much of a problem and that we both share the same passion for flight. We are amazed at the lack of paperwork – nothing needs signing, other than our receipt! So we’re off!

Riding out to our glider, a Janus B, F-CEPI, parked at the end of the runway, we are soon joined by the tug, a Robin DR400. Jacques explains that he’s not an instructor, just a pilot, and will have to fly the tow. That’s fine by me, I’ll just sit back and enjoy it! We line up the glider and jump in. There seems to be no formal pre-flight checks, just a call to the tug who takes up the slack. There’s no wing tip holder either, but the wing comes up without drama and soon we’re airborne.

The tow is rough. Very rough! I’m quite happy to be sitting in the back enjoying the view while Jacques is working hard up front keeping in line with the tug. Trees and mountainside villages whizz past our wingtip alarmingly close-by. There is much communication with the tug, Jacques repeatedly asking if his position is ok. It seems high to me, for the tug is well below where the horizon would normally be, but the tuggie is happy with it.

As we climb higher, so does our position relative to the tug! We needn’t fly quite so close the mountainside, and it’s a good job, for the air is no smoother and it’s obviously quite an effort to stay in position. Towing into the next valley, over the Col de Portillon towards the Spanish border, we release still well below the ridge top and the tug immediately makes a spectacular dive off to the right. He’s also enjoying himself!

Alone in the sky, we move in close to the ridge. Plenty of speed is in order, and we fly at 100-120kph (55-70kts). Jacques’s spirits mirror the vario and he’s quite vocal! When we’re in lift he’s happy, and when we’re not he’s cussing! The terrain below us is completely unlandable, but of course we’ve a nice safe airfield in the next valley, some 3,000′ below and only couple of miles around the corner.

Jacques is working hard in the front, for the ridge is not working as it should. He’s expecting 3m/sec (6kts) and we’re in and out of the lift along our beats, but we’re holding our own. It’s clear to me that we’re in the turbulent air on the edge of a thermal, for there’s a cumulus forming with about twenty vultures turning in all directions below it, only a few hundred yards away in the next bowl.

Not being a mountain pilot I keep quiet, for he obviously wants more height before venturing around the corner away from Luchon, and I’m sure he knows best. After some time struggling and trying out all options closer to our home valley, we eventually find more reliable air and climb above the ridge top.

Jacques becomes much calmer, realising he’s succeeded in giving me the decent flight he’d wanted. (Oh how I know that feeling!) He hands over control and we fly along towards the border and that promising thermal. Joining the vultures we surge skywards in a steady 3-4m/sec (6-8kts). What an incredible sight, and what a privilege to be sharing the skies with such magnificent birds. With a wingspan of over 6 feet, they make our British buzzards look tiny, and their unruly thermal discipline could easily lead to a bird strike. We have to be careful, for the temptation is to get in as close as we can, and we’d surely know it if we made contact!

I try bringing the speed back to a more comfortable 80kph (45kts). The glider feels sweet for only a few seconds before we stall out in the still turbulent air. It’s vividly clear now just why we’ve kept such a high airspeed!

Leaving our thermal a little below cloud at about 8,500′, we fly across the border into Spain, admiring the twisting Col below (we’ll have to do that one on the bike tomorrow), then head west over the ski resort of Superbagnères and the Col de Peyresourde.

Then it’s time to make our way home, and as we head back towards Luchon we pass squadrons of vultures heading towards us in the glide: three or four on our left; two on our right; five above; three below. Reminiscent of wartime bomber formations approaching their target, it’s a sight that will stay with me for life – these stunning birds against the magnificent mountain backdrop.

I hand control back to Jacques for the landing and we make a steep, fast approach into the field, the glider coming to rest neatly in front of the hangar. Liz has been waiting patiently for over 1 hour 10 minutes, and at Ç80 I’ve really had my money’s worth, for the flight was supposed to be just 30 minutes!


The Wire October 2011

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club

Issue 51, October 2011




From the Editor

The Chairman

John Dickinson announced his intention to stand down as Club chairman after the AGM, after eight years in the job. The Club rules state that the next Chairman is elected by the next committee, whoever they turn out to be, at its next meeting. That made it impossible to know for certain, at the AGM, who the next chairman would be.

Of course, the committee had planned an orderly handover, and Richard Maksymowicz had agreed to be a candidate for the job. However, nothing is certain until after the formality of the election, especially since both John and Richard stood down by rote and stood for re-election to the committee. A constitutional crisis was fortunately averted when both were re-elected.

Since then, that next committee meeting has taken place, and Richard has been duly ratified as Chairman.



From a Chairman

My last contribution to The Wire will be a first – it will be brief!

I have really enjoyed my time as chairman – the eight years have passed very quickly. Yes there has been the odd time that has been difficult, but that goes with the territory. I am a firm believer that generally, in life, you get out what you put in.

Having said that, no one can act in the capacity of chairman without the consent of the membership, and as such I would like to thank each and every one of you for your support over the last eight years. I trust that you will continue to support Richard in the same manner.

I now look forward to idling my time away at the launch point in between flights and continuing to have fun!

Have fun, fly lots, be safe



From a Chairman

Firstly, I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to John for his tenure as Chairman over the past eight years. John has overseen significant progress with many infrastructure projects that have provided an excellent base for our future operations and positioned the Club well to grow in the future.

Of course much of this would not have been possible without an awful lot of effort from other Committee members and indeed many of you, so I wish to place on record my thanks to all concerned.

I take over the reins of the Chair of a Club that is in good health. Just prior to the AGM I sent out invitations to about a dozen new members to our annual New Members Meeting, our latest flying stats for this current year are showing significant improvement on the same period last year, and our financial position is good.

So where do we go from here? I have four key words that I want to promote, together with your support and the support of my fellow Committee members, whilst I’m in the Chair. To maintain our direction of travel we need to ensure that we have a Safe, Affordable, Sustainable, and Enjoyable flying operation.

In addition, I’d like to see us appeal much more to youngsters (teenagers, twenty-somethings, thirty-somethings and forty-somethings!), and encourage and engage more of them into our sport – and of course particularly into our Club.

Over the next months I’ll be developing ideas how all this can come about. I don’t have any monopoly on ideas so please, if any of you have any views, don’t hesitate to come forward to me or any of the Committee.

Finally for now, many of you know that I’ve had something of a difficult time at home over the past months. Being part of our ‘Club family’ has helped me through some unhappy times. Words of support and encouragement have been precious to both me and Gaynor and being able to engage in an activity I love has gone a long way to helping us both cope. Thank you all.

Happy Flying



The 2011 AGM

The 2011 AGM was held on Thursday 20th October in the Clubhouse. There were 50 members present, and 18 apologies for absence. The main speakers were the Chairman, the Treasurer, and the CFI. The main proceedings of the meeting are summarised here.



Treasurer’s Report

The 2010/2011 Season

As predicted, the accounts show a loss of nearly £10k compared to a surplus of £13.6k the previous year. Total income was down by £20k, of which half was due to the Peugeot event in 2010, and most of the rest to a big drop in visitor flying. Operational expenditure was down, but the cost of the motor glider planning application caused an increase in total expenditure of £3k.

The result is a reduction in our cash reserves of £8k, but we are still satisfied that we have sufficient to cope with any problems that are likely to occur.

The 2011 Season So Far

The finances for the current year look much better. All categories of income were above average for the first four months of the half year, and total income is already about £10k better than last year.

Winter Flying Rates

Winter flying rates, which were dropped in 2009 at the behest of the AGM, were reintroduced this year with an incentive to fly more: on any particular day in December, January, and February, your fourth launch will be free.

Club Formality

The 2010/2011 accounts, and the reappointment of the Club’s independent accountants, were accepted unanimously by the meeting.



Chairman’s Report

Flight Plans

Our income is cyclic, depending entirely on unpredictable weather, and cycles quite regularly from profit to loss. In the time since records began (2002), we have never had more than two consecutive of either. Ideally, of course, we would break even in poor years and make a profit in good years. Usually, though, optimism sets in after a good year and we try to keep our prices down.

This makes it rather difficult to plan ahead, and the only way we can change this is to move away from weather-dependent income. That’s the reasoning behind the various fixed-price flight plans that we offer, ranging from pre-paid flight time in one Club single-seater, to prepaid all-inclusive everything.

There may be other such schemes, if we can work out the details so that everybody wins. Apart from the predictability for the Club, and limitation of flying costs for members of the plans, these schemes also increase the number of launches that we do and are an incentive to others to fly more.


Visitors always have been, and always will be, essential to the Club. They are our only source of new members, so we need to treat every visitor with respect and enthusiasm.

It’s wildly optimistic to think that every visitor is a prospective member, of course, but even people who are only here for a tick in the box still talk to their friends about us.

We try to limit the impact of visitors on Club members’ everyday flying, and the best way is by Trial Lesson Evenings. Few, but more than none, TLE visitors turn into members, but the advantage for the Club is that they are part of the market which is otherwise closed to us, and that they don’t interfere at all with members’ flying.

We have, occasionally, accepted a group of visitors on a weekend day. In all cases, three in the last twelve months, the groups were only interested in a specific date, so that to refuse them would be to certainly lose the income. Three BIs had committed to be on site and fly, and a crew were asked help the group and not fly themselves. Usually, by mid-afternoon, most Club two-seater training is complete, and we can use three or even four aircraft to fly the group in well under two hours. Nevertheless, I’ve had complaints about this interference with members’ flying (though I am now aware that the complaints were regarding communication or lack of – not the booking of the groups). I think I’d get more complaints, though, if I stood here and told you we’d turned away a thousand pounds.



The Committee

Election of Committee Members

Last year we had that rare event, an election of members to the committee. This year we had another such rare event.

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. Two members of the committee, Andy Balkwill and Jonty Boddington, stood down and did not seek re-election. Two more, John Dickinson and Richard Maksymowicz, stood down as their part in the rotation, and sought re-election.

Five Club members were nominated for the committee: Jamie Dickson, David Ireland, Phil Pain, David Searle, and Graham Thompson. As a result, there were seven candidates for four vacancies, and we needed to hold an election. This was conducted according to the same procedure as last year, which seemed to work well. The main reason for the formality is that the election is actually for Directors of the Company, and there are legal implications.

On the night, the election was run by two committee members, Geoff Butler and Ian Kennedy, as last year, and the members were invited to supply an independent observer, for which Dan Brown volunteered.

The two committee members who stood down were re-elected, so we must be doing something right. The new committee members are Phil Pain and David Searle. The committee is, except for the changes in roles that are soon to come, now:


Chairman John Dickinson
Company Secretary Richard Maksymowicz
Treasurer Chris Wooller
Vice Chairman Nick Jaffray
CFI Steve Brown
Vouchers and Courses Ian Kennedy
Site Chris Bingham
Publications Geoff Butler
Bursar Liz Pickett
Vehicles Steve Pearce
Security Dave Martin
IT Adrian Flower
Phil Pain
David Searle



MG Planning Permission

Our request for planning permission to launch motor gliders, TMGs and SL/SSMGs, took an age to reach the stage of actually appearing before the District Council Planning Committee.

The meeting finally took place on July 27th 2011, well over a year after submission of our application, and was attended by many residents who were hostile to our application – some of whom appeared intent on being as disruptive and intimidating as possible. However, the Chairman of the Planning Committee asserted his control of the meeting, to the extent of threatening to call the Police to evict the more raucous protesters.

After listening to arguments from both sides, and having received a detailed explanation of the noise tests from the Environmental Health Officer of Stratford District Council, the planning committee voted unanimously to grant our request subject to satisfying reasonable conditions as required by the Local Planning Authority.

This success is squarely down to the meticulous planning done by Mike Coffee and Sharon Kerby.

The following Saturday, we were faced with a group of forty to fifty protesters at the gate and a BBC cameraman filming it all. The protest was vocal but for the most part peaceful. There were some outrageous rumours flying around: that there would be a fleet of motor gliders landing that day; and that our jet-powered glider would be flying again. Unsurprisingly, neither of these happened.

The protestors vowed to picket us every Saturday and Sunday from then on, but as it turned out, they went home for lunch, returned Sunday morning for a few hours, and then never came back.

We’re still in the process of formalising the planning conditions, at which point a legally enforceable document called a Section 106 will be drawn up. Once we have that, we will be allowed to fly motor gliders from Snitterfield Airfield.

Remember, though, that our operational procedures will be strictly enforced, and every motor glider launch will require the express permission of the CFI.



Editor’s Note

The information that we’ve published about the planning permission saga has been very limited, in The Wire and on the web site, and we’ve had to rely on paper in the clubhouse. This is because it’s all available online for anybody to read, and we know that some of the protesters do just that. We felt that anything we wrote, however anodyne, could be interpreted as inflammatory, and could and would be used against us.

An example is that one of the objections to the planning permission was that the Club management are incompetent to run the flying operation, based on the fact that that we had a minor safety issue (the other cable moved) and we published a safety reminder about this.



CFI’s AGM Report

The Weather

The weather has been good for Club flying, but not so good for cross-country flying. Flight times in Club aircraft are well above average, and the number of launches is too.

On the other hand, total cross-country kilometres are down to 11,000 with many weekends showing no cross country flying at all. There were only seven 300s declared in the whole season, five of those seven were flown by Dave Benton, and Mike Coffee won the ladder easily by flying fast 200s.

Club Flying Week saw plenty of participants spending plenty of hours in the air, but there were only twelve cross-country flights and only two of them over 200k.

