Safety

While gliding is not a dangerous activity, people who come flying must abide by some basic safety rules to ensure nothing can happen. The rules here are also in effect to protect the equipment that we use, as replacing broken equipment can be expensive and time consuming.

First Visits

On your first few visits to the airfield, it is likely that you won't know much of what is happening, or how to do certain things. Don't worry about it - these are all things that you will pick up as you visit more often. The best thing you can do if you don't know what is going on or how to do something is to ask. No-one expects you to do anything that you don't know how to do.

The Winch & Cables

The airfield is set up with the launch point bus at one end of the field, and the winch at the other end. The winch cables run between them, the entire length of the field. The cables are 4mm steel cable, and are attached to a very powerful engine in the winch. The winch can accelerate a glider from 0 to 60mph in less than 2 seconds in some cases, and the cables are very dangerous to be near when launching gliders.

Always keep clear of the cables while a launch is in progress. There is a warning buzzer on the bus when launching is taking place, and the lights on the front and sides of the bus will be flashing to signal the winch. 2 cones are set up near the bus - you should stay inside these cones at all times when a glider is being launched.

Although the 2 winch cables are run independently, it is possible for the to have been crossed, or the winch driver to make a mistake and select the wrong cable for launching. Because of this, you should stay clear of BOTH cables when a launch is taking place, not just the one being used.

If you want to be shown how to hook the cables to the gliders and launch them, then you can ask someone at the launch point to show you.

If you are at the winch end of the field, keep well clear of the winch while a launch is in progress - it is recommended you stand at least 15m away, or get inside a vehicle. The cables can land in unexpected places if the glider pilot releases it suddenly.

The Launch Point

The launch point is generally where gliders both launch and land. They will land on both sides of the bus, and are pretty quiet. If you need to cross the airfield, you should ask someone, until you know how the airfield operates enough to get safely across yourself. Gliders will normally circuit around the airfield to land, but they can approach from anywhere in some circumstances. You should check that there are no gliders on approach to land before you cross the field.

If you are half way across the field and you notice a glider landing, stand still. The pilot will have seen you, and there is nothing worse than trying to avoid someone who is running around trying to avoid you! That said, if it is too late for the pilot to do anything, or it still looks like they are flying towards you, get out of the way quickly!

When driving on the airfield, the same rules apply - you should always check for gliders and planes landing before crossing the landing area. Aircraft always have right of way over ground vehicles, even aircraft moving around on the ground.

Although gliders will normally land at the launch point, they can land anywhere on the field, so you should keep a good lookout wherever on the field you are.

As well as winch launching, we also aerotow at Cranwell, using a powered aircraft, and operate a motorglider. Both of these have propellers on the front, which you should stay well clear of when they are operating. Never hang anything off a propeller on the ground, or attempt to spin it, as it may start if the controls in the cockpit have been left in the wrong position.

Care Of Equipment

This bit isn't so much for safety, but more for taking care of the equipment we have so we don't break anything.

The speed limit on the airfield for club vehicles is 20mph - this is to avoid breaking the springs, which are expensive and time consuming to replace. Slow down even further for the bumpier parts of the field.

Never leave the canopy of a glider open and unattended - on a windy day it can slam shut and smash. Even on a calm day, the tug or something driving by can cause a gust of wind, and it is good to get into the habit of doing it anyway!

Be careful with the parachutes. Always do the leg straps up before the chest strap - again, on a windy day, if you accidently deploy the parachute, you won't want to be dragged down the airfield by your neck. Never put a parachute on the ground - they can absorb moisture which may cause the canopy to stick together. There is a place on the bus you can put unneeded parachutes. Treat them with a bit of respect - it is almost unheard of for one to be used, but they are a piece of life saving equipment nonetheless.

Summary

This might seem like a lot of rules or things to remember - and in some ways it is. The majority of the rules here are common sense, and as long as you have some, you won't have a problem! If you are seen breaking one of the rules, you will probably be told about it. Don't take it too personally - no one expects you to know everything you should do on the field on your first visit.

While it is useful if you read this before you come along, most of what is said here will be covered again on the day, so reading this will at least give you a head start!

Remember, the best thing you can do if you are unsure about something is ask someone.