Day to Day Operations
Gliding is a team activity, and we rely on members taking part in the ground operation to launch the gliders as well as flying. Most people turn up to unpack the hangar, and then fly and help out at the launchpoint until the end of the day, and then pack the hangar. We realise this isn’t always possible, but ask that you either help unpack the hangar at the beginning of the day, or help pack it again at the end of the day.
There is a team of volunteers on duty each weekend day which consist of two or three instructors and a winch driver. There is a course each weekend day of three pre-solo pilots who have an aircraft and an instructor for the day. As a new pilot you should book on to the course by phoning the office. The slots available and who is on duty can be seen on the Duty Schedule. If you just turn up you will most likely be able to get a flight, but the pilots booked on the course will get priority if there is restricted flying available due to poor weather.
- Organisation of the day
The day usually starts at about 9am with unpacking the hangar. Once all the aircraft are out of the hangar and parked safely, they are fitted with batteries and parachutes, and a Daily Inspection (DI) is carried out on each aircraft. This is a sort of daily MOT test to check that all systems on the glider are functioning normally and it is safe to fly. DIs are done by members, qualified to do so by an instructor. When the DI is completed, notes are recorded in the glider’s DI book.
Once all DIs are completed there is a briefing which covers the weather, where the equipment will be stationed on the airfield, NOTAMs (Notice to Airmen that give details of possible hazards and no fly areas, for instance airshows and parachute drop zones) and how to deal safely with any other issues pertinent to that day such as wet airfields or strong winds. Pilots who intend to fly are expected to attend the briefing, but if you miss it, you should approach one of the instructors for a briefing.
- Progress Book
All pre-solo pilots have a blue Progress book, in which you record your flights, and the instructor is able to make comments on your progress. There are also a series of exercises that you need to go through. Make sure your instructor fills in your logbook at the end of each day so that the next time you come your instructor will be able to carry on where the last one left off, and that they sign off any exercises that you have completed. Once all the pre-solo exercises have been completed and signed off, and the instructor in satisfied that you are able to fly safely, you will be able to fly solo.
- Ground School
As well as the flying exercises you will also have ground briefings on each exercise, as well as on theory of flight and meteorology. You will soon realise that gliding is largely about being able to predict the weather very accurately, and that glider pilots spend a lot of time looking at the sky.
- Staying in check
Initially once you have flown solo you will have to have a check flight with an instructor on each day you wish to fly solo, but as you progress and complete further exercises you will be able to go onto weekly currency checks, and then monthly.
- Becoming a licensed glider pilot
The next step from flying solo is to complete your Bronze flying test and a cross country endorsement, at which point you become a licensed glider pilot. After that, if you wish to, you will be able to fly cross country, leaving the airfield behind you to depend on your wits and skill to fly out of gliding range of the airfield to another airfield, or around a triangular course. After that you can aim for Silver, Gold and Diamond badges. For a Diamond, you have to complete a height gain of 5000 meters and a distance flight of over 500 km. Only a few glider pilots achieve this ultimate goal.
- Cross country
Many pilots are content to fly locally and stay within easy reach of the airfield. Others learn to fly away from the airfield, and on good days you will see pilots setting out on tasks of hundreds of kilometers across the country, sometimes having to land in a field or at another airfield, and you will see trailers setting off to retrieve them. Many pilots take part in competitions, and several pilots from Long Mynd have competed in the World Gliding Championships.
- When do we fly
The club is open seven days a week from March to September, and weekends and flyable days in the Winter. Weekday flying is run by professional instructors and winch drivers, and if you wish to fly in the week as part of a course, you need to ring the office to book a place, and they will advise you of availability and cost. There are discounts for members attending courses.
- Recognising achievements
The club ladder is the place to record all your cross-country flights. It helps the BGA to show how many kilometers we all fly every year and demonstrates what a good cross-country club we have. The trophies awarded at the end of each season are mostly based on the club’s own ladder, which is drawn from the flights entered on the BGA ladder.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the office on 01588 650206 or email the office