Summer 2011 Flying Stats


2011 2010 2009 2008
Days flown 211 189 202 163
Club glider launches 4878 4130 4016 3499
Syndicate glider launches 592 817 876 702
Total launches 5470 5533 5841 4788
XC kilometres flown 11447 7803 18305 12549
XC tasks 81 61 98 77
XC pilots on ladder 14 15 20 20
Ladder winning score 6528 5234 7923 5120
Visitor flights, including courses 454 511 949 588

Expeditions: Sutton Bank

The expedition to Sutton Bank was at the end of May. The start of the week was plagued by some of the strongest winds they have seen for many years, gusts in excess of 60kts, and we had to tie the trailers down to stop them being blown away.

The weather calmed down later in the week with a couple of days of low level wave. The junior members of our expedition managed to fly their way through the fleet and by the end of the week were flying around in Sutton Bank’s Discus.

Expeditions: Camp Hill

This was barely supported this year. Rumour has it that only one person attended, but the rumour mill doesn’t work well with that few people, so it’s hard to be sure.


The Club has had no reportable accidents during the 2010/2011 season or in the first half of the current season. Keep it up, I don’t like paperwork!

We had one reportable incident this year. After a low cable break in the Junior, the parachute flew upwards and dropped the cable over the wing, where it eventually caught round the air brake. The pilot handled the situation well and landed safely and with no damage.

This has reminded the winch drivers of the need to cut the power urgently after a cable break.

Pilot Licensing

EASA Pilot Licensing becomes law in April 2012, and the transition to Sailplane Pilots Licences (SPLs) will start next year with the instructors first, followed by the rest of the solo pilots over the next couple of years.

The exact time scale of all this is not known, but the transition of all pilots into the EASA licensing framework has to be completed by April 2015.

Watch the BGA website for the latest information on EASA

Other Changes that are coming for EASA but have not yet been finalised are Cloud Flying ratings and Medicals. Please monitor the BGA web site for the latest updates and advice on how to respond to the proposed changes.

In EASA-land, a qualified pilot is a pilot with an SPL, and a Bronze C with a cross-county endorsement equals an SPL, so if you haven’t got this you will classed as a pilot under training. This will not stop you flying solo and doing the type of flying are used to but we still have to hear how this will work on a day to day basis.

Off-Season Lectures

The Bronze C lectures will be run in early 2012 if there is sufficient demand.

There should be, because possession of a Bronze when EASA licensing starts will give you grandfather rights which cut down the amount of training and paperwork that you need to do. The dates will be finalised over the Christmas period.



Club Trophies

Committee Trophies

The committee trophies are awarded by the committee for contribution to the running of the Club.

Winch Trophy: Pete Merritt.

John Simonite Memorial Trophy, Contribution to the Running of the Club: Steve Pearce for the Doughnut Days.

Fred Haines Shield, Long and Meritorious Service: Geoff Butler.

The Chairman’s Trophy: Nick Jaffray, for his support for the Chairman over the years.

Member of the Year, voted for by the Club membership: Chris Bingham.

Flying Committee Trophies

The flying committee trophies are awarded by the instructors for flying achievement.

Best Flight in a Club Glider: Dave Martin, for 106k in the K18 in very difficult conditions.

Badge Ladder: Jamie Dickson. Most Progress in the year: Jamie Dickson.

First 300k of the Year: Mike Coffee, in May.

Club Ladder: 1st Mike Coffee, 6528; 2nd Dave Benton 6179; 3rd Martyn Davies, 4633.

The Derek Phillips Trophy for Club Ladder flights in a wooden aircraft: Tony Murphy.

The Tom Smith Cup for X-C Achievement: Dan Brown.

The Andy Coffee Award for Flying Achievement, andThe Seaside Trophywere not awarded.



Club News

Clubhouse Roof

The project to put a proper pitched roof on the clubhouse took much longer to get started than we’d hoped. Concerns about the ability of the building to support the load, either the weight of the roof itself or the wind loads, convinced us to have the roof designed by a qualified (and insured) structural engineer.

The design was based around a timber frame, mainly on the basis of the cost. However, by the time all the planning had been done, we missed the season and had to wait until this spring before we could start. And by that time, the price of the timbers had almost doubled. That made steel, which is lighter and stronger, much more attractive. However, to switch to steel would have made us start again from scratch with a new structural design and a new bill. So we stuck with the timber frame.

The project started in the spring, once the weather had calmed down, and we ordered the timbers. The size of these surprised a lot of people, and went a long way to explaining the need for a structural engineer.

In all, it took nearly two thousand man-hours of labour to build the roof, with all the usual suspects doing the bulk of the work, and an army of helpers lending a hand whenever they could.

The sheeting was almost finished in September, when it was interrupted by the urgency of the works for the mains electricity, and it was finally finished in October. There is still some fettling work to do, such as some cross bracing inside, and the guttering, but the roof is weatherproof, in plenty of time for the winter weather.

Mains Electricity

Over the years, various committees have made several attempts to bring mains electricity to the site. The highest estimate, which wasn’t discussed for long, was over £80k, and involved us paying for a new high voltage transformer on the Bearley Road. A better estimate of only £65k a few years later was still well beyond our means.

A combination of improved technology, and some inside knowledge from Allan Donaldson who works in that field, brought the estimate down to £43k. This was still out of the question, and our thoughts were still very much with green energy, but other factors came to light which made us look more closely.

The generator is at the end of its working life, and we would be faced with an £8k bill to replace it. Running the generator costs us £4k a year in diesel and maintenance, which means that our power costs us approximately £1 per Kwh. With our fuel bill expected to increase, and a probable mains electric bill of £500pa, that £43k would be recovered within ten years.

Then, Allan, Andy Balkwill, and Barry Monslow came up with a piece of electrickery. Electricity supply companies are obliged to deliver 230v to the point of supply, which in our case would require a thousand metres of 11kv overhead power lines along the entrance road to the clubhouse. However, by making the point of supply near the road, this large cost could be removed. We could then use our own underground cable to supply the clubhouse, and do the work ourselves.

The voltage drop over such a long distance means that only 200v or thereabouts arrives, depending on the load, but a device called a Voltage Stabilising Transformer restores the output voltage to 230v whatever the input voltage. The disadvantages are that we pay for the voltage drop so our electricity is 5-10% more expensive, and that a sudden load can cause a trough in the voltage as the transformer adjusts to cope. The advantage is a total bill of £26k, very much in reach and paying back in five years. The decision suddenly became a lot easier.

Once we’d made the decision in principle to go ahead, the Chairman went to see Richard Hobbs, our landlord, to make sure he was happy about the cable on his land. Not only was he happy, he has made a contribution towards the cost of the project.

The plan was to get the supply installed, which we did in late September, and then lay the cable at our convenience, given that the work on the roof was still going on. That was scuppered when we discovered that the farmers who rent Richard’s fields were planning to plant winter wheat, which meant we needed to get the cable installed by the end of October, or wait until spring. That prompted some urgent trenching with the aid of a digger for a week, to get the conduit in place. The cable was finally pulled through the conduit on 20th October.

Unfortunately, the stabiliser arrived damaged and had to be returned and replaced, and there is still some work to do on the supply to the hangars. Nevertheless, mains lighting was switched on the 27th October, well ahead of our expected schedule.

Remember, though, that the lights don’t go off any more when we go home at night, so it’s important to switch everything off at the end of the day.

For Sale

Second hand genny, one careful owner.


The two big projects that have just been completed, the roof and the electricity, have taken thousands of hours of voluntary work, and have mostly been done by four members: Chris Bingham, Pete Merritt, Barry Monslow, and Phil Pain. Without their efforts, we would not have been able to afford to take the projects on.

In recognition of this, at the AGM, they were each awarded a year’s subscription to the Gold Flight Plan. This gives them free flying time in any Club aircraft, £2.50 discount on launch fees, and free SCBs.

We all owe our thanks to them, and to everyone who helped them.


One of the big advantages of mains power is that we can implement a proper security system, with as many sensors and lights as are necessary to make the site secure. Dave Martin is looking to the details of the system, which for the obvious reason won’t be published in The Wire.

The Telephone

Please remember that, if you answer the clubhouse phone, you are representing the Club. If you take a call that turns out to be a complaint, which happens sometimes in the wake of the planning permission, be courteous and say something along the lines of:

I’m very sorry you feel you had to contact us about this – I will pass on your contact details to someone who will deal with this matter and they will contact you very soon.

Then pass the buck as quickly as you can to the Chairman or any committee member.



From the Floor

Despite his absence from the meeting, David Clark sparked a lively discussion about the way the launch point operates. Many points were made by various people about the general safety, efficiency, and reliability of the operation.

The Operations Group, a think tank which runs during the off season, will be looking into this over the winter as one of their high priority subjects.



Flying News

Site Height Record

On a very good day in August, Sharon Kerby broke the site height record with a climb to 11800′ in her ASW-24, flying in wave to the south of Alcester. This broke the long-standing record of 11400′ which belonged to Harry Williams, flying his K6 from Long Marston in 1977. Several other pilots contacted the wave on the same day and reached heights of around 10,000′.

Distant Height

Chris Burrows got his Gold height at 14000′ in wave from Skelling in Cumbria. It could have been higher but it gets cold in a K8 at that height.

Full Cat

Stephen Farmer has achieved a Full Category Instructor rating, which he passed in 13th November.



An Inspector Calls

Filling in DI Books

Could we please all ensure that no defect or reason for putting a glider u/s is written in the DI book without it first having been brought to the attention of an inspector. This is due to there being absolutely no latitude with respect to the replacement of parts on our gliders within the EASA umbrella, and the fact that DI books are being filled up with all sorts of irrelevant and pointless comments without having been thought through first.

DI books are also a potential source for discrepancies to be noted in the event of an audit, which we have just been a subject of. Please continue filling in the DI books as at present if no defect is found on the inspection.

The Aircraft workshop

Following our recent audit, I need to reiterate that there must be absolutely no entry to the aircraft workshop without supervision of an inspector. This is due to the fact that, as part of our Part M compliance, any premises in which aircraft maintenance is undertaken must have restricted access.

As a matter of accountability, all tools used in the maintenance of aircraft must remain within the maintenance environment and therefore cannot leave the workshop, so please don’t ask to borrow them!

On a lighter note

Could I ask you all to please look through your T shirt collection, and if there are any that are past their use-by date, to pass them on to the workshop for use as polishing rags. Many thanks!



Bonfire Night

On Saturday 5th November we held our 4th Annual Bonfire Night, which was attended by over 150 people. The night was organised by Chris Bingham, with the assistance of his usual band of helpers: Pete Merritt and Sally (a typically splendid barbecue); Allan Donaldson (fire-eating); Phil Pain (arson); and Phil Pain, Daniel Brown, and Allan Donaldson (explosives).

Everybody commented that it was a great evening with a terrific firework display. All in all, the event raised over £800. Now that the Clubhouse fund is close to achieving its target, funds raised by events like this will be allocated to the new Fleet Fund.

The Wire May 2011

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club

Issue 50, May 2011




From the Chairman

Which is the best gliding club in the country? My answer of course is Stratford on Avon Gliding Club! Perhaps I’m biased, but my response is based on nurture (this was the first club I had visited and I learned to fly here) and nature (I have visited other clubs, but in my opinion none match us for a variety of reasons). To back up my assertion objectively is impossible, but here are my reasons:


  • Safety is the number one priority, having fun is number two. 
  • We have the best team of instructors I have come across at any club, and what’s more each and every one of them really cares about the safety of each and every member. 
  • We are friendly, welcoming and inclusive. 
  • We enforce a ‘no blame culture’. 
  • There is a relaxed atmosphere. 
  • We have excellent facilities – both flying and non-flying! 
  • We have a huge field! 
  • We are in an excellent location for thermalling. 
  • Pilots are encouraged to progress in the direction they wish to go. 
  • We are not embroiled in internal political battles. 
  • It is still affordable! 
  • It is near my home. 
  • I enjoy coming to the airfield, I enjoy flying, I enjoy teaching others to fly, I enjoy flying visitors, I enjoy the banter on the airfield, I enjoy the sausage sandwiches, I enjoy going home afterwards (actually this is very important!).

I’m sure you will be able to add to this list or perhaps you will have a completely different set, but nonetheless you will have your reasons why you are a member of Stratford on Avon Gliding Club as opposed to any other club.

We are all ambassadors for our Club, and we are our best marketing tool. As ever we really need to increase our membership, and as we are friendly and welcoming I would encourage everyone to speak with new faces when they appear at the club. It is extremely important that visitors are welcomed and made to feel at home, so please feel free to answer their questions and give your opinions when asked. The law of ‘primacy’ comes in to play here – this is the fact that the first things we are told or experience about anything is what we remember, and is in fact very difficult to shift – first impressions and all that. It is also the reason why only instructors must brief visitors about use and effect of controls etc.

All instructors are highly trained individuals who are taught how to teach, what to teach and in what order. This is extremely important especially for first time flyers because of the laws of primacy – it can take many flights to correct any misinformation given to them.

At a time when we really need to increase our membership, and have put in place packages and incentives aimed at helping new members budget for their flying, you can perhaps understand my astonishment when I overheard a member telling a group of visitors who had popped in to see us that ‘the best gliding club in the country is at Talgarth’.

Et tu, Brute?

Fly lots, have fun, but be safe!



