This page is provided to help potential members understand how the gliding club runs and what is expected from a member.
The first thing to say is that members of the centre join in order to fly and have fun. The other activities that we find ourselves doing are to support this.
Gliding is very much a self help activity. We don't have people to get our aircraft ready to fly, or to move it into position for launch and put it away at the end of the day. We as members of the centre have to do all of that for ourselves. The benefit of this is that our flying is not expensive and after a while we get to know a lot more about the aircraft that we fly than most pilots.
Our day starts with the opening of the hangar at around 8:30 in the morning. On good days in the summer it might be even earlier. On arrival the first thing members do is to put their name on the flying list. We have a computer operated flight logging system and one of the first things that most members learn is how to get their name on the daily flying list.
We have a duty instructor and a deputy assigned for each day and they are responsible for supervising the daily inspection and the removal of the kit from the hangar. In addition to the gliders we have to inspect the tug aircraft, the winch and numerous towing vehicles including our control point caravan and the bus, which acts as a mobile cafe. Once the equipment has been inspected we drive or tow it out to the launch point.
Once the gliders have been towed out to the launch point the first person on the flying list gets the oportunity to fly. Solo pilots pretty much climb into what is available and they are qualified to fly. Pre-solo pilots will need an instructor to fly with them in one of our two seater training gliders. Other members will then be needed to make entries in the flying log, it's a legal requirement that all flights be accurately logged, and to attach the launch cable, hold the wing and instigate the launch procedure.
If we are using the winch then obviously we will need a winch driver and also a driver for the retrieve vehicle that tows the cables from the winch back to the launch point after each set of launches.
If a pilot is taking an aerotow then we need members to move the glider onto the runway and to attach a tow rope between the glider and the tug aircraft.
Once a glider has landed we need to move it back to the launch area and we either manually push it there or tow it across the field using one of our tractors.
As you can see there is quite a lot of work to be done in order to get gliders in the air. Some of the jobs can be learned very quickly, others like winch driving need special training, which members aquire as they become more familiar with the airfield procedure.
If a pilot opts for winch launching then they usually get two consecutive launches whereas if they take an aerotow they only get one. Depending on how many people turn up to fly you might only get one go in the day but most days members get several oportunities to fly during the day.
At the end of the day all the equipment must be returned to the hangar. The gliders and tug aircraft are usually flown back and landed on the grass outside the hangar.
The gliders are wheeled into the hangar, batteries and parachutes removed and the airframe washed before being covered. When all is safely stowed we retire to the bar and savour our days flying experience over a well earned pint.
So there you have it just a taste of the busy and varied day that a PNGC member spends on the airfield. Sometimes it can all seem a bit tedious but when you finally get in the glider and it's one of those magical days when there are thermals everywhere and the cloudbase is high and you just seem to be able to fly wherever you want it all becomes very well worth while.
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