Gliding Federation of Australia

Gliding Federation of Australia
(ABN 82 433 264 489)
Basic Gliding Knowledge
Issue 7, February 2014
THE GLIDING FEDERATION OF AUSTRALIA INC
(ABN 82 433 264 489)
C4/1-13 The Gateway, Broadmeadows Victoria 3047
Phone: (03) 9359 1613; Fax: (03) 9359 9865
BASIC GLIDING KNOWLEDGE
Issue 7
UNCONTROLLED WHEN PRINTED
Copyright © The Gliding Federation of Australia Inc 2014
Page |1
FOREWORD
Although the title of this book is largely self-explanatory, a few words of further explanation
may help to understand its specific purpose.
The Gliding Federation of Australia Inc (GFA), operating under a Deed of Agreement with the
Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), is the aviation administration organisation applicable
to the administration of sport and recreational gliding and sailplane activities in Australia. This
includes the setting and maintenance of flying standards and, in particular, training standards.
GFA is responsible for the establishment of pilot certificates, which are regarded highly enough
for CASA and the aviation industry to be considered as a satisfactory substitute for licences.
Consequently, glider pilots are exempt from holding a CASA pilot licence.
As the basic building blocks of learning to fly gliders, the GFA has established four levels of
pilot certificates. The first three levels, known simply as the A, B and C Certificates, are
designed to progressively build up pilot ability and confidence, offering the developing pilot
more privileges as experience increases. These may be considered as the basic certificates
of competence. Once a pilot has demonstrated they have the skills and knowledge to operate
a sailplane as an independently proficient GFA soaring pilot, they qualify for the Glider Pilot
Certificate. A pilot holding a GFA Glider Pilot Certificate and who also holds a valid CASA
Medical Certificate is eligible to obtain a Glider Pilot License issued by CASA, although this is
usually only sought by pilots who want their qualifications recognised overseas and is not
required to fly gliders within Australia.
Most glider-pilot training is practical and “hands-on” in nature. However, there is an amount of
theoretical knowledge which is not only desirable, but actually makes the task of learning to
fly easier and more pleasurable. The theoretical knowledge is imparted progressively as flying
training continues.
The purpose of this book is to provide a reference for the kind of knowledge which you will
need as you progress through the various certificates. It covers everything you will need during
training, from the basic reasons why a glider is able to fly in the first place to the meteorology
which enables it to soar. It also covers most essential items in between, such as air legislation,
basic navigation and use of radio.
Integrated into the basic pilot certificates are oral examinations on all aspects of the basic
theory necessary to become a safe glider pilot and take your place in the air with other formally
trained pilots. All the material on which these oral exams are based will be found in this book,
the GFA Operational Regulations and the Manual of Standard Procedures.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
FOREWORD ........................................................................................................................... 1
REVISION HISTORY ............................................................................................................ 10
CHAPTER 1 - WHAT IS GLIDING? ...................................................................................... 11
BACKGROUND ................................................................................................................. 11
Hill soaring ..................................................................................................................... 11
Thermal soaring ............................................................................................................. 12
Wave soaring ................................................................................................................. 12
HOW DO GLIDERS GET INTO THE AIR? ....................................................................... 13
Aerotowing ..................................................................................................................... 14
Winch-launching ............................................................................................................ 14
Auto-towing .................................................................................................................... 15
Powered sailplanes........................................................................................................ 15
COMPETITIONS ............................................................................................................... 16
Open Class .................................................................................................................... 16
18 metre class ............................................................................................................... 16
15 metre class ............................................................................................................... 16
Standard Class .............................................................................................................. 17
Sports and Club Class ................................................................................................... 17
Two-seater Class ........................................................................................................... 17
World Class ................................................................................................................... 17
RECORDS ........................................................................................................................ 17
GOVERNMENT AND GLIDING ........................................................................................ 18
Gliding operations in Australia ....................................................................................... 19
CHAPTER 2 - THE TRAINING PROCESS ........................................................................... 20
PRE-SOLO TRAINING ...................................................................................................... 20
THE PRE-SOLO TRAINING SYLLABUS .......................................................................... 20
POST-SOLO TRAINING ................................................................................................... 21
Guide for Post-Solo Self-Improvement .......................................................................... 21
GFA GLIDER PILOT CERTIFICATE ................................................................................. 22
CHAPTER 3 - BASIC THEORY ............................................................................................ 23
BASIC AERODYNAMICS ................................................................................................. 23
Lift .................................................................................................................................. 23
Weight............................................................................................................................ 24
Wing Loading ................................................................................................................. 24
DRAG ................................................................................................................................ 25
Profile drag .................................................................................................................... 25
Induced drag .................................................................................................................. 25
Total drag....................................................................................................................... 25
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Aspect ratio .................................................................................................................... 26
Winglets ......................................................................................................................... 26
HOW A GLIDER ACHIEVES FORWARD FLIGHT ........................................................... 26
Minimum sink rate.......................................................................................................... 27
L/D ratio ......................................................................................................................... 27
GLIDER STABILITY AND CONTROL ............................................................................... 27
Longitudinal stability or stability in the pitching plane .................................................... 28
Lateral damping and Lateral stability, or stability in roll ................................................. 28
Directional stability or stability in yaw ............................................................................ 29
Glider control ................................................................................................................. 29
PRIMARY EFFECTS OF CONTROLS .............................................................................. 31
Elevator.......................................................................................................................... 31
Ailerons .......................................................................................................................... 33
Aileron drag and adverse yaw. ...................................................................................... 33
Rudder ........................................................................................................................... 34
Definitions of control functions ....................................................................................... 34
SECONDARY EFFECTS .................................................................................................. 34
Bank............................................................................................................................... 34
Yaw ................................................................................................................................ 35
ANCILLARY CONTROLS ................................................................................................. 35
The cable/towrope release ............................................................................................ 35
Elevator trim ................................................................................................................... 35
Spoilers .......................................................................................................................... 36
Airbrakes........................................................................................................................ 36
Flaps .............................................................................................................................. 37
GLIDER INSTRUMENTS .................................................................................................. 38
The altimeter .................................................................................................................. 38
The airspeed indicator (ASI) .......................................................................................... 39
The variometer............................................................................................................... 39
The McCready ring ........................................................................................................ 40
The compass ................................................................................................................. 40
TURNING .......................................................................................................................... 41
Airmanship ..................................................................................................................... 41
STALLING ......................................................................................................................... 42
Loss of lateral damping .................................................................................................. 44
STALLING IN A TURN - THE INCIPIENT SPIN................................................................ 44
THE FULLY-DEVELOPED SPIN ...................................................................................... 45
Safe speed near the ground .......................................................................................... 46
CHAPTER 3 - SELF-TEST QUESTIONNAIRE ................................................................. 47
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CHAPTER 4 - THE DEVELOPMENT OF EFFECTIVE LOOKOUT ...................................... 48
INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................... 48
Causes of mid-air collisions ........................................................................................... 48
Limitations of the eye ..................................................................................................... 48
Visual scanning technique ............................................................................................. 50
LOOKOUT FOR GLIDER PILOTS .................................................................................... 50
Recommended Procedures ........................................................................................... 50
Physiological Effects ...................................................................................................... 51
Lookout Processes ........................................................................................................ 51
Clean canopy ................................................................................................................. 53
Adhere to procedures .................................................................................................... 53
Avoid crowded airspace................................................................................................. 53
Use all available eyes .................................................................................................... 53
TYPICAL GLIDER BLIND SPOTS .................................................................................... 53
CHAPTER 5 - OPERATING PROCEDURES ....................................................................... 54
PARKING, SECURING AND GROUND HANDLING OF GLIDERS. ................................ 54
Parking........................................................................................................................... 54
Pushing and pulling ....................................................................................................... 55
Towing with a vehicle..................................................................................................... 56
Towing with a rope......................................................................................................... 56
Towing with a rigid bar ................................................................................................... 57
LAUNCHING ..................................................................................................................... 57
Winch launching ............................................................................................................ 57
Auto-towing .................................................................................................................... 59
Aero-towing.................................................................................................................... 59
LAUNCHING SIGNALS ..................................................................................................... 59
Aerotowing ..................................................................................................................... 60
Winch and auto-launching ............................................................................................. 60
LAUNCH HANDLING TECHNIQUES ............................................................................... 61
Winch/auto launching .................................................................................................... 61
Locate - Identify - Operate ............................................................................................. 63
Aerotowing ..................................................................................................................... 63
CROSSWIND TAKE-OFFS ............................................................................................... 64
Winch/auto-tow .............................................................................................................. 64
Aerotow.......................................................................................................................... 65
LAUNCH EMERGENCIES ................................................................................................ 65
Winch/auto launching emergencies ............................................................................... 65
Aerotow launching emergencies .................................................................................... 68
THE CIRCUIT PATTERN .................................................................................................. 70
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Circuit variations ............................................................................................................ 72
Running out of height..................................................................................................... 73
Some Examples of Modified Circuits ............................................................................. 73
What if you can't meet the legal requirements? ............................................................. 74
Circuit illusions ............................................................................................................... 75
THE APPROACH AND LANDING .................................................................................... 75
The approach................................................................................................................. 75
The landing .................................................................................................................... 77
Errors in landings ........................................................................................................... 79
Final comment on circuits, approaches and landings .................................................... 80
CROSSWIND LANDINGS ................................................................................................. 80
General .......................................................................................................................... 80
The Crabbing Method .................................................................................................... 80
The Wing-Down Method ................................................................................................ 80
Considerations ............................................................................................................... 81
SIDESLIPPING ................................................................................................................. 81
Adverse Handling Characteristics in a Sideslip ............................................................. 82
OUTLANDINGS ................................................................................................................ 82
General warning on outlandings .................................................................................... 83
CHAPTER 5 - SELF-TEST QUESTIONNAIRE ................................................................. 84
CHAPTER 6 - AIR LEGISLATION ........................................................................................ 85
RULES OF THE AIR ......................................................................................................... 85
AIRSPACE CLASSIFICATION AND AIRWAYS PROCEDURES ..................................... 86
Introduction .................................................................................................................... 86
Responsibility of flight crew to see and avoid aircraft .................................................... 86
Visual Flight Rules ......................................................................................................... 86
Visual Meteorological Conditions - Class G (Uncontrolled) Airspace ............................ 86
Special VFR Clearance ................................................................................................. 86
Airspace Classification................................................................................................... 87
Operations at Non-Towered Aerodromes ...................................................................... 88
Radio endorsements ...................................................................................................... 89
Unserviceable radios ..................................................................................................... 89
Cross-country soaring flights ......................................................................................... 89
Calling on the CTAF ...................................................................................................... 89
Unicom........................................................................................................................... 90
Aerodrome Frequency Response Unit .......................................................................... 90
Prohibited, Restricted and Danger (PRD) Areas ........................................................... 90
Documentation ............................................................................................................... 91
RADIO PROCEDURES ..................................................................................................... 91
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General .......................................................................................................................... 91
Responsible use of radio ............................................................................................... 92
Procedures and Terminology ......................................................................................... 93
Obtaining an Airways Clearance ................................................................................... 95
In-flight emergencies ..................................................................................................... 96
International Distress Frequency ................................................................................... 97
ANTI-COLLISION SYSTEMS AVAILABLE IN AUSTRALIAN AIRSPACE. ....................... 97
Secondary Radar Transponders .................................................................................... 97
Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) ............................................. 98
FLARM ........................................................................................................................... 98
ALTIMETRY ...................................................................................................................... 99
General .......................................................................................................................... 99
Altimeter Settings ........................................................................................................... 99
Altimetry Procedures ..................................................................................................... 99
Cruising levels ............................................................................................................. 100
ACCIDENTS AND INCIDENTS ....................................................................................... 101
Accident or Incident Notification .................................................................................. 101
Notification to GFA ....................................................................................................... 101
Online Reporting .......................................................................................................... 101
Offline Reporting .......................................................................................................... 101
Further Information ...................................................................................................... 101
Immediately Reportable Matters .................................................................................. 102
Routine Reportable Matter ........................................................................................... 102
Who must report an aviation accident? ....................................................................... 102
Accident Investigation .................................................................................................. 102
Coordinating With Police Inquiries ............................................................................... 102
Protection of Aircraft Wreckage ................................................................................... 103
Removal of Aircraft Wreckage ..................................................................................... 103
Dealing with the Media ................................................................................................ 103
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) ...................................................................... 103
Aviation Self Reporting Scheme .................................................................................. 103
Confidential Reporting Scheme ................................................................................... 103
AERODROME GROUND SIGNALS TO AIRCRAFT ...................................................... 105
CHAPTER 7 - BASIC AIRWORTHINESS .......................................................................... 106
GLIDER CONSTRUCTION ............................................................................................. 106
Composite.................................................................................................................... 106
Wood ........................................................................................................................... 106
Combined wood/steel-tube .......................................................................................... 106
Metal ............................................................................................................................ 106
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FLIGHT LOADS AND GLIDER LIMITATIONS ................................................................ 106
GLIDER LIMITATIONS PLACARDS. .............................................................................. 107
Indicated airspeed and true airspeed .......................................................................... 107
WEIGHT AND BALANCE ................................................................................................ 109
AIRWORTHINESS DOCUMENTATION ......................................................................... 110
The Maintenance Release ........................................................................................... 111
The Daily Inspection Record (GFA Form 1) ................................................................ 111
WEAK LINKS .................................................................................................................. 112
FLUTTER ........................................................................................................................ 112
GROUND HANDLING - AIRWORTHINESS IMPLICATIONS ......................................... 112
RIGGING AND DE-RIGGING ......................................................................................... 113
THE WALK-ROUND INSPECTION ................................................................................. 113
Heavy landings ............................................................................................................ 114
In-flight overstress ....................................................................................................... 114
Routine operations....................................................................................................... 114
General advice............................................................................................................. 114
DAILY INSPECTIONS - POLICY .................................................................................... 114
General ........................................................................................................................ 114
Pre-requisites for becoming a Daily Inspector ............................................................. 114
Procedure for becoming a Daily Inspector ................................................................... 115
DAILY INSPECTIONS - PRACTICAL ............................................................................. 115
Purpose ....................................................................................................................... 115
Progressive deterioration, fair wear and tear ............................................................... 115
Unserviceabilities, sudden deterioration ...................................................................... 115
Unreported damage ..................................................................................................... 116
Correct assembly and rigging ...................................................................................... 116
Loose objects, tools, etc. ............................................................................................. 116
Finally .......................................................................................................................... 116
CHAPTER 8 - BASIC NAVIGATION ................................................................................... 117
MAPS AND CHARTS ...................................................................................................... 117
World Aeronautical Chart (WAC) ................................................................................. 117
Visual Navigation Charts (VNC) .................................................................................. 118
Visual Terminal Charts (VTC) ...................................................................................... 119
The En-route Chart (ERC) ........................................................................................... 120
En-route Supplement Australia (ERSA) ....................................................................... 121
TRACK, DRIFT, HEADING ............................................................................................. 121
Airspeed and groundspeed .......................................................................................... 122
Correcting for drift ........................................................................................................ 123
USE OF THE COMPASS ................................................................................................ 123
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What if you get lost? .................................................................................................... 124
Golden Rules to prevent getting lost ............................................................................ 125
CHAPTER 9 - BASIC SOARING METEOROLOGY ........................................................... 126
ATMOSPHERIC STABILITY AND THE DRY ADIABATIC LAPSE RATE....................... 126
Stability ........................................................................................................................ 126
Instability ...................................................................................................................... 127
DEW POINT .................................................................................................................... 127
THE SATURATED ADIABATIC LAPSE RATE ............................................................... 127
PRESSURE PATTERNS ................................................................................................ 128
FRONTS .......................................................................................................................... 129
Warm front ................................................................................................................... 129
Cold front. .................................................................................................................... 130
HAZARDOUS WEATHER ............................................................................................... 130
Strong winds. ............................................................................................................... 130
Thunderstorms. ............................................................................................................ 130
Line squalls. ................................................................................................................. 131
Hail............................................................................................................................... 132
CHAPTER 10 - BASIC SOARING TECHNIQUES .............................................................. 133
THERMAL SOARING ...................................................................................................... 133
Thermal sources .......................................................................................................... 133
Thermal shapes and lift distribution ............................................................................. 134
Locating a thermal ....................................................................................................... 135
Centring a thermal ....................................................................................................... 135
Maximising rate of climb in a thermal .......................................................................... 137
Losing a thermal .......................................................................................................... 137
Re-locating a lost thermal ............................................................................................ 138
Selection of a "working height band". .......................................................................... 138
HILL SOARING ............................................................................................................... 139
The mechanics of hill soaring ...................................................................................... 139
Where to find the best lift ............................................................................................. 140
The effect of atmospheric stability on hill soaring ........................................................ 140
Special rules for hill soaring ......................................................................................... 141
WAVE SOARING ............................................................................................................ 141
The formation of lee standing waves ........................................................................... 141
Use of wave lift ............................................................................................................ 142
CHAPTER 11 - PHYSIOLOGICAL FACTORS ................................................................... 143
GENERAL ....................................................................................................................... 143
THE WEATHER .............................................................................................................. 143
DEHYDRATION AND HEAT STRESS ............................................................................ 143
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PROTECTION AGAINST THE SUN ............................................................................... 144
GLOSSARY OF TERMS ..................................................................................................... 145
GFA STANDARD COCKPIT CHECKS ............................................................................... 149
SAILPLANE ..................................................................................................................... 149
POWERED SAILPLANE ................................................................................................. 150
GLIDING CERTIFICATES .................................................................................................. 152
THE "A" CERTIFICATE ................................................................................................... 152
THE "B" CERTIFICATE ................................................................................................... 152
THE "C" CERTIFICATE .................................................................................................. 152
GFA GLIDER PILOT CERTIFICATE ............................................................................... 153
Notes................................................................................................................................... 154
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REVISION HISTORY
This document is periodically amended by the issue of replacement pages, each identified by
page number, amendment number and effective date, or by total re-issue, as appropriate.
Original Document History
Prepared
Approved
Control
Signed
CTO/O
COP
Issue 5
Date
01/12/2001
01/12/2001
01/12/2001
Authorised by
No of pages
Effective date
GFA Operations Panel
139
01/06/2001
Record of Amendments
Signed
Prepared
Approved
Control
John Welsh
Christopher Thorpe
Issue 6
Executive Manager,
Operations
Date
Précis of
changes
01/06/2013
16/08/2013
16/08/2013
Re-issued. Incorporating air legislation changes, the GPC, GFA OSB
2/12 on Lookout, updated photographs and other minor changes.
Authorised by
No of pages
Effective date
GFA Operations Panel
150 (including cover)
16/08/2013
Signed
Prepared
Approved
Control
Christopher Thorpe
Peter Gray
Issue 7
Executive Manager, Chair,
Operations
Panel
Date
Précis of
changes
10/02/2014
Operations
10/02/2014
10/02/2014
Added section on CROSSWIND LANDINGS and SIDESLIPPING.
Authorised by
No of pages
Effective date
GFA Operations Panel
156 (including cover)
10/02/2014
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CHAPTER 1 - WHAT IS GLIDING?
BACKGROUND
Gliding as a form of sport aviation had its beginnings in the 19th century, when Sir George
Cayley built and flew a successful glider. He was followed by such pioneers as Otto Lilienthal
and Percy Pilcher, both of whom flew gliders bearing a remarkable resemblance to the modern
hang-glider, although constructed out of much more primitive materials. At that time people
were concerned with emulating the birds as far as possible and many gliders tended to be
bird-like in appearance, except of course that they did not flap, at least not intentionally.
Lilienthal before take-off with first glider, near the small village of Derwitz, outside of Potsdam,
Germany - 1891
Having managed to get their machines into the air, which was usually by jumping off a hill, the
next problem was to stay there for more than the few seconds the pilots had managed to
achieve so far. This new objective, known to us now as soaring, was a logical extension of
mere gliding and came about because of the pilots' insatiable quest for various kinds of rising
air in the atmosphere in order to prolong their flights.
Hill soaring
Even after gliders had graduated from the Lilienthal and Pilcher style of machines into
something more nearly resembling a modern glider, pilots tended to confine themselves to
hills and slopes, partly because they needed the hill to launch themselves and partly because
they had discovered a reliable form of “lift” produced by the wind blowing up the windward
face of the hill. Durations of many hours could be achieved in this way - as long as the wind
blows in the right direction at the right strength, the lift can be used. The World duration record
of over 50 hours was gained by slope-soaring in this fashion, until such records were banned
by International agreement because of the number of pilots falling asleep and killing
themselves.
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Thermal soaring
It was the discovery of “thermals” in the 1930s that freed glider pilots from the hills and enabled
them to set out on cross-country flights following the energy spawned by the sun. It was
realised that the sun heats up differently-coloured land areas at different rates and this creates
bubbles of rising warm air, called thermals, which can be used by gliders to stay aloft. The
bubbles are of relatively small size and it is necessary to circle the glider to stay inside the
bubble and to gain height. This technique of “thermalling” took a while to catch on, but it was
eventually realised that here was the answer to cross-country flying independent of the hills
and indeed of the wind. And so it has remained to this day. Thermal soaring is still the most
common method of soaring for glider pilots all around the world and cross-country flights of
over 1000km are becoming commonplace in Australia and elsewhere. Thermalling is a skill
that no glider pilot can afford to be without.
Contrast Lilienthal's primitive machine with the sleek lines of these JS1 single-seat sailplanes
preparing for launch.
Wave soaring
Not long after thermals were discovered, a few pilots in Europe and Britain stumbled upon a
new and mysterious form of lift. It was experienced in the vicinity of hilly and mountainous
terrain, and produced areas of strong and unbelievably smooth lift to great heights.
Interspersed with the areas of uncanny smoothness were narrow bands of ferocious
turbulence, some of which was strong enough to cause gliders to break up in flight. Such
conditions frequently brought with them strange lens-shaped clouds, like eyebrows, in the sky.
Exploration of these conditions led to the discovery that they were caused by a “wave” action
of the air blowing over a range of mountains situated across the wind. The action is similar to
that seen in a river, where the water flows over a large rock on the river bed.
The wave action set up by the rock transmits itself right up through the layers of water to the
surface, and the wave remains stationary with respect to the river bank, the water flowing
through it. The wave also continues downstream of the rock, maintaining exactly the same
wavelength but diminishing in amplitude until it peters out.
Exactly the same happens in the atmosphere and this is what these pilots were experiencing.
Today, wave phenomena are quite well understood and the World height record of over
48,000ft was gained in wave lift over the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. In South
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America, distance flights of over 3,000 kms are being flown, using mountain waves to provide
the source of lift to keep the gliders airborne for anything up to the 16 hours or so necessary
to complete such a flight.
From all this, it can be seen that gliding is a pure recreational and sporting activity. It is of no
use as a means of transport; you cannot use a glider to reliably get from A to B. To fly gliders,
you need to want to fly for its own sake and you need to be fascinated by the idea of staying
in the air and flying cross-country by a combination of the use of natural weather phenomena
and your own skill.
Gliding clubs are cooperatives of people who have exactly these objectives in mind.
The club “cooperative” at work at Bachelor in the Northern Territory. Qualified club members carry out
the Daily Inspection of the Blanik two-seat trainer in the foreground, while in the background the winch
is prepared for the day's operations.
HOW DO GLIDERS GET INTO THE AIR?
We have seen that there are several ways in which a glider can stay in the air for long periods
of time. But how does it get up there in the first place without a power source?
There are several methods of launching a glider into the air to enable it to go hunting for lift.
Jumping off hills is no longer feasible for modern glider designs, with the notable exception of
hang-gliders, which still use this launch method with considerable success. Even the oncepopular bungy, or catapult, method of launching gliders is no longer in common use.
Common methods of launching gliders are by aerotow (towing with a light aircraft), by winch
or by motor-car (known as auto-tow). In addition to these methods, gliders can be fitted with a
small engine to self-launch.
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Aerotowing
Aerotowing is used by about half the gliding clubs in Australia. The glider is attached to the
tug aircraft by about 55 metres of polypropylene rope and the combination simply climbs in
formation to a suitable height for the glider to release and find lift. The rope can be released
from either end if the need arises. Advantages of aerotowing are reliability (tug engines seldom
fail and ropes seldom break), the ability to cover a large area of sky in the search for lift, and
the small number of ground crew needed to commence operations. Disadvantages are high
cost (tugs are maintenance-intensive and fuel costs are high), relative inefficiency (each tow
takes a long time) and the necessity for licensed pilots to be present to operate the tugs. The
increasing costs of aerotowing may result in less clubs choosing to launch their gliders by this
method in the future.
A tug and glider combination, using the standard Australian “low-tow” position, with the glider below
the tug's slipstream
Winch-launching
A winch is a static device, consisting of a powerful engine driving a large steel drum on which
is wound about 1500 metres of wire. The whole mechanism is mounted on a chassis which
can be driven to a suitable position on the airfield. The gliders are launched by being attached
to the end of the 1500 metres of wire, appropriate signals then being given by bat or radio to
the winch-driver by the crew at the glider launch point. In the full climb the gliders climb steeply,
at about 45 degrees nose-up, and reach a typical height of 1500ft in under a minute. After the
glider has released, the wire is wound in to the winch, whereupon it is attached to a car or
tractor to be taken down the field to launch another glider. In some cases (the so-called “selflaying” winch design), the winch itself is mobile and is driven back to the launch point to once
more lay out its cables. The wire most commonly in use to winch-launch gliders is 2.8mm
spring steel wire, the wire used to make bed-springs.
As a rough guide, the height gained on a winch-launch in a light wind will be about one-third
of the length of the cable at the start.
Advantages of winch-launching are - reasonable cost per launch; a glider can be launched on
about a litre of fuel, it is easier to train winch-drivers than it is to train tug-pilots, it gives a
reasonable launch-height very quickly in comparison with aerotowing, and winches are much
cheaper to build and maintain than tug aircraft. Disadvantages - winches are fairly complicated
and reliability is not as good as with aerotowing, although this disadvantage can be overcome
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by good design and careful maintenance; wire breaks more frequently than aerotow ropes do,
and calm conditions have a detrimental effect on launch height.
A typical gliding club winch (Balaclava GC)
Auto-towing
Alternatively known as car-launching, this method simply involves towing the glider on about
500 metres of wire behind a powerful car or ute. The glider climbs in the same way as for
winch-launching and after release the wire is towed back for another launch. It is generally
simpler than winch-launching, but a long smooth runway is necessary for successful autotowing, a figure of 1600 metres being the absolute minimum and much more being preferable.
One additional advantage of auto-towing is that materials other than wire can be used for
launching the gliders, polypropylene yachting rope and Parafil (parallel filaments of terylene)
being two examples in use in Australia. This is a great advantage if there are power-lines in
the vicinity of the aerodrome. The spectacle of a steel wire being accidentally draped across
a 500,000 volt line is better imagined than experienced.
Powered sailplanes
It is possible to fit a small engine to a glider in order to make it self-launching, thus freeing it
from the queues which are such a feature of busy launch-points on a summer day. The engine
may be a fixed installation in the nose, powered-aircraft style, or a retractable device fitted on
a folding pylon behind the cockpit. A wide range of engines may be used, from two strokes of
15 to 20kw to Volkswagen engines of more than 60kw. The moderate wing loading and low
drag of a modern glider make it possible to self-launch on such low power. Small jet engines
are also being tested in self-launchers and electric power offers a new alternative for the
future.
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A Nimbus 3DM powered sailplane.
COMPETITIONS
Gliding is a sport and has a very strong competitive element. Modern gliding concentrates on
racing around closed-circuit tasks as a test of efficient soaring skills. There is a National
Championship every year and annual State Championships too. In addition to these major
competitions in the peak soaring season (October to March), there are many smaller regattas
and suchlike events, which enable pilots to sharpen their racing skills without the pressure of
serious competition.
For the purpose of competitions, gliders are split into several classes by international
agreement, and pilots can choose which class they wish to fly in before purchasing a sailplane
to suit, or using one from their club. The various classes are as follows -
Open Class
Anything goes in open class - unlimited wingspan, unlimited gadgetry, and unlimited cost. The
Open class is where much innovative glider development takes place, and is the gliding
equivalent to Formula 1 motor racing. Developments such as wing flaps, retractable
undercarriages and water ballast first appeared in the open class years ago, and these things
are now fairly commonplace on club single-seaters.
18 metre class
Almost as unlimited as the Open class, but with wingspan restricted to 18 metres.
15 metre class
Almost as unlimited as the Open class, but with wingspan restricted to 15 metres. Also referred
to as Racing Class.
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Standard Class
The same 15 metre wingspan restriction as for Racing Class. However, flaps are not permitted
in Standard Class. In spite of this restriction on flaps, some modern Standard Class gliders
have an overall performance as good as gliders in the 15 metre class.
Sports and Club Class
These classes are somewhat difficult to define, but could be said to include all those gliders
which would not be competitive in any of the other classes. Generally speaking, the older
gliders fly in Sports and Club Class. Sports and Club Classes are enjoying an increasing
following in Australia, largely because of rising costs in other classes.
Two-seater Class
This is self-explanatory and two-seaters usually compete in a separate sub-category in Sports
Class events.
World Class
This is a category of single-seat glider designed specifically to keep costs down. There is only
one World Class design, the Polish PW5 “Smyk”. The glider may be built under licence in any
country in the world and the design is fixed for a minimum of 15 years from the date of its first
certification in 1994. A category of competition for the World Class exists in the Australian
National Championships and in the World Championships. World Class will cease in August
2014 to be replaced by a 13.5 metre Class.
The PW5 “Smyk” World Class glider
RECORDS
Glider pilots may attempt records at National and World level. Records exist for height,
distance and speed over a closed-circuit course and must be homologated by the Federation
Aeronautique Internationale (FAI). Australia is a natural venue for gliding records, and pilots
come here from all round the world to sample our excellent soaring weather. Several World
records are held by Australian pilots, and very large record-breaking triangular courses are
regularly flown from such inland places as Narromine, Tocumwal and Waikerie.
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GOVERNMENT AND GLIDING
Under the Civil Aviation Act, 1988, the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia
delegates responsibility for the regulation of civil aviation to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority
(CASA). Standards are set in accordance with CASA's perception of an acceptable level of
public safety and such standards are formally laid down in the Civil Aviation Regulations
(CARs) or, in the future, Civil Aviation Safety Regulations (CASRs).
Gliders are Australian-registered civil aircraft and as such are required to comply with the
CARs. However, there are some of the CARs which are clearly not applicable to motorless
sporting vehicles, others where negotiation has taken place to waive the CAR requirements
for a variety of reasons. This results in a number of exemptions being granted by CASA from
compliance with certain of the CARs. These exemptions are contained in another CASA
document called a Civil Aviation Order (CAO). The Gliding Federation of Australia (GFA) has
two specific CAOs allocated to it for clear enunciation of all its exemptions and the conditions
under which the exemptions are granted. The gliding “exemption” Orders are CAO 95.4, for
most of our operations and CAO 95.4.1 for “charter” (hire and reward passenger-carrying)
operations.
In conjunction with CAOs 95.4 and 95.4.1, the GFA also has a set of Operational Regulations,
which set out basic standards for matters such as registration and markings of gliders,
personnel standards, general conduct of operations and flight rules and procedures.
Neither CAOs 95.4 and 95.4.1 nor the Operational Regulations can be altered without the
approval of CASA.
The net result of all this is that GFA exists as a “self-administrating” body, basically adhering
to regulatory requirements but with some flexibility to make unilateral decisions and also with
a significant number of exemptions from the CARs which are not enjoyed by other operators
of civil aircraft.
It is important to realise that there are other users of the air in which we fly. These range from
the airlines and military aircraft to commuters, light single and twin-engine aircraft and of
course other sporting aircraft such as ultralights, hang gliders, etc. Each pilot of those
machines is required to know the basic rules to which all flying machines must adhere. It is
only fair that glider pilots should be subject to the same discipline. CAOs 95.4, 95.4.1 and the
Operational Regulations give other airspace users the confidence that CASA has approved
the basic rules by which we operate.
From the point of view of day-to-day gliding operations, the CASA influence on our Operational
Regulations is not intrusive. GFA standards are set and maintained by people who are first
and foremost experienced glider pilots and instructors. The GFA consultative process is
followed whenever changes to operational procedures or standards are contemplated. The
supervisor of standards in each Region of Australia is a GFA person, not a CASA person. With
all this in mind, there is one more important document which sets out the detailed rules and
recommendations of the GFA for all to see.
This is the Manual of Standard Procedures (MOSP), which has been regarded as the prime
working document for Australian gliding since the inception of the GFA in 1949. The MOSP
still retains this stature, containing information which is of little interest to those outside gliding
but which is vital to those directly involved in the sport.
All the above-mentioned documents are combined into one consolidated GFA Operations
Manual, free copies of which are supplied to all clubs. Individuals may download a copy of the
GFA Operations Manual from the GFA website.
To summarise, GFA exists primarily to administer the safety and proper conduct of gliding as
an alternative to coming under comprehensive Commonwealth regulation. Rather than being
an authoritative body policing gliding with some unworthy intention, the GFA should be seen
as a buffer placed between outright Government control of the sport and the clubs and
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individuals engaged in gliding activities. The essential difference between direct Government
control and the “self-administration” exercised by the Federation lies in the amount of
representation that each person has in each case. It is important that people coming into
gliding understand this situation and it is a necessary function of member clubs and
organisations to explain it to them.
Gliding operations in Australia
There are about 2200 glider pilots in Australia, operating more than 1,200 gliders from over
75 clubs. GFA trains all gliding instructors and airworthiness inspectors and no CASA pilot's
licence is necessary to fly gliders in Australia, the GFA’s Glider Pilot Certificate being accepted
as the “equivalent level of competence”.
To learn to fly a glider it is usual to join a gliding club, or undertake a course at a full-time
operator. In this respect gliding differs from power flying, where it is usually possible to book
an hour or so's instruction without being a member of the organisation itself. Gliding cannot
work in the same way as powered flying because so many people are necessary on the ground
to enable one person to fly. This creates a team spirit in gliding that is almost entirely absent
from powered flying. Some people of an impatient and selfish disposition are irritated by the
amount of work they need to do in order to get into the air, but it is part and parcel of the sport
of gliding and has stood the test of time very well. Glider pilots are not just pilots - they are
skilled at many other jobs on the airfield too.
Most gliding clubs have a Student membership rate, available to all members who are under
the age of 18 years or are full-time students. A Student membership rate also applies to the
Gliding Federation of Australia (it is necessary to be a GFA member and to abide by GFA
procedures in order to legally undertake glider-pilot training. Student membership rates offer
considerable cost savings to young people. The cost of flying gliders is a lot less than flying
powered aircraft.
The minimum age for flying gliders solo in Australia is 15 years. This is considerably younger
than the minimum age of 16 for going solo under an Australian recreational pilot licence, so
by the time a person holding a student recreational pilot licence is old enough to legally solo
a light aircraft he/she could have enjoyed quite a lot of time as pilot in command of a sailplane
acquiring and developing the skills of soaring.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority recognises time flown in gliders and power assisted
sailplanes for an “hours” concession to be granted when training for a Private pilot (aeroplane)
licence. Similar recognition is granted by Recreational Aviation Australia. A glider pilot should
not start a conversion to powered aircraft without first enquiring of the flying school about this
concession. It can save a lot of money.
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CHAPTER 2 - THE TRAINING PROCESS
PRE-SOLO TRAINING
Training is carried out in two-seat gliders, most trainers being of “tandem” layout, the student
occupying the front seat, the instructor sitting behind. In these gliders, all essential controls
and most of the instruments are duplicated for each occupant.
The cockpits of a Grob Twin Astir tandem two-seat trainer
A few gliders, and quite a number of powered sailplanes, are of side-by-side (e.g. Diamond
Aircraft Industries “Dimona”) or “staggered” side-by-side layout (e.g. Schneider “Kookaburra”).
In these machines, the controls are duplicated, but instruments are shared.
THE PRE-SOLO TRAINING SYLLABUS
The syllabus of pre-solo training appears below. The assumption is made that the person
undergoing training has no prior piloting experience. If they have prior experience, e.g. in
powered aircraft or ultralights, suitable adjustments to the training may be made.
Usually, a person would have undertaken an Air Experience Flight prior to commencing formal
training. During an air experience flight the pilot will provide a briefing on the importance of
good ‘lookout’ during all stages of flight, and will give person a demonstration of control
functions and an opportunity to “have a go”. This flight also stresses the third dimension, which
important for a person who has very likely spent his or her life entirely in two dimensions.
A pre-requisite for solo flight is the attainment of a Flight Radiotelephone Operator
authorisation.
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1.
3.
5.
7.
9.
11.
13.
15.
17.
19.
21.
23.
25.
Lookout awareness
Orientation, sailplane stability
Primary effects, further effects of bank
Sustained turns, all controls
Straight flight, various speeds, trim
Slow flight, stalling
Radio use and endorsement
Take-off
Thermal centring techniques
Soaring with other gliders
Spinning
Launch emergencies
Rules of the air
2.
4.
6.
8.
10.
12.
14.
16.
18.
20.
22.
24.
26.
Ground handling, signals
Pre-take-off checks
Aileron drag, rudder co-ordination
Lookout procedures
Pre-landing checks
Launch and release
FLARM use
Circuit joining and planning
Thermal entry
Approach and landing
Crosswind take-off and landing
Flying with other gliders and aircraft
First Solo
POST-SOLO TRAINING
As a pilot progresses toward the Glider Pilot Certificate, further training is carried out to
prepare a pilot for the possibilities of carrying private passengers and attempting the first cross
country flight. The training will concentrate on efficient soaring, meteorology and flight
planning, passenger awareness and the procedures to be adopted for outlandings.
The post-solo training syllabus is as follows:27.
29.
31.
33.
35.
37.
39.
Side slipping
Thermal sources and selection
Flight preparation, glider, trailer and pilot
Meteorology and flight planning
Cruising, speed to fly and height bands
‘C’ Certificate
Independent operator Level 1
28.
30.
32.
34.
36.
38.
40.
Steep turns
Outlanding
Soaring instruments and flight computers
Navigation and airspace
Demonstrated cross country capability
Daily Inspector Certificate
Glider Pilot Certificate authorised by CFI
Guide for Post-Solo Self-Improvement
The formal post-solo training syllabus may be supplemented by a bit of self-help. Solo flying
is a good opportunity to set definite goals and improve skills, especially in things like thermal
centring and efficient soaring. If you have a “B” Certificate, fly with someone else who also
has a B (or higher) qualification - you may be surprised how much you can learn from someone
else's approach to a problem or indeed from someone else's mistakes (as long as the mistakes
are not serious ones!).
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Try flying at a different club, with different types of gliders and maybe a different launch
method. It really improves flexibility as a pilot, and its fun.
Get some dual flying at your own club and try landing at different parts of the field.
Each time you do it, get the instructor to comment upon the quality of your circuit. This
is a useful preparation for actual outlandings, but should not be regarded as a
substitute for them.
In addition to the flying, get some practice in the following:Reading WAC charts and the various CAA charts relevant to our activities. See chapter
on navigation.
Interpreting synoptic charts and temperature traces.
Preparing and towing trailers (with special emphasis on reversing).
Talk to experienced cross-country pilots about crops, SWER lines and how to
recognise good landing paddocks from the air.
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•
•
Buy a copy of the FAI Sporting Code, Section D (Gliders) from the FAI Certificates
Officer, and study it.
Ask an instructor what it is like to fly a glider with rain on the wings. Don't go crosscountry until you know the answer.
GFA GLIDER PILOT CERTIFICATE
The Glider Pilot Certificate (GPC) is awarded to pilots in recognition that they have been
trained and assessed as competent to operate a sailplane as an independently proficient GFA
soaring pilot following satisfactory completion of the GPC Training Syllabus, which includes
meeting the requirements for the issue of a Level 1 ‘restricted’ independent operator
endorsement as detailed in GFA MOSP 2.
All pilots operating under GFA are subject to GFA Operational requirements. The GPC
recognises that the pilot has been trained and tested to the full extent of the GPC training
syllabus and is therefore entitled to be approved to operate a glider within the privileges and
limitations of the syllabus items as notified by pilot logbook endorsements.
The Glider Pilot Certificate Application form is to be signed by the club CFI (refer Operational
Regulations, Section 3.3.7).
The GPC training syllabus comprises the pre- and post-solo components described earlier.
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CHAPTER 3 - BASIC THEORY
BASIC AERODYNAMICS
A glider or sailplane is a heavier-than-air aircraft (aerodyne) used in the sport of gliding that is
supported in flight by the dynamic reaction of the air against its lifting surfaces, and whose
free flight does not depend on an engine. Some gliders, known as motor gliders, are also used
for gliding and soaring, but have engines which can be used for extending a flight (sustainers)
and, for some types, for take-off (self-launching).
Lift
Like all aerodynes, a glider derives its lift from the movement of its wings through the air. This
movement through the air causes the air to flow in a particular pattern around the wings and
the wings are shaped in a special way to take advantage of this flow.
The wings of any aircraft, including gliders, are of a cross-sectional shape designed to give
the maximum chance of producing lift. This shape, curved or cambered over the top surface
and relatively flat underneath, is known as an “aerofoil” section and the exact shape of an
aerofoil depends upon what kind of aircraft we wish to apply it to. Gliders, being low speed
aircraft with a speed range of 30 to 150 knots, have wings of an aerofoil section which will
produce high values of lift at those low speeds without producing too much drag which would
retard the machine's progress through the air. Such a wing is usually relatively thick. Highspeed aircraft are a different story; their wings are very thin and not at all suited to low-speed
flight. When high-speed aircraft need to fly slowly for take-off and landing, they can call upon
complex high-lift devices to help them. Such complication is unsuited to gliders, although some
research gliders are quite complicated and even a few production gliders in the Open Class
are no longer simple.
A typical glider aerofoil section is shown here. Such an aerofoil section meets the requirements
for glider design and variations on this basic theme may be considered typical for nearly all
glider wings.
A wing produces lift in a number of different ways.
The actual shape of the wing encourages a speeding up of the airflow over the cambered top
surface. This in turn results in a lowering of the pressure over the top of the wing (Bernoulli's
theory), in effect causing a “suction” upwards. Generally speaking, the thicker the wing and
the more pronounced the camber, the more lift will be produced at a given speed.
Lift is a reaction force and an aerofoil deflects the air as it passes. Since the aerofoil must
exert a force on the air to change its direction, the air must exert a force of equal magnitude
but opposite direction on the foil (Newton's laws of motion).
Speed of the wing through the air is also a factor; the faster the speed, the more lift is
produced.
The angle at which the wing meets the air also plays a part. This angle, known as the Angle
of Attack (AoA), has an important effect on the amount of lift produced by the wing. A
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symmetrical aerofoil will generate zero lift at zero angle of attack. But as the angle of attack
increases, the air is deflected through a larger angle and the vertical component of the
airstream velocity increases, resulting in more lift. For small angles a symmetrical aerofoil will
generate a lift force roughly proportional to the angle of attack.
The shape of the aerofoil section is established by the designer and there is nothing the pilot
can do about it except in a very restricted sense if the glider happens to be equipped with flaps
(See page 37). Angle of attack and speed are very much under the control of the pilot and a
great deal of a glider pilot's training is concerned with a good understanding of keeping both
of these factors under control.
The aerodynamic force developed by an aerofoil section acts at approximately right-angles to
the airflow producing it. The part of the force acting at right-angles to the flow is termed Lift,
and the (much smaller) part acting along the direction of the flow is termed Drag. The point
on the wing through which the lift acts is called the Centre of Pressure (CP). The CP moves
forward with an increase in AoA and backward with a decrease in AoA.
Weight
The weight of a glider is kept as low as possible consistent with adequate strength. Chapter
7, Basic Airworthiness, covers this in more detail. The lift produced by the wings acts in
opposition to the weight of the whole glider. It will therefore be apparent that the lighter the
structure and the bigger the wing, the lower will be the resultant rate of sink.
The weight always acts at right angles to the earth's surface, no matter which way the glider
is pointing. The point on the glider through which the weight acts is called the Centre of Gravity
(CG).
Wing Loading
Wing loading is quite simply the flying weight of the glider divided by the wing area. “Flying
weight” is defined as the weight of the glider, plus pilot, parachute, barograph, etc.
The lower the wing-loading, the lower the sink rate and the easier the glider will stay up in
weak lift. The higher the wing-loading, the greater the sink rate and the stronger the lift
necessary to stay aloft. However, a higher wing loading can sometimes be an advantage for
flying fast between thermals, provided the thermals are strong enough to allow the glider to
climb in the first place.
Here are some examples of wing-loadings.
Schleicher ASK13 two-seat trainer (flown dual):Wing area:
Maximum flying weight:
Wing-loading
17.5 m2
480 kg
27.4 kg/m2
188.4 ft2
1060 lbs
5.61 lbs/ft2
Glasflugel H303 Mosquito (including water ballast):Wing area:
Maximum flying weight:
Wing-loading
9.86 m2
450 kg
46.5 kg/m2
106.1 ft2
992 lbs
8.72 lbs/ft2
18.22 m2
13,054 kg
716.46 kg/m2
196.1 ft2
28,779 lbs
146.75 lbs/ft2
Lockheed F-104G Starfighter:Wing area:
Maximum flying weight:
Wing-loading
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The K13 and the Mosquito, at their wing-loadings, have very moderate sink rates, although
the Mosquito (ballasted for fast cross-country flying) will sink somewhat faster than the K13.
The Lockheed Starfighter, if its engine stopped, would have the sink rate of a greased house
brick.
DRAG
In aerodynamics, drag is the force that acts on a moving body in the direction of the airflow,
and opposite to the motion of the aircraft, and opposes an aircraft's motion through the air. It
is a mechanical force that is generated by the interaction and contact of a solid body with the
air due to the difference in velocity between the solid object and the air. If there is no motion,
there is no drag.
Profile drag
The shape of a glider offers resistance to its passage through the air. Its actual profile governs
the amount of resistance, or drag it produces at any given speed through the air. This socalled “profile drag” is actually a combination of the drag caused by the shape (form drag) and
that caused by any roughness of the aircraft skin (skin friction). Form drag is reduced by
streamlining; by making the non-lifting parts of the glider (fuselage, etc.) of such a shape as
to offer the least possible resistance to the air. Skin friction is reduced by keeping the surfaces
of the glider as smooth as possible, even to the extent of polishing them in some cases.
Profile drag increases as glider speed increases. However, the picture is worse than you might
think. Profile drag actually increases as the square of the speed. Double the speed, four times
the drag; three times the speed, nine times the drag, etc. It is obviously in everyone's' interest
to make the glider as streamlined as possible and to keep its surface skin smooth and clean.
It certainly explains why modern gliders are so slim and their surfaces so highly polished.
Induced drag
There is another source of drag which must be considered. This kind of drag is inseparable
from the process of producing lift from the wing and it is proportional to the angle of attack
(AoA) of the wing. Because the drag is induced by the lift-producing process, it is naturally
known as induced drag.
Generally speaking, in a glider a high angle of attack means a low speed, unless “G” forces
are being produced, which is a special case that is beyond the scope of this book. Conversely,
a low angle of attack means a high speed. Induced drag therefore gets less as the glider's
speed increases, the opposite effect to that
occurring with profile drag. Induced drag in
fact increases as the inverse square of the
airspeed; double the speed, a quarter of the
induced drag, etc.
Total drag
The total drag of the glider is therefore a
combination of profile and induced drags.
When glider speed is changing, one kind of
drag is increasing while the other is
reducing. There is only one speed at which
both kinds of drag are at a minimum; the
speed is known rather obviously as the
Speed for Minimum Drag.
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Aspect ratio
A glider designer needs to reduce drag to a minimum. Profile drag will be reduced by careful
streamlining and attention to the joining of the wing and tail with the fuselage. Induced drag
can be reduced by making the glider wings of a particular planform.
At glider speeds, considerable reductions in induced drag can be achieved with wings of long
span and narrow chord (“chord” is the distance from leading edge to trailing edge). Such wings
are said to have a high aspect ratio.
Aspect ratio is simply defined as wing span divided by average wing chord (an average value
is needed because most wings are tapered). Examples of glider aspect ratios are just under
10 for a Shortwing Kookaburra (not an aerodynamically efficient glider) to over 28 for a Nimbus
2 (which certainly is efficient). Compare this with 9.4 for the Airbus A320, by airliner standards
a known efficient performer.
Winglets
Although a high aspect ratio means low induced drag and very efficient performance, it has a
structural penalty. Very long wings of high aspect ratio exert a large bending moment about
the wing-root attachments to the fuselage. This can limit the extent to which the designer can
(literally) spread his wings.
It has been discovered that a similar effect to increasing aspect ratio, but without quite the
same structural penalty, can be achieved by bending the wingtips upwards by varying
amounts, in some cases up to 90 degrees. The portion bent upwards, which may be anything
up to half a metre in length, is known as a winglet.
Winglet design is by no means simple. Winglets must save more in induced drag than they
produce as profile drag. The devices are popular on almost all competitive gliders, so it is
assumed they do actually have some benefit. There are also reports that they have a beneficial
effect in low-speed handling and reduction of stall speed in some designs.
HOW A GLIDER ACHIEVES FORWARD FLIGHT
Once a glider has been launched and is in free flight, it is in a similar situation to a ball that
has been set rolling. Just as the ball will only continue rolling down a slope, the glider moves
along a virtual slope, descending through the air as it moves forward. Both the glider and the
ball overcome resistance to their motion and keep up their energy of motion (kinetic energy)
by giving up energy they have by virtue of height (gravitational potential energy). From the
point of release a glider is constantly losing height in order to maintain forward speed. The
more the nose is tilted downward, the
more speed is given to the glider, but at the
same time the more height is lost in the
process. In practice, for the most efficient
angle of glide, the nose of the glider is
tilted downward by a very small amount,
barely noticeable to the onlooker. Modern
gliders can achieve very high speeds at
very moderate nose-down angles. The
diagram opposite illustrates the forces at
work around a glider and the resultant
“nose down” flight path is a bit
exaggerated to show the principle.
From the pilot's point of view, this nose position in relation to the horizon is known as the
glider's “attitude”. Flying by the attitude of the glider's nose to the horizon is far more important
than anything the glider's instruments say.
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It is important to realise that, even when a glider is gaining height in free flight, such as soaring
in a thermal, it is only doing so because the thermal is ascending at a greater rate than the
glider is descending through it. A glider is always descending in free flight and the pilot's job
is to find air which is rising at a greater rate than the glider's descent rate.
Minimum sink rate
The higher the wing-loading, the higher will be the rate of sink of the glider. Wing-loadings
such as those which appeared earlier in this chapter are typical of the variations seen in the
wide variety of glider types produced over the years. At any given wing-loading there is only
one speed at which the minimum sink rate will be achieved. This occurs at about 7 knots
above the stalling speed at any given weight and is known rather obviously as the Minimum
Sink Speed. It is the speed at which the glider should be flown to stay in the air for the longest
possible time, not necessarily to achieve the greatest possible distance on a cross-country.
L/D ratio
The ratio between the lift produced by the wing and the drag produced by the whole airframe
is critical in a glider. The designer (and the pilot) looks for as much of the former and as little
of the latter as possible. Of course there is a compromise and we end up with L/D ratios suited
for particular purposes. For example, a competition glider with a very high L/D ratio might be
so streamlined that it would be difficult for a large person to fit into its narrow cockpit, whereas
a two-seat trainer will be less streamlined because of the need to accommodate two pilots.
A highly streamlined glider with a high aspect ratio will have a high L/D ratio. This means that
it loses very little height for much gain in forward distance. In other words, its “glide-angle” is
very flat.
The term “glide-angle” can be considered interchangeable with “L/D ratio”. Nowadays a glide
angle of 1 in 30 (1 metre height loss for 30 metres of forward gain) would be considered the
minimum acceptable value for a single-seater. The very best Open Class gliders are now
producing nearly 1 in 60. Note that, for any given glider weight, the maximum achievable L/D
ratio occurs at only one speed, which will usually be higher than the speed for minimum sink
rate.
GLIDER STABILITY AND CONTROL
These two words “stability” and “control” are very important when talking about any aeroplane,
and gliders are no exception. Stability means that the glider must be able to fly for short periods
of time without the pilot touching the controls. If it can do this, it means it is a good safe design
which will not be too difficult or demanding to fly. Control means the opposite of stability - it
means that the glider should be manoeuvrable about all of its three axes of movement (pitch,
roll and yaw), using its controls.
If a glider is too stable, it is not very manoeuvrable and is tiring to fly. If it is not stable enough,
it is difficult or even dangerous to fly. The designer has to produce a glider with just the right
amount of each of these qualities so that it is stable enough to allow us to take our hand off
the stick (to unfold a map, for example) without changing our flight path very much, yet still be
very manoeuvrable when we want it to be.
The first thing a glider pilot learns when starting training is stability. The instructor will
demonstrate that the glider will easily maintain level flight without the pilot's help and even if it
is disturbed by turbulence it does not do anything alarming. If the nose moves up or down a
bit in rough air, it does so very slowly and the same applies if the glider rolls or yaws a bit. Let
us see how it achieves this stability.
Basic Gliding Knowledge
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Longitudinal stability or stability in the pitching plane
The tailplane provides pitch stability
The diagram above shows that the tailplane (or horizontal stabilizer) is like a small wing placed
at the rear of the glider. This is exactly what it is, and it will produce an upward or downward
force to make the nose go back to where the pilot originally put it, if it should get moved from
that position for any reason. If the nose tries to go up, the tailplane forces it back down again.
If the nose tries to go down, the tailplane makes it go up again. Pitch stability in gliders is
provided by the tailplane.
Note: Tailless aircraft lack a separate horizontal stabilizer. In a tailless aircraft, the horizontal
stabilizing surface is part of the main wing. Longitudinal stability in tailless aircraft is achieved
by designing the aircraft so that its aerodynamic centre is behind the centre of gravity. This is
generally done by modifying the wing design, for example by varying the angle of incidence in
the span-wise direction (wing washout or twist), or by using reflexed camber aerofoils.
Lateral damping and Lateral stability, or stability in roll
Stability in roll, known as lateral stability, is best considered in two parts. The first part is when
the glider is actually rolling or banking, either because it has been tipped by a gust or because
the pilot has made it roll. When the glider rolls, there is a difference in the amount of lift
produced by each wing. The wing going down will produce more lift than the wing coming up,
because of the difference in their angles of attack. This tends to damp the rolling of the glider
and for this reason is known as lateral damping. Lateral damping is a very important factor in
roll stability and it is always present as long as the wing is not stalled. If a stall occurs, lateral
damping can be lost and this may spell trouble for the unwary pilot.
The second part of lateral stability comes into effect when the glider has stopped rolling and
is stuck at a particular bank angle. A combination of dihedral effect of the wings and pendulum
effect of the fuselage will help restore the glider back to level flight. The diagram following
illustrate both effects.
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Dihedral and pendulum effects
Directional stability or stability in yaw
Stability in yaw, known as directional stability, is provided by the fin. When a glider yaws, the
airflow blows against the side of the fin, producing a force which pushes the glider back into
straight flight. This is similar to the behaviour of a weathercock on a church steeple, and in
fact this kind of stability is sometimes known as weathercock stability. The fin provides
directional stability.
Glider control
A glider is a stable platform which can be readily controlled.
The primary controls of a glider are the same as any other aeroplane. The elevator and
ailerons are controlled by the stick and the rudder is controlled by the rudder pedals. The
elevator is trimmed, either by a trim-tab or by a spring, and the airbrakes are used to control
the rate of descent on the final landing approach. The diagram overleaf shows the various
parts of a modern sailplane.
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The close-up view of the cockpit of a modern single-seat glider which is shown here gives a
more detailed picture of the operation of the control system of a modern glider.
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In addition to the familiar stick and rudder pedal controls, note the additional controls
positioned around the cockpit sides, one or two of which would seem a bit strange to a powerpilot's eyes. These are the airbrake control, on the left side of the cockpit, with the elevator
trim right next to it. In this example, the elevator trim control is not connected to a tab, as in
most light aircraft, but to two springs which are used to provide a trimming force on the elevator
without the complication and drag of a tab. On the right of the cockpit is the large undercarriage
retraction lever, which pulls the mainwheel up into a well behind the pilot. Just in front of the
undercarriage lever is a smaller lever, which is used to dump water from the ballast tanks in
the wings. The water is carried in order to increase the wing-loading for fast cross-country
flying.
There are two towhooks, one in the nose for aerotowing and one under the belly for launching
by winch or motor-car. They are both operated by a single knob in the cockpit.
The pilot is provided with a four-point safety harness, which gives good security during
aerobatics and good protection in the event of an accident. A parachute is usually worn in this
kind of glider and the cockpit canopy is easily jettisoned by means of a knob on the console
under the instrument panel.
All the controls have quick-release connections, so that the glider can easily be de-rigged for
transport in its trailer. Rigging the glider takes only about ten minutes and needs only three
people. Safety inspections are always carried out after the glider has been rigged.
PRIMARY EFFECTS OF CONTROLS
Elevator
The effect of the elevator is to control the pitch of the glider. Firstly the glider is placed into its
correct attitude with respect to the horizon. “Attitude” is the standard gliding term used to
describe the position of the nose in relation to the horizon. When this is done, we have our
“stable platform” referred to earlier. The illustration following shows how this appears from the
cockpit of the glider.
Note nose position relative to horizon
Note ASI reading
To observe the effect of the elevator, the stick is held lightly in the right hand and moved
smoothly forward. Note that left-handed persons will need to get used to using the right hand
on the stick. Look ahead at the horizon while doing this and it will be observed that the nose
will go down below the previous attitude. The sound level in the cockpit increases as the speed
builds up, due to the increase in speed of the airflow past the cockpit. During training, this
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sound level is a very important clue to changing speed in a glider. The increase in speed is
confirmed by a glance at the Air Speed Indicator (ASI). See illustration below.
Nose lower than previous diagram
ASI reading higher
Still looking ahead, the stick is brought smoothly back and the nose will come up. The airflow
noise will decrease and a glance at the ASI shows that the speed is decreasing. See below.
Nose higher than normal
ASI reading lower
The elevator controls the attitude of the glider and therefore controls its speed. If the nose is
low, the glider dives and the speed is high. If the nose is high, the glider flies slowly.
Stick forward, nose down, speed increases. Stick back, nose up and speed decreases. This
is the only effect of the elevator. In a glider, ATTITUDE = SPEED.
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Ailerons
The effect of the ailerons is to control the bank or roll of the glider. Starting at the stable
platform again, the stick is held lightly in the right hand and moved smoothly to the left. The
left wing will go down and it will keep going down if the stick is kept over to the left. If the stick
is brought back to the central position (this is called "centralizing" the stick) the glider will stay
banked over to the left - it will not return to the wings-level position of its own accord. If the
pilot wants to get the wings level, the stick has to be moved in the opposite direction, in this
case to the right. When this is done, the glider will start rolling to the right until it reaches the
level position. The stick is then once again centralized and the glider will remain steady with
its wings level. The glider is back at the stable platform.
It will be obvious that the same principles apply to banking to the right.
To recap, stick to the left and the glider banks to the left. Stick to the right and the glider banks
to the right. The glider does not return to the level position when the stick is centralized - it
stays at the bank angle chosen by the pilot. The stick needs to be moved in the opposite
direction if the pilot wants to return the glider to level flight.
The primary effect of the ailerons is therefore bank or roll. It is necessary to bank the glider in
order to make it turn. The ailerons are therefore the TURNING CONTROLS.
Aileron drag and adverse yaw.
Because of their long wingspan, fairly large ailerons and generally low operating speeds,
gliders suffer from another effect of ailerons which becomes apparent as soon as they are
used.
When the ailerons are deflected to make the glider bank, we get the results we want because
the ailerons change the shape (aerofoil section) of the outer part of the wing. This in turn
changes the amount of lift produced by each wingtip. For example, moving the stick to the left
moves the left aileron up and the right aileron down. Lift over the left wingtip is reduced and
lift over the right wingtip is increased. The glider therefore banks to the left. This is the effect
we want and that's fine.
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Unfortunately, an increase in lift brings with it an increase in INDUCED drag, and the effect of
this is to YAW the glider in the opposite direction to which it is being banked. This unwanted
yaw is adverse to the direction we want to bank, and for this reason is known as ADVERSE
YAW. Adverse yaw, caused by aileron drag, is present on all gliders and cannot be eliminated.
Glider pilots must therefore learn how to cope with it.
Rudder
The effect of the rudder is to control the yaw of the glider. Once again we start at the stable
platform. Moving the right rudder-pedal forward (which naturally causes the left one to move
back) results in the nose of the glider yawing (swinging) to the right.
One thing that is noticeable is that, when rudder is applied, the nose will only swing so far and
then it will stop. This is because the rudder has only a limited ability to yaw the glider before it
comes up against the yaw stability provided by the fin. Even though the rudder-pedals are
kept deflected, the nose will only yaw so far and no further. This is the first clue that the rudder
is not the control which turns the glider. The primary turning control is the aileron, not the
rudder.
There is usually not much need for a pilot to yaw the glider during flight, although there might
be some need to use the rudder to PREVENT yaw, in rough air for example. The really useful
purpose of the rudder is to act as a helping or "balancing" control to cancel out the adverse
yaw caused by the aileron drag described in the previous section. Every time the ailerons are
used, either to turn the glider or to keep it on an even keel when it gets tipped up in rough air,
the rudder is used in the same direction at the same time to prevent the nose yawing in the
"wrong" direction.
This use of rudder in combination with the ailerons is known as "coordination". The
coordination of the feet with the right hand is a very important part of learning to fly gliders.
It is mentioned above that the rudder may be used to prevent yaw developing, as well as to
actually produce yaw. This principle is in fact true of all the controls in their respective axes of
operation. For example, rough air can cause changes in nose attitude or bank angle and the
appropriate control can be used to resist this unwanted change.
Definitions of control functions
Elevator is used to change speed or to STOP a change in speed.
Ailerons, suitably coordinated with rudder, are used to change direction or STOP a change in
direction.
Rudder, as well as being used in coordination with ailerons, is used to yaw the glider or STOP
the glider yawing.
SECONDARY EFFECTS
It has already been stated that the elevator has only one effect and does not have any further,
or secondary, effect. This section is therefore concerned only with the secondary effects of
bank and rudder.
Bank
If the glider is banked to one side or the other, but for some reason a properly-balanced turn
does not follow, it is possible for a "sideslip" to develop towards the lower wing. If this happens,
dihedral and pendulum effects (see lateral stability) will try to return the glider to straight flight.
However, before this occurs, the slipping of the glider towards the lower wing will cause the
glider's directional stability to yaw the nose towards the lower wing. The secondary effect of
bank may therefore be YAW in the same direction as bank. It does however take some time
to have any effect and is seldom encountered in practice. However, if it does develop and
remains unchecked, it can eventually result in the glider entering a spiral dive.
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Yaw
Secondary effect of rudder is roll in the same direction as yaw. When rudder is applied, the
nose yaws to the side. If, for example, left rudder is applied, the nose swings to the left and
this effectively increases the angle of attack of the right wing, which is now tending to point its
tip into the oncoming airflow. The right wing therefore produces more lift than the left one and
this results in the glider banking to the left, in the same direction as the applied rudder. This
effect is used in radio-controlled model aircraft to turn the model when there may not be
enough radio channels to enable ailerons to be fitted. Although it is very effective on models,
it is nowhere near as effective on full-size gliders and can in fact be hazardous. It must never
be used as a primary method of turning the aircraft.
ANCILLARY CONTROLS
These are defined as controls other than the primary flight controls. They can be listed as
follows:-
The cable/towrope release
The definition of this control is self-explanatory. It is usually a round knob or T-shaped handle
situated so as to be accessible to the pilot's left hand. In some gliders it is not as accessible
as it ought to be, which is a pity because it is a vital control which sometimes needs to be
located and operated quickly. Whatever its size or shape, it is always coloured YELLOW by
international agreement.
Elevator trim
The elevator trim enables the pilot to make an adjustment in order to allow the glider to be
flown "hands-off" over a wide range of speeds and pilot weights. Most training gliders are fitted
with elevator trim tabs, although it is nowadays more normal for high performance gliders to
be fitted with a simple spring to hold the elevator in the position selected by the pilot. An
elevator trim tab works as shown below. The "tab" is the small auxiliary flap inset into the
trailing edge of one side of the elevator (some gliders have tabs on both sides). When
deflected by the pilot moving the trim lever, the tab creates a moment about the elevator hinge
line which "biases" the elevator in the opposite direction to the movement. The tab is the
hatched area inset into the elevator.
The elevator trim can therefore be considered as a "labour-saving" device to save the pilot
from having to keep a forward or backward force on the stick whenever he changes speed or
when pilots of different weights fly the glider. The operating lever may be on the left or right
side of the pilot, or in some cases even in the middle, on or near the stick. It is coloured
GREEN by international agreement.
One important point about trimming. The speed of a glider is ALWAYS controlled by the
elevator. The trim is used only to remove any residual force which may be felt on the stick.
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.
Spoilers
Spoilers are flat plates which can be extended upwards from the top surface of the wing in
order to steepen the final approach path for landing. They achieve their effect by "spoiling" the
airflow over the top surface of the wing. Spoilers are usually not very powerful, that is they do
not enable a very steep approach path to be obtained. They would therefore not be adequate
for an approach into a very small paddock over a line of tall trees. Spoilers may be set at any
position within their operating range as required by the pilot to achieve the desired flight path
and they may be varied in position during an approach. When extended, they usually cause a
nose-down change in the glider's trim, which will need to be compensated by the pilot if the
approach speed is to be accurately maintained.
Spoilers are operated by the pilot's left hand and the operating lever or knob is coloured BLUE
by international agreement.
Airbrakes
The primary purpose of airbrakes in a glider is the same as spoilers - to steepen the approach
path for landing. However, they are much more powerful in their effect than spoilers, because
they are generally much bigger and often extend downward from the bottom of the wing as
well as up from the top. They enable the pilot to make a steeper approach to land than with
spoilers and are therefore much more suitable for outlanding in very small paddocks with
obstacles on the boundary. They obtain their effect partly by spoiling the lift over the top
surface of the wing and partly by causing a large increase in the total drag of the glider. This
in turn makes it necessary for the pilot to lower the nose to maintain a constant approach
speed, thereby steepening the approach path without causing an increase in speed.
A useful side-effect of airbrakes is that they are powerful enough to act as a speed-limiting
device in a dive. The airbrakes fitted to modern gliders, if fully extended, will prevent the
maximum allowable speed of the glider being exceeded in a dive up to a 30 degree angle.
This can be useful if accidentally caught in cloud and having to dive out without risking
overspeeding the structure.
Like spoilers, airbrakes are operated by the pilot's left hand and the operating lever is also
coloured BLUE, because they are used for the same basic purpose as spoilers
Note: Most airbrakes and spoilers, when extended, cause an increase in stalling speed of
between 2 and 5 knots. Therefore they should not be "fiddled with" near the ground until a
pilot has some experience and is completely familiar with the individual glider's characteristics.
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A typical top airbrake installation on a landing ASK 21
Flaps
Quite a lot of modern gliders are fitted with flaps on the trailing edges of their wings. The
purpose of flaps is to take advantage of a reduced stalling speed due to the increased camber
of the wings when the flaps are lowered.
With flaps lowered, the following advantages are obtained:•
•
•
The pilot is able to fly more slowly with a good safety margin above the stalling speed.
This means a reduced radius of turn enabling small thermals to be used.
A slower approach speed may be used, still retaining an adequate margin above the
stalling speed
Glider flaps also have the ability of be raised above the trailing edge of the wing into the
"negative" or "reflex" position. This reduces the camber of the wing and has the effect of
reducing drag at higher cruising speeds. This setting is very useful for cross-country flying.
The diagrams show the principles of operation of flaps in the downward (positive) and upward
(negative) positions.
Flaps lowered. Increased camber,
increased lift, reduced stalling speed,
increased drag. Used for thermalling or
approaching to land.
Basic Gliding Knowledge
Flaps in "reflex" position. Reduced camber,
less lift, higher stalling speed, reduced drag
at high speeds. Used for cruising between
thermals, never for circling and never for
approaching to land.
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GLIDER INSTRUMENTS
The instruments fitted to training gliders are usually quite simple, although single seaters can
be more elaborately equipped, especially those used for competitions. A brief description of
basic glider instruments, together with their principles of operation, follows.
The altimeter
This
instrument
is
simply
an
aneroid
barometer, converted
to read in feet instead
of hectopascals of air
pressure. Since an
increase
in
height
results in a decrease in
air pressure, there is a
direct
relationship
between the two and
this can be shown
clearly to the pilot. Most
altimeters
fitted
to
gliders are of the socalled "sensitive" type,
which means that they
have more than one
hand, the better to
show accurately the
thousands
and
hundreds of feet at
which the glider is
flying. Similar to an
ordinary domestic clock display, the large hand shows hundreds of feet and the small hand
shows thousands. Many glider altimeters are of ex-military stock, purchased through disposals
stores, and some of these have a third, very small, hand which shows tens of thousands of
feet.
Altimeters have a "sub-scale", on which can be set the
barometric pressure, using the little knob provided for the
purpose. This can complicate the use of the altimeter and
at this point it is best to refer to the chapter on altimetry in
the GFA publication "Airways and Radio Procedures for
Glider Pilots".
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The airspeed indicator (ASI)
This instrument uses the pressure built up in front of the pitot head
to move a needle around a dial, thus displaying the glider's speed
through the air. The diagram explains how it works. Note that the
pressures being handled by airspeed indicators are quite subtle and
excessive pressure applied to the instrument through the pitot head
will cause damage. Do not blow into pitot heads until properly taught
how to do so when training to become a Daily Inspector. If you see
anyone blowing into pitot heads (some people don't seem to be able
to resist it), suspect that the instrument has suffered and report it to
somebody.
In the lower levels of the atmosphere, where most training gliders operate, the airspeed
indicator is relatively
free
from
serious
errors. However, the
reduced pressure and
density of the air at
higher altitudes results
in errors progressively
creeping
in.
For
information on these
errors, refer to the
"indicated
airspeed
and true airspeed"
section in Chapter 7,
Basic Airworthiness.
The variometer
Arguably the most important instrument in a glider, with the possible exception of the seat of
the pilot's pants, the variometer is a very sensitive instrument for measuring rate of climb and
descent. In its basic form, it works by measuring the rate at which air flows into and out of an
enclosed container, which is a flask of
standard .45 litre capacity. The air
flowing in and out of the flask moves
the needle in an up or down direction
to indicate to the pilot whether the
glider is climbing or descending.
As the glider climbs in a thermal, it is
moving into air of decreasing pressure.
In order to equalise the pressures
inside and outside of the flask, air flows
out of the flask and passes through the
instrument on its way. In doing so, it
moves the needle to an "up" indication,
by means of suitable linkages. The
opposite happens when the glider
descends into regions of increasing
pressure.
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The McCready ring
The American soaring pilot Paul McCready discovered that, during cross-country flying, it is
possible to vary the glider's inter-thermal speed in accordance with the strength of the thermals
being found. It is a simple enough theory; the stronger the thermals, the faster a pilot should
fly between them in order to maximise cross-country speed.
Utilising the glider's "polar curve" of
sink-rate versus airspeed, a McCready
Ring can be constructed. This ring is
fitted around the dial of the variometer
and is controlled by the pilot.
The arrow on the ring is rotated by the
pilot to the average rate of climb
experienced in the last thermal. Note
that it is important to set it to the
average climb rate, not the maximum
seen by the pilot on the variometer.
Most pilots are optimistic. If the ring is
set too high for the prevailing
conditions, the glider will be flown too
fast and this may result in getting
unnecessarily low on a cross-country
flight and losing time by struggling
back up again. In an extreme case,
setting the ring too high may result in
an outlanding.
Having set the ring, the pilot flies the glider in accordance with where the variometer pointer
indicates in the sink range. If the pointer indicates 6 knots of sink and this shows 70 knots on
the ring, accelerate the glider to 70 knots. This will of course increase the sink rate and the
pointer will move further downwards. However, the situation rapidly stabilises and the pilot
soon acquires the knack of varying the speed of the glider to suit the variations in sink rate,
speeding up as sink increases, slowing down as sink decreases.
It might appear therefore that the progress of a glider on a cross-country flight somewhat
resembles that of a dolphin. This is exactly what it does look like, and the technique of
speeding up in strong sink, slowing down in lesser sink, is known as "dolphin soaring". This is
often applied to the extent that, on a good day, a pilot may not bother to circle in all of the
thermals, but will "dolphin soar" through most of them,
only stopping to circle in one out or three or four
encountered on track.
The compass
Gliders are usually fitted with a very simple magnetic
compass, although more complicated devices are
available for those who must have everything.
The compass in its simple form allows the pilot to see
the glider's heading through the air. For more
information on practical use of the compass in flight, see
the section "Use of the compass" in the Basic
Navigation chapter.
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TURNING
Learning to turn a glider follows
logically from learning the primary
and secondary effects of the
controls. More time is spent turning
in gliders than in straight and level
flight. It is therefore important that
pilots correctly understand the
forces that cause a glider to turn
and how to influence those forces
to achieve the desired result.
When the glider is banked into a
turn, the lift force is tilted over with
it; remember that lift acts at right
angles to the airflow around the
wing. This tilted lift force, as well as
trying to balance out the weight of
the glider, also "pulls" the glider in
the direction the pilot wants to turn.
The more the glider is banked
over, the greater the rate at which
the glider will turn. The basic
principle is as simple as that.
Airmanship
Before going on to consider the
theory and practice of turning, the
vital subject of airmanship must be
understood. Airmanship is a
difficult thing to define, but must
certainly include an awareness of
what is going on around the glider
all the time. Pilots who possess
good airmanship do not get
surprised in the air, whether it be
by the sudden appearance of another aircraft which had gone unnoticed or by the onset of a
sudden major emergency such as tug engine failure.
The most obvious quality of airmanship from a trainee pilot's point of view, and one which is
essential to acquire at an early stage, is LOOKOUT. A sharp lookout must be kept at all times.
This is not difficult to do in a glider, because of the excellent visibility from glider cockpits. It is
much more important in gliders than in any other kind of flying machine, except perhaps hanggliders, because gliders are changing direction all the time in order to locate and use lift.
Failure to keep a good lookout endangers ourselves and, more importantly, others sharing the
air with us. For development of an effective lookout technique, see Chapter 4.
Good airmanship is easy to acquire and its value lasts a lifetime. Bad airmanship is a menace
and lasts just as long. The only difference is the length of lifetime in each case.
Lookout is so important that an instructor will not allow a trainee pilot to turn unless that pilot
has taken the basic precaution of ensuring that it is all clear. It is obvious that the main
concentration of lookout will be in the direction we are about to turn; in other words towards
the part of sky we are about to occupy. This careful lookout before turning must become
an invariable practice.
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Back to the turn itself. Remember that the primary turning controls are the ailerons, not the
rudder. The ailerons are used to bank the glider and it is the bank angle which produces the
force which turns the glider.
From the practical point of view, the glider is turned as follows.