The Spring Meeting

Fees for 2011

Our costs continue to rise, and this is inevitably reflected in the membership and flying fees. The main numbers for 2011 to 2012 are: Full membership £365 (+£15); Launch fee £8 (+£0.50); Flying time 25ppm (no change). We do our best to keep the increases to a minimum, but we must run at a surplus to cover unexpected expenses and to keep the fleet and the kit in good shape.

We’ve always thought of Shenington GC at Edge Hill as our main competitors, since they are close by and run on much the same lines as us. For years, they’ve been considerably cheaper than us because they didn’t have to pay rent on the land that they use. That’s changed now, and their fees have increased accordingly. Their numbers are £360, £8, and 30ppm, which makes them slightly more expensive.

Flight Plans

These membership packages are aimed at making the costs predictable and advantageous for people who fly a lot. They are all payable in advance. They replace the Junior Time Indemnity package which ran until 2011.

The zero time charges do not give you any priority on the aircraft. You’re still subject to the flying list, and still limited to the maximum flying times imposed on all Club aircraft.

The advantage for the Club is that these flight plans move weather-related income to fixed income. It’s always been a headache for us that our fixed income doesn’t come close to covering our fixed costs, which makes our budgeting something of a black art.

Bronze Flying


  • Zero time charge in one single seater of your choice
  • 25p discount onALL launches
  • No charge for SCB flightsCost £180 per year, which is £15 a month

    Silver Flying


  • Zero time charge in all single seaters
  • 75p discount onALL launches
  • No charge for SCB flights

Cost £360 per year, which is £30 a month

Gold Flying


  • Zero time charge in all club aircraft
  • £2.50 discount onALL launches
  • No charge for SCB flights

Cost £720 per year, which is £60 a month

Diamond Flying


  • Zero time charge in all club aircraft
  • Zero launch fees in all club aircraft (max 250 launches)
  • No charge for SCB flights

Cost £1,980 per year, which is £165 a month

Junior Memberships

The current Cadet Scheme continues unchanged. We call it the Junior Sponsorship Scheme at the behest of the BGA, because of the military connotations, but they used “cadet” on the front of a recent S&G, so what the hell.

Junior Membership used to be available to students and under-18s, with a painful transition to full membership after that. We’ve now scarfed the joint, so that under-23s pay one third of full membership, and under-26s pay two thirds.

The Chairman’s Report

Everything in the year to March 2011 was down: member flying, visitor flying, trial lesson evenings, courses. Our finances suffered as a result. However, this year we already have more evening and course bookings than for the whole of last year, so things are not looking so gloomy.

We need to attract new members, as always. We’re looking at ways to publicise the Club, such as features in local newspapers. Advertising is expensive and has never produced much for the Club. In with the Flight Plans described earlier, there are some fixed price packages for three- and six-month membership including flying fees, which are aimed at non-members and are in response to requests from prospective members.

We’ve had three break-ins over the last six months, which were expensive for the Club and distressing for everyone concerned. Dave Martin has taken on the role of Security Manager to try to beef up our security arrangements.

Mary Benton

Mary will be retiring from the kitchen at the end of August. She has kept us fed and watered for the best part of fifteen years, and has decided that it’s time to rest on her laurels. We all owe Mary our thanks for her efforts over the years. Julie and David Ireland will be taking over the kitchen when Mary leaves.



CFI’s Corner


If you couldn’t attend the Spring meeting, you may not be aware of the changes in BGA law and rules specifically relating to EASA maintenance and DIs. This one was quietly slipped in last year and theBGA have notified all CFIs and apologised for not bringing it to the attention of clubs sooner, as usually happens law and rules change, and it takes a little time for it to filter down to the masses. This is Law and Not a recommended practice, so the club cannot ignore it because if we did and there were to be any problems we wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.

So please don’t shoot the messenger, I can see it now club members saying “that b****y CFI making up more b****y rules, hasn’t he got anything better to do”! Well I have and I’m sorry but this is the start of EASA pilots licensing and we just have no choice. The transition to EASA starts next year and should be completed by April 2015 by which time we will all have to have a Glider Pilots Licence and if you haven’t you will be classed as a pilot under training.

Below is the relevant new Law. A pilot in EASA land is a licensed pilot, and currently in the UK under the BGA, that is interpreted as a Bronze C qualified pilot. You do not need to have the cross country endorsement at this moment in time but that may well change as we make the transition to the Glider Pilots Licence.

13.2 A valid pilot’s licence or equivalent is required for the purposes of pilot/owner maintenance, as appropriate for the class of aircraft:


  • Glider & Self Sustaining Sailplane – Bronze Badge
  • Powered aircraft including SLMG & TMG-PPL or NPPL

Persons wishing to carry out pilot/owner maintenance including the Daily Inspection (DI) who do not hold the appropriate licence or equivalent may only do so under supervision of a suitably qualified person. Pilots may only certify maintenance they have carried out themselves or that they have supervised.

13.3 Clubs should maintain a register of pilots who are authorised to perform pilot/owner maintenance tasks on club aircraft.

2012 Olympics

I mentioned next year’s Olympics and possible restrictions that may be placed on us. Well, after a meeting with NATS, I’m pleased to say that locally it will not affect us, although it might make large cross country flights to the south more of a challenge, but we will all have to be more aware of our local air space boundaries as any infringements will cause major problems to Birmingham ATC and we can expect them to be contacting us as soon as an infringement is seen.

I can hear you say “well they cannot see a glider”. Well they have told me that they certainly can, so if an unknown return is seen on radar in the temporary TMZ it will be assumed it is likely to be a glider and I will be contacted by them immediately. I will be reminding pilots about this again near the start of the Olympics.

The large increase in air traffic intoBirmingham and Coventry is due to the fact that all available landing slots for the major airports in the south have been booked for the period of the Olympics, hence airports outside London are taking up the extra volume of traffic.

NATS have advised us that during the 2012 Olympics the amount of air traffic being handled by NATS in the Birmingham, Coventry and Daventry area would increase from its current level of 30 aircraft per hour to around 50 aircraft per hour and possibly more.

As a result of this increase in traffic, NATS wants to alter the base of Birmingham CTA to the north east of Snitterfield airfield by extending the base of the zone from 1500ft to ground level, and this will become a TMZ (transponder mandatory zone). In other words if you haven’t got a transponder you must not enter the TMZ, any infringements would be serious, and action could be taken by NATS against pilots that infringe it. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Finally on the topic of airspace, with the changes to the airspace directly above us, from FL55 to 5500’AMSL, it has become clear that a lot of pilots are getting confused with the way to set altimeters correctly, so this year whilst you are doing your annual refresher flying you will be asked to give a practical demonstration of setting correct levels of QFE, QNH and flight levels, so can I recommend that all pilots start making a note of the QFE and QNH settings whilst flying. There’s an article later in this Wire explaining what you need to know.




Club News

Member of the Year 2011

It’s time to think of your nomination for Member of the Year 2011. This award is different from the Committee awards in that it is the members who decide who receives it. You can nominate for any reason you wish (for example, who buys the most rounds in the pub!), and the person with the most nominations receives the award – very straightforward.

To nominate someone, simply scribble your nomination on a piece of paper, a brief reason why, and put in an envelope labelled ‘MOTY 2011’ and post it in the cash box. Alternatively, email with the same information. Don’t forget to put your name on it – you only have one vote.

P.S. This is ‘first past the post’ election regardless of the outcome of the referendum on May 5th!


The Avon Soaring Centre has split into two in acrimonious circumstances. Gordon Burkert has taken his aircraft and some of the members to Long Marston as owner and CFI, leaving Biil Inglis as the owner of Bickmarsh and Frank Jeynes as CFI.

The names of the two operations are far from clear, since, for a while, both used “Bidford” in their names. Bickmarsh may or may not be Bidford Gliding and Flying Ltd, and Long Marston may or may not be Bidford Gliding Ltd or Warwickshire Gliding and Aero Club. Both are trying to entice members from each other and, reportedly, they are also trying to poach members from us.

We have reciprocal membership agreements with both, but apart from that we are keeping well clear of any involvement. We’ve already been used, unfairly and without our knowledge, in the war of words between them, and we have no wish to be seen to be taking sides.



Flying News

Club Week

This year, rather than holding a formal ‘Task Week’, we’re running a Club Week. This will be less formal than the Task Week, but still is focused on helping you achieve whatever it is you wish to achieve, and there will be plenty of instructors and coaches available to help you with that. It will take place from Monday 1st to Friday 5th August.

Doughnut Days

Once again we have had a very successful Donut Daze season. These are the additional flying days organised by Steve Pearce through the winter period, which have enabled us to carry out an extra 23 flying days, 585 flights, 114 hours total flight time and raise an additional income of £5,900. To put this in perspective, it amounts to around 10% of the total flying we do in an average year.

My thanks to Steve, and the volunteer Duty Instructors suitably coerced/press ganged/bribed into service – namely Steve Brown, Martyn Davies, Mark Parsons, Tony Palfreyman, Phil Pickett, and Allan Wright.


Non-Soaring Day League

You may have noticed some ‘league tables’ posted near the cross country ladder – this is the Non-Soaring Day League. Currently, Derek Hudson is leading the mid-week league, Stephen Farmer is in pole position on Saturday, whilst Tony Murphy is on top of the Sunday crowd. Amazingly there are 65 of us who have had points awarded. Here’s how it works:


  • The league runs from 1st October to 30th September of the following year, like all our other leagues
  • Flights qualify on any day where the average flight time for all flights is 10 minutes or less
  • 1 point is awarded for every minute over the average flight time for any flight on the day in question
  • The points are awarded to the pilot who is paying

Sadly there will be no prize, but the bragging rights are huge. The winners will be announced at the AGM in October.

Club Trailers

The weather has been excellent for cross country flying recently but there are a couple of things to do before you set off, especially in a Club glider although some of the things should apply to your own trailers. All three Club trailers have been serviced and are ready for a retrieve, but before you go please spend five minutes to check the relevant trailer.

Attach your retrieve car to the trailer and check all lights are working and don’t forget to look inside to make sure it is empty. It has happened that the retrieve crew have driven many miles, arrived to collect the glider, opened the trailer only to find it already has one inside.

Each trailer has an emergency tyre repair can inside which should mean for a simple puncture you will only have to remove the offending nail, put the nozzle of the can on the valve and it should re-inflate the tyre and seal the puncture. Please read the can for full instructions but they are very simple and quick to use. For a more serious puncture each trailer has a spare wheel, jack, and wheel brace.

Check the spare is still inflated and walk around the trailer to make sure everything looks ok, especially the two wheels. If any look low, inflate to 35-36psi. Check also for any dollies and any tie downs needed, if you are not sure what you need please check with the Duty Instructor. Please check all of the above before you set off. This is the responsibility of the pilot and not his retrieve crew. It really should only take five minutes. If the trailer is not serviceable you should not go cross country.

It’s probably not a bad idea to have a quick look at the trailer the day before your intended flight, then if anything is amiss we can put it right. If you think you may try a cross country and cannot get down to check the trailer beforehand please email me and I will do my best to check it for you. But you must still do the checks on the day.

If you do have a puncture or notice any faults with the trailer please let me know as soon as you return so we can get the tyre repaired, fix the faults and replace any parts used, if I don’t know I can’t fix it. This way it will always be ready for you and anybody else.

And finally there will be a laminated card in each trailer with the basic things to check on it, please read, it could save a lot of wasted time later.

Safe flying, happy sightseeing
Steve P



Altimetry for Dummies
(with apologies)

You can read an altimeter, can’t you? Well, of course you can, what a stupid question! Ah, but do you know how to use the altimeter? Judging by comments made (and overheard) following my efforts to explain the recent changes to the Daventry CTA, using the altimeter is a bit of a black art to a good few people – at all levels in the Club.

To begin, the altimeter is a barometric instrument which uses the change of air pressure with height to drive the display. It also incorporates a barometric subscale and a setting knob which is used in two ways: by setting the altitude pointer to zero or by setting the subscale to a known specific value when the altimeter will display information relating to different datums. Note that although climbs and descents are indicated on the altitude readout, the subscale setting does not change unless you twiddle the knob.

As far as we (and most Gliding Clubs) are concerned, the main use of the setting knob is to reset the altimeter to zero before flight. This can vary from virtually nothing to several hundreds of feet if the aircraft has been stuck in the hangar for several days. If we then go off and fly locally, the height shown is always relative to Snitterfield. Should you actually take note of the reading on the subscale, this is the Snitterfield QFE. So approaching this from the other way, setting the Snitterfield QFE on the subscale will make the altimeter read the same thing: height above the airfield and zero on the ground. When QFE is set, readings on the altimeter are referred to as “height” (above…..).

So what else might you want to know? Well, as height of terrain is always, and the bottom of airspace is often, expressed as “altitudes above mean sea level” (amsl), it would be handy for you to know your altitude amsl too, wouldn’t it? That way you could avoid contacting high ground (ouch!) and wandering into controlled airspace (severe earache from CFI, ouch!). For this you will need to set the subscale to QNH. This too can be calculated on the ground (it’s also obtainable from Air Traffic Control and Met printouts). If you wind the altimeter up to the airfield altitude amsl, the subscale will read the QNH. Or, you can take the QFE and add (the airfield altitude amsl divided by 30) to the subscale setting (1mb is approx 30ft) because the pressure at sea level is higher. This works for any airfield. So, for example for Snitterfield (375ft amsl) add on 12mb. Thus if QFE is 998 mb, the QNH will be 1010mb. Setting the QNH therefore gives a direct correlation between what you have on your altimeter and the information displayed on your map – because they are both using the same zero datum, mean sea level. When QNH is set, the readings on the altimeter are referred to as “altitude” (above msl).

