The Club - How it Works
First thing to mention is that the club is run entirely by volunteers. The instructors, tug pilots, winch drivers - everyone is there as a volunteer - working for free. Your fees are simply used to pay for fuel, insurance, equipment, tax (and to purchase new toys that we can all play with.)
It takes 4 or 5 people to get you into the air (instructor, winch driver, wing runner, signaller etc.) The expectation is that if they help you then you will return the favour and help them. Each person will take their turn doing the various jobs. This means that the majority of your time will be spent helping other people into the air. This makes gliding quite a time commitment. Realistically a gliding day is pretty much an all day affair (by the time you’ve helped get the gliders out and put them away etc.)
On a flying day, people will start arriving at the club from 8:30 onwards. There is a whiteboard list on each side of the control bus - known as the flying list. This is the order in which people will fly that day. The higher up the list you are, the sooner you will fly. It’s important to add your name to the list as soon as you arrive (there will be a whiteboard marker somewhere in the bus.) The list can fill up really quickly…
Once your name is on the bus you can help other members get the equipment out. If you’re unsure what to do - just ask someone.
At 9:30 everyone will go into the club briefing room for ‘morning briefing’. This is where the ‘duty instructor’ (the person in charge) will talk about the conditions of the day (wind/weather etc) and ask if anyone needs/wants any instruction etc. You should make yourself known at this point.
After morning briefing the control bus and gliders will be moved to the launch point (the runway for that day.) Once flying begins, the instructor will work through the list on the bus and instruct as appropriate. Each person will typically get 3 flights (one after another.) This is usually enough when training - but if you want more then you can put your name back on the list.
Whilst awaiting your turn, you should try to get involved (logging, retrieving gliders, running with the wing etc.) Please seek some form of training before attempting even seemingly simple tasks. Other members will assume you know what you’re doing - and let you!
Safety (and shouting…)
An airfield is a potentially hazardous environment. There is a lot of machinery and fast-moving, almost silent, lumps of fibreglass hurtling around. We encourage a safety ethos whereby everyone looks out for everyone else. If you see something that you’re not happy with then you should speak up. Don’t assume that someone else has seen the threat. If the hazard looks particularly imminent or dangerous then you should SHOUT STOP!
No one will be angry. We would rather have a false alarm than an accident.
There is a flip side to this. On occasion, you will do something that is potentialy unsafe. You may attempt to pick up a ‘live cable’ or walk in front of a glider on approach. This will (or should) result in someone shouting at you to STOP. This can be embarrassing and irritating (especially for adults who are generally unaccustomed to being shouted at.) Don’t take this personally - someone just saved you from a much more painful experience!
When everyone has flown, all the equipment needs packing up. As a general rule - if you weren’t there to get it out, you should be there to put it away!