Ensure a good LOOKOUT in the direction of intended turn.

Then look ahead over the nose and apply aileron and rudder together in the appropriate
direction. Correct coordination can be checked by noting whether the nose moves
smoothly around into the turn as the bank develops. If the nose "hesitates" before moving
in the direction of the turn, insufficient rudder has been used in conjunction with the
ailerons. If the nose moves noticeably in the turning direction before any bank has
developed, too much rudder has been applied. The most common fault in the early stages
of learning turns is insufficient rudder.

When sufficient bank has been applied (about 20 degrees is ample in the early stages of
learning), centralize the ailerons and rudder. The glider will now be established in a gentle
turn. Resume a lookout scan in the turning direction.

At this point you may notice a tendency for the glider's nose to drop slightly. This is normal
in turning flight and is countered by a slight back pressure on the stick which must be
maintained as long as the glider is turning. At steeper bank angles the nose-dropping
tendency is more marked and needs a definite back movement.

During the turn, monitor and if necessary control bank angle with Aileron, suitably
coordinated with Rudder. Maintain correct nose attitude with Elevator. Remember the little
jingle A-R-E. "ARE we maintaining a correct turn?"

To come out of the turn, apply aileron and rudder in the opposite direction to the turn. The
glider will roll towards the level position. Just before it becomes level (remember the glider
has some inertia), centralize the aileron and rudder.