The third altimeter setting of relevance to us is 1013.2mb; this is “QNE” but rarely called by that name. This setting is normally used by higher flying aircraft, and the indicated altitude is quoted as a “Flight Level”. So 12,000 ft indicated with 1013 on the subscale is FL120, and so on. This “Standard Setting”, 1013, is used so that all aircraft in particular vicinity have a direct and easily ascertainable vertical relationship with each other; terrain clearance is not an issue here, but collision avoidance is. The change to 1013 from QNH is made at the Transition Altitude. Above Snitterfield the airspace kicks in at 5500ft altitude and the Transition Altitude is 6000ft, so there is no need to change to 1013. However over the lake to the west the Transition Altitude is still 6000ft but the base of the controlled airspace is FL145, so if you’re really lucky you may need to reset to 1013 to avoid climbing into it.

Whatever setting you choose to fly on on the day is up to you; most days just QFE will probably suffice. However, it’s important to be aware of the QFE and the QNH. They should be given at briefing, and also shown on the launch point black board. Note them down (believe me you’ll only forget) and if in any doubt ask someone.
Continue reading

The Wire February 2011

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club

Issue 49, February 2011

From the Chairman

There will be much to talk about at the Spring Meeting – not just the usual
fees and the coming season. It’s on Thursday 24th
March, not that far away!

January has been incredible! We have flown on 18 days (best ever
January by 6 days), recorded our highest number of launches and flight
time for any January and already taken more course bookings for 2011
than we had in the whole of 2010.

On the other hand we suffered two break-ins. There has been much
publicity about the new web site, which allows you
to enter an area or postcode and view the crime stats for that area
over the last month. So when the site had recovered from its first day
blues I tapped in ‘CV37 0EG’ and waited for it to do its stuff,
expecting to see two reported incidents. Zilch! Nada! But then I
noticed it is showing the figures for December, so I suppose they are
accurate – our reported incidents being in November and January!

You will remember that in November one of our buggies was badly damaged
when intruders decided to take it joy riding after using it to
transport copper wire – presumably to sell for scrap value. We have
learned lessons from this incident!

On the night of 13th January, thieves entered the
vehicle shelter, started a tractor, used it to pull a caravan belonging to
Caroline Coates to a more ‘road vehicle friendly’ area, stole the caravan
and left the tractor running. Luckily they were not intent on vandalism – a
tractor can do a lot of damage! We have learned lessons from this incident!

Then on Sunday 16th January, ‘visitors’ decided to
have a real go! To try to disable the alarm they destroyed the wi-fi aerial
on the side of the Clubhouse, broke a window in the clubhouse and reached in
and ripped out some wiring (we believe they hoped was alarm wiring) and
having failed to extinguish the alarm indicators in the clubhouse, set about
the glider workshop instead. The destroyed a roller shutter, damaged a side
wall, broke in to locked tool boxes, threw the alarm system in a bucket of
water, stole some tools and made an absolute mess in the process. Thankfully
they did not damage the glider that was in there! It will cost us between
£3,000 and £4,000 to put everything right and that does not
include the upgraded alarm system we have installed. We have learned
lessons from this incident!

The really frustrating thing is that we know that we do not leave
anything anywhere on site that has any intrinsic value when sold in the
pub or for scrap. Who would buy specialist glider tools in a pub? Our
problem is that the thieves do not know this – they are simple
opportunists looking for anything they can trade for cash.

What is clear is that we cannot afford to learn our lessons
retrospectively – since November these ‘lessons’ have cost us around
£5,000 (not to mention the personal cost to Caroline). We need to
be proactive in preventing incidents in the first place, and clearly
someone needs to take responsibility for ensuring that we are secure at
all times, and that we do not leave anything lying around the airfield
that intruders could use to make life easy for themselves. This is an
easy appointment – WE ALL NEED TO DO IT – please start immediately!

But we have created ‘official role number 22’ – that of ‘Security
Manager’! Dave Martin has stepped up to the mark and is now very active
in this role ensuring that we are as secure as possible, has upgraded
our alarm systems and will ensure that everything is in place to ensure
we are as secure as we possibly can be.

I will talk of this and many other things at the Spring Meeting, but in
the meantime let’s take advantage of the incredible flying weather for
this time of year!

Be safe, fly lots (and lots) and have fun!


CFI’s Corner

Club Flying Week

Formerly known as Badge week or Task Week

In response to member feedback, the Club will be holding a general flying
week this year instead of a Task Week. The week will run from the
1st to the 5th of August
inclusive. Allan Wright has agreed to be our instructor for the week and we
won’t be taking course bookings. Flying will focus purely on the needs of
the members and visitors from other clubs, regardless of their level of
experience or individual aspirations.

The cross country coaches – Barry, Martyn, Mike, Phil and Sharon – are
likely to attend and will be very happy to help anyone who wants to
approach them on an individual basis, but there will be no formal
structure to the week and the focus is not specific to cross country

If you would like to come down for the week, please put your name on
the notice in the clubhouse.

Bronze C Lectures

The Bronze C Lectures start on 24th February, with
lectures on: Navigation; Air law; Principles of flight; Meteorology;
Radio; and Airmanship. They finish with the Bronze C Exam on
28th April.

They are aimed at pilots who hope to complete their Bronze this season,
but everyone is invited if they feel they would benefit from a


The expedition to Sutton Bank will be for the week starting on Saturday
21st May. The one to Camp Hill will be for the
week starting on Saturday 18th June.

Club News

The Stratford 49’ers

Saturday 22nd January 2011 was a momentous date
for the Stratford 49’ers – it was week 250 and the total raised by this draw
for the club funds topped £10,000. Thanks to everyone who continue to
support this much needed fund-raising effort.

Let’s not forget the seriously rich this draw has created. Our latest
fabulously wealthy member (who wishes to remain anonymous, but is
conspicuous when he arrives in his new Ferrari) only joined the 49’ers
in September 2009 and has already won 7 times!

There are still some numbers available if you would like to change your
fortunes (at the time of writing they were 5, 10, 15, 19, 26 and 37) –
just go to ‘Retail Therapy’ and your dreams just may come true.

The Roof

The design for the clubhouse roof is now complete. It was done
professionally by a qualified structural engineer, amid concerns about
the loads the building would have to bear from gravity and the wind.

We are now in the process of sourcing and acquiring the materials. Once
that’s complete, we’ll be constructing and fitting as soon as possible.

The plan is to build as much of it as possible on the ground, to
minimise the time spent on the roof fitting it, which is when it’s most
vulnerable to the wind. For that reason, the T-hangar and areas of the
car park are likely to be unavailable while it’s being done.

Trial Lesson Evenings

Last year, visiting groups were so few and far between that members got
into the habit of assuming that there was no booking. As a result,
several of the evenings that actually were booked were seriously

We’re running Trial Lesson Evenings again this year, and we’re working
hard to get bookings in. The income is important to the Club and we
can’t let these evenings slip away from us. In a good year, they’re
worth £80 each off everyone’s membership fees.

We already have eight evenings booked, so there’s hope that we’ll do
better than last year. You can help by bringing a group from your place
of work or wherever. Contact Jo to make a booking.

The experiment last year, opening the Club on the evenings in May and
advertising for local residents to come and try, yielded very little
and won’t be repeated this year.


A group of about thirty cyclists turned up for breakfast on Saturday
5th February, apparently with permission. Nobody
really knows who gave them permission, but it would have been courteous of
whoever it was to ask the committee first, or even inform them afterwards,
but neither of these happened.

As a result, the clubhouse was full of cyclists who nobody knew,
members who wanted to sit down had to go into the briefing room, the
kitchen was overstressed, members’ breakfasts were delayed, and the
Chairman’s ear was badly bent by members who assumed it was all his
doing. The cyclists showed little interest in flying, or even in
talking to any of the members .

Fortunately, it was a week apart from the CFI’s Conference. If the two
had happened on the same day, it would have been extremely embarrassing
for the Club.

Please think before you commit the Club to requests of this
nature. If the request is not flying-related, you must refer it to a
member of the committee.

Club Online

Members’ Forum

A couple of years ago, we set up a bulletin board called the Members’
Forum, as a place for members to discuss stuff with each other. The
board server was free, because we didn’t want to commit any money until
we knew it was going to be worth it.

The forum never took off, partly or mostly because the interface turned
out to be thoroughly user-hostile. We abandoned it last year.

And Now …

… we’re on Facebook!

To find the Club page, search Facebook for Stratford Gliding or
something similar: it’s fairly smart in directing you to the right

The page offers updates on club flying (who got the best flight today?!),
includes general information on the club, a link to the club website, and
photos taken by members (currently via Sharon ).

If you visit the page, you will be able to like the page, and the
page will then push updates your feed. And if you don’t
understand that terminology, it’s merely because you’re not a Facebook user.

Don’t forget, though, that Facebook can be pretty insecure, and
everything you say is visible to a lot of people. For that reason, the
Club page is moderated and monitored.

Safety Matters

You may have noticed that Gillette’s new razor, the Fusion ProGlide,
has a tag line ‘turns shaving in to gliding’. Whilst it is not specifically
mentioned in our operational and safety procedures, please do NOT shave
whilst gliding – it will not enhance your flight in any way.

On a more serious note, I make no apology for the Wire being used to
disseminate safety updates and reminders to members. We have a duty of
care to everyone, members and visitors alike, to ensure that we always
operate to the highest possible standards of safety.


Winch Matters

Dyneema Maintenance

A recent cable break gave an example of what I expect to happen in
future. It is easy to publish guidelines, “best practice”, etc. but
here it is happening for real. In the near future the testing equipment
will be stored in the clubhouse, ready to use. Shortly after that a
manual showing how it is done will be produced so that any one who is
interested can join in the fun!

David Searle, Winchmaster

Email from Ian Kennedy

A section of rope is in your pigeon hole. I had a cable break yesterday
on the right hand drum while launching the Junior on a blue strop. The
aircraft was at about 800 feet and the cable broke close to the winch.
The launch did not look fast, nor the pilot appear to be pole bending.
The conditions were steady NNW at about 10 knots. We were launching
from the stub, so a fair bit of crosswind. I cut out a couple of metres
either side and re-spliced. Marked with red tape. No further problems.

Email from the Winchmaster

I tested two samples, one from each piece. The first was 10.9kN, the
second was 9.4kN. I tested another sample of the weak one which gave
10.4kN. The conclusion is that the strength within quite a short span
of rope is rather variable. As a chain is only as good as its weakest
link, I will arrange for a section to be replaced. I am using 10.0kN as
the criterion, so that a black weak link should go first.

By the way, 10kiloNewton is within 2% of 1000kilogram force, and the
tensile test machine is calibrated in kN, so that is what I use now.
The 2% error is in our favour relative to a black weak link, whose
actual strength is 9.81kN

Email from the Winchmaster

Just to finalise our correspondence, I have replaced the section that
you had repaired. It was a 65m second hand section of 12 strand yellow
Marlow rope. I have used a similar length of the same make of rope
which has been tested to 15.4kN at one end, and 13.8kN at the other. It
has 2 splices near the middle which had been checked at 14.2kN. So the
final result is 4 splices in a relatively short compass, but all the
replacement rope has been calibrated.

When we are using tested lengths of second hand rope, I don’t mind how
many splices we have, as long as we know the strength of each segment.
Our testing method effectively tests the overall strength including a
splice, so there is no adjustment to be made for the reduction in
strength due to the splice.

At £1/m for new replacement rope, it makes sense to use whatever
effective life we have left in our large stock of used rope.

Flying Diary

Here are a few important dates in this season’s club flying schedule.
The full diary is on the Club web site.

2nd May 7-Day operation starts in earnest
21st May Sutton Bank
18th June Camp Hill
1st August Club Flying Week
9th September 7-Day operation may end

Continue reading

The Wire November 2010

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


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.



Treasurer’s Report

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.



The Committee

Company Secretary

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:


Chairman John Dickinson
Company Secretary,
Membership Secretary
Richard Maksymowicz
Treasurer Chris Wooller
Vice Chairman Nick Jaffray
CFI Steve Brown
Aircraft Andy Balkwill
Vouchers and Courses Ian Kennedy
Site Chris Bingham
Publications Geoff Butler
Bursar Liz Pickett
Vehicles Steve Pearce
Jonty Boddington
Adrian Flower
Dave Martin



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

  • Retraining
  • Loss of flying privileges
  • Dismissal from the Club



CFI’s AGM Report

Basic Instructors

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.

Official Observers

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.

Off-Season Lectures

The Bronze C lectures will be run in early 2010 if there is sufficient demand.

Summer 2009 Flying Stats


2010 2009 2008 2007
Days flown 189 202 163 174
Club glider launches 4130 4016 3499 4030
Syndicate glider launches 817 876 702 870
Total launches 5533 5841 4788 5771
XC kilometres flown 7803 18305 12549 29119
XC tasks 61 98 77 149
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.



Chairman’s Report

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

Apprentice Scheme

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.



Club Trophies

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.

Committee Trophies

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.



CFI’s Corner

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.




