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Airfield guide


Safety at the Launch Point

The launch point is a hive of activity and potentially full of hazards. Following a few simple rules and using common sense will help ensure your safety and that of others.

  • Always check the approach (the area of the airfield downwind of the control bus) is clear of gliders coming in to land before crossing the active landing area
  • Don’t handle the winch cables until you have been shown how to do so safely
  • The “not-in-use” winch cables must also be treated as live; therefore, keep clear of them when a launch is in progress
  • If you are helping with manoeuvring gliders on the airfield listen to the club member in charge and keep a good lookout for gliders coming into land. However, never be afraid to ask or point out obstacles or objects which could damage the glider or cause injury
  • Never walk or drive in front of a glider when it has a cable attached as it may move without warning. This includes the full span of the wings and tailplane
  • If a glider at the front of the launch point has its wings held level this generally means it is about to launch. Keep well clear
  • The winch driver follows signals given by radio and lights on the control point. Whilst the signals are being given you will also hear an audible buzzer as a warning that a launch is about to take place or a cable is about to move
  • Propeller powered gliders (Motor Gliders) also operate from the launch point. Keep well clear regardless of whether you can see the engine running. Only approach the aircraft at the pilot’s request and then only from behind the wing. Never turn a stationary propeller, the engine may start causing serious injury
  • Finally, always remain alert at the launch point and anywhere on the airfield

Moving around the Airfield

The airfield can be a confusing and dangerous place for those unfamiliar with gliders and aircraft. However, sticking to the following simple guidelines will help to keep you, as well as other airfield users, safe:

  • Know where you want to go and how to get there; if in doubt ask
  • When driving, remember the airfield speed limit is 20mph and keep a good lookout for aircraft and cables at all times
  • Always adhere to any signage; it is designed to stop you moving in areas of potential danger. Only cross an active grass runway adjacent to the Launch Point. Always stop before you cross and have a good look for approaching aircraft. Gliders can be particularly difficult to see so take your time and be thorough. When you are confident it is clear, cross the runway expeditiously
  • The winch cables run between the winch and the launch point. They are almost impossible to see and are extremely hazardous. When moving the cables will easily cut through sheet steel such as that used in a car. Keep clear of them unless supervised by a club member. When driving always keep to the perimeter track and stay alert to what is happening all of the time
  • Only park in an approved location at the launch point parking areas, parking behind the control point is purely for safety reasons and those who are running the airfield. Please leave your keys in the ignition in case cars have to be moved in an emergency whilst you are flying

Organisation of the Airfield

The airfield is controlled by the Duty Instructor, who in turn is supported by a Duty Pilot. The CFI produces a duty roster three months in advance so club members know the team that will be running the field on any particular day. When you arrive on the airfield to fly you should first make contact with the Duty Instructor (who will be wearing a hi-viz jacket) or Duty Pilot who will brief you and ensure that your name is put on the flying list. Members are placed on the flying list in order of their arrival; so the earlier you can arrive the sooner you will get to fly.

The Duty Instructor supervises the flying activities; and is responsible for everything that happens on the airfield. Consequently, the Duty Instructor has the final word. The Duty Pilot ensures that the operation runs smoothly by allocating pilots to aircraft and people to activities such as winch driving, cable retrieving and log keeping.