Relax whatever back pressure you had in the turn.
The most common faults in learning turns are •
•
•
•
•
Failure to look out properly before turning.
Insufficient rudder with aileron at turn entry
Looking at ASI instead of monitoring nose attitude
Failure to maintain back pressure in the turn.
NEVER try to turn a glider in flight by using rudder alone. Only on the ground is this
acceptable.
STALLING
A stall in straight and level flight is quite simply a progressive loss of lift over the top section of
the wing, causing the glider to lose height at an exaggerated rate. It occurs because the glider
is made to fly in such a way that the angle of attack of the wing becomes too great and the
smooth airflow breaks down over the top surface.
It is achieved by bringing the stick progressively further and further back, slowing the glider
down and increasing the angle of attack of the wing until the stall occurs.
The purpose of stall training is twofold:
1. to learn to recognise the symptoms of an impending stall and to take the appropriate
action to prevent it; and
2. should the stall actually occur, to take the appropriate recovery action.
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From the pilot's point of view, the symptoms of the stall occur progressively and are as follows:
Nose position higher than normal. Not necessarily a great deal higher, but noticeably so.

A continuous backward movement of the stick.

It becomes quieter in the cockpit because of the lower speed of the airflow past the canopy.

A falling airspeed indication on the ASI

Flying controls are less effective.

There may be some mild buffeting of the airframe caused by the breakdown of the smooth
airflow over the wing.
When the stall occurs, the airflow around the wing looks like this: -
The airflow in this picture (flowing over the wing from right to left) is shown by wool strips
taped to the glider wing. The stall is well-developed, the strips indicating that the airflow is
still normal near the leading edge (strips blowing straight back), but quite disturbed further
back on the wing (strips blowing in all directions, even backwards in some cases).
When the stall actually occurs there are three possibilities in terms of glider behaviour,
depending on the type of glider.

It may drop its nose quite markedly. If this does occur, it will occur despite the stick being
fully back

It may not drop its nose, even though the stick is right on the back stop. In this kind of stall
(e.g. Twin Astir), the rate of descent can be very high, although the nose position gives no
clue to this.

One wing may go down, i.e. the glider may start rolling. This phenomenon, known as wingdrop, may occur in either of the above two types of stall and it may happen at exactly the
same time as the stall occurs or perhaps just before.
Whichever of the three types of behaviour are apparent at the stall, the same action is taken
by the pilot in all cases. This action is quite simply smooth and progressive forward movement
of the stick to reduce the angle of attack and "unstall" the wing. Look outside at the horizon
while you are doing this, to help orientation, reduce discomfort and make it more obvious when
recovery action has been effective.
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There is an interesting point to consider here. Although it is quite logical that a type "2" stall
(no nose drop) can be cured by forward movement of the stick to lower the nose, it is not so
readily apparent why it is necessary to move the stick forward when the nose has already
dropped, or how it manages to fix a dropping wing.
As far as the nose-drop is concerned, it is important to realise that the wing is still stalled
despite the nose pitching down. If the stick is held back, the nose will pitch strongly up again
and go into another stall; it will go on doing this until the stick is moved forward to unstall the
wing. Note that this forward movement of the stick when the nose goes down is not an
instinctive reaction - all your training up to this point has tended to suggest that you should do
the opposite. For this reason, stalling must be practised to the extent that forward movement
of the stick when a stall is recognized becomes a CONDITIONED RESPONSE.
Loss of lateral damping
Wing drop occurs simply because one wing stalls before the other. When it stalls, lateral
damping, the force which provides stability when the glider is rolling, is lost. There is nothing
to stop the wing dropping further and further at the stall. In fact, the more the wing drops when
stalled, the more it wants to keep dropping. In other words, the stability in roll provided by the
lateral damping of an un-stalled wing becomes extreme instability in roll when the wing is
stalled. The good news is that, when the stick is moved forward, the wing un-stalls, lateral
damping is restored and the wing immediately stops going down.
A characteristic of stall recovery is that, once the stick has been moved positively forward and
the angle of attack restored to below the stalling angle, the smooth airflow restores itself
instantly and the wing immediately starts working in its normal way. However, care should be
exercised in the use of the elevator after recovery from a stall. If the stick is pulled back too
sharply too early after stall recovery, another stall could result. The average glider needs about
three seconds to accelerate from the stalled condition to a safe speed of about 1.5 times the
stalling speed during a normal stall recovery.
To summarise, always look ahead at the horizon during the first stages of stall recovery. Use
the ASI as a back-up for ensuring that airspeed is building up. There is no point in diving in an
exaggerated manner during stall recovery - it just wastes height. Develop a feel for when the
glider has become unstalled and the nose can be safely restored to its normal position on the
horizon.
STALLING IN A TURN - THE INCIPIENT SPIN
The last section mentioned wing-drop at the stall. If the wing-drop remains uncorrected, that
is if the pilot fails to reduce the angle of attack of the wing by moving the stick forward, the
glider could enter an incipient spin. The word incipient simply means undeveloped; the trick is
to stop it from developing. We now know that the way to do this is by forward movement of
the stick.
That's fine, but let us now take things a bit further. Suppose we do not recognise a wing drop
early enough and as a result the wing drops quite a long way before we wake up. Let's say it
goes to about 40 degrees of bank. As it goes down, it generates a very large angle of attack,
resulting in loss of lateral damping and a tendency to keep rolling uncontrollably. The large
angle of attack also produces a lot of induced drag.
The high value of induced drag causes YAW in the same direction as the dropping wing. This
is the incipient stage of a spin. It is still a much undeveloped manoeuvre and if it is recognised
at this stage can be very easily brought back under control by using forward stick movement
(to unstall the wing) and just enough rudder to stop any yaw which may have developed.
Note that the use of the rudder is confined to small amounts at this stage - it is much more
important to unstall the wing promptly by correct use of the elevator.
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Although wing drop is quite easy to recognise in a straight stall, what if the glider stalls during
a turn? This can occur, for example during a thermalling turn, if a pilot tries to fly very slowly
in an attempt to reduce the radius of turn and get right into the centre of the thermal.
This is a much more difficult thing to recognise, because it is possible when turning for a glider
to get close to the stall without the nose being noticeably higher than normal. The reason for
this is related to the fact that the inner wing in a turn operates at a higher angle of attack than
the outer wing and is therefore likely to reach the stalling angle while the outer wing is still
below that critical angle. This means that the first thing a pilot might know about the onset of
an incipient spin from turning flight is an "uncommanded" roll in the direction of the turn. In
other words the glider increases its rate of roll without any aileron input from the pilot.
This is the first sign of a stalled inner wing in a turn and it is caused once again by the loss of
lateral damping as the wing stalls. It is important to realise that, of all the conventional
symptoms listed as being present in a level-flight stall, the only one which may be present
during turning flight is the continuous backward movement of the stick.
The recovery action in this case is the same as that used to fix a wing-drop from a straight
stall. The stick is moved smoothly and firmly forward and at the same time sufficient rudder
should be applied to prevent the glider yawing any further towards the dropping wing. Your
attention should be directed primarily OUTSIDE the cockpit during this process. As soon as
lateral damping is restored and the wing has stopped dropping, level the wings by using the
ailerons and fly the glider back to its usual attitude by normal use of all the controls.
THE FULLY-DEVELOPED SPIN
Spinning is an extension of the stalling and incipient spinning exercises. Once again, the
purpose of the exercise is to acquaint pilots with the pre-spin symptoms so as to prevent the
spin occurring and to expose pilots to the spin manoeuvre in order that the apprehension of
spinning may be alleviated.
A spin may be defined as a manoeuvre in which the glider descends rapidly in a corkscrew
flight path, with one wing completely stalled and the other wing either partially stalled or not
stalled at all. Although many alarmist stories are told about spinning, it is important to realise
that the recovery action is well-established and is always successful, if correctly applied.
There are three stages of a spin, as follows 1. The incipient or undeveloped spin
2. The fully developed spin
3. The recovery.
The incipient stage has already been described and its recovery action dealt with. Once the
fully-developed spin is achieved, however, we have an additional problem to consider, that of
the actual rotation of the glider as it spins downwards. The inertia of the glider's mass rotating
in the spin manoeuvre alters the nature of the recovery action. More on this in a moment.
Basically a glider spins because one wing stalls, sometimes of its own accord but usually
under provocation from the pilot. This provocation usually takes the form of flying the glider
too slowly (although not a great deal too slowly) and progressively applying more and more
rudder in an attempt to "help" the glider round a turn.
Such wrong technique on the part of a pilot, which usually comes into play under stress, is
unfortunately very common. It is also remarkably difficult to detect by any of the conventional
methods of observing attitude and slip/skid. The stressful state of mind which causes this kind
of regression in flying accuracy is frequently caused by trying to manoeuvre at low level,
precisely the time when the consequences of a spin are at their worst.
The spin is a height-consuming manoeuvre. The height lost for each complete rotation of a
spin varies from about 250ft in the case of a K13 to nearly double that figure for a Puchacz or
a Janus.
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Two things are therefore obvious:
1. the consequences of a low-level spin are likely to be disastrous, and
2. practice spinning exercises are always done with plenty of height in hand and such
exercises must be completed above 1,000ft AGL (Above Ground Level).
The rotation in a spin is caused by the large difference in angle of attack between the inside
and the outside wings. The inside wing has a very large angle of attack, total loss of lateral
damping and an extremely high value of induced drag. The outside wing may be partially
stalled, but observation of tufted wings in spinning manoeuvres suggests that it is usually not
stalled at all.
The rolling motion in a spin ensures that the high AoA and the high induced drag on the inside
wing are both maintained and this results in the glider automatically continuing to rotate in the
spin. For this reason, the continuous rotation in the spin is known as AUTOROTATION. It will
persist for as long as the conditions which were set up to produce the spin are maintained.
Recovery action from a fully developed spin is clear-cut and universal. Full rudder is applied
in the opposite direction to the rotation, then the stick is moved steadily and progressively
forward until the spin stops. At this point two problems need to be considered:
1. It is easy to become disorientated in the spin and become confused as to which way
the glider is spinning. Practice removes most of this confusion.
2. The nose-down attitude in the spin is typically very steep. It is by no means an
instinctive reaction to move the stick forward under these circumstances.
It is therefore necessary to practice spinning to the extent that confusion is eliminated and the
recovery action, like that from a stall, becomes a CONDITIONED RESPONSE.
Once again, the sequence of actions to recover from a fully-developed spin are:


Apply full opposite rudder.
Ensuring ailerons central, move the stick progressively forward until the spin stops.
When the spinning stops, centralize the rudder and recover from the resultant dive.
Notes:
Do not expect rudder alone to stop the rotation in a developed spin. Use of both controls is
always necessary. Because of the sideways airflow around the tail of the glider in a spin, the
force required to apply full rudder is about three times that required in normal flight. If recovery
is not immediate despite correct and full recovery action being taken, don't panic. The glider
will eventually recover.
Although correct spin recovery action is always successful, this is only so if the glider is flown
within its limitations of weight and balance. See Chapter 7, Basic Airworthiness.
Safe speed near the ground
Prevention is better than cure. This is the origin of the "Safe speed near the ground" concept
which is firmly locked into the GFA training system. The concept is quite simple - when under
about 1,000ft AGL the speed must be increased to at least 1.5 times the stalling speed (1.5Vs).
This is designed to give an extra degree of protection in a situation where loss of control could
leave insufficient height for recovery.
There is no flexibility in the "safe speed near the ground" rule.
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CHAPTER 3 - SELF-TEST QUESTIONNAIRE
Try these questions to test your understanding of the basic theory in Chapter 3. If you have
trouble, refer back to the text of Chapter 3 for help.
1. What is the name given to the cross-sectional shape of the wing?
2. What three factors affect the lift produced by the wing?
3. In what direction does lift act?
4. Define wing-loading.
5. Name the two kinds of drag.
6. What provides stability in the pitching plane?
7. What is dihedral and what is its purpose?
8. What is the speed control in a glider?
9. What are the turning controls?
10. What is adverse yaw and what causes it?
11. Define "coordination".
12. What is the secondary effect of rudder?
13. What is the purpose of spoilers or airbrakes?
14. What happens to the stalling speed when flaps are lowered?
15. What action must never be omitted before turning?
16. What are the symptoms of a stall in straight flight?
17. What action must the pilot take if the glider stalls?
18. Is it possible to stall in a turn without a nose-high attitude?
19. What action must the pilot take if the glider stalls in a turn?
20. What is the recovery action from a fully-developed spin?
21. Define "safe speed near the ground". Calculate the speed to fly the circuit in a
glider which stalls at 33 knots in straight flight.
22. How would you know if you had not applied enough rudder with aileron at the
entry to a turn?
23. What is meant by the term "autorotation"?
24. If you are turning and the glider starts to noticeably increase its bank angle
without any input from you, what is the problem and what would be your action?
25. What is another name for directional stability?
26. Define aspect-ratio.
27. What kind of drag is affected by a change in aspect-ratio?
28. Which force provides a glider with forward speed?
29. What happens to the stalling speed when the airbrakes are opened?
30. What is the other name for "glide-angle"?
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CHAPTER 4 - THE DEVELOPMENT OF EFFECTIVE LOOKOUT
Adapted from ICAO circular 213-AN/130 (1989)
INTRODUCTION
The practice of "see-and-avoid" is recognised as the primary method that a pilot uses to
minimise the risk of collision when flying as an uncontrolled flight in visual meteorological
conditions. "See-and-avoid" is directly linked with a pilot's skill at looking about outside the
cockpit or flight deck and becoming aware of the surrounding visual environment. Its
effectiveness can be greatly improved if the pilot can acquire skills to compensate for the
limitations of the human eye. These skills include the application of effective visual scanning,
and the development of habit patterns that can be described as "good airmanship".
This chapter aims to make pilots aware of the skills required to make look-out more effective
and is directed towards those pilots who do their flying under visual flight rules (VFR).
A study of over two hundred reports of mid-air collisions showed that they can occur in all
phases of flight and at all altitudes. It may be surprising that nearly all mid-air collisions occur
during daylight hours and in excellent visual meteorological conditions. While the majority of
mid-air collisions occurred at lower altitudes where most VFR flying is carried out, collisions
can and did occur at higher altitudes. Because of the concentration of aircraft in the vicinity of
aerodromes, most collisions occurred near aerodromes when one or both aircraft were
descending or climbing. Although some aircraft were operating as instrument flight rules (IFR)
flights, most were VFR and uncontrolled.
There is no way to say whether it is the experienced or the inexperienced pilot who is more
likely to be involved in a mid-air collision. While a novice pilot has much to think about and so
may forget to maintain an adequate look-out, the experienced pilot, having flown through many
hours of routine flight without spotting any hazardous traffic, may grow complacent and forget
to scan.
If you learn to use your eyes and maintain vigilance through proper awareness, it will not be
difficult for you to avoid mid-air collisions. The results of studies of the mid-air collision problem
show that there are certain definite warning patterns.
Causes of mid-air collisions
What contributes to mid-air collisions? Undoubtedly, traffic congestion and aircraft speeds are
part of the problem. In the head-on situation, for instance, a glider and a light twin-engine
aircraft may have a closing speed of about 250 kts. It takes a minimum of 10 seconds for a
pilot to spot traffic, identify it, realise it is a collision threat, react, and have the aircraft respond.
Two aircraft converging at 250 kts will be less than 25 seconds apart when the pilots are first
able to see each other, so it is obvious that they both need to pay attention.
The reason most often noted in the mid-air collision statistics reads "failure of pilot to see other
aircraft" - in other words, failure of the see-and-avoid system. In most cases at least one of
the pilots involved could have seen the other in time to avoid the collision if that pilot had been
watching properly. Therefore, it could be said that it is really the eye which is the leading
contributor to mid-air collisions. Take a look at how its limitations affect your flight.
Limitations of the eye
The human eye is a very complex system. Its function is to receive images and transmit them
to the brain for recognition and storage. It has been estimated that 80 per cent of our total
information intake is through the eyes. In other words, the eye is our prime means of identifying
what is going on around us.
In the air we depend on our eyes to provide most of the basic input necessary for flying the
aircraft, e.g. attitude, speed, direction and proximity to opposing air traffic. As air traffic density
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and aircraft closing speeds increase, the problem of mid-air collision increases considerably,
and so does the importance of effective scanning. A basic understanding of the eyes'
limitations in target detection is probably the best insurance a pilot can have against collision.
The eye, and consequently vision, is vulnerable to many things including dust, fatigue,
emotion, germs, fallen eyelashes, age, optical illusions, and the effect of alcohol and certain
medications. In flight, vision is influenced by atmospheric conditions, glare, lighting, windshield
distortion, aircraft design, cabin temperature, oxygen supply, acceleration forces and so forth.
Most importantly, the eye is vulnerable to the vagaries of the mind. We can "see" and identify
only what the mind permits us to see. A daydreaming pilot staring out into space is probably
the prime candidate for a mid-air collision.
One inherent problem with the eye is the time required for accommodation or refocusing. Our
eyes automatically accommodate for near and far objects, but the change from something up
close, like a dark instrument panel two feet away, to a well-lighted landmark or aircraft target
a mile or so away, takes one to two seconds. That can be a long time when you consider that
you need 10 seconds to process the necessary information to avoid a mid-air collision.
Another focusing problem usually occurs when there is nothing to specifically focus on, which
usually happens at very high altitudes, as well as at lower levels on vague, colourless days
above a haze or cloud layer when no distinct horizon is visible. Pilots experience something
known as "empty-field myopia", i.e. staring but seeing nothing, not even opposing traffic
entering their visual field.
The effects of what is called "binocular vision" have been studied during investigations of midair collisions, with the conclusion that this is also a causal factor. To actually accept what we
see, we need to receive cues from both eyes. If an object is visible to only one eye, but hidden
from the other by a windshield post or other obstruction, the total image is blurred and not
always acceptable to the mind. Therefore, it is essential that pilots move their head when
scanning around obstructions.
Another inherent eye problem is the narrow field of vision. Although our eyes accept light rays
from an arc of nearly 200 degrees, they are limited to a relatively narrow area (approximately
10-15 degrees) in which they can actually focus on and classify an object. Although movement
on the periphery can be perceived, we cannot identify what is happening there, and we tend
not to believe what we see out of the corner of our eyes. This, aided by the brain, often leads
to "tunnel vision".
Motion or contrast is needed to attract the eyes' attention, and tunnel vision limitation can be
compounded by the fact that at a distance an aircraft on a collision course will appear to be
motionless. The aircraft will remain in a seemingly stationary position, without appearing to
move or to grow in size, for a relatively long time, and then suddenly bloom into a huge mass,
almost filling up the canopy. This is known as the "blossom effect". It is frightening that a large
insect smear or dirty spot on the canopy can hide a converging aircraft until it is too close to
be avoided.
In addition to its inherent problems, the eye is also severely limited by environment. Optical
properties of the atmosphere alter the appearance of aircraft, particularly on hazy days.
"Limited visibility" actually means "limited vision". You may be legally VFR when you have the
specific visibility, but at that distance on a hazy day you may have difficulty in detecting
opposing traffic; at that range, even though another aircraft may be visible, a collision may be
unavoidable because of the high closing speeds involved.
Light also affects our visual efficiency. Glare, usually worse on a sunny day over a cloud layer
or during flight directly into the sun, makes objects hard to see and scanning uncomfortable.
An aircraft that has a high degree of contrast against the background will be easy to see, while
one with low contrast at the same distance may be impossible to see. In addition, when the
sun is behind you, an opposing aircraft will stand out clearly, but if you are looking into the
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sun, the glare of the sun will usually prevent you from seeing the other aircraft. Another
problem with contrast occurs when trying to sight an aircraft against a cluttered background.
If the aircraft is between you and terrain that is varicoloured or heavily dotted with buildings, it
will blend into the background until the aircraft is quite close.
And, of course, there is the mind, which can distract the pilot to the point of not seeing anything
at all, or cause cockpit myopia - staring at one instrument without even "seeing" it.
As can be seen, visual perception is affected by many factors. Pilots, like others, tend to
overestimate their visual abilities and to misunderstand their eyes' limitations. Since a major
cause of mid-air collisions is the failure to adhere to the practice of see-and-avoid, it can be
concluded that the best way to avoid collisions is to learn how to use your eyes for an efficient
scan.
Visual scanning technique
To avoid collisions you must scan effectively from the moment the aircraft moves until it comes
to a stop at the end of the flight. Collision threats are present on the surface, at low altitudes
in the vicinity of aerodromes, and at cruising levels.
Before take-off, scan the airspace and the runway visually, to ensure that there are no aircraft
or other objects in the take-off area.
After take-off, scan to ensure that no aerodrome traffic will be an obstacle to your safe
departure.
Before and during any turn, focus particular attention in the direction of the turn.
Remain constantly alert to all traffic within your normal field of vision, as well as periodically
scanning the entire visual field outside the aircraft to ensure detection of conflicting traffic.
Remember that the performance capabilities of many aircraft, in both speed and rates of
climb/descent, result in high closure rates, limiting the time available for detection, decision,
and evasive action.
LOOKOUT FOR GLIDER PILOTS
Taken from GFA Operations Safety Bulletin 02/12
The following will be familiar to most. It is the application that needs improving. This should be
an invariable habit for all.
Recommended Procedures
1. Use a scan technique appropriate to what you are doing. Good situation awareness is
essential.



CRUISING SCAN – Straight glides.
FULL SCAN – Cruise scan plus appropriate priority to the flight situation, e.g. in
circuit or when establishing climb in lift.
TARGETED SCAN – Cruise scan plus targeted priority to the flight manoeuvre
before initiating e.g. Pull-up into thermal.
2. Look in particular for turning gliders indicating a gaggle thermalling ahead.
3. Slow down before entering an identified area of lift especially if it already contains gliders.
4. When thermalling at turnpoints and in the circuit, experience will readily dictate where to
look for potentially conflicting gliders so here particularly use a priority scan.
5. In particular when pulling into a turn, remember that you have changed the situation
significantly so you need to take primary responsibility for remaining clear of other gliders.
Particularly scan back along the tack direction when entering a thermal looking for
expected and unexpected gliders on that same track.
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6. Because gliders around us will sometimes be easy to see and other times will disappear
as we look, it is necessary to make a conscious effort to maintain situation awareness –
i.e. keep track of the gliders around you and what they are doing.
7. Remember modern gliders in particular have high energy. Speeds are higher than before.
Height gain in pull-ups is significant, and rapid.
8. Hazards are greater on cross-country cruise/racing. Stay alert.
9. Increased stress at contest start points, getting low on track, approaching a turn point,
navigation checks and etc. force pilots back into the cockpit. Be particularly aware of this
and force yourself to lookout!
Physiological Effects
Finally be aware of and allow for the effects age, fatigue, low blood sugar, dehydration and
mild anoxia. If you have any of these be sure to concentrate more than ever on technique.
Lookout Processes
1. Process of Lookout
The table below shows the visual target size and time available to avoid a conflict at
various target distances. The visual target size is defined as the apparent wingspan of a
15 m glider subtended at 1 metre (i.e. arm’s length) at the chosen range.
Actual
distance
to glider
Apparent ‘Arms
Length’ Target
Size
100 m
Time to collision at closing
speed
50 kts
100 kts
200 kts
30 cm
4 sec
2 sec
1 sec
500 m
6.0 cm
20 sec
10 sec
5 sec
1000 m
3.0 cm
40 sec
20 sec
10 sec
1500 m
1.5 cm
60 sec
30 sec
15 sec
•
Image size of a glider (at arm’s length as above) at initial detection is rarely much
smaller than 1 cm so normal first detection range is about 1500 m. This means that,
even at 50 knots, proceeding longer than 60 seconds without a visual scan is
equivalent to flying blind!
•
Clearly, the high closing speed and small target area of head-to-head conflicts make
such conflicts more difficult to see than other conflicts.
•
Analysis of glider collisions tells us that one glider would have had a clear view of the
other.
•
The picture we ‘see’ in our brain is not updated by any automatic process. It is all too
easy to ‘look’ without ‘seeing’. In order to ‘see’ the small target provided by another
aircraft we need to make a conscious effort to ‘see’ when we look 100% of the time.
•
Focus on the horizon and notice some detail.
•
Examine each section of the sky with the eye focused on infinity and stationary for a
short period of time before moving to the next segment. A moving eye will not see any
detail.
2. Priority of Lookout
•
Consciously retain good situation awareness by being aware of the likely traffic
patterns and any known aircraft in your vicinity. Target the scan to the areas of potential
hazard. “Think of the possible even if unlikely.”
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•
Where the traffic pattern is random (lone cross-country or in the terminal area, i.e. local
soaring) concentrate the scan on straight ahead and then to about 60o to each side.
When flying fast, concentrate more on straight ahead; when flying slower expand the
area of concentration. Regularly, but less frequently, do a full scan to the side and as
far back as possible, especially where slowing, weaving or to achieve situation
awareness when (say) heading off from the top of a thermal or approaching the airfield.
However, the highest risk of collision is glider-to-glider, cross-country flying.
•
The terminal area (within, say, 5 miles) at a crowded site is a high traffic area with
random traffic. This is particularly dangerous airspace and lookout needs to be
excellent. High speeds in this area are not appropriate. Flying pre start in a competition
is a particularly hazardous situation of this type.
•
Gliders on a reciprocal heading are very difficult to see. Avoid such circumstances and
where this is not possible take special care. Examples are; in obvious
streets and to from an obvious thermal close to a turn point.
•
When gliding in a group or on a set task, much of the traffic will be on a similar heading.
Head-to-tail conflicts are easily avoided – however this traffic provides an ongoing
hazard from gliders doing a pull-up, weaving turning or backtracking.
•
Do not fly in another aircraft’s blind spot; for example, do not follow another directly
astern and higher. A glider doing a pull-up can be in a double blind situation – there is
no obvious fix for this so prevention is the only defence.
•
When weaving or entering a turn make sure the lookout goes as far back as you can
see. The responsibility for clearing the air remains with the turning glider for at least
the first full turn. Subsequently the responsibility may be shared with other aircraft.
Look over your head to see traffic conflicting with your turn particularly back along the
mutual track. If necessary, roll level to allow the conflicting glider to pass in front before
re-entering the turn. Following gliders, particular if higher than the leading glider, must
be aware of the likelihood of a turn associated with a pull-up and be ready to take
appropriate action.
•
Be particularly careful when back-tracking (in lift) as this creates a head-to-head
conflict.
•
Potentially dangerous situations are those where a following glider is a few hundred
feet above the leading glider.
•
Other areas of potential conflict are obvious traffic patterns, such as at turn points,
when final gliding, when approaching the terminal area, and in the circuit. Be aware of
these and scan accordingly.
NOTE. For any queries and further details see the GFA Manuals and/or your
Instructor.
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Clean canopy
During the pre-flight, make sure your canopy is clean.
Adhere to procedures
Follow established operating procedures and regulations, such as proper circuit practices. You
can get into trouble, for instance, by skimming along the bottoms of clouds without observing
proper cloud clearance.
In most in-flight collisions at least one of the pilots involved was not where he was supposed
to be.
Avoid crowded airspace
If you cannot avoid aerodromes en route, fly over them well above circuit height. Military
aerodromes, in particular, should be avoided as they usually have a very high concentration
of fast-moving jet traffic operating in the vicinity.
Use all available eyes
The command pilot of a two-seater will have established crew procedures which ensure that
an effective scan is maintained at all times. Obtain the assistance of the other pilot to look out
for traffic of which you have been made aware and monitor the movement of other aircraft
which you have already sighted. Remember, however, that the responsibility for avoiding
collision is yours and you must maintain your vigilance at all times.
TYPICAL GLIDER BLIND SPOTS
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CHAPTER 5 - OPERATING PROCEDURES
PARKING, SECURING AND GROUND HANDLING OF GLIDERS.
One of the many differences between gliders and powered aircraft is that gliders have no
means of moving around the airfield and have to be pushed or towed everywhere. Also, when
they are waiting around the airfield to be launched, they need to be properly parked and
secured or they could be overturned by a strong wind. There are special precautions to be
observed when carrying out these duties, to ensure that gliders are properly protected when
being parked or manoeuvred on the ground.
Parking
Conventional gliders have one mainwheel and usually a tailwheel or tailskid. Exactly how a
glider is parked and secured depends on whether it is being left for a short time (a lunch-break,
for example) or whether it is being tied down overnight.
To park and secure a glider for a short period, the best way to do it is as illustrated below.
The glider is parked with its wings across the wind, with the into-wind wing placed on the
ground. Note that the wind does not blow exactly parallel to the wing - the glider is positioned
in such a way that the wind blows partly onto the trailing edge. This means that no lift can be
developed by the wing, because the airflow is the wrong way, from trailing edge to leading
edge. The wing is firmly secured by hammering in two pegs, one in front of the leading edge
and one behind the trailing edge. A cushion is placed on top of the wing and a rope is stretched
between the two pegs, over the cushion. This prevents the wing from being lifted by the wind.
Another peg is driven into the ground on the "upwind" side of the rear of the glider and a rope
is passed around the rear fuselage and secured to the peg. This prevents the tail of the glider
from swinging or "weathercocking". The glider is now secure in quite strong winds.
If a glider is only parked temporarily, for example while another pilot gets ready, it is parked in
the same way but a tyre or similar weight can be used to secure the wing, instead of tying it
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down. This method is not suitable for parking a glider if the wind exceeds 10 knots, and the
crew should remain close to the glider if it is parked in this way over a lunch break.
The basic rule to remember when parking gliders is that they should be parked in such a way
that the wing should not be able to produce any lift. Although this is not always possible over
long periods, it is easy to do over short periods and should always be kept in mind.
If a glider is to be parked more permanently, perhaps overnight in conditions where it is not
certain which direction the wind will come from, it is usually parked with its wings level, tied to
ropes which are attached to pegs driven into the ground just outside of the wingtips. This
ensures that, if one of the ropes breaks or the knot becomes undone, the wingtip does not get
damaged by falling onto a steel peg. It is normal to have two pegs at each tip, with separate
ropes, to keep problems of this kind to a minimum.
The tail is lifted up onto a suitable support (log, large rock or a 20 litre oil-can, for example)
and secured to a peg each side of the rear fuselage. The reason for lifting the tail is to reduce
the angle of attack of the wing and prevent lift from being developed, in the event that the wind
shifts during the night to blow onto the leading edge of the wing. To complete the job, a rope
is led from a peg in front of the glider to the tow-release in the nose and securely tied. Such a
tie-down job will withstand very strong winds.
Pushing and pulling
Although gliders are very strong in flight, they can be easily damaged on the ground by
handling or pushing in the wrong places. For example, leading edges of wings are very strong
and can be pushed without risk of damage, but trailing edges are much weaker and must not
be pushed or lifted. The following illustration shows quite clearly the parts of a glider which
may and may not be handled. There may be minor variations to the illustration, but it may be
regarded as typical of most gliders which are in use by gliding clubs around Australia. Anyone
who sticks to the recommendations above will not go far wrong in giving someone a hand to
move a glider around the airfield.
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Towing with a vehicle.
To make it easier to transport gliders from one end of the airfield to the other, it is very common
to tow them with a car or tractor. There are two ways of doing this: •
•
The glider can be towed in a forward direction using a length of rope attached to one
of the towhooks.
The glider can be towed backwards using a rigid bar attached to a point at the tail end.
Both these methods are in common use in Australian gliding clubs. Each one needs to be
done in a certain way if the glider is to be towed in complete safety. The methods will now be
covered in more detail.
Towing with a rope
The minimum number of crew members for this method is three. Obviously there needs to be
a driver, who needs to be qualified and competent. A wingtip holder is necessary and it is
usual to have a third person walking by the nose of the glider to pull the release knob and
release the rope if something should go wrong. Sometimes the third person is positioned at
the tail of the glider, to lift the tail clear of the ground and avoid too much wear on the tailskid.
See illustration.
When towing a glider by this method, the following points should be noted:
The minimum rope length must be at least half a wingspan. This is because, if the
glider starts to overtake the car (a downhill slope, for example), the person on the
wingtip can hold back on the tip to swing the glider clear. If the rope is too short, a
collision with the car could occur. If the rope is long enough to keep the glider clear
of the car, the idea is obviously a good one.
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