Club News

Clubhouse Roof

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.

Winter Thursdays

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.

Holiday Season

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.


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

Cable Pickup

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.

David Searle
Winch Master



Bonfire Night

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.



Christmas Dinner

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.



And Finally

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.
Continue reading

The Wire August 2010

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club

Issue 47, August 2010




From the Chairman


Coventry Airport is once again open for business. At the moment it appears limited to cargo flights, executive jets and helicopter charter and training, but I have no doubt that they will try to get passenger services back to the airport. They are operating a full ATC service, and three weeks prior to the time of writing they carried out radar calibration checks.

We will be monitoring the situation, but please continue to keep a good look out for other aircraft. There are plenty about, with the increase in traffic from Wellesbourne, and additional traffic going in or out of Coventry when we are flying is likely to be either a helicopter or executive jet!

Incidentally, we have established an excellent relationship with Wellesbourne, and their operational procedures reflect our existence.


European legislation is also very much at the forefront at the moment. The BGA have informed me that medical requirements for the LAPL (Light Aircraft Pilots Licence, which will be issued to glider pilots) are likely to be as follows:


  • Will require a complex clinical examination.
  • Can only be carried out by either anAME (Aero-Medical Examiner) or a specially qualified GP.
  • Any pilot who does not fully meet the medical standard will automatically be referred to an AME.
  • Examinations will be required every 5 years for pilots up to age 50 and at least every two years thereafter.
  • British Medical Association recommended fees indicate that the cost of this proposed GP medical will be higher than an AME Class 2 medical (£150+).


(Standardised European Rules of the Air)

It appears that the views of the general aviation community across Europe have not been taken on board.

The fear of the BGA is that these proposals, if implemented as proposed, will affect gliding as follows:


  • A normal glider flight would be classed as aerobatic and would, therefore, be prohibited unless specific permissions were obtained
  • No more ridge soaring as we know it
  • Potential closure of unlicensed aerodromes
  • We would have to file flight plans with ATC

The BGA are continuing to represent the best interests of all glider pilots in the UK – I will update you as and when I hear anything.

The Summer Season

Friends and colleagues have often remarked that it must have been a really good year for gliding – dry and warm weather from April through to the end of July.

On the face of it, it has been – the total flight time for Club aircraft is higher than it’s ever been – 800 hours since the 1st April – and we all can recall many days this year when the conditions for soaring have been excellent.

But the cross country statistics (and those who took part in Task Week) tell a different story.

So far this year, which ends on 30th September, we have logged a total of 7,500km which on the face of it seems quite a lot. But when you consider that in 2007 the total distance flown by Martyn Davies and Phil Pickett alone was 9,121km, it puts this season in a different light.

This is the third year in a row when conditions for cross country flying have been less than ideal. Is this another indicator of climate change?

Fly lots, fly far, have fun, but be safe!




Club News

The 2010 AGM

The 2010 AGM will be held in the Clubhouse on Thursday 21st October at 19:45. Formal notice will follow in due course.

We’ve had no new Committee members for several years now, and three Committee members have left in that time, so we’re keen to encourage members to join us.

It’s easy for a Committee to go stale without new blood and fresh ideas. Contact any Committee member if you’re interested, or just send your nomination form to the Club Secretary.

Member of the Year

This year, we’ll be making an award to the ‘Member of the year’. The winner will be selected, indeed elected, by the Club membership, by a simple ballot.

The rules are:


  • One member, one vote
  • There are paper voting forms in the Clubhouse
  • You can vote by email
  • Email votes must be from the voting member’s email address as registered in Glidex
  • The closing date for votes is 30th September
  • At least 25 votes must be received for the award to be valid
  • Committee members are Club members and therefore are entitled to vote

Your vote should contain who you are voting for (obviously), and also your reasons, if you like. These reasons will not be used as part of the ballot, but might be used in the citation for the award.

Trial Lesson Evenings

This year’s trial lesson evenings have been very disappointing. We’ve flown for just thirteen evenings, mostly with groups of just eight or so. It reached the stage that the teams were assuming there was no booking unless told otherwise, instead of the other way round.

It’s not just us. Spice, who regularly book five evenings each year, and fill them to overflowing, managed just two evenings this year, both half full.

It wasn’t unexpected, given the state of the nation’s finances, but the degree of the slump will cause us a real headache. Evenings usually bring thousands of pounds into the club coffers, which we can ill afford to lose. An increase in club flying has compensated somewhat, but inessential spending is very much on hold at present.




The Badge Ladder

The Badge Ladder currently has two pilots in equal first place, with the highest score the since the ladder was introduced. Daniel Brown and Dave Martin both stand on 2450 points, having done everything there is from First Solo via Bronze and Silver to Cross-Country Diploma Part I.

Time will tell whether they can separate themselves to win the trophy at the AGM.


The Derek Phillips Trophy

The Wooden Ladder is still up for grabs. One good flight in a wooden ship could easily win it.



Not so Happy Landings

As some of you will know, I recently had a field landing accident. What most of you won’t know are the details of the event and so I thought it might be worth sharing them with you in the hope that you may learn from my experience and avoid a similar situation in the future.

The task was Grafham Water and Bromyard: 305km. It was a good day and I set off just after 12 with lots of good lift and had a great first leg turning GRW with an average speed of 112kph. Cloud base was by now 5000′ and all was going fine until I reached Long Marston, where a large area of spreadout forced me to divert north and generally scratch around in rubbish for a while.

I briefly contemplated turning Alcester and calling it a day, but I reasoned that the conditions would cycle. I then got a 2kt climb to cloud base There was sun on the ground in the distance so I pressed ahead under what seemed like endless black spread-out and emerged into the light just to the north of Great Malvern at around 2000′.

After all the heavy shadow on the ground I had expected some good lift once I got to an area with the sun on it – but I only found scraps. I local-soared the area searching for lift and started to look for fields. But, there were no fields clear of standing crop in this area, no pasture, no set-aside, nothing except a couple of playing fields and an area of ground cleared in preparation for building, which looked fine from 2000′ but which I suspected contained all sorts of nasties. All three options looked sufficiently big although one of the playing fields was certainly on the small side.

At this stage I could have headed down wind, to search for better field options – but with little chance of finding lift back under the black clouds – not very appealing. I hadn’t bothered to look for fields on my long glide under the spread-out because I’d been confident I’d find lift once out in the sun again.

I continued to try to work the scraps of lift while staying local to the three field options – I was sure that any second the lift would get going and I’d be away in 4kts and then off to Bromyard. But, no, I continued to lose height gradually and after 20 minutes decided at it was time to land. During all the local soaring I’d been consistently drifting eastwards (to be expected in a westerly!) and in the absence of any smoke or other signs assumed the ground level wind to be broadly westerly. I’d also had plenty of time to re-assess the field size, slope etc. in more detail – they still looked OK.

By the time I’d decided it was time to land I was in a position where only one of my three options remained available if I was to be able to fly a proper circuit (the other two were by now too far up-wind). I did my checks, lowered the undercarriage and flew the circuit, turned finals, selected landing flapà àsuddenly the field was looking rather small. Air speed was OK and I rounded out but the ground speed seemed high. I touched down and pulled on the wheel brake as hard as I could but it soon became clear I wouldn’t stop before the end of the field so I aimed for the corner.

I was probably doing around 10 miles per hour when the port wing hit a steel post at the edge of the field. The glider shuddered to a halt and it all went very quiet. I was fine; not a scratch, but the glider had a large hole in the leading edge of the port wing.

So what when wrong?…

I think there were a number of factors which contributed to the accident – some of which you have probably spotted already.


  • The flight had gone well right up to the point I got to Malvern, I hadn’t been low and so hadn’t taken too much notice of the state of the fields and so had not spotted that the harvest was yet to start in earnest.
  • I had set off under the spread-out knowing I would not be particularly high when I emerged but confidence borne out of the earlier good conditions probably contributed to me not thinking to pay much attention to fields along the way just in case when I got out into the sun there was no lift.
  • I should have selected the best of the three fields and local soared only that one – especially as one was “on the small side” and another had a dubious surface. The result of local soaring all three was that the decision on which one to use was not made by me.
  • On landing I found that there was no head wind – instead a 90 degree cross-wind from the north, which remained the case while I awaited the retrieve so it wasn’t just a temporary condition. I’m not sure what was going on – possibly a local effect due to the nearby Malvern Hills. But I guess that the lesson is that if you don’t have a clear indication of the wind direction at ground level then don’t assume it will be the same as it was back at the airfield or on task.
  • The kinetic energy in a glider is proportional to the square of its speed. As a result of there being no headwind, my ground speed was 55kts. Had I been landing into a 10kt head wind the ground speed would have been 45kts and I’d have had 50% less energy to get rid of, meaning a shorter float and shorter ground run. If there had been the expected head wind I’d have stopped in time.
  • Finally, having trawled through my log book I noticed that I have only ever had 4 “real” field landings in 12 years of cross country flying (lots of unplanned landings at alternate airfields but those are rather different). I think this is as a result of the relatively cautious way I fly – tending to stay high at the expense of increased cross country speeds. However, the consequence has been lack of currency on picking a field. I don’t think I’ve ever done any field landing checks since my original cross country endorsement. I had assumed that having “regular” (not so regular as it turned out) field landings had the effect of keeping me relatively current but I think I may have been guilty of complacency here.

It makes me wonder how many other regular or occasional cross country pilots are similarly out of practice on their field landings. So my question to you is “when was the last time you had a field landing refresher in a motor glider?” One more good reason for the Club to get permission to use motor gliders!

So were there any positives from this? Yes, I think so:


  • I walked away unscratched
  • The glider is repaired
  • I flew a good circuit (albeit into an bad field) so there was no risk of stalling or spinning-in as a result of a “bad circuit into a good field” which would have been far more serious
  • I had the presence of mind to aim for the corner of the field and let the wing absorb the impact when it became clear I wouldn’t stop in time. The end of the field had a ditch with water in it and old tree stumps camouflaged in long grass, neither of which would have been pleasant to encounter head on
  • I’ve learnt some good lessonsà

So I hope the above has given you all some food for thought. I’m off to have a refresher on field selection in a motor glider!!

Andy Balkwill



Club Flying Weeks

Sutton Bank

In May we held our twentieth club expedition to Yorkshire Gliding Club (YGC) at Sutton Bank. Ten of our members enjoyed the hospitality of YGC and once again the Club did not disappoint, with 66 hours flown by eight pilots on seven days.

On Friday we enjoyed exceptionally good thermal conditions, so good in fact that two YGC pilots completed 750km tasks: one of them flew 768km at an average speed of 96.5kph (no, that’s not a misprint!). The rest of the week saw mixed thermal conditions and some ridge flying.

Special mention goes to Paul McAuley who – for reasons we won’t go into – toured the majority of the north Yorkshire moors as he made his way to the coast and back on a very average day. He covered nearly 100km while the rest of were busy just trying to stay airborne at YGC – well done Paul!

We look forward to a return trip next year and to introducing more SoAGC members to this unique site.



Camphill was a bit worrying this year. Something was definitely different and it drew concerned comments from several people. We are, of course, referring to that great British topic of conversation, the weather, and this year, for the whole week, it didn’t rain! Well, not much during the day, anyway. Instead, we had some murky starts but plenty of decent, flyable days with thermals and ridge lift for all to enjoy.

The T21 made the trip, giving us the usual team effort to get it off and back on its trailer – rigging it was a doddle after that! It was worth it though, as almost every time I looked up I could see her in the sky right up until an hour before she was on her way home again.

The evening entertainment included the usual quiz and horseshoe competition, with plenty of time spent in the bar, but had the addition of a surprisingly interesting talk on training geese to fly alongside a microlight for filming.

I will confess I have no idea how many launches were done or how many hours were flown but, as with any vintage rally, that wasn’t particularly important. Suffice to say that the Stratford contingent was the largest at the rally, there were plenty of launches, the T21 was well used and Stratford pilots managed to win several bottles of wine at the daily briefing.

Oh, and we won the quiz as well!


Task Week

This year’s task week, in the last week of July, wasn’t a washout, because we flew on seven days out of the eight. The seventeen pilots who took part took 106 launches to spend some 83 hours in the air.

However, it certainly wasn’t any good for cross-country flying: the week only produced sixteen flights in the cross-country book, of which just twelve were over 50k, and the longest was 102k.

The barbecue at the end of the week made up for the flying, though. Thanks to Pete Merritt for cooking it, Barry Kerby and Martyn Davies for funding it, and Mike Coffee for doing the washing up.



Club Policies

We have now published our Data Protection policy. The Data Protection Act imposes a legal obligation on the way we handle data about our members and visitors. We believe that we follow the letter and spirit of the law in the way we handle our data.

It is, of course, the responsibility of individual members to keep their data up to date, by changing it in Glidex or by informing the Committee. Please do it by email or on paper, though, rather than somewhere less memorable such as mentioning it in the car park at the Club and expecting people to remember.

Obsolete email addresses are a particular problem, since we are trying to use email rather than snail mail for Club information wherever possible.



High Flight

by John Gillespie Magee Jr

  Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
  And danced the skies on laughter silvered wings;
  Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
  Of sun-split clouds and done a hundred things
  You have not dreamed of: wheeled and soared and swung
  High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
  I’ve chased the shouting wind along and flung
  My eager craft through footless halls of air.
  Up, up the long delirious, burning blue
  I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
  Where never lark, or even eagle flew;
  And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
  The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
  Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.


EASA Supplement


  • Pilots must ensure that all surly bonds have been slipped before aircraft taxi or flight is attempted.
  • During periods of sky dancing, passengers and crew must keep seatbelts fastened.
  • Laughter silvering must not be used when there is risk of icing.
  • Sunward climbs must not exceed the aircraft ceiling.
  • Passenger aircraft are prohibited from joining the tumbling mirth.
  • Pilots flying through sun-split clouds under VFR conditions must comply with all minimum clearances.
  • Only test pilots may perform these hundred things.
  • Wheeling, soaring, and swinging will not be attempted except in aircraft rated for aerobatics.
  • Be advised that sunlit silence will occur only when a major engine malfunction has occurred.
  • “Hov’ring there” is an indication that a flight emergency is imminent.
  • Pilots and passengers encountering shouting winds must not shout back.
  • Pilots flinging eager craft through footless halls of air are reminded that they alone are responsible for maintaining separation from other eager craft.
  • Should any crew member experience delirium while in the burning blue, declare a flight emergency.
  • Windswept heights will be topped by a minimum of 1,000 feet to maintain VFR minimum separations.
  • Aircraft engine ingestion of eagles is generally more damaging than of larks.
  • Aircraft operating in the high untrespassed sanctity of space must remain in IFR flight regardless of meteorological conditions and visibility.
  • Pilots and passengers are reminded that putting out their hands to touch the face of God may result in cabin depressurisation.

Continue reading

The Wire May 2010

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club

Issue 46, May 2010




From the Chairman

You may not know this, but I’m a member of a secret society.

The committee agreed that Trial Lesson Evenings in May would be used as ‘open evenings’ so that anyone who was interested could come along and fly, find out about gliding and us as a Club. We have always had difficulty selling evenings to groups in May, so it seemed an ideal way of using these evenings to good effect.

Publicity is the key to the success of any venture of this kind. Unfortunately, paying for advertising is expensive and is not guaranteed to produce results. The last time we invested in advertising was to launch the Junior Sponsorship Scheme (aka The Cadet Scheme) in three local papers. On the night, only four family groups came along – one of whom was there because a member had told them about the scheme. Perhaps you can understand my reluctance to invest £600 plus to repeat the exercise for the Open Evenings.

Instead we issued press releases to local papers, made contact with BBC Coventry& Warwickshire, placed a display at the Armouries, placed posters in local holiday caravan sites, asked members to help, added this information to our Trial Lesson Evening Packs (60 of which have been distributed!) and publicised this on our web site.

Did our efforts have the desired results? Well not really, but at least we didn’t spend much in achieving nothing.

Was it a waste of time? Definitely not! If we didn’t try anything we would never achieve anything. Would we do it again? Almost certainly, but next time I’m sure we’ll learn from our experience and try a different approach to get the message out there.

If you have any ideas how to increase our profile with the general public please keep it to yourself – after all you’re a member of the same secret society that I belong to.

(Only joking – if you do have any ideas or can help please speak with any committee member)

Fly lots, have fun, but be safe!



A Letter From Phil

As I write, it’s five weeks since my operation, and about time I thanked everyone for all their kind wishes and support through our recent trauma. Liz and I have both been touched to the core by all your help and support – we’ve been inundated with cards, gifts and gestures of kindness and concern from so many it’s truly humbling to know one has so many friends in this great club.

The way the instructors have rallied round to provide cover over the summer months so we can all continue to enjoy our flying through the week can only be described as admirable, and I really can’t see such pulling together happening in many other clubs.

As a brief progress report, I have regained my Class 1 medical, and already enjoyed a couple of flights in the back of the K21, something which seemed almost unattainable just a few short weeks ago. I am hoping to be able to get in and out of the front of a glider in the next week or so, get checked out for solo, and then enjoy some private flying in my beloved ASW24 for a couple of months before regaining my Class 2 medical and resuming instructing duties, hopefully in the beginning of July.

Once again thank you all, happy and safe flying, and it goes without saying I’m proud to belong to such a friendly club.

Phil Pickett
April 2010



The Spring Meeting

The 2010 Spring Meeting was held in the Clubhouse on Thursday 25th March at 19:45. There were 43 members present, including the President and Vice President of Warwick University Gliding Society, and twenty apologies for absence.

Fees for the Coming Year

The Treasurer proposed that there should be no change to Flying Fees for 2010/11. This took into account the current state of the economy, and the fact that the Club expected to make a surplus for the year, even if the income from the Peugeot event is discounted.

This was put to the vote and, unsurprisingly, accepted unanimously by the Meeting.

The Chairman’s Report

The Chairman gave a summary of the previous year, April 2008 to March 2009. April and May were excellent – in terms of flight income they provided the best start to a year that the Club has ever had, but June and July proved to be less successful. We have recruited sixteen new members this year, of which nine are junior or cadet members. WarwickUniversity have joined us, and so far 32 of their members have flown with us.

The highlight of the year was the Peugeot Event, for which the credit for this event is entirely due to Andy Sutton. Its success demonstrated that there is a market for this type of event and the Club could run similar events again.

Derek Phillips passed away in December after a prolonged illness. The Committee had previously announced that it planned to award a trophy for wooden gliders and it has been decided to name the trophy after Derek. The trophy is in the process of being made and will be awarded at the AGM. It will of course be made of wood.

Last year, income from all sources was £93,000 but for the year about to end it is expected to be £116,000. Member flying income was significantly higher, boosted by fourteen “doughnut days”. Bearing in mind that about £7,000 of this income was due to the Peugeot event, it remains necessary to keep a tight control on all spending.

Colibri Loggers

Tony Murphy gave a presentation on the use of these loggers. He has provided a set of guidance notes which have been laminated and will be kept in the Briefing Room. He has also produced a table of local turn points and their distances so that pilots can fly small local tasks and remain within gliding distance of other local airfields.

Emergency Services

On Sunday 28th February, Phil Pickett suffered a cardiac arrest while on site. Had it not been for the prompt actions taken by Club members we could have found ourselves attending another funeral.

It has prompted us to review our procedures. If we have to call to the emergency services, they will ask for the Club’s postcode, which is now posted prominently around the Club. It’s CV37 0EG.

Gift Aid

As a CASC, we are entitled to claim Gift Aid on donations to the Club. It’s within the rules for us to pay travel expenses to members who are on a rota to attend the Club, and for them to donate the same amount back to the Club. For the sake of some admin, this will be worth between£1500 and £2000 in Gift Aid.

We’ll start with instructors on their duty days and the Committee for Committee meetings, and see how it goes from there.

Heavy Landings

The CFI and Chairman both emphasised the importance of reporting potential damage such as from heavy landings. The Club accepts that accidents will happen but that while we operate a “no blame” culture, society does not, and an accident that was caused by an unreported previous heavy landing would be subject to severe repercussions.

Alternative Ways to Pay

The syndication of the Junior is available again this year. A one-off fee of £150 pays for all your flying time during the year. You still have to pay launch fees, and normal Club rules regarding the Flying List and Flight Time Limits still apply.

One single-seater and one two-seater can be hired for the day during the week. It costs £40 and includes all flight time but not launch fees, and the aircraft is yours for the day unless you choose to let others fly it, for which they pay Club rates to the Club. The aircraft can be booked up to a week ahead.



CFI’s Report to the Spring Meeting


The gliding movement as a whole is not making progress in reducing the accident rate, although SoAGC still has an excellent safety record. 2008 was free of fatal accidents, but 2009 was back to the long term average, which is four.

In two of the fatal accidents, the cause was thought to be spinning in off a final turn while attempting field landings, but as these are still being investigated by the AAIB this can’t be confirmed. A further spinning accident could have been fatal but the pilot crashed into trees.Furthermore, concern has been expressed that the high level of substantially damaged gliders (58) could lead to a rise in insurance premiums. The trend here is clearly upwards.

There is a new edition of the BGA’s Safe Winch Launching booklet, which every member should have received by now.


Please don’t let yourself get distracted while you’re DIing an aircraft, and equally, please don’t distract anyone who is in the process of DIing. It’s so easy to overlook things when your concentration is interrupted.


The EASA Flight Crew Licensing proposals include some new terminology: Assistant Cat becomes Flight Instructor, Full Cat becomes Flight Examiner, and so on. Basic Instructor becomes Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, it would seem.

Glidex has been updated to reflect this change in terminology, and we need to start using these terms so that we get used to them.




A Letter From Dave

Over the last two to three years, Penny Broad took on the time-consuming responsibility of organising and documenting various books donated to the club’s library.

To augment and expand this library, I have had the pleasure of donating a further 65 books, many of which would be difficult to replace today. My wish is that present and future generations will have the opportunity to read and enjoy these books as I have done over the past 60 years. An inventory of the books donated is recorded on disc and also on the club’s computer.

In order to keep this library intact, it is of course necessary for members to operate the booking system conscientiously and where possible return books within say four weeks. Already, this is not happening – it’s your library, it’s up to all of you to take care of it.

Dave Benton



Lift, Don’t Drag

As glider pilots, we should always be striving to maximise our lift/drag ratio, so could I remind you all to lift the tail of the glider when manoeuvring severely at slow speed, and not drag it round by its wingtip. This puts enormous strain on the drag pins and spars particularly at the fuselage/wing junction, and in time causes costly damage. An analogy would be doing up a nut – imagine how little force you’d have to put on your spanner if it was 7½ metres long!

This is particularly important for tail-heavy gliders, and those with T tails (where the mass of the tailplane is a long way away from the wheel, inducing large torsional forces on the rear fuselage). So remember, gentle turns on the ground are acceptable, but sharp turns are not, so please… remember your L/D on the ground as well as in the air!

Phil Pickett
Technical Officer



The Clubhouse


The most pressing update to the Clubhouse is the provision of a proper pitched roof. We have already suffered small leaks in the flat roof, and a severe leak could seriously damage the structure. The job is likely to cost £5000 and a lot of members’ time and effort.

The provision of mains electricity would cost over £60,000 and is not an option. The alternative uses battery storage and aninverter, and is powered by wind and sun with the generator in reserve. The details are currently being investigated.


We’re very keen on keeping the clubhouse clean and tidy. If it ends up looking like a tip, people will treat it as a tip, and there’s no way back from there. An earlier attempt to organise a fortnightly rota among the members roused just six volunteers, all of whom withdrew their offer when they saw the lack of support from the membership in general.

Lots of members do a bit on an ad hoc basis, but there’s not much enthusiasm for cleaning the toilets and the kitchen. That means that the only solution is to pay to have the clubhouse cleaned professionally. The first estimate, from a professional cleaner in Bearley, was £2000 a year, which we just couldn’t afford. A later estimate came in at 120 hours a year at £10 an hour.

The Committee have now received, and accepted, a significantly cheaper proposal from a group of three Club members to keep the clubhouse clean. It’s based on an hour a week cleaning the toilets, half an hour a week vacuuming the floors, and two hours every two months cleaning the kitchen. It’s a paid contract, so the members involved (Liz, Humph, and Pete M) have a commitment to do the cleaning regularly as agreed.



The Badge Ladder

The Badge Ladder has proved a great success over the last few years, inspiring fun and friendly rivalry, particularly among the less experienced pilots whom it was originally aimed at. I know there have been many achievements over the last few months from first solos to complete Bronze badges, but as yet I’ve received no claims.

Can I remind pilots that the claim forms are in the small cabinet in the clubhouse, so simply fill one in and give it to me, or leave it in my pigeon hole. The winner gets a valuable trophy, 15 minutes (well, seconds) of fame at the AGM, and their name recorded for all time in the SOAGC Hall of Fame!

Phil Pickett
Ladder Steward

Continue reading

The Wire February 2010

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club

Issue 45, February 2010




Derek Phillips

Derek Phillips passed away on 21st December 2009 after a prolonged illness.

A very keen pilot, Derek started gliding about 55 years ago when he learned to fly on SG8 primary gliders on a course at Nympsfield in 1955.

After serving as an Aircraft Rigger and Engineer in the RAF during his national service he was, later, trained by Eric Rolph at Moreton-in-Marsh as a BGA inspector in the mid 1960s.

During his gliding career, Derek flew as a member of a number of clubs including the Midland Gliding Club, the Worcestershire Gliding Club at Bidford – the predecessor of Stratford on Avon Gliding Club – and at Enstone.

Following the Worcestershire’s club’s re-formation as Stratford on Avon GC in 1972, he re-joined and remained a member ever since.

Derek was also a keen and well respected member of The Vintage Gliding Club and owned shares in an Oly and an Eagle as well as a Standard Cirrus.

During a large part of his 37 or so years at Stratford he provided an invaluable service when C of A time came around, charging little or nothing for his services. In addition he served as Technical Officer at Stratford for many years.

His work as an Inspector, and later as a Senior Inspector, on behalf of Stratford members and many others in the gliding movement, especially the Vintage Gliding Club, probably has no equal.

Derek always had time to help solve problems with gliders or give good advice as well as frequently providing access to his workshop for club members.

His efforts on behalf of Stratford on Avon Gliding Club were acknowledged by the club when he was awarded life membership in the late 1980s. He also received a BGA Diploma in 2007 as recognition of his contribution to gliding.

Derek had many friends in gliding and will be sadly missed by all.