If towing in a crosswind, the into-wind wing must be held. The reason for this is
simply to prevent the wind getting under the wing and making it difficult or
impossible to hold.
The flying controls should be held secure by tying them securely with the seatharness. This is because, if the glider is towed with a strong wind behind it, the
controls "gybe" like a dinghy sail and they can be damaged.
The glider should be towed at no more than walking pace. The driver should
choose the speed according to the shortest person in the crew, so as not to wear
his/her legs out!
A car towing a glider should have the driver's window down and the radio off. This
is to make it easier to hear a warning from the crew (Stop, slow down, etc).
Towing with a rigid bar
This is not very common with training gliders but is quite normal with high-performance
sailplanes. The rigid bar is attached to the car's towbar and such a system is often used in
combination with a "clip-on" wheel attached to one wingtip. By this method a glider may be
towed around the airfield with no crew other than the driver. The main rule to be observed by
a driver using this method is that the glider must never be towed at faster than walking pace,
in spite of a temptation to go faster because of the lack of a crew to worry about.
Another thing to be remembered by a driver towing a glider on a rigid bar is that it is easy to
forget that the glider is on the back. The results of trying to fit a 15 metre wingspan glider
through a 14 metre gap can be imagined. It has happened.
As with everything else in the sport of gliding, the ever-present rule is SAFETY FIRST. It is
such a pity to observe all the safety rules in the air and then forget them on the ground. The
average for gliders being blown over and written off in Australia is one per year. Every one of
them could have been avoided by learning and remembering the basic ground-handling rules
laid down here.
Note: GFA recommends vehicle drivers maintain a listening watch on the local operating VHF
frequency or CTAF and to give taxying calls when operating on movement areas and, when
entering, crossing or back-tracking runways.
LAUNCHING
A basic description of each launch method appears in Chapter 1. At this point we will cover
the launch-point equipment, safety precautions and signals for each of the methods, followed
by a basic discourse on handling techniques and emergencies.
Winch launching
At the end of the length of wire which is drawn out from the winch, there are certain items of
equipment which play a part in the safe launching of the glider. A typical make-up of a cableend is as follows 1. The cable itself. Although traditionally known as "cable", the material commonly used (and
recommended by the GFA) is "Range 2 spring steel wire" of either 2.8 mm or 3.15 mm
diameter. This is the wire used to make bedsprings and is readily available from spring
manufacturers in 300 kg rolls. Exceptionally, wire rope of 3 mm or 4mm diameter may be
used, but only where fairly soft grass surfaces are available for launching, as wire rope is
both expensive and susceptible to failure by abrasion and ingress of dust.
2. Drogue parachute. Usually about 1.5 metres in diameter, the drogue is used to stabilise
the wire after release and keep it under some tension. Some clubs using stranded cable
instead of the more usual solid wire do not use a drogue. However, such clubs are in the
minority.
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3. Weak link. This vital piece of equipment is fitted to protect the structure of the glider from
damage due to overspeeding of the launch or the pilot trying to climb too steeply. The
correct weak link must never be omitted.
4. Release rings. This is a linked pair of rings of standard "Tost" design. The smaller ring is
inserted into the winch-release hook of all gliders. Two rings are used, rather than just one,
in order to ensure that the force exerted on the glider towhook is a straight pull, no matter
what the angle is on the cable itself.
5. Trace. This length of rope or stranded wire acts as a shock absorber for the launch and
serves as a spacer to keep the drogue at a suitable distance from the glider. The minimum
length for a trace is 5 metres.
A cable is never to be attached to a glider unless the pilot specifically requests it. The
appropriate ring is inserted into the glider's towhook, the "belly" hook being used for winch
launching, the pilot opening the hook to facilitate this. The hook's ability to release under some
tension is required to be checked before the first flight of each day.
Belly-hooks are required to have an automatic over-ride or "back-release" mechanism fitted.
This protects the glider in the event of failure to release when the pilot pulls the yellow handle.
It does so by sensing the downward force on the hook and opening a back-releasing "cage"
when an angle of just over 75 degrees to the horizontal is achieved. It is checked before the
first flight of each day, by pulling VERTICALLY downwards under considerable tension.
Checking a back-release by pulling the cable back towards the tail of the glider is really not
searching enough and such mechanisms should not be checked in this way. However, vertical
pulls are not always possible on gliders with minimal ground-clearance. All you can do in this
case is get the pull as vertical as you can.
As an absolute last resort, winches are equipped with a means of cutting a cable, should it fail
to release from the glider for any reason. With the reliability of modern tow-hooks and present
day maintenance practices, such action has not proved necessary for many years.
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Auto-towing
For auto (motor-car) towing, everything is the same as for winch-launching, except that some
autotow operators use polypropylene or polyethylene rope instead of wire. Parafil rope is
another, although expensive, alternative method for autotowing. Such ropes may be used
without a drogue or a swivel, although the rest of the equipment will still be necessary.
As a precaution against the unlikely case of release failure in the glider or loss of control of
the vehicle by the driver, the tow-car is required to have a means of releasing the cable.
Aero-towing
The attachment to the glider is the same in principle as for winch and auto-towing.
Most gliders these days have a nose-mounted hook specifically for aerotowing. This hook
should always be used in preference to the belly hook.
The weak link on an aerotow rope is normally fitted at the tug end. This protects the glider
against overstress on tow and also protects the tug in the event of the rope getting fouled in a
tree or power line on the landing approach.
However, some gliders of very light weight (e.g. Kingfisher) need a weak link significantly
weaker than that needed by most tugs. In this case an additional weak link appropriate to the
glider weight will need to be inserted at the glider end.
LAUNCHING SIGNALS
When a glider is ready to launch, there must be a system of easily-understood signals between
pilot, via the ground crew, to the launching machine, whether it be a winch, car or aircraft.
Before giving any signal, the pilot must check "airspace clear for launch". He does this with
the assistance of the person outside the cockpit, who is able to see into the areas outside of
the pilot's field of vision. The outside person responds to the pilot as appropriate - “airspace
clear for launch" or, for example "no, hold, aircraft on final approach". This is the final safety
check before launching and is NEVER omitted. The glider's wing is not lifted until the all-clear
signal is given.
From the pilot's point of view, the signals are exactly the same whichever launch method is in
use. There are three signals which the pilot may initiate, and those signals are as follows:Take up slack - this is where the slack in the launching rope or wire is taken up until it is tight.
All out - this means that all the slack is out of the rope or wire and the driver or pilot may apply
whatever power is necessary to get the glider off the ground. (Note - some parts of Australia
use the expression "Full power" instead of "All out").
Before going on to the third signal, it is important to realise that the only person who can cause
a launch to begin is the pilot. Nobody else is allowed to give those signals unless that person
is known to be relaying directly from the pilot to the signaller.
The third signal is the most important of all and must be clearly understood by everyone in the
vicinity of a glider being launched. It is the STOP signal. Its purpose is obvious - to stop the
launch from taking place. There may be a number of reasons for doing this; for example
someone may notice that the pilot has forgotten to lock the airbrakes or cockpit canopy, or a
small child might escape from the mother's clutches and run across the front of the glider being
launched. When these sorts of things happen, the launch must be stopped immediately. The
problem is that the pilot might not realise that there is something wrong. For this reason the
general rule is that ANYONE at the launch point may give a stop signal if that person sees
something dangerous happening or about to happen.
In signalling, as in all other things around a gliding operation, the basic rule is SAFETY FIRST.
No person should ever be afraid of shouting "Stop" if it appears that something is not quite
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right. Nobody minds if the person was wrong in his judgement - the launch can always wait
until everything is checked, but it is most important that nobody gets hurt.
Now the signals themselves.
Aerotowing
In this method of launching, the distance between the glider and the towing aircraft is not great
and in most cases the pilots of both aircraft can see each other. In spite of this we will ensure
that we give clear signals to the tug-pilot so as to avoid confusion and keep the operation
completely safe. As stated previously, all launch signals (apart from "Stop") originate from the
pilot and no signals can be given unless the pilot has authorised them. So we will assume the
pilot has checked that all is clear for take-off and authority has been given to the wingtip holder
to give the "take up slack" signal. The wingtip holder waves one arm to and fro in an underarm
motion and keeps doing it while the slack is being taken up.
This signal is relayed to another signaller standing forward and to one side of the tug aircraft.
This signaller, who is easily visible from the cockpit of the tug, repeats the take up slack signal
and the tug moves slowly forward to tighten the rope.
When the rope is tight the wingtip signaller gives the "all out" signal, which is an over arm
wave.
This signal is also relayed to the tug pilot by the forward signaller and tug pilot applies power
to the engine to continue the take-off.
The forward signaller may be omitted when using tugs with good all-round visibility and all
involved in the launch are satisfied that safety is not being compromised. If the launch needs
to be stopped for any reason, the wingtip holder shouts "Stop", puts the wingtip down on the
ground and raises both arms above the head. When the pilot hears the word "Stop" being
shouted, he immediately pulls the release knob to release the rope. Meanwhile the forward
signaller repeats the stop signal by raising both arms above his head and the tug pilot stops
the take-off. It is obvious that the pilot needs the left hand to be near the release knob during
the take-off, so hand signals from the cockpit should not be used, as they are a major
distraction.
Winch and auto-launching
This differs in the important respect that the distance between the glider and the launching
device is much greater than with aerotowing. This necessitates a positive long-distance
signalling system which is free of any interpretive problems.
The signals from the pilot to the outside person are the same as for aerotowing. The message
can then be conveyed to the winch or towcar by either visual or audible means.
These days, radios are predominantly used for communicating with the winch. While UHF or
CB radios are often used by Clubs to communicate between the launch point and winch, GFA
recommends that all operational instructions (e.g. area broadcasts, take-up slack and all out)
are issued on the local VHF or CTAF to provide better situational awareness for other aircraft
in the vicinity.
Where radio is used it must be external to the glider, to allow the launch to be stopped promptly
if someone outside the glider sees something wrong.
Visible signals can be either bat or light.
If a bat is used, the signals are exactly the same as for aerotowing. An underarm wave of the
bat is "take up slack", an over arm wave is "all out". The "stop" signal consists of holding the
bat steady over the head. The bat is large enough to be seen at a distance of well over a
kilometre and is usually painted an easily-seen colour such as white or fluorescent orange.
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If lights are used, the traditional system is that morse dashes mean "take up slack", dots mean
"all out". "Stop" is a steady light. Variations on this system are sometimes used in hot, arid
areas of Australia, where the summer "mirage" effect obscures the detail of such signals.
Clubs in these areas have devised alternative light signals which suit their requirements and
appear to work successfully.
A field telephone is sometimes used. Some such installations are permanent, often using a
fence wire for the link up, with earth return.
As a backup, in case of failure of any of the foregoing primary signalling systems, wing
waggling may be used. "Take up slack" is signalled by rocking the wings as much as the
wingtip holder can manage. "All out" is signalled by holding the wings steady and level. "Stop"
is putting a wing down after the pilot has released the cable.
LAUNCH HANDLING TECHNIQUES
A student pilot should not attempt a launch of any kind until the instructor is confident that a
grasp of basic handling techniques, coordination, anticipation, etc., has been attained.
Applicable techniques are as follows.
Winch/auto launching
From the pilot's point of view, these two launch methods are almost identical. The only real
difference is the pace at which things happen at the start, winch launching tending to be a bit
more rapid than autotowing. The launch can be taken in four sections, viz 1. Ground run and separation
This is the stage at which the glider begins to accelerate and should be placed in the
"flying attitude" by appropriate use of the controls. Gliders differ in the precise actions
needed on the controls at this stage - the instructor will give the necessary guidance.
If the correct take-off attitude is not established, it is likely that the ground-run will be
prolonged. It is also likely that, when it does leave the ground, the glider will leap into
the air more rapidly than the pilot needs at that stage.
2. Initial climb
This is the stage at which the attitude of the glider is gently and smoothly graduated to
the full climb attitude. Before allowing the glider to do this, check that the speed has
risen to the minimum permitted value for commencing the climb and is still rising.
Notes:
1. The minimum permitted value is 1.3 times the stalling speed - 1.3Vs. If the speed
is falling towards the minimum safe speed of 1.3Vs, treat it as a launch failure and
release the cable. Adopt a ‘safe speed near the ground’ before manoeuvring. Land
straight ahead if possible.
2. It is dangerous to climb steeply near the ground, even if the speed appears to be
adequate, as it may be impossible to lower the nose to a safe attitude in the
available time if a failure occurs.
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A good example of a correct initial climb. From this point on, provided adequate speed is
present, the Janus' nose attitude will be progressively steepened into the full climb.
This "Bocian" is climbing too steeply for safety at this early stage of the launch. If a launch
failure of any kind should occur at this point, the pilot would probably not be able to get the
nose down quickly enough to regain a safe speed (it didn't happen in this case!)
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3. Full climb.
A typical full climb is steep, about 40 degrees nose up. Speed must be between the
minimum of 1.3VS and the maximum as displayed on the cockpit placard. This defines
the "working speed band" which differs from type to type and must be known for each
glider you fly. The exact degree of steepness depends on the speed; if the speed tends
toward the low end of the band, ease off the climb angle a little, if it is toward the high
end, it is safe to maintain a steeper angle. Climb angle is determined by glancing out
at one wingtip.
There is no forward view, but direction may be maintained by glancing down each side
of the instrument panel. The wings are kept level, or at an appropriate bank angle in a
crosswind, by glancing to each wingtip in turn.
The maximum placarded winch/auto launch speed must not be exceeded when in full
climb.
4. The release.
The correct time to release is usually signified by the winch or car driver positively
closing the throttle. The loss of power at the top of the launch is easily discerned by
the pilot. At that point, lower the nose just below the horizon and pull the release twice.
Hold the glider straight and level for a few moments to allow the speed to settle at the
value you want, and re-trim.
Locate - Identify - Operate
Since the release stage of the launch will be taught before the take-off stage, it is opportune
to introduce the concept of "Locate-identify-operate" at this time. This means that any ancillary
control, in this particular case the release, should not be operated until it has been positively
located and identified as the one required. This eliminates any possibility of error in selection
of the wrong control. The principle applies to all ancillary controls - airbrake, flaps, and
undercarriage - and in the latter case extends to ensuring that the undercarriage selector is
placed in the appropriate position in accordance with the placards fitted to the glider.
Aerotowing
Aerotowing is an exercise in formation flying. The rope attached to the nose-hook of the glider
is about 55 metres long. The tug pilot holds as constant an attitude as may be possible in the
day's conditions and the glider pilot's task is to remain in as steady a position as possible
behind the tug.
The climb rate of an aerotow combination is nothing like as high as a winch or auto launch. It
may take several minutes to get to a satisfactory height to release the cable. The nose attitude
is such that the horizon is in view at all times.
Like winch/auto launching, aerotowing also lends itself to being split up into a number of
different stages.
1. Pre-take off and ground run
The controls should be held in such a way as to get the glider into the required takeoff attitude as soon as practicable on the ground run. The trim should be set in the
position which will be needed on tow - if this is not known, trim fully forward before
take-off and be prepared to re-trim during the aerotow. Ailerons are used to keep the
wings level and rudder is used to keep the glider running straight along the ground
behind the tug.
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2. Separation and climb-away
If the glider is held in the correct take-off attitude, it will separate from the ground when
it has enough speed. It will lift off before the tug. When it does, it should be flown at a
height of about six to ten feet up (about the height of the tug's fin). This keeps the glider
above the propwash of the tug and this position is maintained until the tug also
separates.
When the tug leaves the ground, a noticeable slipstream is produced from its wingtips
and this combines with the propwash to produce considerable turbulence. If intending
to carry out a high tow, a position above the slipstream is maintained as the
combination climbs away. Remember that high tow is, by definition, just above the
slipstream, not above the tug. The slipstream is the primary reference, not one of the
fixtures on the tug.
Note: Slipstream is composed mainly of wingtip vortices. It is only present in flight,
not on the ground. The only tug-produced turbulence on the ground is propwash.
If intending to carry out a low tow, maintain station above the slipstream until the tug
is positively established in a climb. Then move gently but positively down through the
turbulence of the slipstream until the turbulence ceases. The glider is now in the lowtow position. Once again the slipstream is the primary reference. Do not go too low in
relation to the slipstream - it is not necessary.
3. Normal climb
The glider maintains position directly behind the tug, in either high or low tow, during
straight flight and in turns. When turning, the bank angle of the glider should match
that of the tug.
It is important to trim the glider to fly "hands off" on aerotow. It considerably reduces
pilot workload.
4. Release
The release is carried out from the position in which the glider is being towed, i.e. if
towing in low-tow, release from low tow, if towing in high tow, release from high tow.
Prior to releasing, the pilot must check that the airspace is clear to the right, where the
glider is just about to turn, and to the left and below, where the tug is just about to
descend. When you have checked these things, remember the Locate - Identify Operate principle again.
The release should be operated while the rope is still under some tension, to help the
tug pilot sense the glider's departure, and the pilot must note the release of the rope.
It does no harm to say out loud "rope gone" as an aid to positively identifying a clean
release.
Following release of the rope, the glider is turned to the right without delay and the tug
begins a descending turn to the left when the tug pilot has confirmed that the glider
has in fact released.
CROSSWIND TAKE-OFFS
Winch/auto-tow
There are two considerations when taking off on a winch or auto launch in a crosswind, viz.
1. Glider on the ground
While the glider is still on the ground, accelerating to its take-off speed, it will try to
"weathercock" into the wind. The pilot should anticipate this and start the take-off run
with "downwind" rudder applied. Although there should be no inherent tendency to
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drop a wing, the into-wind wing should be held down a little to prevent the wind getting
under it. This means that, when the glider is on the ground, you should expect to use
crossed controls to keep straight until separation.
2. Glider in the air
As soon as the glider separates, it will start drifting downwind. This needs corrective
action by the pilot, which will consist of turning the nose of the glider slightly into the
wind and leaving on a small residual amount of bank to hold the correction. You will
usually need a small amount of rudder in the same direction as the bank, to make it
work properly. The whole launch is flown like this, only reverting to wings-level,
controls-central, flight after the glider has been released from the launch and the glider
is no longer tethered to the ground. The exact amount of bank and rudder to use will
vary with the wind strength and direction.
Aerotow
There are three considerations when taking off on an aerotow in a crosswind, viz.
1. Both aircraft on the ground
From the glider pilot's point of view, this is the same in principle as for a winch-auto
launch, except for two things,
(i) The ground-run is more prolonged because of the lower rate of acceleration. This
means the controls take longer to become effective and it may take more control
application to have any result. Once again, crossed controls will be necessary to
keep straight.
(ii) The spiral-pattern propeller wash from the tug drifts downwind and gets under the
downwind wing of the glider, pushing it up. This results in the into-wind wing going
down quite suddenly about three or four seconds after the start of roll. This may
catch a pilot out, having probably been conditioned to expect the wind to get under
the into-wind wing and cause the downwind wing to go down.
If the into-wind wing goes down and actually strikes the ground, it is quite likely to
accentuate the weathercocking tendency and may cause a ground-loop.
2. Glider airborne, tug on the ground
When the glider separates, the controls should be uncrossed and the glider turned
into-wind by the amount necessary to cancel out the drift and stay in position behind
the tug. Note that the glider's heading will be noticeably different from that of the tug this is normal.
3. Both aircraft airborne
The tug, which has been making the same corrections as the glider, will uncross its
controls when airborne. The effect of this is to leave the glider displaced to one side.
This is easily corrected.
LAUNCH EMERGENCIES
A number of abnormalities, loosely termed "emergencies", are possible at any time with any
launch method. They are all easily coped with by the glider pilot and none of them should
cause any grey hairs.
Winch/auto launching emergencies
"Things that can go wrong" to cause an emergency on a winch or auto launch can be split into
two kinds - (a) a failure of some description or (b) any other problem which puts the launch at
risk.
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(a) Launch failures.
A failure may be a cable-break or an engine failure in the winch or car. Cable-breaks are
sudden; engine failures may be sudden or progressive, depending on the nature of the
failure. Either can occur in the air or on the ground.
1. Launch failure in the air
Regain and maintain the safe speed near the ground (1.5Vs). This is achieved by
lowering the nose quite smartly from whatever attitude it was in to the required attitude
for a safe speed. Aim for the attitude normally used when approaching to land.
Operate the cable release mechanism twice.
Decide where to land in view of the height available. Low level launch failure demands
a landing straight ahead, as there is insufficient height available to make the required
turns to land anywhere else. As the height of the failure increases, so the options for
landing open up until eventually it becomes possible to complete some kind of circuit,
albeit maybe a modified one (see pages 45 to 48)
In the event of a launch failure occurring at a low height, but for some reason the glider
has been pulled a long way down the field, a landing straight ahead must still be made
but there may be insufficient room to land inside the airfield. An off-field landing
becomes inevitable.
The portion of sky where the glider is too low to manoeuvre but too high to land straight
ahead on the aerodrome is known as the NON MANOEUVRING AREA (NMA). The
glider should not be allowed to enter an NMA. If a launch is so sluggish at the start that
entry into the NMA seems likely, do not hang on and hope for the best - release and
land ahead on the aerodrome while you still can. This is imperative on those
aerodromes where an off-field landing is hazardous because of trees, rocks, or other
obstacles.
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2. Launch failure on the ground
This entails pulling the release to get rid of the cable and then keeping the glider under
control until it slows to a stop. Because of the possibility of an emergency on the launch
the left hand must be kept near the release knob at all times during every launch.
(b) Other problems.
Again these can be split into problems in the air and problems on the ground.
1. Problems in the air
Radio communication between the pilot and the winch/vehicle is now common
practise at many winch sites, thus enabling the pilot to give direction to the
winch/vehicle driver to speed up or slow down during the climb. The alternate
method is for the pilot to signal the winch/vehicle driver by manoeuvring the glider
in the following manner:
Too fast
While still below the placarded upper speed limit, the glider is yawed until a
response is obtained from the winch/vehicle driver. If there is no response and
speed continues to rise toward the upper limit, the pilot releases the cable and
adopts the flying attitude.
Too Slow
For safety reasons there is no signal for “too slow”. If the launch speed starts to
fall off, reduce the angle of climb. If there is no response and the speed continues
to fall toward minimum safe speed of 1.3Vs, treat it as a launch failure and
release the cable. Adopt a ‘safe speed near the ground’ before manoeuvring.
Land straight ahead if possible.
Failure of glider to release.
Thanks to virtually foolproof hook design and greatly improved maintenance of
these devices, release failure is extremely unlikely. It should occur, fly straight
ahead after pulling the release to allow the automatic back releasing mechanism
to operate. If this still does not do the trick, you have exhausted all the options
which are under the pilot's control and you are now at the mercy of the winch or
car driver, who will jettison or cut the cable at his end. The glider must then be
flown in continuous descending circles within the aerodrome, straightening out
at the last reasonable moment and landing ahead with goodness knows how
much cable still attached. There is not much experience in Australia at carrying
out this sort of thing. Those who have found it necessary to apply the above
techniques in years gone by have succeeded.
2. Problems on the ground
The worst of these occurs when the glider overruns the cable at the start of the
take-off. This is usually caused by faulty winch or car driving. If this occurs, the
pilot should pull the release twice and shout "stop". If it is known or suspected
that the cable has fouled the wheel or skid assembly and that the launch is taking
place despite the release being pulled twice, take all possible action to ensure
that the glider does not leave the ground. Apply full forward stick and open the
airbrakes.
DO NOT ALLOW THE GLIDER TO FLY!
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Aerotow launching emergencies
1. Rope break.
Although generally more reliable than winch wire, aerotow ropes can still break.
They usually fail at a worn knot or splice, although of course a weak link can (and
should) break in an overstress situation.
When a rope break occurs, the first priority is to acquire and maintain the safe
speed near the ground, 1.5Vs. This is easier to do than with a winch/auto
emergency because on aerotow the nose attitude is closer to that of normal flight.
Nevertheless the glider will lose speed if attention is not paid to adopting the
appropriate attitude for safe speed.
The release must be operated to get rid of the remaining piece of rope. This is a
controversial point and many pilots believe that it is better to retain the rope and
land with it attached, rather than drop it in someone's backyard. On balance,
though, it is better to get rid of it, mainly because it is one less thing to worry
about when manoeuvring for a landing over an obstacle-strewn area following a
low-level break. The prospect of a rope catching in a tree or powerline on late
finals is not attractive, bearing in mind that most aerotow hooks do not have a
back-release.
Because the climb rate of a tug/glider combination is not as rapid as a winch or
car launch, there is often a "non-manoeuvring area" on every launch. A low
powered tug with a heavy glider on the back may cross the upwind fence at only
a hundred feet or so and the aerodrome may be unavailable as a landing area
for a period as long as a minute. In this case, an outlanding in the early stages
is inevitable in the event of a rope break and the pilot should become accustomed
to spying out the land ahead of the glider on every launch, in case it becomes
necessary to land on it.
As the height slowly builds up, other options become available. For example,
from about 300ft, or even a bit lower, it is possible to turn through 180 degrees
and land back in the opposite direction. In this case, keep a careful eye on other
traffic and remember that whatever headwind you had will now be behind you
and the groundspeed on final approach will be high. Touch down early rather
than late in anticipation of a long ground run.
There are other options, depending on the shape of the airstrip, the number of
runways and the exact height of the rope break. Each emergency is a little
different from the last and demands conscious thought and anticipation. Above
all, keep the speed up, keep the glider under full control and do not get low before
the final turn.
2. Rapid and sudden failure of the tug aircraft.
This will necessitate instant release without warning from the tug end. Actions
on the part of the glider pilot are identical in all respects to (i) above.
3. Progressive failure of the tug.
In this category are things like rising oil temperature or falling oil pressure. There
is no catastrophic failure, but if some action is not taken there might be. In this
case the tug pilot will rock the wings of the tug vigorously from one side to the
other. When the glider pilot sees this, the required action is to release
IMMEDIATELY. This gives the tug pilot the chance to get his aircraft on the
ground without delay. Note: Any delay in releasing on the part of the glider pilot
will leave the tug pilot with no alternative but to release the glider from his end.
Such action is quite justifiable under the circumstances.
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Tug pilot rocks wings. Release immediately.
4. Failure of the glider release mechanism.
Although unlikely, it could still happen and a procedure is necessary to cater for
it. The procedure is quite simple. If the rope fails to come off when the pilot pulls
the release, try again. This often does the trick, especially as second attempts
are usually a bit more determined than the first.
If it still does not release, the glider is flown out to the left side of the tug and this
out-of-station position is maintained. The sideways pull on the tug's tail attracts
the tug pilot's attention and he will acknowledge his acceptance of the glider's
predicament by a wave of his hand. On receipt of this wave from the tug pilot,
the glider is returned to the normal position behind the tug. Then, if the glider is
in the low-tow position, the pilot flies it through the slipstream into the high tow
position. The rope is then released from the tug end.
Two points should be noted. Firstly, it is worth trying the release again when out
to the left side of the tug. A change of position sometimes moves the rings
enough to make the difference. Secondly, the glider is flown to the high tow
position prior to release at the tug end because it helps to ensure that the rope
falls clear of the glider when it comes off the tug.
5. Failure of both glider and tug release mechanisms.
This is very unlikely, but a procedure is in place to cope with it if necessary. The
tug descends gently with the glider in the low tow position, the glider airbrakes
being deployed to keep the rope taut. The rate of descent is controlled by the tug
pilot, who adjusts the power settings against the drag of the glider. The landing
is made with the glider touching down first and the tug pilot allows the glider to
bring the whole combination to a halt. This procedure is not essential before solo
- all the other emergency procedures are. It is a useful and confidence-building
post-solo exercise.
6. Rate of climb not normal.
This may occur because the glider's airbrakes become open on take-off. If the
rate of climb is abnormally poor and the tug pilot is satisfied that nothing is wrong
with the tug (or if he sees in his mirror that the glider airbrakes are deployed) he
will waggle the tug's rudder from side to side, to alert the glider pilot.
If this signal is received, the glider pilot should check that the airbrakes are closed
and locked (spoilers are unlikely to come out of their own accord, as they are
usually spring-loaded into the closed position).
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Some older gliders are fitted with tail parachutes for extra drag on the approach.
These devices can deploy without any visual warning and they do not produce
the kind of mild airframe buffeting often produced by airbrakes. If a tail chute
pops out on an aerotow, the pilot may not be able to detect it until a rudder waggle
signal is received from the tug pilot. If the airbrakes are checked and found to be
closed and locked and the glider is fitted with a tail chute, it is wise to jettison the
chute as a precaution. If it had in fact deployed, jettisoning it will fix the climb
problem and the combination is kept safe. If it hadn't deployed and the climb
problem had some other cause, the chute will not be lost, but will simply rest in
its housing at the bottom of the rudder. Just remember that it will not be available
to you on the subsequent landing.
Finally, if the problem is not due to airbrakes or tail chute and the rate of climb is
still not normal because of a tug problem, the tug pilot may have to release the
glider. Therefore, if a rudder waggle is received and everything on the glider is
checked and found satisfactory, the glider pilot should mentally prepare for the
possibility of being released without warning soon afterwards.
THE CIRCUIT PATTERN
Sooner or later we must make a decision to land the glider, either because we have had an
enjoyable flight and it is time to bring the glider back for someone else to fly, or because we
have run out of lift and can't stay up any longer. We must therefore consider the factors
necessary for a safe landing.
For a safe landing we must have: o
o
o
A suitable landing area
A pre-selected landing direction
A final approach path with a safe margin over obstacles.
The object of flying a circuit pattern is therefore to position the glider on a stabilised final
approach path.
A circuit is flown in such a way that the glider is always within easy reach of the landing field.
For this reason a particular pattern has evolved over the years which will ensure that this
requirement is met. A typical circuit pattern is shown in the diagram.
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There are some legal considerations in flying circuit patterns. The GFA Operational
Regulations (which are subject to approval by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority) state that:
6.10.
When in the circuit area of an aerodrome a sailplane shall when possible be
flown such that all turns are made to the left, except at those aerodromes where
turns to the right are required by CASA (CAR 166A (3)).
The Civil Aviation Regulations also state that an aircraft must join a circuit in such a way that
it conforms to circuit traffic or avoids that traffic. However, unforeseen circumstances may
occasionally compel a glider to execute a non-standard pattern, including use of the opposite
circuit direction in extreme cases (AIP ENR 5.5, Paragraph 1.2.7).
The pilot establishes the circuit joining area on each flight by judging the distance by which
the downwind leg is displaced to one side of the landing field. This depends on the height of
the glider above the ground. The glider should be flown in such a position that the downward
angle from the cockpit to the runway is not too steep, resulting in too short a base leg, and not
too shallow, compromising one's chances of getting to the strip if sink is encountered.
If the angle appears too steep, turn the glider away from the strip for a few seconds, then
resume a track parallel to the strip and re-assess. Conversely, if the angle appears too
shallow, turn in for a few seconds and resume a parallel track.
The judgement required to make these adjustments with a high degree of refinement is
acquired very quickly.
Some airfields have a requirement for all circuits to be carried out in a left-hand direction, but
it should be understood that a circuit may be carried out in any direction if it is necessary.
However it is only reasonable that extra care be taken if going against a convention, so as to
minimise disruption to other airfield users (remember also the regulatory requirements). The
"extra care" should extend to a call on the radio (if carried) to announce your intentions to
other airfield users.
However, having taken legalities and conventions into account, in gliders it is better to carry
out a circuit in the "wrong" direction than to risk getting too low in an attempt to get to the
"conventional" side of the circuit.
Carry out the pre- landing check (see check list at back of book) as early in the circuit as
practicable, so as to leave as much time as possible to practise the judgement exercises.
Don't forget to check the wind direction and strength.
When passing abeam the landing area on the downwind leg check the landing area is clear
and pick an aiming point. This will be used on the final approach and during training it helps if
it can be easily identified from circuit height. Typical examples of useful aiming points are white runway markers or a bare patch of ground on a grass strip. Anything that attracts the
eye is useful during training; later on many of the cues can be dispensed with once the
principles are understood.
Then, in your mind's eye, draw a line, a kind of "ramp in the sky" up the approach path from
the aiming point. This is the line you will follow down to the ground on the final approach. The
reason you mentally sketch it all out at this point is that it helps you decide when to make the
turn onto base leg.
As the downwind leg progresses and the landing area recedes behind you, glance back over
your shoulder to keep that mental final approach path in view. Then, when you reach a point
where a turn onto base leg will intercept the final approach path at a satisfactory height and
position, make the turn.
When you have completed the turn, you should be able to see that the interception of the final
approach path will take place as planned and will result in a straight run-in down the "ramp" to
touch-down with plenty of time to make fine adjustments.
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Circuit variations
1. Strong winds
The base leg turn should be made earlier than usual in strong winds. The
stronger the wind, the earlier the turn. Considerable drift correction will be
needed on the base leg in strong winds.
2. Cross winds
It is preferable to do a crosswind circuit on the "downwind" side, i.e. with the wind
tending to blow you away from the strip. This means that any drift correction is
made TOWARDS the strip, making it easy to see the landing area. The base leg
also takes a longer time to complete, resulting in a reduction in workload because
of the extra time available
If compelled by aerodrome rules to do a circuit on the "upwind" side of the strip,
the drift correction is made away from the strip, putting the strip to some extent
behind the glider and therefore awkward to see. The base leg takes a very short
time because of the high groundspeed and this tends to make for an increased
workload.
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Running out of height
If unexpected heavy sink is encountered or a misjudgement of angle/distance relationship
made, it may not be possible to complete the circuit originally planned. In this case the whole
plan will need to be altered and a turn made onto the base leg much earlier, in some cases
right away. A new landing area must be selected; anywhere on the aerodrome will do, the only
requirement being that it is SAFE to land on. Convenience does not come into the argument.
Anyone can make a misjudgement or get caught by unusual conditions; the important thing is
to place safety above all other considerations. Nobody cares if the glider has to be retrieved
from several hundred metres down the field.
NEVER risk a low base leg and final approach. Such a situation may be impossible to fly
yourself out of, no matter how capable you are. Turn in early and land down the field. An early
turn-in and down-field landing is known as a MODIFIED CIRCUIT.
Failure to modify a circuit leaves a pilot without an escape route. This in turn increases
the risk to an unacceptable level.
Some Examples of Modified Circuits
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What if you can't meet the legal requirements?
The examples shown deal with gliders which joined the circuit legally and in accordance with
conventions and, for one reason or another, ran out of height. If a glider joins in an
unconventional manner, for example flying the wrong way up the downwind leg, against the
traffic stream, it creates a situation which greatly increases the potential for a collision (gliders
being difficult to see head-on) and it is also illegal. Don't plan on doing it.
This raises the question, what do we do if we have been caught out by strong sink and have
drifted further downwind than we intended to, thus making it impossible to get far enough into
wind to enable us to join a downwind leg and fly "three legs of a circuit"? This is the kind of
thing that happens to us all, and as long as we don't make a habit of it, it is no sweat. The way
to do it, to minimise hazard to ourselves (by forcing a possible outlanding), and to take into
account legalities and the needs of other airfield users, is as follows:•
•
•
Position the glider as far to one side of the strip as is safe to do so, without risking
being unable to get back. When you do this, if you are at an aerotow site, keep a sharp
lookout for descending tugs, which may position themselves wide of the glider circuit
in their return to the field. Then aim to join part-way down a downwind leg (or to put it
another way, create a shortened downwind leg), prior to turning base and completing
the rest of the circuit, approach and landing.
Following this pattern makes you reasonably easy to see and gives you a good view
of other circuit traffic to enable you to fit in smoothly and legally. If you have a radio,
make a short, concise general broadcast (e.g. "Temora traffic, glider XYZ entering
short downwind, left-hand, for runway 19 Temora") prior to entering your modified
circuit, before your workload builds up in the circuit itself. At all times, keep a sharp
lookout for other traffic. When making calls, remember that "left-hand" or "right-hand"
refers to the circuit direction you intend to follow, not to the direction in which you
happen to be turning at the time.
If your situation is more serious (e.g. you are flying a low-performance glider and you
are in very strong sink) and you are unable to make any kind of a downwind leg, you
may be forced to join directly onto base-leg or even onto a straight-in final approach.
If you have to do this, don't be shy, go ahead and do it, but remember you are the
intruder and the onus is upon you to avoid other traffic if you cannot conform to their
pattern. You may also need to explain your actions to other airfield users after the
event. This isn't usually a problem, once they understand the nature of your difficulties
and provided you have made every effort to do the right thing. Once again, radio is a
sensible aid to safety here; it is a good idea to announce your intentions before you
do your thing and at all times keep a sharp lookout.
Although the use of radio is strongly recommended as a useful adjunct to safety in the circuit,
remember the old saying "Aviate, Navigate, Communicate". This neatly summarises the
order of priorities which a pilot must remember. Don't over-concentrate on making a radio call,
at the expense of losing control of your aircraft.
Although there are occasions where pilots may genuinely get caught out by unforeseen
conditions or circumstances, many cases of unusual (and possibly illegal) circuits are the
result of failure to think and plan ahead. There really isn't any excuse for this. Remember, a
good pilot rarely, if ever, gets surprised in the air.
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Circuit illusions
When flying a circuit, it is important to pay constant attention to the glider's position with
respect to the intended landing area. A common problem in circuit planning is failure on the
part of the pilot to
remember this basic
fact.
When flying on a wellmarked airfield, such as
a licensed aerodrome,
there are sufficient
features to help a pilot
to plan circuits, even if
this important basic rule
is forgotten. If this same
pilot then flies at
another field, without
the familiar features to
help, it comes as a bit of
a shock when he or she
cannot cope.
A good example is flying at an elevated airfield, where the level of the strip is different from
the level of the ground which the glider covers in the circuit. The picture opposite, taken from
the base-leg turn, illustrates the trap waiting for the unwary pilot who pays plenty of attention
to the ground beneath the glider, but too little to the strip on which it is intended to land. At this
particular site, there is a difference of over 300 feet between the two.
THE APPROACH AND LANDING
The approach
1.
The base-leg
The approach begins after the completion of the base leg turn. The glider is now
about to enter an air mass which is affected by ground friction, resulting in a
phenomenon known as "wind gradient". This means that the wind speed decreases
progressively closer to the ground. The effect this has on the glider is to cause a
decrease in airspeed at a constant approach attitude.
The reason it happens is related to the inertia of the glider and the fact that it cannot
accelerate quickly enough to keep pace with the falling wind speed. If there is any
wind blowing it is normal practice to fly the glider just a little faster than the basic
1.5Vs from this point on. As a rule, add one-half the windspeed to the "safe speed
near the ground" already established. As an example, a glider with a safe speed
near the ground of 50kts, approaching into a 10 kt headwind, will need 55 kts from
the base-leg turn onwards. If there is no wind, there will be no wind-gradient and
hence no need to increase the speed beyond the basic 1.5Vs.
Locate and identify the airbrake lever at this point and keep the left hand on it from
now on until the landing is complete.
Look down at the landing area and scan the "ramp" you planned beforehand. If you
look like intercepting it as planned, take no further action, just maintain attitude and
heading. If it looks like you are a bit high (the angle looks steep and the final
approach path also too steep), alter the glider's heading to move away from the strip
and lengthen the approach path. If the opposite appears to be the case (everything
looks a bit shallow), move in towards the strip and shorten the final approach path.
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2.
The final approach
Just before you reach the line of the final approach, start the final turn. A turn of 30
degrees bank at 55 kts has a radius of about 150 metres, so you will need to
anticipate this when coming out of the turn onto the precise line of the landing
approach.
Get the glider lined up on final approach and say to yourself •
•
•
Direction (is it going in the right direction? - if not, fix it).
Speed (is the speed correct? Fix as appropriate).
Rate of descent. This is the interesting one, because it involves the
airbrakes. Use them like this -
If direction and speed are satisfactory, look over the nose at the aiming point and
watch what happens to it. As the glider flies towards the landing area, losing height
only very slowly at 55 kts, it will begin to overshoot the aiming point. That means,
with the airbrakes in at 55kts, the glider would fly right over the aiming point and
come to earth somewhere about half way down the airfield. You will soon acquire
the ability to judge this important point.
Once you have identified that the glider is in an overshoot situation, this means you
are guaranteed to be able to safely get into the aerodrome, but not necessarily near
the point you wish to go. We can now use the airbrakes to refine the overshoot into
a precise final approach path which will bring us to a landing near the chosen spot.
When the airbrakes are opened, lower the nose to maintain a constant speed. The
aiming point will move upward a little in the canopy ahead of you as the nose is
lowered with the airbrakes out, then it will stabilise.
Keep monitoring the aiming point in the canopy ahead of you. If it once more moves
down toward the top of the instrument panel, you are still overshooting and will sail
right over the top of it. Open the airbrakes further and lower the nose to counter the
increased drag. The final approach path will now be steeper.
If the aiming point moves up in the canopy, away from the top of the instrument
panel, this is an undershoot situation and must not be allowed to continue. This
situation demands immediate retraction of the airbrakes and a slight raising of the
nose to stop the speed building up too high. Do not re-deploy the airbrakes until a
positive overshoot situation is once more established.
A glider which is established on an approach at the correct airspeed, going in the
right direction at the proper rate of descent to the aiming point, is said to be on a
STABILISED APPROACH. A stabilised approach is of great assistance in
achieving a good landing.
A few tips on ensuring a safe approach are in order: •
•
•
•
•
NEVER use the airbrakes in an "automatic" fashion after the final turn is
completed.
On EVERY approach, ensure an overshoot situation exists before using the
airbrakes
NEVER allow an undershoot situation to persist. Retract the airbrakes
immediately an undershoot is even suspected. Remember that an
undershoot is at least twice as difficult to identify as an overshoot.
Stabilise the approach as soon as possible after the decision to use the
airbrakes has been made.
Avoid extremes of airbrake use. Neither a full airbrake nor no-airbrake
approach is satisfactory for normal purposes. About one-half airbrake gives
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•
an option either way for controlling any overshoot or undershoot which may
develop.
Give yourself TIME to make the necessary adjustments during an approach.
From the completion of the final turn to the start of the landing itself should
not be less than 30 seconds and can with advantage be up to a minute. If
you rush it, you will not get stabilised and the result will be a poor landing.
This glider is about midway down the final approach, with about 20 seconds to go
to touchdown. It is stabilised at a steady airspeed and a constant airbrake setting.
The aiming point, in this case the start of the short grey-coloured strip in the
centre, is in a constant position in relation to the top of the instrument panel and is
not moving up or down.
The landing
As the glider approaches the ground, the task of the pilot is to change the glider's nose position
from the approach attitude to the landing attitude. This is the process known as the "flare".
The exact moment to do this and the exact amount by which it is done is a source of worry to
many pilots learning to fly. Let's see if we can allay some of those fears that naturally come
into play when the glider is approaching the ground.
The first thing to realise is that there is no "exact moment" or "exact amount". There is quite a
margin for error in both the timing and the manipulation of the controls. Obviously there is no
room for any gross errors at this stage, but no instructor will allow any pilot still prone to making
gross errors to have a go at a landing anyway.
Flare
As the glider approaches the ground, when it is apparent from the cockpit that the aiming point
is being achieved and the ground is getting close, transfer the eyes to look further up the field.
When you have done this, raise the nose of the glider very gently towards the horizon. Stop
the nose-up movement just before it gets to the horizon. This raising of the nose and stopping
the movement at the appropriate point is called "Flare" and the glider is now said to be "flared".
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This is the first stage of the landing and its purpose is to change from the approach attitude to
something fairly close to the landing attitude. When this stage is complete, the glider will be
flying level about 2 or 3 feet off the ground, decelerating rapidly under the influence of the
deployed airbrakes.
Hold Off
There will now be a natural tendency for the glider to gently lower its nose as the speed
decays. The pilot resists this by resuming the back movement of the stick to keep a fairly
constant nose attitude. This action is known as "Hold Off" The backward movement of the
stick is continued until the glider eventually sinks onto the ground, touching its mainwheel and
tailwheel/skid more or less simultaneously.
Once on the ground, the stick is held back, the airbrakes are opened fully and the wheel-brake
(if fitted) is used if considered necessary. The glider is kept straight with the rudder and the
wings are kept level with the ailerons.
The pilot of this ASW 27 has just carried out "Flare" (levelling the glider off, or "flaring" it),
and is just starting "Hold Off" to keep the glider flying at about 3 feet above the ground until it
touches down at minimum speed.
Some tips for good landings
•
•
•
When learning, start the "Flare" early rather than late and make it a gradual and gentle
movement. The worst situation for both instructor and trainee is the late, sharp Flare.
If you do it too early it doesn't matter very much because there is time to fix it.
If all appears to be going according to plan, do not fiddle with the airbrakes during the
Flare.
The object is to "fly off" residual speed during the "Hold Off", resulting in a touchdown
at minimum speed on two points. It is NOT a "stalled-on" landing - such a thing is
impossible to achieve in a glider.
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•
•
DO NOT be tempted to look at the airspeed indicator when you are getting close to the
ground. You need all your attention on the external visual cues for judging the Flare
and Hold Off properly.
If there is any wind blowing, there will be a wind gradient. This means that you can
expect a fall-off in airspeed when the glider gets near the ground. If you sense this
happening through sound and feel, don't worry about it, it is quite normal. Do NOT
push the stick forward to try to speed up at this stage.
Errors in landings
There are several common errors which are made by pilots in the early stages of learning to
land a glider. They are divided almost equally between errors of judgement and those related
to wrong manipulation of the controls. The errors and their solutions can be summarised as
follows.
Looking too close to the glider when approaching the ground
This is a judgemental error and was covered in the preceding paragraphs. Failure to transfer
the eyes away from the aiming point is a major contributor to difficulty in judging the glider's
height above the ground and is the single biggest factor in late "Flare" and the consequent
heavy landing. A pilot who continues to stare at the aiming point when the glider is at a very
late stage of the approach will almost certainly hit it hard, at undiminished rate of descent. An
instructor faced with the probability of a late Flare will almost invariably take over from the
trainee and land the glider. There are ample grounds for such a takeover.
Flare too early
Another judgemental error, this one is not as serious as leaving it too late, because there is
time to fix the problem by stopping whatever backward movement has been applied to the
stick. Most instructors will talk a trainee through this error and it is very soon fixed.
Insufficient back movement on the stick
This is an error in control manipulation. The amount of back movement required on the stick
to achieve Flare varies greatly from type to type. It also varies to some extent with airspeed
and airbrake setting. If very little movement is used, the glider will hardly raise its nose at all
and will arrive heavily on the ground. In some cases it may arrive very heavily indeed and both
glider and pilot(s) may suffer damage. Like the late Flare, an instructor will usually take over if
he feels such an error has been made, in the interests of a safe arrival. The obvious cure for
this problem is more back movement on the stick when the glider gets near the ground.
Too much back movement on the stick
Another manipulative error, this one will usually cause the glider to raise its nose too much
during Flare. In turn, this results in the glider flying away from the ground, gaining height and
losing speed. This is known as "ballooning". The cure is to (a) stop the back movement and
(b) retract the airbrakes or spoilers to enable the wing to keep the glider flying for long enough
to sort the problem out and attempt another landing. It may then be necessary to lower the
nose VERY SLIGHTLY before attempting another, very gentle Flare, but beware of excessive
forward movement of the stick at this stage. In most cases the instructor will assist in the exact
control movements required.
Continuous backward movement of the stick without a pause
This is an interesting one and is probably the most common difficulty when learning landings.
When the stick comes back in order to initiate Flare, it must only come back so far and then it
must stop. If the stick movement is not checked, the problem becomes the "ballooning"
problem of 4. above. The fix is also the same. There is a definite pause between the initial
back movement (Flare) and the resumption of back movement during the "Hold-Off". Refer
back to the preceding section on the landing and re-read paragraphs 3 and 4. Alternatively,
ask your instructor to explain the terms "Flare" and "Hold Off" in more detail.
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Some or all of the foregoing errors are made by almost all pilots learning to fly gliders. They
are really no different from the ordinary errors made by every pilot in the very early stages of
learning to fly, errors which are made at some considerable height. The difference is that
landing errors are made very close to the ground, which obviously makes them more critical
and certainly puts the pilot under more stress than would otherwise be the case. For this
reason, the instructor will not allow such errors to persist and will take control of the glider
early rather than late if circumstances demand it.
Final comment on circuits, approaches and landings
The foregoing information on how to plan the circuit pattern to achieve consistent good
landings is intended to be used in a flexible manner. In reality, a fairly wide range of heights
and positions around the circuit may prove to be quite successful in achieving a good end
result. Circuit variations are essential during training in order to build-in this flexibility and to
avoid breeding a pilot who goes to pieces if forced to do something different to which he or
she is accustomed.
Post-solo training is invaluable for this purpose and the B Certificate is designed to ensure
that a developing pilot is trained in a number of circuit variations, many or all of them to be
flown without recourse to instrument indications. Note that this is NOT intended to condone
the practice of unnecessarily low circuits, but certainly is intended to ensure that the pilot does
not suffer from a severely degraded performance if forced to fly a little lower than normal.
Otherwise, pilots will never cope with cable or rope breaks at critical heights on sites which
may be surrounded by trees or other immovable obstructions.
CROSSWIND LANDINGS
General
There are two methods of making a crosswind landing, the crabbing method and the wing
down method. Each has its particular merits for certain situations, and often the more
experienced pilot uses a combination of the two.
The Crabbing Method
The glider is turned onto the final approach so that it heads sufficiently into wind to track along
the required line of landing. The approach is made with the wings level and without any skid
or slip, drifting along the desired line. This is continued until the glider is almost about to touch
down when the rudder is used to swing the nose into line with the path of flight over the ground.
When the glider touches down, there is no sideways load on the wheel or skid. After landing
the glider should be kept straight as long as possible and the "into wind" wing kept below the
horizontal. After coming to a standstill, this wing should be put on the ground by using the
aileron, so that there is no chance of the glider blowing over before the retrieving crew arrives.
This method has the advantage that it can be successfully used in very strong crosswinds.
Care and practice are required to swing the glider with the rudder at exactly the right moment.
If the rudder is applied too early, the glider will begin to drift while it is being held off for landing
and a further application will be required to avoid landing with drift.
Note that, when rudder is applied to remove the drift, secondary effect will produce roll and
the glider's into-wind wing will tend to lift, thus negating some of the object of the exercise.
Therefore, as rudder is applied, a little opposite stick will be needed too, resulting in slightly
crossed controls at touchdown.
After landing, do not allow the glider to leave the ground or it will begin to drift again.
The Wing-Down Method
In this method the glider is turned directly into line with the landing path and sideslipped by
applying bank and opposite rudder so that this path is made good. As the glider nears the
ground, a normal landing is made except that the angle of bank is reduced at the last moment
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to avoid any risk of touching the wing tip on the ground. The landing is made with the intowind wing low and it should be kept in this position after landing, while the glider is held straight
with rudder. This method is particularly suited to landing across sloping ground with the wind
blowing up the slope. In this case the bank gives greater wing tip clearance which is a great
advantage in a glider with a large span low set wing. On flat ground the method has the
limitation that only a small amount of bank can be safely used, particularly if the sideslip
characteristics of the glider are poor.
If the crosswind is very slight, this method is the easiest as it is only a matter of making a
normal landing with a little bank applied.
Considerations
Sooner or later you are bound to misjudge a crosswind landing and land with drift. If the landing
happens to be a heavy one, damage will often be caused to the skid, skid fixings or rubber
shock absorbers. The chances of such damage can be greatly reduced by making sure that
the initial touchdown is made on the wheel, as this will stand all but the heaviest sideways
load without damage. If the landing is made with drift, a violent swing into wind will usually
occur and must be prevented by immediate firm use of the rudder.
When landing out of wind, avoid approaching near to obstructions or other gliders so that even
if the drift is not fully corrected, there is no danger of drifting too close to them or swinging
towards them after landing.
There is always a tendency for the glider to bank when the rudder is applied to yaw the glider
straight. This must be prevented by using the ailerons to keep the wings level or slightly wing
down into the wind. The glider will start to drift seriously if it banks out of wind and a firm
correction would then be required on the rudder to swing the nose of the glider further out of
the wind to eliminate the drift. If the crosswind is strong, it is easier to keep the into-wind wing
low if the landing is made with a slight over correction of drift.
As previously identified, gliders with the wheel mounted forward of the CG have a strong
tendency to weather-cock into wind. Special care must be taken with these machines, as,
once a serious swing has developed, the rudder may be quite inadequate to keep control.
SIDESLIPPING
The purpose of a sideslip is to steepen the approach path and increase the rate of descent
without increasing speed. For sailplanes without airbrakes or spoilers, the sideslip is the only
method of approach path control. Such machines are rare nowadays.
However some early-generation fibreglass gliders have fairly weak airbrakes and, combined
with their very flat glide-angles at the normal approach speed, accurate glidepath control can
be difficult. In such sailplanes the sideslip can be a useful aid to supplement the airbrakes,
especially in outlandings.
It is recommended that the manoeuvre be initially taught at height using a line reference and
then used on approach when some skill has been achieved.
To initiate a sideslip the aircraft is rolled to a moderate bank angle. It is this bank angle which
will ultimately govern the descent rate. Before the further effect of bank can turn the glider,
rudder opposite to the bank is applied, sufficient to cancel the turn that would otherwise result.
The aileron and rudder are adjusted in opposition to each other to
(a) Maintain a constant bank angle.
(b) Maintain a constant heading.
The speed in a sideslipping approach should be exactly the same as in a conventional
approach. Unfortunately the nose-mounted "pot" pitots fitted to most modern gliders have very
large errors in a sideslip and the airspeed indicator is useless in the manoeuvre. It cannot be
relied on and therefore should not be used. The only sensible way to maintain a constant
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speed in a sideslipping approach is to monitor the nose attitude very carefully. Generally
speaking, gliders are not capable of sustaining very large angles of sideslip, and it is usually
possible to maintain an accurate speed in a slipping approach by keeping the nose in the
same position as for a conventional approach. Because of the dynamics of a sideslip, this will
require a slight backpressure on the stick. The greater the sideslip angle, the greater the noseup attitude required and the greater will be the backward stick movement. But as already
mentioned, gliders have strong spiral instability and are unable to sustain a sideslip at more
than about 10 degrees of bank, so a slip with a pronounced nose-up attitude will not be
necessary. This limitation ensures that a high rate of descent in a sideslip cannot be sustained
in a glider.
To recover, roll the wings level and control any tendency to yaw with rudder. Maintain a
constant attitude by relaxing the backpressure on the stick.
It must be realised that in a well-developed sideslip it takes a little time and loss of height to
reduce the rate of descent as recovery is made.
Full allowance must be made for any likely wind gradient and recovery must always be made
at a reasonable height otherwise it is easy to misjudge and put a wing tip into the ground.
Adverse Handling Characteristics in a Sideslip
Although sideslipping is required pilot training it is employed less as a landing approach
technique now than it was in the past as most modern gliders have adequate glide path control
(i.e. effective airbrakes) removing the need to use other techniques in most circumstances.
Some gliders when sideslipped with airbrakes or spoilers extended suffer a significant
disturbance to the airflow over the elevator causing a loss of aerodynamic efficiency and
therefore a subsequent loss of elevator authority. This loss of elevator authority can be
particularly sudden and dramatic if the airbrakes are extended after the sideslip has been
established. Some gliders will pitch to a steep nose-down attitude and recovery is not possible
until the airbrakes have been retracted or the sideslip corrected.
Flight manuals or type handling notes for some gliders contain specific advice, or warnings,
on sideslipping and this advice should never be ignored. However, some gliders with known
adverse sideslip handling characteristics do not carry such advice or warnings, so it should
not be assumed that no advice means there is not a problem. Pilots should never sideslip a
glider at low altitude until the characteristics of the glider are understood and appreciated.
Pilots who have been trained for and are experienced with sideslipping should first explore the
sideslipping characteristics of gliders they fly in safe circumstances before using it as a landing
approach control technique. Safe circumstances will obviously include clear airspace and safe
altitude. Recovery from an uncommanded nose-down pitch may necessitate closing the
airbrakes and correcting the sideslip - pilots should be ready to respond immediately.
Uncommanded nose-down pitching is not the only adverse handling characteristic known to
be associated with sideslipping, but it is potentially the most hazardous. Rudder lock-over
occurs with some glider types - the rudder does not return to the neutral position when
pressure is released and requires positive application of opposite rudder to return the rudder
to its neutral position..
OUTLANDINGS
All the techniques and procedures outlined in this section on the circuit, approach and landing
work equally well whether it is intended to land on the home airfield or in a paddock after a
cross-country flight. The basic principles are the same in each case and a pilot who develops
good judgement on the home field is unlikely to have a problem in an outlanding.
However, since the outlanding involves an arrival into a paddock of unknown quality, the
following basic checklist is used to minimise the risk.
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W Wind:
S
S
S
S
S
If there is no indication of wind, use the longest run. Assess the wind
from drift, dust, smoke, dams or other signs. Of course, land into wind
as much as possible.
Size:
Adequate length for landing, corner to corner if necessary.
Slope:
If a slope can be detected from circuit height, it is too steep to land in.
Pick another paddock.
Surface:
As smooth as possible.
Stock:
Be careful with animals. Sheep are usually not much of a problem.
Cows eat or walk on gliders. Single cows aren’t cows (Bulls!), Horses
may panic.
Surroundings: Adequate approach paths. Check particularly for POWER LINES,
especially the hard-to-see SWER (Single wire earth return lines).
To enable this check to be done adequately, pick a general area for outlanding at 2,000ft AGL;
by 1,500 AGL a specific paddock should have been selected in that area and by 1,000ft AGL
you should be committed to planning a circuit and landing into that paddock.
General warning on outlandings
Because of the number of unknown or uncertain factors, any outlanding is inevitably more
hazardous than a landing back at home base. The guidelines for heights AGL given above
are based on the need to check all possible hazards very carefully. Adherence to the
guidelines will provide adequate time to carry out this essential work.
Leaving an outlanding decision too late, at too low a height above ground, eats into the
available time and eventually shuts off all the pilot’s escape routes. This often has fatal results.
Under 700ft AGL, the number one priority is to land safely!
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CHAPTER 5 - SELF-TEST QUESTIONNAIRE
Try these questions to test your understanding of the Operating Procedures in Chapter 5. If
you have trouble, refer back to the text of Chapter 5 for help.
1. Which wingtip is held when pushing or towing a glider?
2. What is the minimum rope length for towing a glider with a car?
3. Is the trailing edge of the wing a suitable place to push a glider?
4. Why are two rings fitted to the end of a winch/auto wire or aerotow rope?
5. Who is entitled to give a "Stop" signal at the launch point?
6. What clearance is required by the pilot before take-off?
7. What is meant by the "working speed band" on a winch/auto launch?
8. What is the primary reference for establishing the correct towing position on
aerotow?
9. What should be the trim position during an aerotow?
10. Name the sequence of events prior to and during release from aerotow.
11. What is the first priority following launch failure?
12. Define the non-manoeuvring area.
13. What action is taken by the pilot if the speed falls to 1.3Vs on a winch or auto
launch?
14. What action does the glider pilot take if the tug pilot waggles the tug's rudder?
15. What does it mean if the tug pilot rocks the tug's wings from side to side?
16. What is the primary objective of flying a circuit?
17. What is the minimum circuit speed?
18. Define wind gradient. What is its effect on a glider approaching to land?
19. At what point on the approach are the airbrakes used?
20. What action does the pilot take on detecting an undershoot?
21. Define a "stabilised approach".
22. What is the recommended action in the event of the glider "ballooning" on
landing?
23. What actions are taken by the pilot if the glider runs out of height in the circuit?
24. What is the final approach speed of a glider which stalls at 34 knots,
approaching to land in a 10 knot headwind?
25. What is the minimum height above ground for selection of a specific landing
paddock on a cross-country?
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CHAPTER 6 - AIR LEGISLATION
RULES OF THE AIR
•
A sailplane shall not operate lower than:
a) 1,000 feet over a built-up area, except in the course of taking off or landing at an
aerodrome or gliding site, nor
b) 500 feet above the ground, except when taking off or landing as above, being retrieved
following an outlanding, when completing an approved low-level finish procedure, or
when engaged in ridge or hill soaring.
•
When engaged in ridge or hill soaring, a sailplane shall not be flown at a height lower than
100 feet whilst it is within 100 metres of any person, dwelling or public road.
•
A sailplane which is required to give way to another aircraft shall do so by passing behind
it or if passing in front or above or below that aircraft, shall keep well clear.
•
When two aircraft are on converging headings at approximately the same height, the
aircraft which has the other on its right shall give way, except that:
a) Powered aircraft shall give way to airships, sailplanes and balloons;
b) Airships shall give way to sailplanes and balloons;
c) Sailplanes shall give way to balloons; and
d) Powered aircraft shall give way to aircraft that are seen to be towing sailplanes.
•
Where two aircraft are approaching head-on or approximately so and there is a danger of
collision, each shall alter its heading to the right. A sailplane which is ridge soaring and
has the ridge to its left shall give way by turning away from the ridge.
•
An aircraft being overtaken has right of way over the overtaking aircraft, which shall not
overtake by climbing or diving to pass over or under the other aircraft. A sailplane which is
ridge soaring shall overtake by passing between the ridge and the other sailplane. Other
than a sailplane ridge soaring, an aircraft shall overtake another aircraft by passing to its
right.
•
An aircraft in flight or on the ground shall give way to an aircraft landing or on final approach
to land. Where two or more sailplanes are approaching to land, the lowest sailplane has
the right of way but shall not use this rule to cut in front of or overtake another sailplane on
final approach. A powered aircraft shall give way to a sailplane which is approaching to
land.
•
Where two sailplanes are at approximately the same height and both are approaching to
land, the higher-performance sailplane shall give way to the lower-performance sailplane.
•
An aircraft which is about to take off shall not do so until there is no apparent risk of collision
with another aircraft.
•
When ridge soaring, all turns shall be away from the ridge.
•
Glider aerobatics, including stalling and spinning, shall not be carried out below 1,000ft
AGL.
•
The minimum vertical or horizontal separation between gliders in a thermal is 200ft. The
first glider in a thermal establishes the direction of turn. A joining glider must turn in the
same direction.
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AIRSPACE CLASSIFICATION AND AIRWAYS PROCEDURES
Introduction
Australian airspace is classified alphabetically into a number of categories based on criteria
established by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Alphabetic classification
depends on the traffic operating within the airspace and the service needed for separation and
control of that traffic.
Air traffic varies from large jet airliners, which generally have a high degree of control applied
to their operations, to small sport aviation craft, which need little or no control when operating
outside controlled airspace.
Airliners, charter operators and quite a number of general aviation aircraft often operate in
accordance with the Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). This means they may operate in reduced
visibility, including in cloud (these conditions being known as Instrument Meteorological
Conditions (IMC)), hence the need for some external control and separation from each other.
Other aircraft, including gliders, operate in accordance with the Visual Flight Rules (VFR).
These operations depend on being able to see far enough to provide self-separation by a
combination of the “see and avoid” principle and sensible use of radio, if fitted.
Responsibility of flight crew to see and avoid aircraft
When weather conditions permit, the flight crew of an aircraft must, regardless of whether an
operation is conducted under the Instrument Flight Rules or the Visual Flight Rules, maintain
vigilance so as to see, and avoid, other aircraft. (CAR 163A)
Visual Flight Rules
Gliders are only permitted to fly VFR by day, in Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC). The
table overleaf shows the requirement for VMC for gliders in Class G (uncontrolled) airspace.
Visual Meteorological Conditions - Class G (Uncontrolled) Airspace
Height
Required
Flight
Visibility
Horizontal and
vertical distance
from cloud
Additional conditions
At or above 10,000 ft
AMSL
8 kms
1.5 kms horizontal,
1,000 feet vertical
Nil
Below 10,000 ft
AMSL
5 kms
1.5 kms horizontal,
1,000 feet vertical
Nil
At or below 3,000 ft
AMSL or 1,000 ft
AGL, whichever is
the higher.
5 kms
Clear of cloud and in
sight of the ground or
water.
Carriage and use of radio required
when operating to these conditions for
communication on the CTAF when
required within the vicinity of a nontowered aerodrome otherwise the Area
frequency.
Special VFR Clearance
If the above criteria cannot be met and a pilot wishes to enter Class C or Class D controlled
airspace, Air Traffic Control (ATC) may permit operations under a procedure known as Special
VFR. It is unlikely that a glider will require this service as such conditions are unlikely to be
soarable. However, powered sailplanes and aircraft towing gliders may find the service useful
on occasion.
Special VFR clearance should be requested from the ATC unit responsible for the controlled
airspace and will only be granted if the Special VFR flight will not unduly delay an IFR flight,
the flight can be conducted clear of cloud, the visibility is not less than 3000 metres and the
low-flying regulation is not breached.
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Airspace Classification
Class A & C Airspace
Class A controlled airspace is above Flight Level (FL) 180 within radar coverage and above
FL245 outside radar coverage (for explanation of Flight Levels, see Altimetry). Class A and
underlying C airspace extends downwards in “steps” reaching ground level in the immediate
vicinity of major airports which handle large public transport aircraft. Although VFR aircraft
(including gliders) are permitted to operate in Class C airspace, VHF radio is mandatory and
all aircraft must have an individual clearance from Air Traffic Control to enter the airspace.
An alternative to individual clearance for gliders to fly in Class C airspace is the so-called
“block clearance”. This is usually given for wave-flying purposes in high-altitude Class C
airspace and is generally negotiated by the Airfields and Airspace Officer of each State
Association, rather than by individual pilots. Block clearances will have designated vertical and
horizontal boundaries and operations by gliders will require a VHF radio with the appropriate
frequencies., Block clearances often require telephone contact with Air Traffic Control prior to
operations commencing in that airspace.
Pilots of gliders operating in Class C airspace are required to hold a Flight Radiotelephone
Operator's Licence or the equivalent GFA logbook endorsement.
Class C airspace is depicted on En-Route Charts, Low (ERCs(L)), Visual Navigation Charts
(VNCs) and Visual Terminal Charts (VTCs).
Class D Airspace
This is controlled airspace which surrounds some airports with a control tower where the traffic
density does not justify the installation of radar. Such airspace relies on specified procedures
for traffic alerting and separation, and equipment requirements are less stringent that for Class
C. VFR traffic (e.g. gliders) may receive traffic information on other aircraft but separation is
the pilot's responsibility.
For gliders, VHF radio and Air Traffic Control clearance are required. Pilot radio operating
qualifications are the same as for Classes A and C.
Class D airspace is depicted on ERCs(L), VNCs and VTCs.
Class E Airspace
This is controlled airspace for IFR flights and uncontrolled for VFR flights which generally
occupies the space between Class G (uncontrolled) airspace and Class C and D airspace in
certain parts of Australia. The vertical extent of Class E airspace is generally from 8,500 feet
to the base of Class C airspace. Gliders are encouraged, but not required, to monitor the area
frequency when operating in Class E Airspace. A clearance is not required.
Class E airspace is depicted on ERCs (L), VNCs and VTCs.
Class G Airspace
This is uncontrolled airspace and is all that airspace which is not covered by any of the
previous categories.
Any glider operating in Class G airspace which has a radio is encouraged, but not required, to
monitor the area VHF frequency (rather than a glider frequency) when above 5,000 feet AMSL.
This is only expected if it is operationally expedient for the pilot to do so.
A Radar Information Service (RIS) is provided for transponder-equipped aircraft in the vicinity
of some capital city airports. This is unlikely to be of interest to gliders but may be helpful to
some tugs. The areas served by RIS are depicted on ERC(L), VNC and VTC charts.
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Operations at Non-Towered Aerodromes
Non-towered aerodromes are those at which air traffic control is not operating. This can be
any of the following:•
•
•
an aerodrome that is always in Class G airspace;
an aerodrome with a control tower where no air traffic control (ATC) service is currently
provided; or
an aerodrome which would normally have ATC services provided but such services
are presently unavailable.
Mandatory requirements
All aircraft operating at, or in the vicinity of any certified, registered and military non-towered
aerodrome, as identified and published in ERSA and any other aerodrome designated by
CASA on a case by case basis, as published in ERSA or NOTAM, must be operated with a
serviceable VHF radio. The radio must be fitted with the common traffic advisory frequency
(CTAF) designated for use at the aerodrome as published in ERSA.
The pilot must be qualified and endorsed to operate the radio and must maintain a listening
watch and make radio calls whenever it is reasonably necessary to do so to avoid a collision,
or risk of a collision with another aircraft. These calls must include:
•
•
•
The name of the aerodrome
The aircraft’s type and call sign; and
The position and intentions (refer CAR 166C)
Radio procedures
All pilots must monitor and communicate on the CTAF frequency whenever they are operating
at or in the vicinity of a non-towered aerodrome. An aircraft is defined as operating at the
aerodrome whenever it is within the active areas of the aerodrome - when the aircraft is located
within the aerodrome runway, or taxiway markers. In the vicinity of an aerodrome is defined
as within a horizontal distance of 10 nm of the aerodrome reference point and at a height
above the aerodrome reference point that could result in conflict with operations at the
aerodrome. The height may vary considerably in consideration of local traffic and other
circumstances at particular aerodromes. However, all aircraft are expected to be operating on
the CTAF frequency whenever at or below 3,000ft as a minimum above the aerodrome
reference point and higher when appropriate.
Pilots should make the following minimum positional broadcasts as appropriate along with any
additional calls that may be necessary to provide improved situational awareness and safety
for yourself and others.
Item
Circumstance
(non-towered aerodromes)
1
2
3
The pilot intends to take-off.
The pilot intends to enter a runway.
The pilot is inbound.
4
5
The pilot is ready to join the circuit.
The pilot intends to carry out a
straight-in approach; or
Join on base leg.
The pilot intends to fly through the
vicinity of, but not land at, a nontowered aerodrome.
6
Basic Gliding Knowledge
Pilot’s radio broadcasts
Immediately before, or during, taxiing.
Immediately before entering a runway.
10 NM or earlier from the aerodrome, commensurate
with aircraft performance and pilot workload, with an
estimated time of arrival (ETA) for the aerodrome
Immediately before joining the circuit.
On final approach at not less than 3 NM from the
threshold.
Prior to joining on base
When the aircraft enters the vicinity of the aerodrome
(as defined).
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Pilots should consult GFA MOSP 2, Section 19 for guidance and advice on the use of radio.
Radio endorsements
Pilots communicating on CTAF frequencies must hold a Flight Radiotelephone Operator
Licence or an equivalent GFA logbook endorsement. GFA Radiotelephone Operator
Authorisation endorsement requirements are contained in the GFA Operational Regulations.
NOTE: All pilots must be endorsed prior to first solo.
Unserviceable radios
An aircraft must not take-off from a non-towered aerodrome with an unserviceable radio.
However, if the radio becomes unserviceable during flight the pilot may continue the flight and
land at the aerodrome or another non-towered aerodrome if it is appropriate to do so.
Cross-country soaring flights
Pilots flying on cross-country flights must ensure they comply with mandatory radio
requirements when in the vicinity of non-towered aerodromes. When flight planning for crosscountry flights, pilots should ensure locations and frequencies for non-towered aerodromes
within the proposed flight path are noted and appropriately complied with during the flight.
Calling on the CTAF
Taxying
For powered sailplanes, a "taxying call" should be made nominating the intended departure
runway. In the case of gliders and/or tugs operating from a fixed point on or near one of the
runways and which do not do any taxiing, a "taking off" or "departing" call is sufficient. Gliders
shall prefix their callsigns with the word "glider". Tugs shall prefix their callsigns with the words
"glider tug" and shall add at the end of the call "with glider in tow".
For powered sailplanes, a call should also be made when entering the runway for take-off.
Arriving Aircraft
An "inbound" call should be made at 10 nautical miles.
Turning Downwind, Base and Final calls are recommended, if operationally possible.
If making a straight-in approach, radio calls are recommended at 3nms and 1nm to correspond
with “Downwind” and “Base” calls.
All the above calls are recommended broadcasts, prefixed by the words “(Location) Traffic”
and suffixed by (Location). After “Traffic”, keep to a consistent pattern of broadcast, based on
the following sequence - aircraft type, callsign, position/intentions, and altitude. For example,
“Horsham Traffic, Glider X-ray Bravo Charlie, Ten miles north inbound at four thousand,
Horsham”. Then listen out carefully in case someone else reports around the aerodrome so
you can build up a “picture” of the traffic. Self-arranged separation using radio should not be
needed but should be used if necessary for safety.
A simple strategy for making circuit calls is “Look” “Talk” then “Turn”, maintaining Lookout at
all times.
Modified Circuits
One particular situation unique to gliders is their tendency to be affected by changing weather
conditions much more than powered aircraft. Modified circuits are a fact of life for gliders, as
their pilots have no means of counteracting the effects of lift, sink or wind-shear except by
changing the shape of circuits to remain within a safe distance of the landing area.
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This is acceptable to other airspace users, with two provisos:1. If a radio is carried and a circuit modification is required that may affect other traffic or
create a conflict, a broadcast should be made to alert the traffic to the glider pilot’s
intentions.
2. If a radio is not carried and a circuit modification is carried out, the pilot is required to
comply with the legal requirements to:
a. Avoid conflict with other traffic; and
b. Comply with the published circuit procedures as far as practicable.
Unicom
Unicom (Universal Communications) is a private communications service provided on a CTAF
to broadcast information to pilots on request. Air Traffic Services are not involved in the
provision of Unicom facilities and the service is usually run by a commercial aviation or similar
type of operator at the aerodrome. The operator is solely responsible for the accuracy of any
information broadcast on the Unicom frequency.
Unicom frequencies are notified in the ERSA document.
Aerodrome Frequency Response Unit
To assure pilots that they have selected the correct CTAF when operating at uncontrolled
aerodromes, an Aerodrome Frequency Response Unit (AFRU) will provide an automatic
response when a broadcast is made on the designated aerodrome frequency.
The features of the AFRU are as follows:a) When the aerodrome traffic frequency has not been used for the past 5 minutes, the
next transmission over 3 seconds long will trigger a response in the form of a voice
identification to be transmitted in response, e.g. “Goulburn CTAF”.
b) When the aerodrome traffic frequency has been used within the previous 5 minutes, a
300 millisecond (one-third of a second) tone will be broadcast after each transmission
over 3 seconds long.
c) A series of 3 microphone clicks within three seconds on the aerodrome frequency will
also cause the AFRU to transmit voice identification for that aerodrome.
d) In the event that the transmitter in the AFRU becomes jammed for a period of greater
than one minute, the unit will automatically shut down.
e) The operation of the AFRU provides an enhancement to safety by confirming the
operation of the aircraft’s transmitter/receiver, the volume setting and that the correct
frequency has been selected by the pilot
The Aerodrome Frequency Response Unit is informally known as the “Beepback” unit.
Prohibited, Restricted and Danger (PRD) Areas
Prohibited Area
Flight within a Prohibited Area is not permitted under any circumstances.
Restricted Area
Flight within a Restricted Area (e.g. military flying training area or gun-firing range) is normally
only permitted outside the hours of activation of the area. In special circumstances, operations
may be permitted within the hours of activation on the basis that the aircraft must operate
within the terms of the clearance given by the controlling authority in charge of the area and
the flight path will comply with controlled airspace procedures. However, some Restricted
Areas do not allow flight at any time though the areas (e.g. Australian Defence Force munitions
factories.)
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Danger Area
Flight in a Danger Area (e.g. civil flying training area, light aircraft lane of entry or Mining site
where blasting takes place) implies acceptance of a higher degree of Aviation risk and does
not require a clearance.
Danger, Restricted and Prohibited Areas are marked on ERC(L), VNCs and VTCs and details
are published in ERSA and the Designated Airspace Handbook.
Documentation
As well as the normal WAC charts for visual navigation, up-to-date airspace, aerodrome and
radio frequency information is important. Airservices Australia (AA) provides a publications
service which can supply all the necessary documentation. As a minimum, it is strongly
recommended that all pilots and gliding clubs obtain the En-Route Supplement Australia
(ERSA) with its associated amendment service. The ERSA should be readily available to all
club cross-country pilots. In the ERSA will be found details of aerodromes, their categories,
and details of those which meet the standard for ALA (Aircraft Landing Area), including
diagrams of each aerodrome layout and the local radio frequencies in use.
Either the club or individual pilots should obtain En-Route Chart Low-level (ERC(L)) and Visual
Terminal Chart (VTC) packages appropriate to the intended area of operation, as well as
Visual Navigation Charts (VNCs) where available. These charts depict controlled airspace and
en-route radio frequencies; they also come with an optional amendment service. If they are
purchased by the club, the charts should be available to all cross-country pilots for flightplanning purposes. On any flight likely to be in the vicinity of controlled airspace the pilot should
carry any charts necessary to navigate without violating the control zone.
For further advice and details of where to obtain appropriate charts, refer to the GFA manual
‘Airways and Radio Procedures for Glider Pilots’ available on the GFA website.
RADIO PROCEDURES
General
The major collision hazard for gliders is other gliders, in thermals, thermal streets and at turn
points. Sensible use of the gliding frequencies to supplement "see and avoid" can minimise
this risk.
The risk of collision with powered aircraft has proven to be highly localised to regions of
concentrated traffic. The risk of collision with powered aircraft en-route (i.e. away from points
of concentration) is very small. However, this means that the TOTAL risk of collision with
powered aircraft, although small, is nevertheless present and concentrated around places like
active aerodromes and commonly-used traffic lanes. It is essential that all glider pilots are
aware of these points or areas of concentration and be prepared to use the radio on the
appropriate Air Traffic Services frequency to assist in reducing the risk to an acceptable level.
"See and avoid" on its own may not be reliable enough for collision avoidance in these areas.
It is a good idea for the club to contact any aerodrome co-user, local regional airline or charter
operator and agree radio or other procedures which suit both your operations.
The presence of a glider in an area into which a medium-sized aircraft may be descending at
more than 200 knots is a clear case where "un-alerted" see and avoid is not sufficient and
needs to be supplemented by use of radio.
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Responsible use of radio
The use of VHF radio in gliders can be considered in two parts, viz.:
Use of one of the designated glider frequencies.
Pilots operating VHF radiotelephone equipment must hold a Flight Radiotelephone Operators
License (FROL) or GFA Radiotelephone log book endorsement. This requirement also applies
when using gliding frequencies 122.025, 122.5, 122.7 and 122.9. The training and qualification
must be completed and the log book endorsed prior to first solo if a radio is fitted to the
sailplane and if the gliding operation takes place where the use of radio is required.
Use of the above gliding frequencies is normally confined to purely gliding-related matters,
such as routine messages during cross-country flights, special purposes during gliding
competitions or for search and rescue purposes. However, some non-towered aerodromes
where gliding is undertaken also use a gliding frequency as the local CTAF. Therefore, it is
essential to maintain the highest standard and discipline when using the radio in the CTAF.
When on gliding frequencies not used as a CTAF, the use of the radio is entirely optional and
unrestricted. However, there are certain courtesies in radio use which make things better and
easier for all concerned. Compulsive talkers on the radio seem to be a fact of life and it is
sometimes difficult to get a word in edgeways when one of these people is in full song.
When considering the effect this has on other people, think about this: a VHF radio operates
on the principle of "line of sight". Ground to ground communications is usually poor and rarely
exceeds 10km. However, with one set on the ground and another in the air, or two in the air,
the picture changes dramatically, as follows: 1,000ft - 70km; 3,000ft - 120km; 5,000ft - 160km;
8,000ft - 200km, etc.
It will be seen that it is very easy to block the airwaves over a very large area. If someone is
trying to transmit, say, a report that an outlanding is imminent and cannot get the message
across, the frustration can be imagined.
Even more importantly, a vital message concerning an accident (such as a mid-air collision
observed from another glider) may be blocked. This could be a matter of life or death for the
victims of such an occurrence and a radio call to summon up an ambulance could make the
difference.
Therefore the first thing that must be learned in using a radio in a glider is the basic principle
of talking only when necessary.
Used properly, a radio in a glider is a very distinct asset. Used indiscriminately, it is a pest.
Another known issue is that of radio receiver dynamic range performance. The sensitivity of a
radio receiver can easily be overloaded when strong signals are present, for example when
the transmitting radio is very close to the receiving radio. This is most dangerous in the circuit
where aircraft in close proximity may not be able to hear one another or transmissions are
garbled and unintelligible.
One further thought while we are considering unnecessary use of radio; most gliders have no
means of replenishing their electrical supply in flight. A few have solar panels fitted, but such
installations are still quite rare. Batteries therefore get flatter and flatter as the flight goes on.
A lot of transmitting will flatten the battery far more quickly than just listening, by a factor of
about 10 to 1. In addition, excessive transmitting flattens everybody else's batteries within
radio range, because the current drawn by the radio increases as messages come in, the
squelch lifts and the receiver amplifies the signal to drive the speaker.
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Use of VHF Frequencies in the Aeronautical Communications Band.
Use of these frequencies requires the pilot to hold a Flight Radiotelephone Operator's Licence
(FROL) or the equivalent GFA Radiotelephone logbook endorsement. A pilot must obtain such
an endorsement prior to solo as stated previously if the radio is fitted to the aircraft and is
operated by the pilot in command. Following the guidelines provided in this document, an oral
examination on radio usage and procedures will be conducted and, if the level of competence
is satisfactory, the pilot's logbook is endorsed.
The informality which is characteristic of glider-to-glider communication is not appropriate
when operating on any aeronautical frequency other than our "own". There are procedures to
be followed; otherwise chaos and possibly danger may result. Knowledge of correct radio
procedures and terminology is required. This must be accompanied by the discipline to listen
out and reply promptly and concisely when necessary, broadcast when appropriate, and pass
only that information which is strictly necessary.
Thinking pilots will realise that the background and discipline described above could be used
with advantage by glider pilots on GFA's own frequencies.
Procedures and Terminology
Procedures
Once the radio is switched on and set up as required, a few basic procedures apply to its use.
These can be listed as follows:Listen out carefully before transmitting. Nobody wins if two transmissions go out together; all
that happens is that a squealing noise upsets everyone within radio range.
Hold the microphone two to five centimetres from the mouth when speaking. If you hold it too
close, the transmission will be distorted and unclear, too far away and you simply won't be
heard.
Press the transmit button BEFORE speaking (rather than AS you speak) and do not release
it until AFTER speaking. Otherwise parts of your transmission will be lost.
If the microphone does not have a proper mounting, be sure you stow it in such a way as to
avoid inadvertent pressing of the transmit button. The same principle applies to hand-held
radios used in flight.
Think about what you want to say before transmitting, to avoid "umm-ing and ah-ing" on the
air.
Always address the station being called first, followed by your own callsign and the message.
For example: "Leeton Ground, Glider Hotel Whisky, abeam Ardlethan at 5,000, ops normal".
When calling a non-gliding station, for example an Air Traffic Controller or a powered aircraft,
prefix your callsign with the word "glider". It helps the other party to visualise your situation
and likely intentions, in particular alerting them to the fact that you have no power-plant and
may of necessity behave less predictably than a powered aircraft when in the circuit area.
It is illegal to broadcast messages that:
Contain obscene or profane words or language.
•
•
•
•
Are of a personal or private nature.
Use the callsign of another station improperly.
Are false or intended to deceive.
Are superfluous and do not pertain to operational requirements.
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Terminology
The international Air Traffic language is English. To avoid confusion caused by distortion,
weak signals or limited understanding of the language, a system of standardised words and
terminology has been created. This consists of a phonetic alphabet, numbers which are
spoken in a particular way and some words which have very specific meanings and uses.
The phonetic alphabet is as follows:-
Numbers are spoken as follows:-
Standard words and phrases should be used as follows:Affirm
Yes, or permission granted, or that is correct.
Negative
No, or permission denied or that is not correct.
Correction
An error has been made, correct message follows.
Acknowledge
Confirm that you have received and understood my message.
Roger
Message received and understood.
Wilco
Message received, understood and will be complied with.
Go ahead
Transmit your message.
Verify
Check that the transmission is correct.
Say again
Self-explanatory.
I say again
Self-explanatory.
Speak slower
Self-explanatory.
Stand by
Self-explanatory.
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That is correct
Self-explanatory.
How do you read?
Used to gauge effectiveness or serviceability of radio and should
not be used in normal transmissions. Answered by "Reading you
strength...."
One: Your transmissions are unreadable.
Two: Your transmissions are readable now and then.
Three: Your transmissions are readable with difficulty.
Fower: Your transmissions are readable.
Fife: Your transmissions are perfectly readable. "Loud and clear"
is often used instead of this expression.
Break
Used to terminate one transmission and start another (to another
station) without releasing the transmit button.
Height broadcast.
When operating below 10,000 feet and broadcasting height or
altitude over the radio, use normal terminology, e.g. "three
thousand, five hundred" (not "three five zero zero"). If above
10,000ft and flying at, for example, 13,500ft on 1013.2HPa, you
would broadcast this as "Flight Level One Three Fife" and 26,000ft
would be broadcast as "Flight Level Two Six Zero".
Obtaining an Airways Clearance
No aircraft is permitted to enter controlled airspace (except Class “E”) without a clearance
from Air Traffic Control. Glider pilots generally do not get much practice in requesting
clearances. There are a few hints which will prove useful.
Firstly, allow plenty of time for the controller to react to a request for a clearance. Do not wait
until you are very close to the controlled airspace boundary before requesting the clearance.
If you are travelling at 60 knots and you leave it until you are 1NM from the boundary before
requesting a clearance, the controller only has 1 minute to process your request. If you make
the request at 5NM from the boundary, this gives the controller 5 minutes. Anything under 5
minutes needs the first call to be successful and allows no slack for radio problems or the
need for one or other party to ask the other to “say again”. When you add this need for forward
planning to all the other things a glider pilot has to think about on a cross-country flight, you
will appreciate the need to be very well organised in the cockpit.
If you arrive at the boundary and you do not have a clearance, YOU MUST NOT ENTER
CONTROLLED AIRSPACE.
Secondly, be quite sure what you want and ask for it clearly and without hesitation. There is
certain standard terminology which enables other parties to discern clearly what pilots are
asking for and it makes sense to use this terminology. However, don’t get hung up on precise
terminology to the extent of getting so confused that you fail to get your message across. As
long as you have clearly identified yourself and a controller or other pilot is clear about what
you are requesting, you should not have any trouble. In other words, speak and make yourself
heard rather than be reluctant to talk on the radio.
When acknowledging clearances, you are required to read back the important points of the
message, with your callsign last.
If you are having difficulty with the instructions, for example you are in an area of strong sink,
do not hesitate to acquaint the controller with your problem and they will do everything possible
to help you out.
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In-flight emergencies
There are special words for use in the event of having an emergency in flight. Use of these
words will guarantee you sufficient air time to get your message across. Because they are
allocated for the exclusive use of pilots in some kind of distress, it goes without saying that
they should not be used lightly.
The key words and their uses are as follows:MAYDAY (Three Times)
Derived from the French "m'aidez" (help me), this is used when the pilot experiences a serious
in-flight emergency.
A tug pilot would use Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, to announce, for example, an in-flight fire or
some equally serious problem.
An example of a glider pilot's use of Mayday would be in the event of a mid-air collision, either
to announce that the aircraft is about to be abandoned or an attempt made to land it.
Note on the above points. Naturally a pilot would not hang around to go through the protocol
of making a radio call if the severity of the emergency demanded, for example, immediate
abandonment of the aircraft. Preserve life as a first priority and only make the call if you have
time.
Pilots must exercise discretion in the use of the Mayday call. Frivolous use of the word
ultimately discredits it and nobody takes any notice. On the other hand, don't ever be afraid to
use it if you are really in trouble.
The Mayday call may be made on the frequency in use at the time the emergency occurs, or
it may be made on the international distress VHF frequency (see next section)
PAN PAN (Three Times)
This word means, loosely, "breakdown" and is used for an in-flight emergency less serious
than one which demands instant attention by the use of Mayday.
A tug-pilot would use Pan Pan for example, if he notices that the aircraft is indicating a rising
oil temperature and a falling oil pressure. As such symptoms may indicate an imminent engine
failure; this situation would justify waving off the glider and making a Pan Pan call to announce
the aircraft's situation.
A glider pilot might use Pan Pan in the case of a bird-strike, where damage had been caused
but the glider is still controllable.
The purpose of the Pan Pan call is to alert anyone who is listening that a problem has been
encountered, but there is no immediate danger. It is usually made on the frequency being
used at the time, and rarely on the distress frequency, although this should not by any means
be ruled out. If things get worse, don't hesitate to change the Pan Pan call to a Mayday call.
Rather than try to describe here each possible emergency that might be encountered in flight,
pilots are encouraged to use their imagination in thinking about the kinds of emergencies
which might crop up.
Stop Transmitting – Distress Traffic (Callsign)
This radio call is used if your broadcast is interfering with radio communication between
stations dealing with a Mayday or Pan Pan situation. If it is directed to you, you must stop
transmitting unless you are in distress yourself.
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International Distress Frequency
By international agreement, certain frequencies have been set aside for use by pilots in
distress. In the VHF band, the international distress frequency is 121.5 MHz.
A glider pilot in an emergency situation, as described earlier in this chapter, should not hesitate
to use 121.5 MHz to make an emergency call if it is appropriate. The frequency is constantly
monitored by most large commercial aircraft and the satellite systems dedicated to search and
rescue purposes.
An example of a glider pilot making use of this frequency in a sensible and responsible way is
an outlanding in a very remote area, where use of any other frequencies does not appear to
have achieved any result. Make a call to anyone who might be listening on 121.5 MHz and
the chances are that you will receive a reply.
The warning about frivolous use of the word "Mayday" also applies to the use of 121.5 MHz.
Under no circumstances should the frequency be used for anything other than emergency
broadcasts. On the other hand, if an emergency crops up, it is there to be used and a pilot
should do so without fear.
Disclaimer: Warning on airspace and radio procedures
Although radio procedures and terminology are likely to remain fixed, the information
contained here on the types of airspace and the rules applicable within them may change
from time to time. For cross-country flying, pilots are urged to check very carefully, either
through their clubs or by means of individual subscription to the Airservices Australia
publications service, that the information they need for each planned cross-country flight is
as up-to-date and accurate as possible. The person ultimately responsible for the safety of
each flight is the pilot.
ANTI-COLLISION SYSTEMS AVAILABLE IN AUSTRALIAN AIRSPACE.
Secondary Radar Transponders
In some controlled airspace, especially around capital cities but possibly in other areas too,
Air Traffic Services will not permit entry into that airspace unless the aircraft carries a
secondary radar transponder. Although very few gliders carry these devices, it is worth
knowing what they are and what they do.
It all starts with the ground-based radar systems used by controllers for the control and
separation of aircraft. There are two kinds of radar in general use.
The first kind, known as "primary" radar, sends out a pulse of microwave energy which reflects
off the aircraft's skin and produces a dot (known as a "blip" or “paint") on the controller's radar
screen, thus giving its position. This system suffers the limitation that the controller may not
be able to identify that the blip he is looking at is exactly the one he wants to see, especially if
there is a lot of traffic about and the controller's screen is cluttered. In addition, some aircraft
skin surfaces are good reflectors of radar energy, others are poor; metal surfaces are very
good, wood and glassfibre are very poor.
These limitations led to the development of "secondary" radar, properly called Secondary
Surveillance Radar (SSR). In this type, the aircraft carries a microwave receiver-transmitter,
known as a "transponder", derived from a military system known as "Identification Friend or
Foe" (IFF). This transponder is interrogated by the ground-based radar. The pilot dials into the
transponder a unique code, assigned by the air traffic controller (a process known as
“squawking”). Every time the ground radar sweeps past the aircraft, it interrogates the
transponder, which “squawks” the coded reply to the controller.
If the ground-based radar is purely of the "secondary" type (typical of the new radars installed
all around Australia in recent years), there appears on the controller's screen the coded reply
from the aircraft, thereby providing positive identification. There is no primary "blip", nor is one
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needed for identification. Ground-based secondary radar is not capable of producing a return
from an aircraft which is not fitted with a transponder.
A transponder giving only the coded reply and nothing else is known as a "Mode A"
transponder.
A refinement of the transponder system is the fitment of an altitude-encoding device to the
aircraft. This may be either in the form of an "encoding" altimeter or a device known as a "blind
encoder", separate from the altimeter. Both these devices are capable of providing altitude
information in electronic form to the transponder, for onward transmission to the ground when
interrogated. A transponder fitted with one of these devices and therefore capable of giving
continuous altitude readout to a controller is known as a "Mode C" transponder. Most
Australian controlled airspace which requires a transponder to enable a clearance to be
obtained requires that the transponder be Mode C.
Another feature of transponders is an “Ident” button. If the controller wants to be absolutely
sure about identification, a pilot will be asked to “squawk ident”. All the pilot does is press the
“Ident” button and the controller will see the “Ident” mark on the radar screen.
For gliders, the main drawback of a transponder and its associated altitude-encoder is its
electrical power requirement. This is difficult to accommodate in a glider without considerable
effort and loss of payload, as the battery needed to meet such demands is necessarily large
and heavy. Many gliders have neither the space nor the weight-carrying capacity to cope. As
a result, gliders have a dispensation against the carriage of transponders in “E” and “G”
Airspace.
It goes without saying that, if a pilot flying a non-transponder glider requests a clearance to
enter controlled airspace and is denied such a clearance without a transponder, the pilot must
not enter that airspace.
Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B)
Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast is a system that Airservices Australia is in the
process of adopting to replace or supplement their aging Secondary Radar ground sites. The
ADS-B “Out” aircraft equipment consists of an approved standard of GPS receiver and radio
transmitter to relay the aircraft’s position either to an Airservices ground station, or another
aircraft.
The receiving aircraft must be additionally equipped with an ADS-B “In” system to display any
confliction.
The controller’s display is identical to SSR, excepting that the aircraft is represented by a
different symbol.
At the time of publishing, GFA expects that the glider dispensation against the carriage of SSR
Transponders will be extended to the carriage of ADS-B.
FLARM
FLARM (FLight alARM) is an electronic aircraft awareness system that warns of the proximity
of another FLARM carrying aircraft. It consists of a small box which contains a GPS receiver
and a small radio transmitter with a range of a few kilometres, with a small power drain. The
system has many optional methods of display, ranging from the basic small clock-like LED
display, to PDA or voice alert. At present, GFA recommends its usage, but has not made it
mandatory. Some GFA Competition organisers make its usage mandatory as a condition of
entry into their competitions. FLARM is NOT part of the National Airspace System (NAS).
Neither ADS-B nor FLARM are designed to replace adequate lookout to ensure seeing
and avoiding conflicting traffic in VMC.
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ALTIMETRY
General
An altimeter depends for its operation on the change in atmospheric pressure with height. It is
in fact nothing more than a simple aneroid barometer, calibrated to read in feet instead of
hectopascals (HPa) or inches of mercury.
The settings and procedures described here apply to aircraft operating under the Visual Flight
Rules (VFR).
Altimeter Settings
To be of any use, the altimeter must have a reference pressure from which to measure. There
is a sub-scale on the dial of the altimeter on which to set this reference pressure. Once it is
set, the instrument will measure with reasonable accuracy the vertical distance above that
reference. This is measured in feet.
The pilot may set one of three reference pressures on the altimeter:
•
•
•
Aerodrome level pressure, known as QFE, at which the altimeter will read zero when
the glider is on the ground at the aerodrome. This setting is no longer in common use.
Mean sea level pressure, known as QNH, at which the altimeter will read either the
aerodrome's level or a specified area’s level above sea level when the glider is on the
ground. This is the setting used by all aircraft operations below 10,000ft, INCLUDING
GLIDERS.
Standard atmospheric pressure, at which the internationally-agreed standard setting
of 1013.2 hPa is set in the altimeter sub-scale. All aircraft flying above 10,000ft are
required to operate with this setting on their altimeters, INCLUDING GLIDERS.
If QFE (aerodrome level pressure) is set, the altimeter is said to measure height based on
the reference location on the aerodrome.
If QNH (mean sea level pressure) is set, the altimeter is said to measure altitude.
If the Standard Pressure Setting (1013.2 hPa) is set, the altimeter is said to measure flight
level.
Altimetry Procedures
Glider pilots do not regard the altimeter as a dependable aid to accurate height measurement.
The reason for this is the nature of cross-country flying in gliders, which may result in an
outlanding in strange terrain with very little warning. The terrain over which they are flying may
be at quite a different level from the terrain at the take-off point. Pilots are therefore trained to
estimate their height above the local terrain by eyeball alone and they become surprisingly
accurate at doing this. The altimeter is used as a "coarse" guide to height and the justification
for the past use of the QFE setting has always been that it is used principally as a back-up for
the visual judgement which is a glider pilot's primary aid.
However, the purpose of the altimeter is not solely to provide height readout to the pilot for
his/her own purposes. An aircraft in any given piece of airspace may be interested, for collision
avoidance reasons, in the altitude of other aircraft in close proximity. For this reason, the
various settings were devised and must be used in the normal course of flying by all aircraft.
It is essential that glider pilots integrate with the procedures used by other airspace users in
order to fit into the total system as smoothly as possible. The system works as follows:•
All aircraft (including gliders) cruising, climbing or descending below 10,000ft will be
on the QNH (mean sea level) altimeter setting. This may be an aerodrome QNH if the
aircraft has departed from a major aerodrome with tower facilities or it may be an "Area"
QNH given for a designated area by the Air Traffic Services personnel. The Area QNH
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•
•
may be obtained on request on the Area VHF frequency. When the QNH setting is in
use, all levels are altitudes.
For aircraft climbing, 10,000ft is the upper limit of operations on the QNH altimeter
setting and is known as the transition altitude. Any aircraft climbing above this level
will re-set the altimeter to the standard setting of 1013.2 hPa.
For aircraft descending, 11,000ft is the lower limit of operations on the standard
pressure setting of 1013.2 hPa and is known as the transition level. Any aircraft
descending below this level will re-set the altimeter to the Area QNH.
Since 11,000ft is the first of the "Flight Levels" it is referred to, not as 11,000ft, but as Flight
Level One-one-zero (FL110). All Flight Levels are referred to in a similar way.
The airspace between the transition altitude and the transition level is known as the transition
layer. It varies in thickness according to the Area QNH and is not available for cruising flight.
To re-cap, aircraft (including gliders) operating below the transition altitude use the QNH
altimeter setting and refer to their vertical positions as altitudes. Aircraft (including gliders)
operating above the transition level use the standard pressure setting (1013.2 hPa) and refer
to their vertical position as flight levels.
Cruising levels
It is obvious that gliders are unable to cruise at constant heights, altitudes or flight levels. They
are always in climbing or descending flight. Powered aircraft are however required to adhere
to certain procedures when in cruising flight, as follows:Above 5,000ft altitude, up to FL195, aircraft operate in accordance with a principle known as
"ICAO Cruising Levels". The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has decreed that
all aircraft operating under the Visual Flight Rules (VFR) will do so as per the following table.
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Magnetic tracks
Cruising altitudes (area QNH)
Cruising Flight Levels (1013 HPa)
From 000º through
East to 179º
From 180º through
West to 359º
1,500
3,500
5,500
7,500
9,500
2,500
4,500
6,500
8,500
115 (not available if
area QNH less than
997 hPa)
135
155,
195
etc
125 (not available if area
QNH less than 963 hPa)
145
155
185
etc
Below 5,000ft, the ICAO Cruising Levels are not mandatory for VFR aircraft, but is strongly
recommended.
Note that a tug/glider combination must adhere to the cruising level guidelines when carrying
out any towing operations involving level flight. The same applies to powered sailplanes and
power-assisted sailplanes used for engine-on cruising.
ACCIDENTS AND INCIDENTS
Accident or Incident Notification
Accidents and serious incidents (commonly called Immediately Reportable Matters), which
affect the safety of aircraft must, in the first instance, be notified to the ATSB by telephone tollfree call: 1800 011 034 or fax (02) 6274 6434.
Notification to GFA
In addition to the above statutory requirement, it is a GFA requirement that Immediately
Reportable Matters are also reported to the GFA Chief Technical Officer (CTO) or the
Chairman of the Operations Panel (COP) at or around the time they are reported to ATSB.
The telephone contact details for the CTO and COP can be found on the GFA website. The
CTO or COP will notify the appropriate GFA officers and the Regional Technical Officer,
Operations of the relevant Region.
The GFA also requires notification to the CTO of all ‘Routine Reportable Matters’ and those
accident and incidents that are not required to be reported to ATSB.
Online Reporting
A secure Safety Occurrence Reporting Portal is to be used to notify the GFA about all aviation
safety occurrences. This system automatically advises the ATSB, thereby ensuring our
statutory obligations are met. Reports will also be automatically copied to the Regional
Technical Officers and Club’s Chief Flying Instructor.
Offline Reporting
In those circumstances where access to the GFA’s Safety Occurrence Reporting portal is
impracticable, members can use a hard copy paper form which can be downloaded from the
GFA website and sent to the GFA office for entry into the Safety Occurrence Reporting portal.
Further Information
Accidents and serious incidents are required to be immediately notified to the ATSB in
accordance with section 18 of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003.
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Written notifications are required to be submitted within 72 hours of an accident, serious
incident or incident in accordance with section 19 of the Transport Safety Investigation Act
2003 and Regulation 2.6 of the Transport Safety Investigation Regulations 2003. The written
notification should contain as much information about the accident, serious incident or incident
as is within the knowledge of the person at the time of submitting the notification.
Submission of information known by the reporter to be false or misleading is a serious offence
under section 137.1 of the Criminal Code. Aiding, abetting, counselling, procuring or urging
the submission of false or misleading information is also a serious offence.
Immediately Reportable Matters
An immediately reportable matter is a serious transport safety matter that covers occurrences
such as accidents involving death, serious injury, destruction of, or serious damage to vehicles
or property or when an accident nearly occurred. Under section 18 of the TSI Act, immediately
reportable matters must be reported to a nominated official by a responsible person as soon
as is reasonably practical. The list of immediately reportable matters is contained in the TSI
Regulations.
Routine Reportable Matter
A routine reportable matter is a matter that has not had a serious outcome and does not require
an immediate report but safety was affected or could have been affected. Under section 19 of
the TSI Act a responsible person who has knowledge of a routine reportable matter must
report it within 72 hours with a written report to a nominated official. The list of routine
reportable matters is contained in the TSI Regulations. Routine reportable matters include a
non-serious injury or the aircraft suffering minor damage or structural failure that does not
significantly affect the structural integrity, performance or flight characteristics of the aircraft
and does not require major repair or replacement of the affected components.
Who must report an aviation accident?
Under the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 and regulations, the owner, operator or
crew of the aircraft must report the accident immediately to the ATSB. However, sometimes
the owner and/or operator may not learn of the accident until sometime after the event. The
crew may also be unable to notify the ATSB due to personal injuries. Therefore, anyone
learning of an aviation accident should report the accident to the ATSB immediately, as well
as alerting emergency services as required. While the ATSB does not investigate all accidents
and incidents, you should notify the ATSB of all aviation accidents and serious incidents
involving civil registered aircraft.
Accident Investigation
Generally, the ATSB does not investigate sports aviation accidents or those involving amateur
built or experimental category aircraft. The ATSB will inform the Gliding Federation of Australia
and the police that the ATSB is not investigating. The police will normally coordinate the
accident investigation. Consequently, the ATSB will not attend the scene or conduct an
investigation.
Coordinating With Police Inquiries
The police may wish to utilise the expertise of the Gliding Federation of Australia to assist their
investigation. The GFA contacts are the Executive Manager, Operations; the Chairman,
Operations Panel; and the Regional Manager, Operations RTOs/Ops.
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Protection of Aircraft Wreckage
The ATSB understands that police and emergency services personnel need to take immediate
action when arriving at the scene. However, it is important that wreckage, ground scars and
the accident site are disturbed as little as possible. This will ensure that investigators are able
to determine the factors that contributed to the accident.
Removal of Aircraft Wreckage
When an accident occurs, the aircraft is deemed to have come into the custody of the
Executive Director of Transport Safety Investigation and it must not be moved except with the
permission of the Executive Director or authorised representative. However, where the ATSB
has informed the GFA that it is not investigating, Police authority is required to remove the
wreckage.
Dealing with the Media
The media have a job to do and deserve access to certain information in order to do that job.
However, for their own safety they must remain outside the secured area. Names of casualties
are not to be given to the news media. This information will be released by the appropriate
authorities and this will happen only after next of kin have been informed. Investigators will not
provide access to the media to photograph survivors or deceased persons. Care should be
exercised in the use of mobile telephones or radios to discuss the accident or the personnel
involved as the media may be capable of monitoring communications frequencies. Refer also
to Operations Advice Notice 03/12 – The Press and Gliding Accidents.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
This may occur not only in flight crew associated with the Accident/Incident, but witnesses,
relatives, friends and club members. It has been noted that Clubs have been deeply affected
after such occurrences, in some cases straining the viability of the organisation. The following
resources are listed for the information of Clubs, Instructors and members wishing to find out
more about PTSD as part of their risk management:
•
•
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Coping with a critical incident
Support for Clubs and members affected by PTSD can be found at the Lifeline Service Finder.
Aviation Self Reporting Scheme
The Aviation Self Reporting Scheme (ASRS) commenced operation on 21 February 2004.
Under the ASRS, the holder of a Civil Aviation Authorisation may report a reportable
contravention committed by the holder. Reports pertaining to third parties are ineligible and
will be returned to reporters. No action will be taken in response to ineligible reports.
Reporters submitting eligible reports can claim protection from administrative action by CASA,
in accordance with section 30DO of the Civil Aviation Act 1988, once every five years.
For an ASRS report your identity will be kept confidential in accordance with Division 3C of
the Civil Aviation Amendment Act 2003 and Division 13.K.1 of Subpart 13.K of the Civil
Aviation Safety Regulations 1998.
Submission of information known by the reporter to be false or misleading is a serious offence
under section 137.1 of the Criminal Code. Aiding, abetting, counselling, procuring or urging
the submission of false or misleading information is also a serious offence.
Confidential Reporting Scheme
REPCON is a voluntary confidential reporting scheme. REPCON allows any person who has
an aviation safety concern to report it to the ATSB confidentially. Protection of the reporter's
identity and any individual referred to in the report is a primary element of the scheme.
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What may be reported with REPCON?
Any matter may be reported if it endangers, or could endanger the safety of an aircraft. These
matters are reportable safety concerns.
Examples include:
•
•
•
unsafe scheduling or rostering of crew; or
crew or aircraft operator bypassing safety procedures because of commercial
pressures; or
non-compliance with rules or procedures.
To avoid doubt, the following matters are not reportable safety concerns and are not
guaranteed confidentiality:
•
•
•
•
matters showing a serious and imminent threat to a person's health or life
terrorist acts
industrial relations matters
conduct that may constitute a serious crime.
REPCON would also like to hear from you if you have experienced a 'close call' safety concern
and think others may benefit from the lessons you have learnt. These reports can serve as a
powerful reminder that, despite the best of intentions, well-trained and well-meaning people
are still capable of making mistakes. The de-identified stories arising from these reports may
serve to reinforce the message that we must remain vigilant to ensure the ongoing safety of
ourselves and others.
Who may make a REPCON report?
A REPCON report may be made by anyone who observes or becomes aware of a reportable
safety concern.
What is confidential?
Personal information about the reporter and any person referred to in the report. If you believe
it would be necessary to act on information about an individual referred to in your report then
you should consider reporting this directly to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) on
1800 074 737.
How are REPCON reports processed?
REPCON staff will assess reports for clarity, completeness and significance for aviation safety.
To do this, the staff may need to contact the reporter. Once satisfied that the report is as
complete as possible, the staff enter the de-identified content of the report into the REPCON
database, which allocates it a unique identification number.
REPCON may use the de-identified version of the report to issue an information-brief or alert
bulletin to a person or organisation including CASA, which is in a position to take safety action
in response to the safety concern.
What are the possible outcomes from a REPCON report?
The desired outcomes are any actions taken to improve aviation safety in response to the
identified concern. This can include variations to standards, orders, practices, procedures or
an education campaign.
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Is an anonymous report via REPCON acceptable?
As a general rule, REPCON does not accept anonymous reports. REPCON staff cannot
contact an anonymous reporter to verify the report or to seek additional information. Further,
REPCON staff must be satisfied that the reporter's motivation for reporting is aviation safety
promotion, and that the reporter is not attempting to damage a rival or pursue an industrial
agenda.
AERODROME GROUND SIGNALS TO AIRCRAFT
The following signals may be found on an aerodrome:Ground signal
Description
Where
displayed
Meaning
Horizontal white
dumb-bell, with
circular ends
1.5m in
diameter, 1.5m
apart
Adjacent to
windsock
Use only hard surface movement
areas. Where there are sealed and
gravel manoeuvring areas, use only
the sealed surfaces. Where there are
constructed gravel and natural surface
manoeuvring areas, use only the
gravel surfaces. En Route Supplement
Australia (ERSA) contains further
information on aerodromes with dumbbell signals.
White cross of
6m span
Adjacent to
windsock.
1. Aerodrome completely
unserviceable.
On
manoeuvrin
g area.
2. Area marked by a cross or crosses
within the limits delineated by markers
is unfit for use by aircraft.
Adjacent to
windsock
Gliding operations in progress.
White double
cross 5m long
by 2.5m across
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CHAPTER 7 - BASIC AIRWORTHINESS
GLIDER CONSTRUCTION
Composite
Composites are those materials usually known as glassfibre or carbonfibre. These consist of
fibres of glass or carbon set in a resin (usually epoxy) and they offer enormous strength, great
accuracy of shape and the ability to be constructed on a production line basis. Almost all
modern gliders are of composite construction, and the majority of all gliders in Australia are of
this material. Examples include ASK21, Discus, DG1001, and LS8 (Germany), Jantar and
Puchacz (Poland), JS1 (South Africa) and Kestrel 19 (Britain). The internal construction of
composite gliders is similar to a timber or metal glider, except of course that the material is
glass, kevlar or carbon fibre.
Wood
Wooden gliders are no longer made commercially and the skills necessary to manufacture
and maintain them are fast disappearing. There is nothing at all wrong with wooden gliders,
apart from the above comments, and there are still plenty of them in service all over the world.
Typical timbers used in glider construction are Spruce, Douglas Fir, Mahogany, Klinki Pine
and Beech. Glues used in wooden gliders include Casein (a milk derivative), Resorcinol (a
two-part synthetic glue requiring heat to cure the join) and nowadays one of the many Epoxy
adhesives, such as Epiglue. Examples of wooden gliders flying in Australia are - Kookaburra
and Boomerang (Australian), Skylark and Dart (British) and Ka6 (German).
Combined wood/steel-tube
Some gliders combine wooden wings and tail, with a fuselage of welded steel-tube
construction. The steel-tube fuselage is covered with fabric. A popular trainer with this
construction is the ASK13.
Metal
Metal gliders are usually constructed of riveted aluminium alloy, although special metal-tometal bonding may also be used on some designs. Examples include Blanik (Czechoslovakia),
IS28B2 (Romania) and Pilatus B4 (Switzerland).
FLIGHT LOADS AND GLIDER LIMITATIONS
A glider is amazingly strong for its
weight; that is its structure is very
efficient. However it is not infinitely
strong and certain limitations have to
be placed on it if the flight loads are
not to exceed the glider's capability to
withstand them. This leads to an
"envelope" of permissible speeds and
load-factors (G loadings - see
Glossary) within which the glider must
be operated if its structural integrity is
to be retained. Such an envelope,
defining the glider's manoeuvring
limitations in smooth air, is known as
the MANOEUVRE ENVELOPE and a
typical example is shown here:-
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If the air is not smooth, in other words if gusts are present, additional stresses are applied to
the glider. These are defined in the diagram below.
The information from the manoeuvre and gust envelopes of any given glider is extracted and
presented to the pilot in the form of a simple cockpit placard
GLIDER LIMITATIONS PLACARDS.
A typical glider speed and manoeuvres limitations placard appears below:-
The permitted aerobatic manoeuvres will also be displayed, either on the same placard or on
a separate one alongside. The maximum (and possibly the minimum) weak link strength will
be displayed, internally on the placard and externally next to the release hook(s).
Indicated airspeed and true airspeed
As altitude increases, the atmospheric temperature, pressure and density decrease. This
means that the pitot pressure, measured at the opening of the pitot head on the glider, will be
progressively less as the altitude increases, even though the glider is moving through the air
at the same speed. Reduced pitot pressure means a lower indication on the airspeed indicator.
Therefore, as altitude increases, there is an increasing error between the speed shown on the
airspeed indicator and the actual speed the glider is travelling at through the air.
The speed shown on the airspeed indicator is called, fairly obviously, INDICATED
AIRPSPEED (IAS). The actual speed at which the glider is travelling through the air is called
the TRUE AIRSPEED (TAS).
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There is no means of reading true airspeed on a glider instrument, unless the glider happens
to have an airspeed indicator which has a sliding scale around its periphery for the purpose.
Such instruments are common in modern light aircraft but very rare in gliders.
Calculating TAS from IAS involves applying an altitude and temperature correction to the
reading on the airspeed indicator. This correction is easily calculated on a navigational
computer. These computers are commonly used by light aircraft pilots, but again are seldom
used by glider pilots.
One side of a Navigation Computer is for the purposes of "dead-reckoning" navigation. Thus
it contains the compass rose and all the provisions for applying the wind-velocity to
heading/track calculations. That side does not concern us here.
The other side of the computer comprises a circular slide-rule, commonly known as a "prayer
wheel". An example of the IAS/TAS correction section of a typical prayer wheel is shown
overleaf.
In the example shown here, a glider is flying at 5,000ft at an air temperature of 20 degrees
and an IAS of 70 knots. Setting air temperature against pressure altitude in the right-hand
window, then reading true airspeed on the outer speed scale from 70 knots on the inner speed
scale, it will be seen that the glider is actually flying through the air at just over 77 knots.
The errors build up as altitude increases. A glider flying at the same 70 knots IAS, but at an
altitude of 10,000ft and assuming a temperature at that altitude of 0 degrees C, results is a
TAS of 82 knots.
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Now let’s go wave-flying. We are at 25,000ft and still flying at 70 knots. The temperature is 15 degrees C. Using these numbers, the prayer-wheel will tell us that we have a TAS of 108
knots. We are starting to creep up toward the glider's Vne; in fact we would be at Vne if the
glider happened to be, say, a Club Libelle.
Does this matter? Surely the Vne is based on actual indications on the airspeed indicator,
rather than some mysterious computation which most pilots don't understand anyway. This is
generally true, except for one factor - flutter.
Flutter is an alarming and possibly destructive phenomenon which results from oscillations of
a control surface exciting a main surface of the glider. For example, the ailerons could flutter
and excite the wing into very large excursions up and down, which may eventually result in
damage or complete failure. A similar interaction could occur between the elevator and the
tailplane or the rudder and the fin. The onset of flutter can be rapid and can build up to
destructive levels very quickly. It is a phenomenon better avoided than experienced.
What has this do with the IAS/TAS argument? Because flutter is an inertial problem, the value
of inertia stored up in the aileron/wing or elevator/tailplane is a function of the TAS of the glider,
not it’s indicated speed. The mathematics are not for this book, but you can take it as read
that the INDICATED Vne of the glider must be reduced as altitude increases, in order to keep
the flutter problem at bay.
Many modern gliders take this into account and their cockpit placards show a reducing Vne
with increasing altitude. If you are going high, make sure you know the amounts by which you
must reduce this Vne, especially if you are wave-flying and might need to use high speeds to
jump wave-caps.
What about the older gliders and those modern ones which do not display this information to
the pilot? You must still take a reducing Vne into account when flying at high altitude, but you
will have to work it out for yourself. It is safe to say that there are likely to be few problems up
to 10,000ft, but above that height you must shave increasing amounts off the Vne. As a guide
of how much to shave off, if you don't have a prayer-wheel, take about 1.5% per 1,000ft off
the placarded values.
Just to complete the IAS/TAS argument, it is not only flutter which might prove troublesome at
altitude. Two other things should be taken into account when flying high:1. Rough air can be encountered during wave-flying, so SLOW DOWN if you meet clear
air turbulence.
2. The reduction in air density results in a reduction in aerodynamic damping, which can
adversely affect the natural stability of the glider. Some designs which have very light
elevator forces and are only marginally stable in pitch at low altitudes may exhibit
actual instability when flown at high altitude. This will be at its most marked when flying
at a high TAS.
Remember, at high altitude, what you see is not what you get.
WEIGHT AND BALANCE
As well as observing placarded speed and manoeuvre limitations, a glider also has to be
operated within strict limitations of weight and balance. A pilot must be thoroughly familiar with
these limitations on each glider he flies.
The following basic definitions are relevant: Empty weight
-
the glider's empty weight, equipped to fly, without pilot,
parachute or removable ballast.
Gross weight
-
the maximum flying weight
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Maximum pilot weight
-
the heaviest pilot with parachute that can be accommodated
without exceeding gross weight or moving the CG out of
limits.
Minimum pilot weight
-
the lightest pilot with parachute that can be accommodated
without fitting removable ballast.
Removable ballast
-
Lead or steel blocks or cushions which can be fitted and
secured in order to bring a pilot up to the minimum pilot
weight.
CG range
-
the range of movement of the centre of gravity, presented to
the pilot in terms of a maximum and minimum pilot weight.
In the case of two-seaters, a sliding scale is often used in
order to take into account the varying weights in each
cockpit.
A typical weight and balance placard follows –