From the Chairman

January has seen the worst snowfall in Stratford in living memory – or at least in my living memory, which admittedly only extends back 15 years. We had almost two weeks when the temperature barely rose above freezing point – the minimum temperature I recorded on our patio at home was -12C.

Traffic chaos ensued, schools were closed, employees forced to ‘work from home’ (a modern term meaning ’employer sanctioned skiving’), supermarket shelves were blitzed (not sure how people got there – see ‘traffic chaos’), neighbours talked to each other for the first time.

Then, virtually overnight, the snows disappeared, bringing with it a different set of problems – flooding. When that subsided it was back to below zero temperatures!

You would think that it would have had a dramatic effect on the amount of flying we’ve been able to achieve. I was convinced that we would have suffered because of the weather – I thought that January would prove to be one of our worst from a performance perspective and take the edge off what I believe will be a good financial year for us.

Even though doughnut days have been non-existent, but not for the lack of trying, we did manage to fly on 10 days in January – two less than last January – and we amassed 357 launches – our best January total since 2000 and 138 more than last January. Total flight time is also up, though the longest flight recorded was only 25 minutes.

How did we manage to fly so much despite the cold? By flying in thermals of course.

Fly lots, have fun, but be safe!



Club News

The Spring Meeting

The 2010 Spring Meeting is only a few weeks away now. Please make a note to come along to the Clubhouse on Thursday 25th March at 19:45. Formal notice will follow in due course.

Summer Season Diary

The Summer Season Diary is now available in full on the Club web site. Here are a couple of key dates:


3rd May Seven-day operation starts
24th May Sutton Bank expedition
26th July Task and Badge week
3rd September Seven-day operation ends

Two Solos

Sunday 31st January saw two first solos, by Daniel Brown (aged sixteen) and Dave Martin (a bit older than that).

By coincidence, Daniel was sent solo by the same instructor (Martyn Davies) in the same aircraft (CCT) as his father, Steve.

Stratford Christmas Fair

The Club put the Junior on display at the Stratford Christmas Fair on 17th December. We had the use of some space next to the canal basin, at the bottom of Bridge Street.

The original plan was to sell vouchers as Christmas presents, although we revised this retrospectively, to raising the awareness of the sport in the local community, largely because the number of vouchers we sold was disappointingly low. We did get our picture in the Stratford Herald, though, so it wasn’t a complete disaster.

The aircraft was on display from eight in the morning to eight in the evening, and was manned by teams of Club members who had to brave a bitterly cold day in the open air.

Our thanks are due to all those members who risked frostbite, hypothermia, and McDonald’s coffee to help the Club.

Bronze ‘C’ Lectures

This series of lectures is primarily aimed at new solo pilots wishing to complete their Bronze ‘C’ examination paper, but they are extremely useful for all pilots wishing to brush up on any of the subjects covered – all are welcome.

All the lectures will take place in the Clubhouse on Thursday evenings starting at 19:30. The full schedule is as follows:


25th February Navigation Part 1 Andy Balkwill
4thMarch Navigation Part 2 Andy Balkwill
11th March Principles of Flight Part 1 Phil Pickett
18th March Principles of Flight Part 2 Phil Pickett
1st April Principles of Flight Part 3 Phil Pickett
8th April Air Law Pete Fanshawe
15th April Meteorology Martyn Davies
25th April Radio & Airmanship Steve Brown
29th April Exam Steve Brown

If you intend to sit the exam on the 29th April, could you please email Steve ( and let him know directly.

If you have already got your Bronze ‘C’, ask yourself this question: ‘Would I pass the exam if I were to sit it again tomorrow?’ If your honest answer to this is ‘No!’, then come along – I’m sure that you will benefit from attending .

Tenner-Off Vouchers

These vouchers, which bring a full-price visitor flight down from £50 to £40, will be available again this year. Last year, they got us some publicity, although only a few were redeemed. However, we’ve got lots left, so we’re overprinting the 2010 expiry date.

Any member can use them wherever they see fit, to try to get more visitors to the Club.

Launch Assistants

The launch assistant is the piece of kit in CCT that sends the ASI readout to a display in the winch. We’re going to buy two more of these soon for the other K13s, and possibly two more later for the K18 and the K8.

They do a good job of keeping the launch speeds right, particularly near the top of the launch where the stresses are at their highest.



CFI’s Corner

With the season rapidly approaching thoughts turn to annual refresher flying. We all have to do them, even CFIs have to do them, but the only advantage is they only have to be done every 5 years with our Senior Regional Examiner.

I finally completed my refresher flying in January when our SRE paid me a visit at Stratford. He was most impressed with our clubhouse and the briefing facilities and I believe they are on a par with any of the larger clubs. He also felt our general flying operation was well run so thank you to everyone on site on that Sunday for their efforts in making the day run smoothly.

Instructors will know for many years the BGA have always sat on the fence as far as down wind checks go, and different clubs might use something totally different from us. I and a few of the more senior members will remember LUFSTALL being used as a down wind check, I think I have got that one right. I will buy a beer for the first member to email me with the correct interpretation of that mnemonic, sorry, instructors don’t qualify.

Anyhow, back to my refresher flight with our friendly SRE, we had quite a discussion on down wind checks, first of all the BGA would now like us to call them pre landing checks, and we should be using WULF or if you want to stick A and R on the end that’s fine, and of course we all know what the letters in the mnemonic stand for don’t we, if not ask.

Secondly, the pre landing checks shouldn’t be left until the down wind leg, they should be carried out prior to joining the circuit at the high key area. Immediately you have passed through the high key area, that is the time to make your down wind call. Generally, pilots have made a great effort to use the radio in circuit but I still hear pilots making down wind calls when they have just passed the low key area, which is far too late.

And remember the old saying Aviate, Navigate, Communicate, so please if the flying is getting a little tricky, forget trying to use the radio and just concentrate on flying the glider.

Refresher flying is just that, a minimum of a couple of flights with an instructor to refresh on things we might be rusty on, and of course with the compulsory launch failure thrown in for good measure.

Finally, a note about YouTube. To those of you that haven’t heard of it or don’t even care or even know what it is, you don’t have to worry about this. But with the very latest technology, the size of video recorders has got to the point where they are smaller than a matchbox, and that makes them ideal for taking up with you, on a fixed mount of course, and taking some great shots. I have done it myself with some great results, and we’ll be taking some promotional videos for the Club too, for the web site and the Clubhouse.

In no way do I want to discourage this, all I ask is that these miniature cameras are mounted securely, and as far as YouTube, or any similar website goes, can I ask that anything you publish on YouTube or on the internet is shown to myself or John D first. This is because once it’s on the internet it’s there for the whole world to see, that includes the BGA, you know what I mean. Of course, the above only applies to any videos shot at Snitterfield.

I hope everyone has a safe season with plenty of flying and no mishaps.




Trial Lesson Evenings

These evenings generate a huge amount of income for the Club, worth £70 or £80 off each of our annual membership fees, without interfering with our own flying. We need to maximize the number of evenings that we sell, and spread the work among the members.

So, we are actively seeking volunteers to help out on these evenings. We need team leaders, instructors, winch drivers, and ground crew. By the time you read this, there will be a notice up in the Clubhouse for you to sign. We need six teams of eight or nine people each, on duty on one evening every two weeks from May to August. Ideally we need fifty volunteers to avoid some people having to double up.

We also need you to help sell these evenings, either by bringing a group along, or by passing on the details to others who might do the same. Information packs are available for distribution to groups such as companies, clubs, and pubs, and are also available for download from our website. Please take as many as you can distribute.

We’ve always had difficulty of selling evenings in May. The evenings are long but the weather is somewhat unpredictable. This year, we will be running open evenings for anyone to come along and fly, at the special rate of £30, or £15 for juniors. We’ll be publicising these in the local press, and asking all the members to help get the message out.

This also means that the six teams will be on duty on each of their allotted dates during May, and we need some of the team to be there for evenings that are affected by the weather, so that anyone who does come along can still be introduced to the Club, the aircraft, and the sport. The first evening for Team One will be on Tuesday 4th May.



Heavy Landings

You will probably be aware by now that the K18 is undergoing major repairs following an unreported heavy landing.

We all have mishaps from time to time and nobody means to get it wrong, but it happens. Equally we all have pride, and hopefully take pride in the way we fly. As instructors and inspectors, we are not in the business of giving a bollocking, rather of ensuring we all enjoy our sport in the safest possible manner, and so it is essential we do not let our pride override our heads in the event of a slight mishap and in fear of feeling belittled.

So if you do have a heavy landing, report it! OK, your pride may take a denting, but you’ll soon get over it and it’ll be forgotten. But could you ever live with yourself if the consequences were to prove fatal further down the line?

It cannot be stressed enough how essential it is that any heavy landing is reported to an instructor or inspector and his advice sought before the glider is flown again.

Remember, what may seem pretty innocuous may exacerbate previous, hidden damage, especially on older, heavily used club gliders. Our gliders are almost exclusively launched by winch, and therefore spend time close to the edge of the flight envelope on every flight. This repeated exposure of the airframe to high stresses will weaken the structure over time and damage can be hard to spot, especially if you are not specifically looking for it.

If an incident is not reported at the time of its occurrence any damage that may be present would be unlikely to be found on subsequent DI, and the result really could prove fatal on a later launch.

Phil Pickett
Technical Officer



Club Policies

Over the years, various Committees have developed many policies which guide the way we run the Club. Up to now, these policies have remained within the Committee. However, many of these directly affect Club Members, so we have decided to document them properly and make them generally available. It’s an on-going project, but the first two policies are now in a binder in the Clubhouse. New policies, and changes to existing policies, will be announced inThe Wire, although in general it will just be a brief summary.

The first is, inevitably, a statement of our Policy on Policies. This one is copied in its entirety below. The second is Complaints and Appeals, which was adopted verbatim (except for the spelling mistakes) from the recently published BGA Policies Pack.

Club Policies

The Committee develops Club Policies as the tools by which it tries to ensure that the Club, the Committee, and all Club Members comply with the Club Rules, BGA andCAA requirements, and national legislation.

It is the policy of Stratford on Avon Gliding Club to document its policies, and to publish them to all members of the Club.

Any Club Member who has an issue with any aspect of a Policy can raise this with the Committee, who then consider it within a reasonable time. It is for the Committee to decide whether and what to change. The Member can raise the issue at a General Meeting if they feel the Committee has not adequately dealt with it.

None of these policies is immutable, but changes indicate a significant change to the way the Club is run. All Club Members will be informed about new policies and changes to existing policies.

The Club policies are printed and collected in a binder which is kept in the clubhouse. A printed version is the conclusion of whatever deliberations resulted in the policy. Other documents, such as working documents which explain the reasoning, or the originals of documents from other sources, must be retained in soft form together with the soft form of the printed version.

A policy based on an external document from another source, such as the BGA, is based on it at the time the policy was approved. Changes to external documents do not automatically become Club policy. However, such changes should be considered for incorporation into the Club policy.

Complaints and Appeals

This policy deals with the way complaints are handled within the Club, what disciplinary measures might be taken as a result, and the rights and mechanism of appeal against such measures.
Continue reading

The Wire November 2009

The Newsletter of Stratford Gliding Club

Issue 44, November 2009




From the Chairman

There will be a lot going on behind the scenes through the winter. Our immediate objectives?

  • Maximise the sale of Trial Lesson Vouchers
  • Increase our ‘visibility’ within the local area
  • Organise more corporate days for the first half of next year
  • Hold ‘Open Evening’ events in May

Firstly we hope to display a glider at one of the Christmas markets in Stratford – they happen every Thursday from about now until Christmas. The aim is to sell Trial Lesson Vouchers, but also (and more importantly) make ourselves known to the local populous. Of course we need your support to do this.

Moving on to next year, we are hoping to have several corporate days before the seven day ops start. We have the facilities to fly, so why not make use of them for profit when we would otherwise be closed? Of course we need your support to do this.

Trial Lesson Evenings are available from May onwards, but those dates in May have always been difficult to sell. In the past, the Club has held ‘open days’ where we have fully focused on flying members of the public rather than our own personal flying. We have had varying degrees of success with these events. So why don’t we use those evenings in May that we find difficult to sell for this purpose? We still need to do some work on this idea – namely how to publicise it – but if we plan it properly, we could attract new members to our Club. Of course we need your support to do this.

Speaking of Trial Lesson Evenings, once again we will be producing packs that with your help can be distributed to potential customers. In the past we have done this from April onwards, and whilst this has been effective, we feel that they could be more effective if they are delivered to our prospective customers earlier. Who are our prospective customers? It could be any business, club, pub, Women’s Institute etc etc. All we need is for our members to pick some up and deliver them. Of course we need your support to do this.

Having read the above you may feel that the emphasis is geared too much towards visitor flying, rather than Club member flying. There are good reasons for this:

  • We need to increase our reserves at the bank – visitor flying helps to achieve this.
  • When membership numbers are decreasing at 5 per year we have to replace this lost income by other means
  • Visitor flying is how we recruit new members

It is pretty obvious, but membership numbers decreasing at the current rate is not sustainable. Until such time as we start to increase our membership year on year, we need to ensure that we maximise the revenue from visitors and events. Increasing our membership has to be a long term goal – if 40 new members joined tomorrow we would not be able to cope, and 38 of them would not rejoin and we would probably lose more of our existing members in the process. I have always believed that 120 full flying members is the ideal number for our Club, but it should take at least five years to get to that level from our current position.