The maximum permitted weight must not be exceeded. The maximum pilot weight is important
too, because it is likely that if it is exceeded the glider will be flown outside its forward CG limit.
This may make it impossible to trim the glider to minimum sink speed and could make it difficult
to flare the glider on the landing. More seriously, it could also result in the maximum calculated
flight loads on the tailplane being exceeded.
The consequences of flying a glider outside the aft CG, that is with too light a pilot, are even
more serious and could result in loss of control. The implications of flying a glider outside the
aft CG limit are as follows.
•
•
•
It will be unstable in pitch and possibly uncontrollable.
It may be difficult or impossible to trim to a safe speed near the ground.
If a spin is deliberately or accidentally entered, it may be impossible to recover.
NEVER fly a glider below its minimum pilot weight. If your weight is marginal and you are not
sure whether you are quite heavy enough, add some ballast.
AIRWORTHINESS DOCUMENTATION
The normal way of certifying the airworthiness of a glider is by issuing it with a Certificate of
Airworthiness (CofA). To qualify for the issue of this document, the glider must be constructed
to an accepted airworthiness code, such as OSTIV or CS22 (see Glossary of Terms). Each
individual glider is issued with a C of A, which is the source of the speed and weight limitations
listed on the cockpit placard. Certificates of Airworthiness are issued for an indefinite period,
but the day-to-day validity of the document from the pilot's point of view depends on the glider
being maintained to GFA standards. Such maintenance is usually carried out annually and
this fact is recorded in another document, which is carried in the cockpit of the glider (see
"Maintenance Release").
Some gliders may not qualify for the issue of a C of A. There may be a variety of reasons for
this, such as modifications to the structure or the installation of an add-on engine for selflaunching. Such gliders may be issued with a Permit to Fly while engineering information is
gathered to assess the suitability of the new machine for the issue of a full C of A. Permits
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usually, but not always, apply limitations to a glider which are not present in the case of a
glider with a C of A. They are also issued for limited periods only (12 months, perhaps) and
not for the indefinite period of a C of A.
The Maintenance Release
This document certifies that the glider is being maintained in accordance with GFA
requirements. It also validates the C of A or Permit to fly of the glider. It is issued by a GFAqualified inspector and is renewed on completion of the relevant inspection. If a Maintenance
Release is present in the glider and is within its validity period, the glider is legal to fly. Check
this before flight.
Although it may be legal to fly, the glider is not necessarily airworthy to fly. For example, it may
have suffered a heavy landing on its last flight the previous day and there may be damage
present which, for some reason, the last pilot did not report and did not enter into the Major
Defects section of the Maintenance Release. It is therefore a requirement for a glider to receive
a Daily Inspection before it is allowed to fly on any given day. Each pilot flying the glider must
check that the Daily Inspection has been carried out, before carrying out his own walk-round
inspection prior to flight.
The Daily Inspection Record (GFA Form 1)
This is used to certify that a glider has received a Daily Inspection from a suitably qualified
person. Check that the correct date appears alongside the Inspector's signature. If the correct
date does not appear there, do not fly the glider - make some enquiries.
The Maintenance Release and the Daily Inspection Record share the same common booklet,
which is kept in the glider at all times. It is a very important document and forms the link
between the inspector who looks after the airworthiness of the glider and the pilot who flies it.
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WEAK LINKS
A weak link is inserted into the cable or tow-rope for the purpose of protection of the glider
against overstressing during the launch. The specified maximum weak link strength will be
found on the glider's limitations placard.
FLUTTER
As discussed in the IAS/TAS section, flutter is an oscillation of a control surface which causes
a sympathetic oscillation of the main flying surface to which it is attached. For example, a fault
in the aileron circuit could cause aileron/wing flutter or an elevator could cause tailplane flutter.
The cause may be faulty balancing of the control surfaces, excessive control system free-play
or flying the glider outside its placarded limitations.
At any altitude, the general recommendation if flutter is experienced is to SLOW DOWN. When
you get back to the airfield, ground the glider and advise an airworthiness inspector or the
Duty Instructor.
GROUND HANDLING - AIRWORTHINESS IMPLICATIONS
The primary purpose of proper ground handling is to protect the glider from being damaged
by the obvious hazards of strong winds and collision with obstacles. However it is possible to
cause hidden damage to gliders by the wrong kind of ground handling, damage which may
not be apparent to the person handling the glider but which may accumulate to the extent that
some other pilot may end up suffering the consequences. A few hints on what not to do are in
order.
•
•
•
Never apply large forces in a fore and aft direction at the wingtip. The most common
application of this wrong technique is when two people are ground-handling a glider
and they both pull forward or backward on each wingtip. Because of the long wingspan,
this puts enormous stresses on the wing-root fittings, stresses which the designer did
not intend.
Do not lift a glider by its tailplane. Once again this causes stresses which are not
designed for.
Do not sit on the leading edges of parked gliders. It is primary structure and, although
it will withstand pushing, it will not tolerate the full weight of a person sitting on it.
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•
If a glider gets bogged and a vehicle is used to pull it out of the soft ground, attach
towropes to both towhooks of the glider to spread the load and avoid local
overstressing of the towhook installation.
RIGGING AND DE-RIGGING
There is no intention of going into any detail in this guide about the actual mechanism of rigging
and de-rigging a glider. There are too many types of gliders in service to attempt that. Pilots
learn the specific detail of rigging and derigging in their clubs and that system works very well.
However, every time a glider is rigged after an outlanding or a period in the workshop, it must
receive a Daily Inspection. Even if it lands out twice or more in a day, this still applies.
No D.I. - No Fly.
THE WALK-ROUND INSPECTION
Before starting the pre-take-off checks, the pilot should walk around the glider to check for any
obvious damage. This damage may be in one of the following categories :1. In-flight overstress caused by mishandled aerobatics, flying too fast in rough air or
possibly the onset of flutter.
2. Heavy landing damage.
3. Damage accumulated during the day's routine operations.
In cases 1 and 2, it is likely that any such occurrences would be reported by the pilot(s)
involved. However, this does not always occur and all pilots should develop a healthy curiosity
about the overall condition of any aircraft which they fly.
The walk-round inspection need not take very long, a couple of minutes at most. Start at the
cockpit and work around the glider in an anti-clockwise direction. You will be looking for the
following signs of damage:-
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Heavy landings
•
•
•
Signs of overstress where the wings join to the fuselage. Gliders which have a wing
carry-through structure in the fuselage (e.g. Blanik, Bocian, IS28B2) may also show
signs of stress in this structure. The reason for damage in this area is the tendency of
the wings to move rapidly forward and downward in a heavy landing.
Signs of damage to the fuselage in the vicinity of the undercarriage.
Signs of wing damage due to the rapid downward flexing of the wing. In fabric covered
gliders, this damage often shows itself as broken trailing edges.
In-flight overstress
•
•
Signs of excessive 'G' loading in aerobatics, often in the form of cracking around the
edges of the airbrake box, although there may also be other obvious signs. Check
upper and lower wing surfaces.
Signs of overspeeding. One likely place to find damage will be underneath the
tailplane, where there may be some signs of compression failure of the skin due to the
large download on the tailplane which most gliders experience at high speeds.
Overspeeding may also have caused flutter, which may manifest itself in loose control
surface hinges and other similar damage.
Routine operations
•
•
Signs of damage from rocks thrown up by cable drogue-chutes during winch/auto takeoffs.
Signs of fasteners working loose on fairings or hatches, usually due to operations on
rough ground.
General advice
If suspicious about anything you find on a walk-round inspection, don't fly the glider. Have it
inspected by a qualified inspector. It's better to be down here wishing you were up there than
to be up there wishing you were down here.
DAILY INSPECTIONS - POLICY
General
It is a GFA requirement that all gliders receive a Daily Inspection (DI) before flying. The person
carrying out the inspection must be adequately trained and hold a Daily Inspector
authorisation.
A Daily Inspection is required:•
•
Before the first flight of the day.
After rigging the glider.
Common sense suggests that a decent Daily Inspection helps to prevent accidents, by
showing up significant faults in the glider before it flies. A person holding DI authorisation
therefore plays an important part in accident prevention. Such a person must operate with a
high degree of integrity, as the glider is being inspected for everyone's benefit on that day, not
just for one individual.
Pre-requisites for becoming a Daily Inspector
•
•
•
•
Be a member of GFA.
Be a solo pilot or have suitable background experience to assist in obtaining the
authorisation (e.g. LAME or aircraft apprentice).
Be at least 15 years of age.
Satisfactorily undertake a test as to his/her competence.
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Procedure for becoming a Daily Inspector
As well as experienced airworthiness inspectors, any gliding instructor of Level 1 or higher
rating is authorised to assist in the training of Daily Inspectors. By this means, a person may
learn about DIs during flying training. The reference for the training is the Daily Inspector
handbook.
When the training has been completed, the person undertakes an independent competence
test.
If the test is satisfactory, the person's logbook is appropriately endorsed. If not satisfactory,
the person is returned for further training.
DAILY INSPECTIONS - PRACTICAL
Purpose
There are five reasons for carrying out a Daily Inspection, viz,
1. To check for progressive deterioration caused by fair wear and tear.
2. To check for unserviceabilities or sudden deterioration which fall outside the category
of fair wear and tear.
3. To check for unreported damage.
4. To check that the glider is correctly rigged and the control circuits are properly
connected and locked.
5. To check that there are no tools or other loose objects lying around after maintenance.
When carrying out a DI, it is sometimes difficult to work out how far to go, how deep an
inspection to do. Using the above five points as a guide, the answer is to go deep enough to
satisfy your curiosity as to whether the glider can safely fly, without going to the extent of
starting to overhaul it. A DI is basically a visual inspection, using only those tools which are
necessary to gain access to essential parts of the structure, such as wing roots or underneath
nose fairings.
All gliders receive at least an annual in-depth inspection and we strongly encourage pilots to
carry out walk-round inspections before flight. The DI therefore bridges the gap between the
two. The five points listed will now be covered in more detail.
Progressive deterioration, fair wear and tear
Typical items on a glider which can deteriorate slowly over a twelve-month period are:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Wear in control cables
Lack of lubrication
Ingress of dirt into control circuits
Excessive free play in hinges and bearings
Signs of fatigue in metal structures
Cracking at stress points in all structures
Frayed or worn harnesses
This list is not exhaustive, but will give a good idea of the kind of thing to look for under the
heading of fair wear and tear.
Unserviceabilities, sudden deterioration
Examples of sudden deterioration include:•
•
•
•
•
Broken release springs
Water or insect nests in pitot/static systems
Instrument or radio failure
Flat tyres
A failed component in a control circuit
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Again, not exhaustive, but gives an idea of what can happen suddenly and unpredictably in
normal service.
Unreported damage
This is outside the category of normal service and occurs when the glider is either flown
outside its permitted limits or is damaged in some way on the ground. Examples include:•
•
•
•
In-flight overload, typically caused by mishandled aerobatics or flying too fast in rough
air.
Heavy landing
Ground loop on take-off or landing
Storage damage ("hangar rash")
Correct assembly and rigging
Although always important, particular attention must be paid to this category if the glider has
just been rigged, such as following an annual inspection or after a cross-country outlanding.
Examples of items in this category which require checking are:•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Controls are properly connected. This is checked by one person firmly holding each
control surface in turn, while another person tries to move the stick or pedals in the
cockpit.
No restriction in the movement of the controls and the range of movement is correct
Controls operate in the correct sense. Several cases have occurred of gliders
becoming airborne with reversed controls, having escaped several stages of
inspection.
Pins are safety-locked and any tapered pins are fully home
Locknuts are in safety
Turnbuckles are correctly locked and in safety
Castellated nuts are properly connected and safety-locked
Hatches and access panels are securely fastened after use
Loose objects, tools, etc.
This heading is really self-explanatory. A DI Inspector must have a high degree of curiosity,
bordering on suspicion, when it comes to the possibility of things lying around inside gliders.
A torch is handy for DIs, for poking around in some of the darker recesses, provided of course
that the DI inspector doesn't leave it in the glider!
Dirt in the cockpit can be as hazardous as any other solid object, when it comes to the
possibility of jamming a control circuit. Dried mud and clumps of grass off pilots' feet can work
their way under floorboards and end up among pushrods, torque tubes and cables, where
they can get up to all sorts of mischief. Vacuum-cleaning of cockpits is a regular DI chore and
must not be by-passed just because you are not in the mood or the power-point is far away.
The risk of jammed controls far outweighs any inconvenience in keeping the interior of the
glider clean.
Finally
Talk to your club instructors or airworthiness inspectors about DI training. Such training gives
a good insight into the construction and control systems of the aircraft you fly, and may
encourage you to seek more extensive qualifications in the airworthiness field. It will also make
you a more informed and sympathetic pilot. The reference document for learning about DIs is
the GFA Daily Inspector's Handbook available from the GFA website.
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CHAPTER 8 - BASIC NAVIGATION
When a glider goes cross-country, the basic principles of navigation apply. This chapter will
outline these principles in a way that will give sufficient information to help a new cross-country
pilot to avoid getting lost or straying into an area where he should not be.
MAPS AND CHARTS
GFA Operational Regulation, Section 4.5.1 requires a pilot in command to have access during
flight to appropriate documents and charts. For VFR flights these would be selected from the
ERSA, ERC, WAC, VNC and VTC as appropriate for the route being flown.
World Aeronautical Chart (WAC)
The most common type of map used by a glider pilot is the WAC. The projection used on these
maps is Lambert's Conformal Conic, a fact which is of little interest to a glider pilot. The scale
used on a WAC chart is 1:1,000,000, which is of great interest to us. Such a scale means that
large areas of country are covered by a single map, avoiding as far as possible the unpleasant
business of trying to change and unravel maps in flight. However, Australia is such a large
country that carrying more than one map is sometimes unavoidable. The WAC scale gives
relatively little detail, but in fact provides enough for the commonly used turning points and
navigation check points used by glider pilots to be quite easily identified. An example of a
section of WAC chart appears here.
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WAC charts are available from flying schools on many aerodromes or contact the
Airservices Australia On-line Store, The Australia-wide free call is 1300 306 630.
DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT THE RELEVANT WAC CHART
Visual Navigation Charts (VNC)
The VNC will help your plan your flight in relation to controlled airspace. It will also make the
transition from the WAC to the VTC when operating around terminal areas. Additionally, the
VNC will help you to navigate when nearing Controlled Airspace or Restricted or Danger
areas.
The VNC contains the following details:
•
•
•
•
•
topographical information at a scale of 1:500,000
controlled airspace and Flight Information Area boundaries
VHF area frequencies for contacting ATS
CTAF details
Designated Remote Area and Danger/Restricted Areas
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Visual Terminal Charts (VTC)
VTCs provide both aeronautical and topographical information at a scale of 1:250,000 for VFR
operations in the vicinity of major aerodromes. In some cases, these charts show the details
of tracks to be flown and significant landmarks which are used by pilots of VFR aircraft to avoid
inadvertent penetration of controlled airspaces.
Note: In addition to full topographical information, the VTCs also show the following details:
•
•
•
prohibited, restricted and danger areas within terminal areas;
control zones and associated control areas lanes of entry ATC check points; and
VFR approach points - over which pilots should fly when making VFR entry to a primary
control zone.
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The En-route Chart (ERC)
The ERC comes in two version:
The ERC Low (L) is drawn to various scales to accommodate significant air traffic route areas
and shows controlled airspace, prohibited, restricted and danger areas, air routes, ATS and
radio-navigation services. Aeronautical information within Terminal areas may not be
complete. Pilots should use a TAC or VTC.
The ERC High (H) is designed to provide selected information similar to that of the ERC (L)
series and are primarily for use by aircraft operating on transcontinental and intercapital routes
at FL200 and above.
A sample of the ERC (L)
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En-route Supplement Australia (ERSA)
The ERSA is a joint Military/Airservices publication which contains information vital for
planning a flight and for the pilot in flight. It contains pictorial presentations of all licensed
airports. Other information includes CTAF, airport physical characteristics, hours of operation,
visual ground aids, lighting, airport operators' details and additional information such as gliding
operational requirements.
A sample page from ERSA
TRACK, DRIFT, HEADING
When planning a cross-country flight, one of the first things a pilot does is to draw lines on the
map from the departure point to either the goal destination or to various turning points on a
closed-circuit task. These lines represent the path to be followed by the glider over the ground.
The correct term for such a line drawn on a map is the TRACK. To be finicky about it, the
strictly correct term would be Track Required, but the important thing to remember is that the
track followed by the glider over the ground is not necessarily the same as the direction in
which the glider is pointing in the air.
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If there is no wind blowing, the direction in which the glider is pointing in the air will exactly
match the track over the ground. But this is not a realistic situation; there is always some wind
blowing and this affects the glider's ability to track exactly where it wants to go. For example,
if the glider wants to track due north and there is a westerly wind blowing, the glider would be
blown off track. The amount by which it is blown off track is known as DRIFT. Before going
any further, two points must be made :1. The glider's direction in the air is always referred to in terms of the direction it is pointing
TOWARDS.
2. The wind direction is always referred to in terms of the direction it is blowing FROM.
If you think about it a bit further, it will be apparent that there will be no drift if the glider is flying
either directly into wind or directly down-wind.
Finally, the direction in which the glider is pointing in the air (which we now know is not
necessarily the same as the track it is following over the ground) is known as the HEADING.
Airspeed and groundspeed
The speed of the glider through the air is known rather obviously as its AIRSPEED. There is
no particular mystery about this, except that we now know from Chapter 9 that the indication
on the airspeed indicator is somewhat affected by air density and for that reason there is an
increasing error in the airspeed indication as the glider climbs to higher altitudes where the air
is less dense. However, for the purposes of this exercise in basic navigation, such density
errors will be ignored.
If there is no wind, the speed of the glider over the ground will be exactly the same as its speed
through the air. Combined with the fact that there is no drift in such circumstances, navigation
is very easy - the glider goes where it is pointed and gets there at a predictable rate of
progress.
Life gets more complicated when the wind starts blowing. If the wind is blowing in exactly the
same direction as the glider is pointing, in other words we have a tailwind, the speed over the
ground will be higher than the speed through the air. There will be no drift (track will be the
same as heading), just a HIGHER GROUNDSPEED.
Conversely, if the wind is blowing in exactly the
opposite direction to the glider's heading, once more
track and heading are the same but this time we have
a LOWER GROUNDSPEED.
Let's bring all these points together in a diagram. The
standard way of expressing in pictorial form the way
in which the wind affects direction and speed of a
glider is a diagram known as the TRIANGLE OF
VELOCITIES. Note that the term "velocity" is quite
specific; it means a combination of speed and
direction.
In the triangle of velocities diagram opposite, note the
following points: 1. Glider heading, represented by one
arrowhead. Anticipated distance travelled
represented by the length of the line.
2. Glider track, represented by two arrowheads.
Actual achieved distance after being affected
by the wind is represented by the length of the
line.
3. Wind velocity, three arrowheads.
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Remember once again that the wind is always measured by the direction it is blowing FROM.
It is very easy to get confused. Something else to confuse you is the fact that the wind velocity
line on the diagram is in fact a VECTOR, which means that, as well as the line representing
the direction from which the wind is blowing, the length of the line represents the actual
strength of the wind. The longer the line, the stronger the wind. This will have an obvious effect
on the drift, which is exactly what the diagram is meant to convey.
Referring back to the diagram, you will see that a cross-wind affects ground-speed as well as
drift. A wind blowing at 45 degrees onto the nose of the glider will have the obvious effect of
drifting it off to one side, but it will also have the less obvious effect of slowing it down. The
diagram shows clearly that the track line is shortened, which means that the glider has slowed
down and will not make the expected distance in the time originally planned. Try drawing a
few triangles of velocities with the wind coming from various directions at different strengths
and you will see the infinite variety of results which come out of the exercise.
Correcting for drift
It is all very well to realise that the glider will experience drift when exposed to a crosswind.
What we really need to do is work out how to correct the situation. It is not difficult to do - all
that is necessary is to determine how much drift is occurring and change the glider's heading
to compensate. If the glider is drifting 10 degrees to the right of its required track, an alteration
of heading by 10 degrees to the left will compensate. However, this will only work if the pilot
either knows beforehand that this amount of drift will occur or is astute enough to recognise
instantly in flight that the glider is experiencing this drift angle. If the glider is allowed to drift
some distance off track, a great deal more compensation will have to be made than the bare
10 degrees used as an example here.
It is possible to work out very accurately the amount of drift compensation necessary. The
calculations involved in such an exercise can be performed on a Navigational Computer, a
device owned by almost all power pilots and by very few glider pilots. Since accurate trackkeeping is neither possible nor desirable in gliders, because we need to follow thermals, a
basic understanding of the principles and concepts of the triangle of velocities is sufficient.
USE OF THE COMPASS
All gliders must carry a magnetic compass. It is the most basic of all navigational instruments
and is very simple to use. There are just a few fundamental principles which need to be known.
Divisions of the compass.
The compass is divided up into 360 degrees, which may be shown as the actual number of
degrees (clockwise from North and back to North again) or possibly by named divisions (NE,
SW, NNW, etc). Conventional aviation practice is to use the number of degrees clockwise
from North. For example, a north-easterly track would be described as 045 degrees, southwesterly as 225 degrees.
Use of a compass in flight is only practicable if the aircraft is on a fairly constant heading. This
allows the rotating part of the compass to settle down and the pilot can then get sensible
readings from it. A glider, which spends much of its time circling, makes reading a compass
very awkward. The pilot must make the best use of straight flight between thermals to get the
readings he needs. Some special glider compasses, like the British "Cook" compass have a
so-called "dead-beat" property, which dampens most of the swinging tendency. Such a
compass is recommended, if you can get one.
Magnetic North.
The needle of a compass does not point to True North; that is the North Pole on the ordinary
geographical map. It points to an entirely different place on the surface of the earth, a point
known as Magnetic North. It does not really matter exactly where Magnetic North is (as a
matter of interest it is somewhere between Canada and Greenland), as long as we know that
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there is a difference between the two Norths. This difference is known as VARIATION (or
magnetic declination). The actual value of variation at any given point on the earth's surface,
in number of degrees, is shown on a WAC chart by the purple dashed lines known as
ISOGONALS.
Let us imagine that you look at your map before a cross-country flight and you see that the
variation in the area of your intended track lines is, say, 10 degrees East. This means that
there is 10 degrees of difference between the isogonals and the grid lines in that part of the
world. If you try to get to the point you have marked on your map without taking this variation
into account, you will go astray.
The pilot must add or subtract the variation to the chosen heading to fly on the compass. But
how does he know whether to add or subtract? Fortunately a little jingle comes to our
assistance here. If the variation is west, the pilot will add the variation to the compass reading.
This results in the magnetic heading being greater than the true heading. The opposite is the
case for easterly variation.
VARIATION WEST, MAGNETIC BEST. VARIATION EAST, MAGNETIC LEAST
A compass will always point along the lines of magnetic force (which converge on what are
called the magnetic poles). As the earth's magnetic field varies over time, the positions of the
north and south magnetic poles gradually change. The magnetic declination at a given
location also changes over time.
What if you get lost?
Every pilot gets lost at least once. Some pilots make more of a habit of it than others. It is
impossible to cover all contingencies in a book such as this, so a short check-list of
recommended actions is offered:
•
DON'T PANIC. Realisation that you are lost is an unpleasant feeling, but it's not the
end of the world.
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•
•
•
•
•
If you have been using the compass for basic track-keeping, go back to it and establish
the last heading you were flying to maintain the track you wanted. Keep flying that
heading until you find something that you can identify.
If, in spite of all your efforts, you are still well and truly lost, it is best to land as soon as
you can in the safest available landing area. This is certainly true if you are not very
high (say below 3,000ft AGL).
If you are high (say above 8,000ft AGL) and it is getting late in the afternoon, it will get
dark on the ground while it is still quite light up at your level. It takes a modern glider
like a Discus about three-quarters of an hour to descend from 8,000ft to circuit height
in still air at minimum sink speed, so you will need to make a determined effort to get
down into a safe landable area, even though you don't know where you are. This
means that a conscious decision must be made to stop worrying about your
whereabouts and concentrate on a safe landing. There will probably be someone on
the ground who will be delighted to tell you where you are.
If you have a radio on board, when you realise that you are lost, TELL SOMEONE.
There is plenty of help available and many pilots have been steered back to an area
they recognise by talking to other glider pilots in the air or on the ground.
After you have landed and have located a telephone, make contact with your base as
a matter of first priority. This is of paramount importance, because the people back at
base will be compelled to take Search and Rescue (SAR) action on your behalf if they
hear nothing from you.
Golden Rules to prevent getting lost
There are some golden rules for visual navigation :1. Never go cross-country without the relevant maps.
2. Always read from the map to the ground, never from the ground to the map. Although
the latter technique can be made to work for some of the time, it has the unfortunate
side-effect of convincing you that the feature you are trying to identify is the one you
want to see, not the one that it really is. Once this has occurred, getting lost is a virtual
certainty. Much better to pick out the features from the map (silo, road/river
intersection, etc.) and search for them on the ground. It’s just as easy to do and works
every time.
3. In summer, the sun tracks from due east to due west. In winter it tracks from northeast to north-west. Fence lines generally run north-south and east-west.
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CHAPTER 9 - BASIC SOARING METEOROLOGY
The real art in becoming a soaring pilot lies in a good understanding of the weather. In Chapter
1 we covered the various types of weather conditions which enable a glider to stay in the air,
gain height and maybe fly cross-country. Now we will cover in a little more detail the aspects
of weather which a glider pilot needs to understand in order to use his glider to optimum effect.
ATMOSPHERIC STABILITY AND THE DRY ADIABATIC LAPSE RATE
One of the factors which govern whether a glider is likely to be able to soar or not is the
"stability" or "instability" of the atmosphere. The definition of these terms is essential
knowledge for the soaring pilot. Briefly, the two terms can be described as follows:-
Stability
A thermal comes into existence because the sun heats a particular area of ground to a higher
temperature than surrounding terrain. The heated ground in turn heats the air immediately
above it. Eventually this air will rise because it is warmer than the air which surrounds it. It will
continue to rise for as long as it remains warmer than the general atmosphere around it.
As a general rule, the temperature of air gets less as the height above the earth's surface is
increased. This rule applies to thermals as well as to the atmosphere generally. Thermals
always cool at a fixed rate, which is 3 degrees Celsius for every 1,000ft gain of height. The
general atmosphere may or may not cool at this rate - sometimes it is more, sometimes less.
It varies from day to day.
If a thermal (cooling at 3
degrees per 1,000ft) rises
above a local hot-spot on the
ground and the surrounding (or
environmental) air is cooling at
the rate of 2 degrees per
1,000ft, the thermal soon gets to
the stage where it cools to the
same temperature as its
surroundings. At this point it
stops ascending and such
conditions are said to be stable.
Stable conditions are not
generally regarded as being
very good for thermal soaring,
but they can work quite well in
the height of an Australian
summer, when there is a lot of
sunshine and local hot-spots
become very hot indeed. Such
stable days are very late starters, it being quite common to wait until 3pm before thermals are
rising to usable levels. When they do get going, though, they are often strong and go to
considerable heights. The following diagram illustrates the basic principle of atmospheric
stability
The change in temperature with an increase in height is known as the "Lapse Rate". The rate
of 3 degrees per 1,000ft, at which a thermal always cools in clear air, is known as the Dry
Adiabatic Lapse Rate (DALR, being dry air, cooling without mixing of air with its surrounds).
The rate at which the surrounding air cools is known as the Environmental Lapse Rate (ELR).
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Instability
As might be imagined, instability is
the reverse of stability.
Once again, a thermal cools at the
DALR as it ascends. If the ELR in
this example is 3.5 degrees per
1,000ft (a bit extreme, but it could
happen), the thermal remains
hotter than its surrounds as it
climbs. This encourages the
thermal to keep climbing until the
environmental air changes its
pattern and the two temperatures
equalise. See diagram.
The above arguments apply to
"dry air" thermals. A different set
of rules apply if we introduce some
moisture into the air.
DEW POINT
There is always some moisture in
the atmosphere. Even the hottest Australian summer day will contain some moisture in the
air, even though the actual amount may be very low. The unseen moisture which is present in
the air is known as water vapour and the ability of the air to hold this water vapour in
suspension depends on the air temperature. The hotter the air, the more water vapour can be
present.
When the air is cooled, its ability to contain the water vapour is reduced. A point is reached
where the air temperature is too low to keep the water vapour in suspension any longer and it
condenses out into visible water droplets. These water droplets are what we call cloud.
The temperature at which the air transforms its water vapour into visible water droplets is
called the DEW POINT.
THE SATURATED ADIABATIC LAPSE RATE
We know that a thermal cools at a fixed rate as it ascends in clear air. We also know that it
probably contains a fair amount of invisible moisture. The thermal may keep ascending until a
point is reached where it has become so cool that the moisture can no longer exist in
suspension in the air and it condenses into visible droplets. The air has been cooled to its Dew
Point and a cloud has been formed.
As soon as the cloud is formed, the air is said to be saturated. At this point, latent heat is
released due to the change of state from water vapour to visible water droplets. This release
of heat slows down the rate of cooling of the thermal. Thermals ascending inside clouds cool
at a rate less than their lapse rate in clear air. They cool at about 1.5 degrees per 1,000ft in
saturated air (it varies a bit, but this is reasonable guide). This new rate is known as the
SATURATED ADIABATIC LAPSE RATE (SALR).
The combination of high moisture content of the air, a high degree of surface heating and an
unstable ELR results in a tendency for large convection clouds to form. This is the breeding
ground for thunderstorms. A weather forecast which contains warnings of these conditions
being likely must be treated with great caution by the soaring pilot. The attraction of instability
can turn into the destructive power of a convective storm in a very short time indeed.
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PRESSURE PATTERNS
Most of us are familiar with the weather maps presented on television and in the newspapers.
The patterns of high and low pressure follow a set of natural laws which we should try to
understand if we are to predict the likelihood of soaring conditions.
The basic principles are very simple. Air decreases in pressure with an increase in height. It
also decreases in temperature because the air expands as it ascends (air will always cool
when expanded and heat up when compressed - remember the warming of a bicycle pump
when you pump up a tyre). If large- scale heating of the air occurs at the surface of the earth
(over a desert, for example), there will be similarly large-scale lifting of the air over that region.
This results in pressure variations at high level. This in turn affects the pressure at the surface,
because of the variation in the pressure exerted by the "columns of air" above the various
points on the earth.
Variations in surface pressure around the world create a flow of air (wind) from high to low
pressure. Winds are simply the result of nature trying to equalise the pressure over the earth's
surface. They never quite succeed in doing this, which is why there is always some wind
blowing somewhere in the world.
There is just one complication. Although the wind tries to blow in a straight line from high to
low pressure, the rotation of the earth does not allow this to happen. The straight high-to-low
flow is bent into a spiral pattern as the so-called "coriolis" force of the earth's rotation exerts
its influence.
The result of this coriolis force is that winds in areas of high pressure tend to blow anticlockwise around the centre and areas of low pressure develop a clockwise rotation. This is
the situation in the Southern Hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere the rotation is the other
way round.
Areas of low pressure are known as depressions, or in an extreme form, cyclones. Low
pressure implies an unstable air mass, because the air is always trying to rise inside a
depression. For this reason, depressions can become violent if heated by tropical
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temperatures and they may turn into cyclones (hurricanes or typhoons in the Northern
Hemisphere). Even if they do not turn violent, depressions are generally fairly windy areas.
Anticyclones imply a subsidence of the entire air mass towards the surface. This creates a
stable air mass, inhibiting thermal development. For this reason anticyclones are generally
benign in terms of bad weather, except that they can encourage the development of fog under
some conditions. They are generally areas of light winds, although quite strong winds may
precede an impending change in the weather, especially in southern Australia.
Pressure systems move from west to east in Australia. Processions of anticyclones and
depressions are in perpetual motion across the continent. They are accompanied by
disturbances in the weather which directly result from their interaction with each other.
FRONTS
Air is not a good mixer. Air masses of two different temperatures can exist alongside each
other for a long time without any sign of mixing, although eventually they will show signs of
starting to mix.
When air flows from high pressure to low pressure, the chances are that a temperature
difference will occur due to the introduction of "new" air to "old" air. The two masses of air will
not mix and a demarcation line is formed between the two. This line is known as a FRONT.
A front starts as a fairly straight line of demarcation between two different air masses. Very
soon, though, our old friend coriolis gets to work and combines with the friction which inevitably
exists between the two masses. The combination of these two forces twists the fronts into a
characteristic pattern which is familiar to everyone who has seen a weather map. The main
types of fronts are Warm Front and Cold Front.
Warm front
A warm front describes the process where warm air overtakes cold air. Warm air is less dense
and therefore climbs up over the cold air when it meets it. The rate at which the warm air rises
up the face of the cold air is very slow and for this reason the conditions found in the vicinity
of a warm front are generally benign. They may be overcast and rainy, but they will not be
violent. Warm fronts tend to take a long time to pass and they leave warm, moist air in their
wake.
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Cold front.
This results from cold air overtaking warm air. The denser cold air undercuts the warm air,
forcing it upwards very rapidly. The conditions in a cold front are generally blustery with quite
heavy rain and often thunderstorms. Cold fronts tend to pass fairly quickly and they leave cold
and showery conditions in their wake, which usually clear very quickly to good unstable
soaring conditions.
Warm fronts are rare in mainland Australia. Maybe one or two will get to the southern coast of
the mainland, although more than this may be experienced in Tasmania. The reason for this
is that the fronts develop way to the south-west of Australia and the warm front (which is
usually ahead of the cold front) has cleared to the south before the pressure pattern has moved
close enough to influence our weather.
HAZARDOUS WEATHER
There are several kinds of hazardous weather which can affect gliding operations.
Strong winds.
Although these are not usually hazardous to an airborne glider, they may be to a glider on the
ground. Even an airborne glider is not completely immune to the effects of strong winds, as
wind shear and wind gradient near the ground are known problem areas for glider pilots.
A glider on the ground is very vulnerable to the effects of strong winds. A typical training twoseater stalls at about 34 knots fully laden. At 35 knots it is flying quite well. Take away the
weight of the two occupants (which constitute about 40% of the total weight of the glider) and
its stall speed will be reduced to somewhere in the low 20s. With 25 knots of wind blowing
over its wings, it will fly. An unattended glider in a strong wind is a firm candidate for being
blown over unless it is properly secured. See Chapter 5.
Thunderstorms.
These are obviously hazardous. Severe turbulence, extreme up and downdraughts, hail and
lightning can all be deadly to a glider which gets caught under or near the edge of a
thunderstorm. This is especially true in the tropics, where the vertical extent of such storms
gives them a violence which can easily tear a glider apart.
There is one hazard associated with thunderstorms which may not be obvious. This is the
"downburst" phenomenon (sometimes referred to as "microburst"), a rapidly descending
tongue of cold air emanating from the edge of a fully-developed storm. Apart from the extreme
rates of descent which exist in such downbursts, they have a dramatic effect on surface winds
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when they arrive on the ground. They can make their presence felt up to 8km from the edge
of a large storm, in a position where a glider pilot could believe himself to be safe from serious
effects of the storm. A glider trying to outrun the storm and make a precautionary outlanding
would be seriously hazarded by the downburst and may find it impossible to control the glider
in the extremely strong and turbulent wind near the ground.
A microburst
The motto is - avoid large storms, not by a small margin of 2 km or so - give them a very wide
berth indeed. There are forces at work well outside the immediate vicinity of these storms and
those forces are invisible to the eye.
Line squalls.
A squall line.
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These can be described as miniature cold fronts of an extreme kind. Some of them give plenty
of warning of their arrival, with cloud and rain heralding their approach. Others occur in clear
air and the first hint of trouble is severe gusting of the wind, enough to overturn gliders and
even tear them from their tie-down points.
Clear-air line squalls are fairly common in southern Australia and several gliders have been
lost by being left out in the open instead of being hangared for the night. They seem to be
exclusively a summer occurrence, related to instability and high temperatures. All that can be
said about them is - expect the possibility of line squalls on very hot summer days if there has
been very good lift around or you know (because of the forecast) that the air is very unstable.
Hail.
This is usually associated with thunderstorms or at least with very large vertical development
of clouds. Gliders or tugs left out in hail storms will definitely get damaged, perhaps beyond
repair. If a hail storm or heavy shower is seen approaching, get the gliders and tugs under
cover without delay. Light hail, up to about 5mm in diameter, usually appears as white streaks
hanging down from the approaching clouds. Heavy hail, where the ice is glazed and the
diameter can be up to golf-ball size, appear as green streaks from the clouds. On no account
should any flying machine be left out in the path of such a storm. An airborne glider must
obviously avoid such areas like the plague.
A severe thunderstorm heads toward Adelaide in South Australia.
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CHAPTER 10 - BASIC SOARING TECHNIQUES
THERMAL SOARING
Thermal sources
Thermals form when a patch of ground becomes locally heated to a higher temperature than
the general terrain. A number of factors govern whether a thermal is likely to form or not. These
include the colour of the terrain, its composition, vegetation, moisture content and the angle
at which the sun's rays strike the surface.
Colour
It is well-known that darker colours absorb more heat than lighter colours. Try this on a glider
- feel the temperature of a white fibreglass wing and then feel the temperature of the darker
red at the wingtip. There is an appreciable difference.
The same applies to the earth's surface. Dark earth colours absorb more heat and, by a
process of conduction, spread this downward through the soil. Lighter colours absorb less
heat and reflect more of it back to the atmosphere.
Insolation (solar energy) conducted into the soil may do some useful work for the farmer, but
does not help the soaring pilot very much, as the surface does not get heated enough to form
a thermal. On the other hand, insolation reflected back into the atmosphere is lost for ever.
Very dark surfaces, such as newly-ploughed paddocks, could therefore be a disappointment
if they are relied upon to produce a thermal. So can very light surfaces, such as salt-pans.
What is needed is a surface which will get hot enough to heat the air above it, neither
conducting it away into the soil nor reflecting it back into the atmosphere.
All things considered, there are so many factors involved in the production of thermals that it
is difficult to be hard and fast about it. The main thing is to be aware that different surfaces
heat up at different rates and to be conscious of large contrasts in the patchwork of colours
which make up the landscape.
Composition
There are many different surfaces which may affect the amount of local heating. Rock outcrops
will heat up at a different rate from loose sand. Add this to the effect of the different colours
and you can see that the picture is becoming quite complex.
Lakes are generally useless as thermal sources. They reflect most of the solar energy that
hits them and, even in summer, remain quite cold.
Vegetation
Cereal crops, very common in Australia, are generally quite good from the point of view of
thermal production. They do not reflect too much insolation and they do not result in much
conduction of heat away from the surface. If the crop is reasonably long, it can trap heated air
for long enough to form a thermal bubble, which only needs a trigger (such as a light breeze)
to cause a bubble to leave the ground.
Trees use up much of the solar energy given to them. In the case of a large group of trees,
the sun's energy is largely absorbed by the trees themselves, much of this energy never
reaching the ground. The solar energy entrapped by the trees is used mainly to evaporate
from the leaves much of the moisture which the tree has absorbed from the ground. This
process is known as evapo-transpiration. However, although forested area are generally not
good thermal sources in the early part of the day, they can often be relied upon later in the
day to provide quite large areas of gentle lift.
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Moisture content
If there is large moisture content in the soil, much of the sun's energy will be used in
evaporating this. Little or none may be left over to heat the surface itself. This accounts for
why irrigation areas are quite rightly regarded as "sink-holes" for glider pilots.
The angle at which the sun's rays strike the ground
The shallower the angle at which insolation strikes the ground, the less heating effect it will
have. Hills and slopes facing the sun will usually produce local hot-spots, creating useful
thermal sources. It is even better if the sun-facing slope is sheltered from any cooling wind
which might be blowing - the so-called "wind-shadow" effect.
Thermal shapes and lift distribution
Thermals come in all shapes and sizes and it is impossible to generalise. The late "Wally"
Wallington, probably the finest of all soaring meteorologists, said that thermals are as varied
as trees around the world, no two are exactly alike and no particular specimen can be
described as typical of all the others (Meteorology for Glider Pilots).
However, thanks to research, we know enough about them to have a general idea of their
shape and characteristics. It is generally agreed that a thermal, once it has broken free of the
ground and more or less organised itself, forms itself into a "vortex ring". This resembles a
smoke-ring, which can occasionally be seen from a cigarette, or in a more extreme form, a
nuclear explosion. From the soaring point of view, the important feature of a vortex ring is that
the central core of the rising ring ascends at a greater rate than the ring as a whole. The
diagram below gives a rough idea.
This vertical circulation of a doughnut-shaped vortex ring accounts for why thermals have
"cores" which give much better climb rates at the centre than they do at the edges.
Because of the vortex ring nature of thermals, a glider may experience a good rate of climb
when it is well-established in the core, about half-way up the "doughnut", but another glider
joining the thermal a few hundred feet underneath may only find weak and scrappy lift, or may
find nothing at all. This is a common experience for all glider pilots.
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The fact that the best climb-rate will be found in the core, weakening outside the core and
eventually turning into strong sink just outside the thermal, means that a pilot must learn the
skill of turning quite steeply in order to get the best out of each thermal. Thermal turns typically
use 40 degrees of bank or more and it is fair to say that most pilots in the early stages of
learning to soar are reluctant to use more than about 20 degrees of bank. Make sure you get
plenty of instruction in steeper turns, stressing accuracy of flying and keeping everything under
close control, including of course the airspeed and control coordination. It is in nobody's
interest to have you losing control and spinning down on top of another glider a couple of
hundred feet below.
Locating a thermal
If cumulus clouds are present, locating thermals is not difficult. Each cumulus is fed by its own
thermal and you just have to head off underneath the cloud to find it. However, you could still
get caught. The life cycle of a typical fair-weather cumulus cloud is quite short, probably less
than twenty minutes, so it is quite possible that by the time you get there, the thermal that
originally formed the cloud has long gone. This can leave you with a feeling of considerable
disappointment.
The trick is to decide which of the clouds you can see in the sky are growing, which have
stagnated and which are dying. It is difficult to put this into words, but probably the closest one
can get is to say that growing clouds have a well-defined base and hard, well-formed edges.
Dying clouds are much more ragged in appearance, both at their bases and around the edges.
If you think picking the right cloud is a bit of a lottery, try finding a thermal in "blue" conditions;
that is without any cloud. Australia being for the most part an arid country, most of our thermals
do not contain enough moisture to condense out into cumulus clouds. Australian glider pilots
must become adept at finding and using thermals without any beacons in the sky to guide
them.
The simplest method is the so-called "forest theory". This says that, if you blindfold a man and
let him wander in a forest, sooner or later he is bound to bump into a tree. A remarkable
amount of thermal searching in blue conditions follows this random procedure. It is surprisingly
successful.
Locating a thermal is partly a matter of seeking out likely sources, partly a matter of feel for
the subtle changes which occur in the air as a thermal is approached. For instance, as the
glider gets close to a thermal, there will be an increase in sink as it traverses the air
immediately surrounding the vortex ring. This will then be followed by a noticeable "surge"
under the glider, probably accompanied by an increase in airspeed as the glider encounters
the horizontal gusts associated with the vertical gusts in the thermal. Some pilots also claim
that they can see the horizon fall away in the canopy as the thermal is entered. If this works
for you, use it. Finally, the variometer will confirm what the seat of your pants has been trying
to tell you.
Centring a thermal
Once a thermal has been found, the next thing is to decide which way to turn. There are two
ways to approach this decision. You can either take pot luck and turn in any direction at
random, on the basis that you can re-adjust when you know a bit more about the thermal. Or
you can try to feel whether the main surge occurred under one wing rather than the other. If
you can feel that the surge occurred under, say, the left wing, the thermal lies to the left side
and you should turn in that direction.
Before going any further, this is a good opportunity to reinforce the need for good airmanship
at all times, but especially when turning. When faced with the difficulties of thermal location
and centring in the early stages, it is easy to forget that a good lookout is essential if you are
not to become a menace to other airspace users. Never, never turn without "clearing your
turn" first by means of keeping a good lookout.
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An audio device connected to or built into the variometer is a useful aid to keeping the head
out of the cockpit during thermalling. Some may say it is essential and it is difficult to argue
with this.
Now to locate the strongest part of the thermal, the so-called core. This is a process known
as "centring" and is an important skill to acquire. A pilot who can locate a core quickly and
circle the glider entirely within this core is destined to become a very efficient soaring pilot.
The first clue occurs at the moment you first encounter the thermal. If you feel that a wing is
being lifted, but there is little or no corresponding lift indication on the variometer, you are well
to the side of the core and you need to turn immediately toward the wing that was pushed up.
Make a heading change of about 45 degrees, and then straighten out. If the variometer shows
an increase in lift, maintain your new heading for about two seconds, then turn once again in
the direction you were turning before. This should take you closer to the core and you should
monitor the vario indication (but don't forget a careful lookout too - this is where the audio vario
really comes into its own).
You may be lucky and find that this does in fact result in a good strong lift indication all round
the circle. If it does, all well and good. If it doesn't, you have a choice.
One choice is to use the "straighten on the surge" method, where you simply straighten the
glider when you feel the maximum surge, then resume the turn in the same direction after two
or three seconds. This has the effect of shifting the glider towards the core. See below.
Another choice is the so-called "Huth" method, perfected by the famous German soaring pilot
Heinz Huth in the 1950s. In this method, when the glider flies out of the thermal, keep circling
until it comes back into the lift. At this point, after a pause of about a second, the bank is
steepened and the rate of turn thus increased. Maintain this increased bank angle for not quite
a complete circle, say about 300 degrees, then go back to the bank angle you had before. The
diagram below illustrates the principle.
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Maximising rate of climb in a thermal
One of the most common questions asked by new soaring pilots is "how much bank should I
use in a thermal"? Unfortunately there is no single answer to this riddle. It depends on a
number of factors. About the only thing which can be said with certainty is that almost all pilots
learning to soar use far too little bank and their climb rate suffers as a consequence.
Advocates of very steep bank angles claim that this is the only way to get into the real core of
the thermal. Advocates of lesser bank angles reply that the greater sink rate of the glider at
steep bank-angles negates any advantage that might be gained by banking steeply, and that
a lesser bank angle is more efficient. Both are right.
The answer to the bank-angle question is that it depends on the thermal. If the core is strong
and the thermal not very wide, the steeper bank angles undoubtedly work better. This is the
situation which might exist in the lower levels of a thermal. Higher up, the thermal widens out
and it may be better to ease off the bank angle a little and reduce the glider's sink rate.
The important thing is that there is no "standard" thermal, any more than there is a standard
thermalling method. You must be prepared to use any or all techniques in search of the most
efficient use of each thermal.
Finally, what speed to use? Theoretically the glider will lose the minimum amount of height at
the speed for minimum sink rate. In level flight, this is about 7 knots above the stall speed.
However, if the glider is banked, it will need an extra margin of speed because of the increased
stalling speed in a turn, especially if you have chosen to use 40 degrees of bank or more.
Furthermore, aileron control is often not very good at minimum sink speed and it is prudent to
add a little to improve this. All things considered, unless the thermal is silky smooth (most are
not), a reasonable speed to thermal a glider would be its maximum L/D speed, which is a little
higher and a little less efficient than min sink speed in terms of sink rate, but gives a better
margin of control and greater peace of mind.
Losing a thermal
Thermals are lost for a number of reasons. The two most common reasons are failure to fly
the glider accurately enough, and the thermal distorting or bending during its climb.
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Failure to fly accurately enough
After a thermal has been found, accurate flying is needed to keep it. Variations in speed or
bank-angle change the radius of turn of the glider and are a major cause of pilots losing
thermals. Accurate control of attitude and maintaining a constant bank angle are the biggest
contributions a pilot can make to keeping a thermal which has taken so much effort to find.
Thermal changing its shape or bending as it climbs
As a general rule, thermals expand as they climb. This may demand that the pilot changes the
bank angle to stay in the best lift as height is gained. If you don't do this, the thermal may
appear to peter out and, to all intents and purposes, has disappeared. In fact it is probably still
there, but the pilot has lost it through failure to adapt to change as the thermal ascends.
Thermals may change their shape in other ways too. If the wind changes with height, which it
usually does, it can cause thermals to "shear", that is to suddenly move off to one side. This
occurs without warning and the pilot has to be alert for any sign of rapidly deteriorating lift, so
that a decision can be made whether to carry out a search for the thermal or whether in fact
you have reached the top.
There is another variation to consider. Thermals may have more than one core. In this case,
if you manage to identify that such is the case, you will have to decide whether it is more
profitable to try to centre on one strong core (which may be very narrow) or go from one core
to another at a reduced bank angle, but still at an acceptable overall rate of climb.
Re-locating a lost thermal
Many pilots give up the ghost when they lose a thermal. It may be of course that the thermal
has stopped climbing or has petered out to virtually nothing. This can often be checked, either
by noting the base of any clouds which may be present, or by observing the performance of
other gliders in the vicinity. If there are others well above you, the chances are that the thermal
is still there and you have lost it.
At the risk of stating the obvious, the first thing to do is to search for the lost thermal. On the
assumption that it is a blue day and you have no clouds for guidance, this is best accomplished
by firstly reducing your angle of bank, thereby increasing the radius of turn. It may be that the
increased turn radius will take you back into lift at some part of the circle, whereupon you can
re-centre on the core as per the "centring a thermal" section.
If this does not work, you have an awkward decision to make. Do you search upwind,
downwind, crosswind or completely at random? Going downwind may work quite well, as the
thermal may "bend" in a downwind direction due to an increase in wind-strength with height.
Going downwind also has the advantage of higher groundspeed and thus greater chance of
coverage of thermal-producing terrain.
On the other hand, there are some days when the wind decreases in strength with height. In
this case, the thermals will appear to "bend" into wind and you will probably profit by searching
in an into-wind direction.
Selection of a "working height band".
This is a basic cross-country skill. Thermals seldom ascend at a constant rate over their entire
height-span. Typically (if we can assume for a moment that there is such a thing as a "typical"
thermal) the climb-rate might be a bit weak near the ground, strengthen to achieve a much
better climb-rate as it gets higher, but then taper off to a lesser rate as it approaches
temperature equilibrium with the surrounding air.
In their early days of using thermals, pilots naturally want to see how high they can get. They
stay with the thermal until they reach the very top, even though the climb-rate tapers off to a
pretty feeble rate in the last few hundred feet. They do this in every thermal they come across.
This is not an economical way to use thermals for cross-country flying, and the pilot needs to
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acquire the knack of leaving the thermal when the rate of climb falls off to an uneconomical
level, in order to maximise cross-country speed (and therefore distance covered).
In the same way, the pilot will notice that it may be a bit of a struggle to get started in the
thermal, as thermals can often be weak and narrow low down. The pilot will apply this
knowledge on any given day, by remembering that below, say 3,000 feet, thermals were
broken and narrow, excellent between 3,000 and 6,000 feet and began weakening noticeably
above 6,000 feet. This establishes a "working height band" for that sector of the cross-country
flight of 3,000 to 6,000 feet.
The height band will not remain constant throughout the day, but will vary as the daily
temperatures vary, probably reaching a peak of thermal strength in the mid-to late afternoon.
The pilot must constantly assess the behaviour of each thermal in order to update the
information to make the most efficient use of the thermals.
HILL SOARING
The mechanics of hill soaring
Hill soaring, otherwise known as ridge or slope soaring, is the simplest of all soaring
techniques to understand and apply. However, like all skills, there are precautions to observe
and specific techniques to understand.
Hill lift occurs when the wind blows toward a suitable hill. Some requirements are:1. A sensible minimum height for a suitable hill is at least 300 feet higher than the
surrounding terrain. Even so, a pilot must be rated for outlandings before soaring on
this kind of hill, because even a slight reduction in wind-strength may dump a glider
very quickly and a landing quickly becomes necessary if this occurs. For operations on
hills of this rather low height, the assumption is made that the glider takes off from a
strip at the bottom of the hill on the windward side, or is approaching the hill from the
windward side on a cross-country flight.
2. If the glider is to be launched, and intends to land, on top of the hill, the hill should be
at least double that height. Otherwise, the hill lift may not work to sufficient height to
enable a circuit to be carried out for a safe landing on top.
3. Ideally the hill should slope at somewhere between 20 and 45 degrees. Shallower hills
do work, but they are not as reliable and need more wind to produce a useable strength
of lift. Steeper hills produce narrower updrafts and in some cases a vortex may form
toward the bottom of the hill, effectively reversing the flow and causing trouble for a
glider which gets low.
4. The wind should be blowing as close as possible to 90 degrees to the hill. Anything
less than 90 degrees detracts from the strength of the hill lift.
5. The hill should not be too short. Anything less than about 2 kms in length may persuade
the wind to blow around the ends rather than climb over the top. Even 2 kms may not
be enough; some pilots discovered a few years ago that even Ayers Rock did not work
in quite a brisk wind, probably because of this phenomenon.
6. Even though there is always some variation of wind with height, the mistake is
sometimes made of launching a glider if there are signs of wind at the top of a hill, even
though it may be calm in the valley. The hill will not produce lift under these
circumstances - the wind must blow all the way from bottom to top.
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"OSTIV" diagrams
Where to find the best lift
If you get to the hill below hill-top height, you will need to go quite close to the hill in order to
find lift, especially if the wind is not very strong. This sometimes means flying at only a
wingspan away from the hill. This is a tricky business and should not be experimented with.
Get some dual instruction from a competent hill-soaring instructor.
As height is gained, hill lift usually strengthens. If you are flying above the top of the hill, it will
be advantageous to move away from the hill, into wind. When well clear of the hill, say as far
above the hill as the hill is above the valley, the best lift will usually be found along a line
approximately above the bottom of the hill.
The effect of atmospheric stability on hill soaring
If the air is unstable, thermals will probably form and these will mingle with the hill lift to cause
some interesting effects. In the case of flying into a thermal which is mixed with hill lift, the
climb rate can become very high and it is important to exercise good airmanship in using such
thermals. When you recognize that you have hit a thermal embedded in hill lift, if you are below
or close to the top of the hill, it is not prudent to circle in the lift. Given the vagaries of any kind
of lift, the thermal may let you down at the very moment you are pointing straight at the hill. It
is best to carry out "S" turns in this kind of mixed lift, all turns being away from the hill, until
you are well clear of the hill and circling becomes safe.
The mixing of the climbing part of a thermal with hill lift has the obvious effect of greatly
increasing the total lift. What may not be so obvious is that the sinking part of a thermal can
sometimes negate the hill lift, leaving the glider going nowhere fast, or even worse starting to
sink toward the hill. Don't panic, concentrate on keeping a safe distance from the hill and either
resume using hill lift a bit later or use the rising part of the thermal if you meet it.
Neutral stability usually gives the best and most predictable hill-soaring conditions. If
conditions are very stable, it is possible that the air may get blocked and in extreme cases
may flow horizontally along the slope instead of upwards.
When hill soaring, remember that there may be other gliders around, and you must
accommodate them as well as yourself. This brings us to the special rules for hill soaring.
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Special rules for hill soaring
1. All turns must be outwards, i.e. away from the hill.
2. A glider overtaking another glider when hill soaring shall do so by passing between the
overtaken glider and the hill.
3. If two gliders approach each other head-on while hill soaring, the glider which has the
hill to its left shall give way by turning away from the hill.
4. When hill soaring, a glider shall not be flown lower than 100 feet above ground when
within 100 metres horizontally of a person, dwelling or public road.
WAVE SOARING
The formation of lee standing waves
In the first chapter of this book, mention was made of a particularly smooth form of lift which
was discovered, almost by accident, in the 1930s. This is the form of lift known to us as wave
lift.
The waves form in the lee of a mountain range in certain wind conditions. The waves remain
stationary with respect to the ground, the wind blowing through them. Hence the full title of
"lee standing wave lift", usually abbreviated by glider pilots to just "wave lift".
It is generally recognized that wave lift will form if the following conditions are met:1. The wind is blowing at close to 90 degrees to the mountain range.
2. The mountain range has a fairly steep windward slope and preferably a steeper
leeward slope.
3. The wind increases in strength with height but maintains a fairly constant direction.
As might be appreciated, the complete set of conditions for the formation of lee standing waves
is more complex than this rather simplified explanation, but it gives an idea of what is required.
When waves form, they stream downwind of the mountains or hills which triggered them. The
wavelength (distance between peaks) of the waves remains constant, whereas the amplitude
decreases steadily until the wave system peters out some distance downwind of the hills.
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Use of wave lift
Wave lift differs in one important way from thermal and hill lift. Because wave lift can go to
great heights (the Australian height record is over 34.000 feet and the world record over
48,000 feet), oxygen needs to be carried on virtually every wave flight. It goes without saying
that pilots using oxygen equipment must be properly trained in its use.
Wave lift is not only useful for height gains, but can be used for cross-country flights. Distances
of over 2,000 kms are now being flown in New Zealand and such flights are bound to become
popular.
Mountain waves often produce visible proof of their existence in the form of characteristic
"eyebrow" clouds, known as lenticulars (lens-shaped). These clouds are very smooth in their
outline and do not drift with the wind, but remain stationary over the ground.
In the immediate lee of the mountain range, underneath the first of the lee waves, is an area
known as the "rotor". It is well-named, as the air rotates rapidly in this area and produces
severe turbulence. Gliders sometimes have to use the lift on the upgoing part of the rotor in
order to gain access to the smooth wave lift on the windward side. It is a very rough ride indeed
and there have been cases in the USA (none in Australia) of gliders breaking up in the rotor.
It is usually, but not always, marked with a cloud, which is invariably ragged in appearance
and visibly rotating like a giant ferris wheel. If you look closely, you might even spot the "Keep
Out" sign pinned to it!
Wave in Omarama, NZ.
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CHAPTER 11 - PHYSIOLOGICAL FACTORS
GENERAL
Gliding combines mental and physical activity which can take its toll on its participants. There
are several aspects to consider.
THE WEATHER
Gliding is dependent upon good weather for successful soaring. This often means hot days,
usually with blue skies and intense sunlight. Gliding launch-points usually have little shade
and people are exposed to these harsh conditions for many hours in a day. Not surprisingly,
this has a detrimental effect on human performance.
Precautions need to be taken against the effects of heat and exposure to sunlight. These
precautions are simple and it is foolish to ignore them.
DEHYDRATION AND HEAT STRESS
It is impossible to drink too much water during a day's gliding. Most pilots drink far too little.
Heavy sweating places very high demands on the body's fluid reserves. Sweat is over 99%
water, most of the water being derived from blood plasma, which itself is 91% water. Therefore
sweating reduces blood volume and causes dehydration. If fluid is not replaced, the body's
core temperature may rise to a dangerously high level.
Insulated water containers are very cheap and a useful size for a day's gliding activities is 4
litres. Clubs can contribute to their pilots' well-being by providing a large (20 litre, say) water
container at the launch point. It is a very good service to provide.
Plain water is best. If cordials or electrolytes (such as certain "sports" additives) are used, the
solution should be weak, as heavier concentrations can inhibit the absorption of fluid into the
body. Fizzy drinks are no use at all.
Take a small container of water into the air if you are going on a long flight. There are plenty
of cheap plastic water bottles with built-in straws available nowadays and these are ideal for
use in a cockpit.
If you are learning to fly or in the early stages of solo flying, and the Duty Instructor detects
signs that you are suffering from dehydration, don't be surprised if it is suggested that you
don't fly until you have taken in some fluid and allowed some time for it to take effect. Later
on, when you have become more experienced, you will be expected to monitor this aspect of
your activities yourself.
As a guide, the American College of Sports Medicine regards the Heat Stress Index (HSI) as
a reliable measure of the environmental heat stress. The HSI is based on the wet-bulb
temperature and a value of 28 degrees is considered the upper limit for strenuous exercise.
There are plenty of days when the ambient temperature exceeds this figure on the average
gliding field, and some of these fields are in humid parts of Australia. While it is not suggested
that we put the gliders away on days over 30 degrees, it is prudent to pace yourself on the
hotter days, so as to keep heat stress to a minimum.
An additional factor is acclimatisation. Repeated exposure to hot conditions results in the body
progressively adapting to the new environment. However, this can take up to 10 days to be
really effective. When acclimatised, the body sweats more readily and more copiously, leading
to cooler skin and lower core body temperature when exercising.
People who work in an air-conditioned office five days a week, then go to the gliding club on
a Saturday and work outside on a 30+ degree day will have no chance of acclimatising. Keep
this in mind when rigging gliders and pushing them around the field.
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PROTECTION AGAINST THE SUN
Sun-tanned skin is damaged skin. It is well-known that exposure to sunlight can cause a wide
range of problems, the mildest of which is a painful sunburn, the worst being skin cancer which
can be fatal.
It is particularly important to protect the head and neck from the sun. To this end, a broadbrimmed hat is essential. Terry-towelling "floppy" hats are commonly worn and their only
limitation is that the brim is usually not quite wide enough for protection of the neck. They
should be worn in conjunction with a turned-up shirt collar.
Peaked caps with "foreign legion" flaps at the back, as commonly worn by Australian
schoolchildren, offer good protection, but the peak tends to get in the way of turning the head
in the cockpit. Thus they can save your skin on the ground, but create a real hazard in the air
by inhibiting lookout.
"Akubra" type hats offer good sun protection, but most people find they are too hot to wear for
long periods and they suffer from the same limitation as peaked caps when worn in a cockpit.
T-shirts lack neck protection and should not be worn for long periods in the sun unless
accompanied by a suitable hat. The penalty is a seriously burnt neck. A conventional shirt, on
which the collar can if necessary be turned up, is preferable.
Increasingly, pilots are turning to long-sleeved shirts for sun protection and long pants in
preference to shorts for the same reason. Some pilots departing on long cross-country flights
will be found wearing light cotton gloves of the kind which is obtainable from chemist's shops.
These protect the vulnerable backs of the hands, which tend to roast under the canopy.
Sun-block cream or lotion is essential for a long day on the airfield. It is generally accepted
nowadays that anything less than a 15+ sun protection factor is a waste of time.
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GLOSSARY OF TERMS
AA
Airservices Australia. The service body with responsibility for Air Traffic
Services and aviation navigation in Australia.
Accelerated flight
Flight in which the aircraft is accelerating around a curve, in other words
a "G" loading of more than one is being applied.
AGL
Above ground level
AIP
Aeronautical Information Publication, the generic term for all the
individual documents which provide pre-and in-flight information to
licensed pilots.
AIC
Aeronautical Information Circular. A pamphlet-type notice, issued
periodically to pilots, advising changes to facilities, procedures, etc
ASI
Air Speed Indicator, an instrument which measures the dynamic
pressure caused by an aircraft's movement through the air, calibrated
in knots.
Aspect ratio
The result of dividing the wing span by the average wing chord
AMSL
Above Mean Sea Level - self-explanatory.
ATC
Air Traffic Control, the service responsible for the safe and orderly
conduct of air traffic in controlled airspace. A division of Airservices
Australia.
ADDGM
Aerodrome Diagrams. A document setting out the pattern of runways,
taxiways and other features of Federal airports and Licensed
aerodromes. Part of the En-Route Supplement, Australia (ERSA).
ATSB
Air Transport Safety Bureau. An independent Commonwealth
Government statutory Agency. The ATSB is governed by a Commission
and is entirely separate from transport regulators, policy makers and
service providers. The ATSB collates all and may investigate accidents
and incidents to all Australian-registered aircraft (including gliders).
Recent ATSB policy is to delegate sport aircraft accidents to State
Police.
BCAR
British Civil Airworthiness Requirements, a standard to which Australian
gliders were constructed in past years.
Bernoulli's Theory
The Italian scientist Daniel Bernoulli established that if the velocity of a
streamlined flow is increased, the pressure is decreased. This is how a
wing works; the curved upper surface makes the air accelerate over the
top of the wing, causing a reduction in pressure and tending to "suck"
the wing upward.
Camber
The curvature of a surface, usually referring to the top surface of a wing.
Analogous to the camber of a road surface.
CAR
Civil Aviation Regulation (previously ANR - Air Navigation Regulation).
The CARs constitute the legal basis for the conduct of aviation in
Australia.
CAO
Civil Aviation Order (previously ANO - Air Navigation Order). The CAOs
are used to give effect to, or grant exemption from, the CARs.
CASA
Civil Aviation Safety Authority. The regulatory body with responsibility
for controlling the standards and safety of aviation.
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CFI
Chief Flying Instructor. The person in a club who is responsible to the
club committee for the safe conduct of flying operations to GFA
standards.
Chord
The distance between the leading and trailing edges of a flying surface
such as a wing, tailplane, etc.
Cl
Lift Coefficient of an aerofoil section.
CIP
Chairman of Instructor Panel, the equivalent of a CFI in some clubs.
Cm
The pitching moment of an aerofoil.
C of A
Certificate of Airworthiness. A document specific to each individual
aircraft on the Australian register, detailing its operating parameters and
limitations.
C of G
Centre of Gravity. Usually written as CG.
CS 22
EASA Certification Specifications, Section 22, the standard to which
modern gliders and powered sailplanes are constructed and
certificated.
CTAF
Common Traffic Advisory Frequency, the radio frequency used within a
designated radius of nominated aerodromes. Not mandatory, non-radio
aircraft may still operate within the designated radius unless the
aerodrome is registered, licenced or military, then radio and radio
procedures are mandatory.
CTP
Chairman of Training Panel.
DoIT
Department of Infrastructure and Transport
ELB
Emergency Locator Beacon, a small transmitter carried in an aircraft
which emits a distinctive tone when activated and allows the unit to be
located by another aircraft. Also known as ELT (Emergency Locator
Transmitter).
EPIRB
Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon, a marine locator beacon
unit, cheaper than an ELB/ELT and suitable for glider use.
ERSA
En-Route Supplement, Australia. A document listing details of all
Federal Airports, Registered, Licensed and Military Aerodromes in
Australia. Selected untowered aerodromes with significant traffic
volumes are also included. Specific details of any gliding operations on
these aerodromes are included.
FAI
Federation Aeronautique Internationale, the international governing
body for sport aviation.
GFA
Gliding Federation of Australia
Glider
A fixed wing aerodyne without a power source (FAI definition). The term
"sailplane" is regarded as interchangeable with glider.
ICAO
International Civil Aviation Organisation.
IGC
International Gliding Commission, the FAI sub-committee which deals
with gliding matters at international level (formerly CIVV).
IH
Instructor's Handbook.
LAME
Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer. A person licensed by CASA
for the maintenance of Australian-registered powered aircraft.
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Load factor
Definition of the load applied to an aircraft by the force of gravity. The
load factor in normal flight is unity (i.e. 1G). Doubling the load factor
results in 2G being applied to the aircraft. From the pilot's point of view,
load factors are defined as positive G (upright flight) and negative G
(inverted flight).
MR
Maintenance Release, the document (carried in each glider) which
validates the glider's C of A on a year to year basis.
MOSP
Manual of Standard Procedures
NGS
National Gliding School, the instructor and inspector training and
standardisation school of the GFA.
NOTAM
Notice to Airmen
OCTA
Outside of Controlled Airspace (Class “G” Airspace)
OSTIV
Organisation Scientifique et Technique Internationale du Vol a Voile,
the international scientific and technical gliding organisation for gliding.
OSTIVAS
OSTIV Airworthiness Standards
PPL
Private Pilot's Licence
PAS
Power-assisted sailplane. A glider fitted with an auxiliary engine for selfretrieve. Not capable of taking off under its own power. Also known as
"turbo" sailplane.
PS
Powered sailplane. A glider with an auxiliary engine, capable of selflaunching.
QFE
The pressure-setting on an altimeter sub-scale which will result in the
altimeter reading the glider's height above the point at which the setting
was made, usually the aerodrome of departure. The initials are part of
the international "Q" code and do not stand for anything in particular.
QNH
The pressure-setting on an altimeter sub-scale which will result in the
altimeter reading the glider's altitude above mean sea-level.
QNE
The so-called standard pressure-setting on an altimeter sub-scale,
which will result in the altimeter reading Flight Levels. Only used above
10,000ft.
RTO/OPS
Regional Technical Officer, Operations. The person responsible for the
safe conduct of flying operations in a GFA Region.
RTO/A
Regional Technical Officer, Airworthiness. The person responsible for
safe airworthiness practices in a GFA Region.
SAR
Search and Rescue
SARTIME
The nominated time of day after which various phases of SAR functions
are declared, viz, uncertainty, alert, distress.
Sailplane
Theoretically a glider which is efficient enough to use atmospheric
currents to gain height. In practice, the term "sailplane" is regarded as
a normal term for any glider.
Soaring
The art of gaining height and/or prolonging a glider flight by means of
natural currents in the atmosphere.
Span
The distance between the two tips of a flying surface such as a wing,
etc.
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Spar
The main load-carrying member of a wing or tail structure, running
spanwise, usually at one-quarter to one-third chord.
Training Panel
A Club Committee consisting of the Club Instructors and Coaches.
Unaccelerated flight Straight and level flight in which the load factor applied to an aircraft
does not exceed the normal force of gravity. In other words, flight under
"1G" conditions.
Venturi
A convergent-divergent duct, causing air flowing through it to accelerate
through the constriction and lose pressure as a result. Used in gliders
to compensate variometers for errors in lift/sink indications caused by
changes in speed.
VHF
Very High Frequency - radio frequencies in the range 30 Mhz to 200
Mhz
VFR
Visual Flight Rules, the rules governing the conduct of flight by visual
reference, otherwise known as the "see and avoid" principle
VMC
Visual Meteorological Conditions, the conditions under which VFR flight
is legally possible. Note: Gliders are only permitted to fly under VFR
and in VMC.
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GFA STANDARD COCKPIT CHECKS
SAILPLANE
PRE TAKEOFF
Pre Boarding
A
AIRFRAME (walk around check for damage and/or defects. Maintenance Release
checked, including DI validity.
B
BALLAST (glider loading is within placarded limitations and trim ballast secure).
C
CONTROLS (check controls, including airbrakes and flaps, for correct sense and full
deflections).
D
DOLLIES (all dollies and ground handling equipment removed).
Post Boarding
C
CONTROL ACCESS (Seat adjustments secure and positioned to allow for
comfortable access to all flight controls, panel switches/knobs and the tow release.
Rudder pedals adjusted for reach if applicable).
H
HARNESS (secure, lap belt low on hips, both pilots)
A
AIRBRAKES and FLAPS (airbrakes cycled and set for launch, or closed and locked.
Flaps set).
O
OUTSIDE (airspace and take-off path clear. Wind velocity checked. Sufficient
competent ground crew available).
OPTIONS (evaluate emergency plan).
T
TRIM (Trim set as required, ballast confirmed).
I
INSTRUMENTS (altimeter set, other instruments reading normally, no apparent
damage. Radio on and on the correct frequency).
CANOPY (closed, locked and clean)
C
CARRIAGE (undercarriage down and locked)
CONTROLS (checked for full and free movement).
PRE LANDING CHECK
F
FLAPS (set as required)
U
UNDERCARRIAGE (Down and locked)
S
SPEED ( safe speed near the ground)
T
TRIM (set for selected speed, disposable ballast drained)
PRE AEROBATIC CHECK
H
HEIGHT – Sufficient for recovery by 1,000ft AGL (2,000ft if within a 2 mile radius of
a licenced aerodrome).
A
AIRFRAME – Flaps, airbrakes, undercarriage set as required. Trim as required.
Hatches and vents closed and locked as appropriate.
S
SECURITY – Harness secure. Loose objects stowed.
L
LOCATION – Clear of built-up areas, cloud, controlled airspace.
L
LOOKOUT – 180o plus 90o turns checking carefully around, above and underneath.
Do not do a 360o turn.
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POWERED SAILPLANE
PRE TAKEOFF
Pre Boarding
A
AIRFRAME (walk around check for damage and/or defects. Bungs and covers
removed, gear safety locking pins/blocks removed, steering bar and chocks stowed,
Maintenance Release checked, including DI validity).
B
BALLAST (powered sailplane loading is within placarded limitations and trim ballast
secure).
C
CONTROLS (check controls, including airbrakes and flaps, for correct sense and full
deflections).
D
DOLLIES (all dollies and ground handling equipment removed).
E
ENGINE (oil quantity checked sufficient for flight, oil cap/stick secure, cooling fluid
level checked if required, Propeller checked for condition and serviceability). Run the
fuel boost pump with the fuel turned on and check for fuel leaks.
F
FUEL (Dipped, quantity sufficient for flight, correct type and octane, oil mix correct if
two stroke, fuel caps on and tight).
Post Boarding
C
CONTROL ACCESS (Seat adjustments secure and positioned to allow for
comfortable access to all flight controls, panel switches/knobs and the tow
release. Rudder pedals adjusted for reach if applicable).
H
HARNESS (secure, lap belt low on hips, both pilots)
A
AIRBRAKES and FLAPS (airbrakes cycled and set for launch, or closed and
locked. Flaps set).
O
OUTSIDE (airspace and take-off path clear. Wind velocity checked. Sufficient
competent ground crew available).
OPTIONS (evaluate emergency plan).
T
TRIM (Trim set as required, ballast confirmed).
I
INSTRUMENTS (altimeter set, other instruments reading normally, no apparent
damage. Radio on and on the correct frequency).
CANOPY (closed, locked and clean)
C
CARRIAGE (undercarriage down and locked)
CONTROLS (checked for full and free movement).
NOTE: The following additional checks should be used unless the Aircraft Flight
Manual (AFM) specifies otherwise. Engine run up checks are to be completed in
accordance with the AFM.
I
IGNITION (magneto check carried out, mag or mags on both).
F
FUEL (On and sufficient, most full tank selected if applicable).
P
PROPELLER (Set for take-off/ fine position, plus checks required by AFM).
C
CHOKE/CARBURETTOR HEAT (off).
R
RADIO/TRANSPONDER (correct frequency, volume set, call as required/
Transponder 1200 Mode C).
B
BRAKES (Wheel brakes released, airbrakes locked).
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PRE LANDING CHECK
F
FLAPS (set as required)
U
UNDERCARRIAGE (Down and locked)
S
SPEED ( safe speed near the ground, disposable ballast drained)
T
TRIM (set for selected speed)
I
IGNITION (magneto switches on or both).
F
FUEL (Selected to the most full tank if applicable, boost pump on if landing engine
on).
P
PROPELLER set as required (fine pitch engine on, feathered engine off).
C
CHOKE/CARBURETTOR HEAT off/set as required).
R
RADIO/TRANSPONDER (correct frequency, volume set, call as required).
B
BRAKES (Wheel brake/brakes off)
VITAL ACTIONS / EMERGENCYCHECKLIST
C
CARBURETTOR HEAT (off, if fitted)
F
FUEL (On and correct tank, fuel boost pump is on)
M
MIXTURE (choke off, full rich as required).
O
OIL PRESSURE (Checked).
S
SWITCHES (Checked ON, or BOTH).
T
THROTTLE and LINKAGE (Checked).
VITAL ACTIONS AFTER TAKE OFF
C
CARBURETTOR HEAT (off, if fitted)
F
FUEL (On and correct tank, fuel boost pump is on)
M
MIXTURE (choke off, full rich as required).
PRE AEROBATIC CHECK
H
HEIGHT – Sufficient for recovery by 1,000ft AGL (2,000ft if within a 2 mile radius
of a licenced aerodrome).
A
AIRFRAME – Flaps, airbrakes, undercarriage set as required. Trim as required.
Hatches and vents closed and locked as appropriate.
S
SECURITY – Harness secure. Loose objects stowed.
E
ENGINE and PROPELLER (power and propeller set as required, engine off/
propeller feathered, engine retracted for retractable pop tops).
L
LOCATION – Clear of built-up areas, cloud, controlled airspace.
L
LOOKOUT – 180o plus 90o turns checking carefully around, above and
underneath. Do not do a 360o turn.
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GLIDING CERTIFICATES
THE "A" CERTIFICATE
Requirements
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Minimum age 15 years.
GFA Radiotelephone Operator Authorisation (FROL).
Minimum of 5 solo flights with normal landings.
Satisfactory check flight, which must include the following :
An awareness of pre-spin symptoms and a demonstration of the correct action to
prevent a spin developing.
An accurate circuit without reference to altimeter.
Correct handling of selected emergencies.
Oral examination on basic theory and flight rules and procedures by a Level 1 or higher
Instructor.
Privileges and limitations
•
•
May only fly solo under the direct supervision of a Level 2 or higher rated instructor.
May carry out local soaring only.
THE "B" CERTIFICATE
Requirements
•
•
•
•
•
“A” Certificate
A total of 15 solo flights with normal landings; including at least one soaring flight of
not less than 30 minutes duration. (Note: This means an overall total of 15 solo flights,
not 15 solo flights since qualifying for the "A" Certificate).
Satisfactory completion of Sections 1 to 29 of the GPC training syllabus.
Oral examination on basic theory, flight rules and procedures and basic airworthiness
by a Level 1 or higher Instructor.
Note: Pilots holding a CASA issued Student or higher licence or a 'High Performance
Endorsed' Pilot Certificate issued by RAAus may count 5 powered landings as pilot-incommand towards the "B" Certificate, but must meet the soaring requirements.
Privileges and limitations
•
•
•
•
•
May only fly solo under the direct supervision of a Level 2 or higher rated instructor.
May carry out local soaring only.
May carry out mutual flying, subject to the following conditions:
The other occupant of the glider also holds a minimum of a "B" Certificate.
Each mutual flight is authorised by and carried out under the direct supervision of a
Level 2 or higher rated Instructor, who must nominate the command pilot for the flight.
THE "C" CERTIFICATE
Requirements
•
•
•
•
•
A total of 20 solo or ‘in command’ mutual flights, including two solo soaring flights of at
least one hour's duration each.
Trained and checked in ability to carry out a safe outlanding.
Received a passenger awareness briefing using the "Air Experience" section in Part 2
of the Instructor's Handbook as a reference.
Oral examination on basic theory, navigation, meteorology, airways procedures,
outlanding hazards, post-outlanding actions, and SAR requirements by a Level 1 or
higher Instructor.
A satisfactory demonstration of spin entry and recovery.
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Note: Pilots holding a CASA issued Student or higher licence or a 'High Performance
Endorsed' Pilot Certificate issued by RAAus may count 10 powered landings as pilot-incommand towards the "C" Certificate, but must meet the soaring requirements.
Privileges and limitations
•
•
May fly cross-country at the discretion of the CFI.
May carry private passengers (i.e. not for hire or reward and not Air Experience
Flights), under the provisions of a Private Passenger Rating as described in Section
10.4 of the GFA Manual of Standard Procedures, Part 2.
GFA GLIDER PILOT CERTIFICATE
The Glider Pilot Certificate (GPC) is awarded to pilots in recognition that they have been
trained and assessed as competent to operate a sailplane as an independently proficient GFA
soaring pilot following satisfactory completion of the GPC Training Syllabus, which includes
meeting the requirements for the issue of a Level 1 ‘restricted’ independent operator
endorsement as detailed in Section 13.1 of the GFA Manual of Standard Procedures, Part 2.
All pilots operating under GFA are subject to GFA Operational requirements. The GPC
recognises that the pilot has been trained and tested to the full extent of the GPC training
syllabus and is therefore entitled to be approved to operate a glider within the privileges and
limitations of the syllabus items as notified by pilot logbook endorsements.
The Glider Pilot Certificate Application form is to be signed by the club CFI (refer Operational
Regulations, Section 3.3.7). The application should be submitted electronically by the CFI,
who is to attach a digital passport quality photo of the applicant. If the application is sent by
mail, the CFI must also endorse the back of a passport quality photograph of the applicant by
writing ‘this is a true photo of the [applicant's full name]’ and signing their name. Individual
GPCs will be issued as a credit card style plastic card with a photo.
The GPC training syllabus may be found in the Operational Regulations at Appendix 3 and a
copy is to be printed and attached inside the cover of the Pilot’s Log Book.
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Notes
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Basic Gliding Knowledge
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