Traditionally we try very hard to recruit new members, and to encourage them to stick with us during the winter (via the New Members Meeting and general encouragement). But as Dianna King rightfully pointed out to me – what do we do to keep the established members who drop off the radar? We will be addressing this situation.

So, my personal goal this coming year is to increase the total of full flying members by five!

One final thought. Put yourself in a time machine and zoom forward ten years. Who is running our Club? Who is Chairman? Who is the CFI ? Who is doing all the jobs around the site that need to be done? Who is repairing our vehicles? Who is repairing our aircraft? Who is….?

Fly lots, have fun & be safe!




The 2009 AGM

The 2009 AGM was held on Thursday 22ndOctober in the Clubhouse. There were 48 members present, and 25 apologies. The main speakers were the Chairman, the Treasurer, and the CFI.



Treasurer’s Report

The 2008/2009 Season

The accounts show a loss of £4,231 compared with an almost identical loss of £4,233 the previous year. Total income was down by £12,346 (£97,488 down to £85,103), within which flying fees are down more than £6k, subscriptions are level and trial lesson and course income is down by nearly £4k. Our total operating expenditure fell by £12,348 (from £101,682 to £89,334), demonstrating our resolve to keep costs under control.

After several years of continual increase, insurance costs fell by nearly £2k, due to a no-claims discount. There was a decrease in aircraft maintenance of £9,300 which was largely down to EASA implementation. Repairs to vehicles were down by nearly £2k, thanks to the efforts of Steve Pearce. However, total depreciation costs have risen by over £1,100 due to the addition of the Workshop and new Clubhouse to our asset register.

The 2009 Season So Far

The Workshop was completed at a cost of £25,200 and the Clubhouse at a cost of £38k. We need to continue with the Clubhouse fund until the member loan is repaid, and through the 49ers, social events, and gift aid, we are on course to do this. In fact we have just repaid one third of the loan to the member concerned.

As a result of a much improved summer, our income is up for the first six months of this year, against last year. Subscriptions are down £2.5k, but flying fees are up £7k, trial lesson and course income is up £4.5k, and on top of this we have the benefit of the Peugeot event.

The summer was good but not stonking, but good enough to encourage members to keep launching to find that better thermal. We now have a much better chance of returning to profitability at the end of this year. One of our objectives must be to rebuild our cash reserves.

The main cause for concern is the fall in subscriptions. Our rates went up but the total income has fallen, meaning only one thing: we have fewer members.



CFI’s AGM Report


Itwas about time that the weather failed to support us at Sutton Bank. After all, we had been very lucky in the last few years. Indeed, the YGC members were beginning to rely upon SGC for fine weather. It was not to be, however I understand it didn’t stop the visits to the local hostelries.

Task & Badge Week was OK

The first Saturday of task week was the best when seventeen cross-country flights were logged, for a total of 2830Km including five 300Ks. The remainder of Task week provided some interesting and challenging conditions. Overall, nineteen pilots recorded thirty flights in the book, for a total of 4539Km, and there were nine out-landings, all safe. Pilots recorded 143 hours in the air.

Seven-Day Operation

This year more course days were flown than over the last few years. There were good days during the weekday operations, but generally it was only an average summer. One of the best weeks was at the beginning of September when Phil was on holiday, during which three pilots successfully completed their Silver distance.

Basic Instructors

Richard Maksymowicz and Martin Palmer completed their BI ratings in September. Their course was run at Stratford by two visiting examiners.

Official Observers

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 an understand the FAI sporting code. If you think you might be interested in becoming an OO, even if you are a bit unsure exactly what’s involved, please contact myself or Barry Kerby.


Nationally, it was a bad year for gliding, with several fatal and serious accidents. There were winch launch accidents, field landing accidents, trial lesson accidents. All these are all still happening. Our approach to refresher flying is intended to overcome this.

Stratford had one reportable accident, when the Junior tail wheel was damaged.

Off-Season Lectures

The 2009 Bronze C lectures were poorly attended. If there’s enough demand, they will be run in early 2010 but they may have to be in a different format.

If there’s enough demand, Sharon will run the Radio Procedures lecture again during the off season.

Summer 2009 Flying Stats


2009 2008 2007
Days flown 202 163 174
Club glider launches 4016 3499 4030
Syndicate glider launches 876 702 870
Total launches 5841 4788 5771
XC kilometres flown 18,305 12,549 29,119
XC tasks 98 77 149
XC pilots on ladder 20 20 21
Ladder winning score 7923 5120 9151
Visitor flights, including courses 949 588 871
Individual visitors flown 519 440 590

For most of these, we are 20% or more up on last year. Visitor flying is the biggest single improvement.



Chairman’s Report

2008/09 was a difficult year because of the weather. Add to this our capital expenditure on the workshop, and our performance was outstanding. We coped with crisis because of the up to the minute management information that Glidex provides us. We implemented stringent spending restrictions, which are still in force and will continue to be so until with have restored our reserves at the bank.

The Weather

The weather has been a double edged sword this year – it has caused us to cancel too many trial lesson evenings for my liking. Some turned out to be perfectly flyable, but the Duty Instructor was being put in the invidious position of being asked toguarantee that flying would take place! I think that this cost us at least £1,500 in fees.

It was one of those seasons where the weather looked great for soaring, but wasn’t. Disappointing, but financially very good, because people try and try again to catch that elusive thermal.


This year we lost twelve full flying members and as at the end of September had only recruited six. Normally when the weather is as it has been, we recruit more new members, but this year it hasn’t happened. We have subsequently had another person join our ranks, and hopefully the New Members meeting did its job and three of the course members will become full members. This downward trend is not sustainable, and we do need to do something to stem the leak.

It is disappointing that there were no nominations for the Committee this year. Our recommended number is fourteen but currently we only have eleven. We do need new blood in the committee – we need fresh minds to help the Club survive and prosper in to the future.

Doughnut Days

The doughnut days have continued. To the end of September there have been five, amassing a total of 105 launches and swelling our bank account by £1,184.

Thanks to everyone concerned with these days: Steve Pearce for organising and providing the doughnuts; the Duty Instructors he press-gangs in to taking charge; and everyone who has taken advantage of these additional days to come down and fly.

The Peugeot 3008

UK Press Launch

Peugeot took over the Club for four days in September, for the UK press launch of the new Peugeot 3008. Over a third of the Club’s members helped to make it happen. Credit for the entire event can only be given to one person, Andy Sutton. It simply would not have happened at all were it not for him.

We have received many complements about our Club, from Peugeot employees and contractors, journalists, and even the BGA. The complements are about our facilities as well as the ‘professional and friendly’ nature of our members. We have gained lots of media exposure in addition to the income generated from the event itself.

The publicity that we have gained from this is world wide. We will never be able to quantify the benefit we gain in terms of new members and visitors, but it is bound to have a positive effect.

The reality of the marketing situation is that for Peugeot, this was a really cheap event and very cost effective. They got their message across in a very novel way – so very different form the usual industry standard.

We also added 231 launches to our tally. 160 of these were members carrying out ‘flying demonstrations’ to the hordes of arriving journalists, and the remaining 71 were flying Peugeot’s guests around the skies.

The total value of these flights at normal member and visitor rates would be been £4307. Peugeot paid for all of this, together with a substantial premium for the use of our facilities and for the services of our members. £1000 of the profit from the flying has been donated to the Clubhouse fund.



Club Trophies

Flying Committee Trophies

Best Flight in a Club Glider : Chris Burrows, who flew 126 km, 103km, 52 km and 26km in the Junior.

Badge Ladder : Richard Knight. Most Progress in the year: Richard Knight, for his Bronze “C” and Silver in the year, and for his decision to land at Bidford G.C. to pick up a Logger before continuing his Silver “C” flight. First solo was on4/12/2008 and 126 launchesand 40+ hours since solo.

First 300k of the Year : Barry Kerby.

Club Ladder : 1st Mike Coffee, 7923; 2nd Phil King 7149; 3rd Phil Pickett, 5858.

The Tom Smith Cup for X-C Achievement, and the Andy Coffee Award for Flying Achievement were not awarded.

Committee Trophies

Winch Trophy : Humphrey Yorke.

John Simonite Memorial Trophy, Contribution to the Running of the Club : David Ireland, for his work in selling TLV and courses.

Fred Haines Shield, Long and Meritorious Service : Barry Monslow for his work on the new clubhouse.

The Chairman’s Cup : an unprecedented two cups were awarded this year: Phil Pain, for his work on the vehicles, mowing, and everything else he gets asked to do; and Steve Pearce, for the doughnut days that keep the Club flying in the unpredictable weather.

Wooden Ladder

After a recent instructors meeting, we discussed a Cross Country Ladder for wooden gliders. Concern was expressed at the apparent disparity between the points awarded to wooden gliders and to glass gliders on the ladder. The handicapping formula does not appear to place the two types of glider on a level playing field.

We need to offer encouragement to competitive pilots in wooden gliders. Ladder flights would be scored in the same way, but there could be a separate trophy awarded to the top-scoring pilot. This trophy could be open to flights in a wooden, metal, or tubular steel glider. This new trophy will be recommended to the Committee for an award to be given for the 2010 season.



Club News

Safe Winch Launching

The BGA have issued a new version of the Safe Winch Launching booklet. Our safety record continues to be good, but it important not to get complacent. Safety is everyone’s responsibility, so always look out for yourself and everyone else.

The Committee

The Club Rules require a third of the Committee to stand down. This year, David Ireland resigned from the committee, and Andy Balkwill, Geoff Butler, Nick Jaffray, Ian Kennedy and Chris Wooller 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 Ian Kennedy
Site Chris Bingham
Publications Geoff Butler
Bursar Liz Pickett
Vehicles Steve Pearce

Winter Flying Rates

At the 2008 AGM, comments from the floor suggested that the concessionary winter flying rates should be dropped because of the financial climate. It was too late to change things last year, because it was a decision made by a General Meeting that would have needed an EGM to reverse it. This year, the Chairman put the issue to the AGM for discussion and a vote.

Martyn Davies spoke in favour of dropping the concession this year, and his speech won over the meeting, who voted by a clear majority of about 65% that there should be no concessionary winter flying rates.

Clubhouse Cleaning

The voluntary system is currently working reasonably well, with more than just the usual suspects helping out. We’ll carry on over the winter and make a decision at the Spring Meeting.



The Club will be closed from the 24th to the 26th December, open on the 27th, closed on the 31st, and open from the 1st to the 3rd January.

Winter Visitor Rates

From November to February, as last year, we are reducing the visitor flying rates to £35, and the concessionary rate to £25. At the full price, the BI almost always has to offer a second flight free, and we don’t always have the capacity to do that in the winter. Second flights are still £10, subject to availability.



Bonfire Night

On Saturday 7th November we held our 2nd Annual Bonfire Extravaganza, which was attended by about 140 people. It could be our last – that is if legislation comes in to force next year requiring that firework displays are conducted by licensed operators, as opposed to retired firemen! It may be coincidence, but all the firemen I have ever known have been closet pyromaniacs.

At 7pm prompt, the bonfire was lit and food was being served by Pete Merritt& Liz Pickett. Pete had been preparing all day and had an epic quest to find charcoal for the BBQ – luckily for us he succeeded, and the resulting food was plentiful and, as expected, was of Pete’s usual very high standard. At the same time Steve Brown, skilfully aided and abetted by Jonty Boddington, served drinks with a flair not seen since Tom Cruise did his thing in ‘Cocktail’.

Things were slow around the Buckin’ Bronco stand, and the majority of guests were a little too shy to try out theBouncy Castle – both of which became more unattractive to me personally with the increased intake of food and drink.

Raffle tickets were being sold by the sheetful. I duly obliged having noticed a rather natty gadget corkscrew thing amongst the stock of donated prizes, and the ‘Guess the weight of the cake’ competition had people guessing. I helped by giving helpful clues to those taking part – “somewhere between two and three kilos” I said – and I was right!

The firework display commenced and lasted around 30 minutes, a spectacular display of exploding rainbows, cascades of golden meteorites and brilliant white fusions reminiscent of the formation of the universe.

Everyone then huddled in the dance hall also known as the T21 hangar (also the location of the bar) for the all important drawing of the raffle prizes. Tickets in hand, all eyes were on the tickets being plucked from the box – would it be mine? Eventually with only two prizes remaining – one of which being the wine rack that is always on offer as a raffle prize but never collected – my number was drawn. Not that I was aware of it – had it not been for the vigilance of the friendly (but sometimes absent when you needed a drink the most) bar staff I may have missed it altogether. What luck! The only remaining prize (other than that ever-present wine rack) was the natty corkscrew gadget thing, which I duly claimed as mine forever.

Our thanks go to Chris Bingham, Phil Pain, Pete Merritt, Penny Broad, Liz Pickett, Steve Brown, Jonty Boddington, everyone who brought wood, fireworks, and raffle prizes, helped clear the grass for the bonfire, cleared up afterwards, did the washing up, cleared the rubbish, to the weather gods for not raining on us, and to everyone who came along on the night. Sincere apologies if I’ve missed anyone out – please blame decreasing brain cells coupled with increasing alcohol level.

All in all, the event raised £693.04 for the Clubhouse fund.

And what of my treasured corkscrew gadget thing? Apparently it has gone to a better life than I could have offered it: a charity shop in Stratford.



Christmas Don’t

The annual Christmas Do, which was planned for Friday December 4th, has been cancelled due to lack of support.