This year’s 7 days a week flying operations will come to an end on October 31st.
You are all overdue an update on plans for flying during the winter. I apologise for the lateness of these communications, but we have been waiting on final confirmation on arrangements for delivery of flying for a third party (of which more later), as well as clarity on likely availability of essential volunteer help on the airfield over the next few months.
Many thanks to Andy Beatty and Stephen Rae, our two professional instructors, for instructing for us over the past season, and providing so much support and guidance to our club members and visitors. We must also thank the professional and volunteer teams for providing the essential support to make this happen; Instructors, winch drivers, tug pilots, launch marshals and launch point assistants and the workshop team, all of whom work so hard to keep us flying safely, along with the grass cutting crew and airfield and building maintenance teams.
We will be reverting to a volunteer only instructor operation over the winter. Irrespective of the special challenges presented by coronavirus, our experience of the last few winters has shown that having a professional instructor for the winter months is uneconomic for the club when weather and ground conditions often make flying impossible. Instead, we plan to invest the money saved and generated by other initiatives to provide additional, professional instruction capacity, during the spring, summer and autumn, when demand and weather are much more predictable.
Chris Sykes, who has done a great job as winch driver and launch point manager for us over the last year, will be staying with us for an average 2 days a week through the winter to support flying operations and will assist the workshop team when flying is not possible.
It is not going to be possible to provide bookable flying Monday-Friday from 1st November until early spring. We lack sufficient volunteer instructors who can commit in advance to be available mid-week, which means we cannot generate a midweek roster. Weekend flying will continue as usual, and 2-seater training can still be booked at weekends using the usual two-seater booking system, available at:
Single seater booking systems will also resume in the spring. These gliders will still be available to fly for suitably qualified pilots in the meantime on a sharing basis between members, subject of course to the winter maintenance schedule.
This winter we have extended our previous arrangements with City University to fly 120 of their students as part of their aviation focused coursework. As well as providing the club with welcome additional activity and income at a usually quiet time, these arrangements will provide the backbone of our midweek club operations over the winter, with flying planned on most Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, weather and airfield conditions permitting. All the City University launches will by aerotow. The volume of aerotows will also enable us to train new tug pilots which will be a welcome increase to our tugging capacity and improve the service we can provide to members in 2022.
We expect that there may be some capacity on these days to provide some two-seater training to club members, once the City university students have been flown, but this will be on the basis of the ‘old-style’ of club flying, of coming out on site, helping at the launch point, spending time with your friends, and flying as capacity allows. More importantly we hope there will be sufficient volunteers to run a winching operation alongside the City University flying. Days when City University are not being flown will naturally still be available for flying but this will be subject to volunteer availability, and will be ably supported where needed by Chris Sykes.
In the absence of bookable flying instead there will be a WhatsApp group linking:-
- All those who are interested in flying midweek, in single seaters or two seaters
- The instructors and tug pilots who are running the City University flying operation,
- Instructors who may be able to volunteer to boost our capacity to train club members,
- Any winch drivers who may be able to come out to drive the winch when there are people who want to fly, and instructors able to fly them.
CUGC will be arranging their own flying over the winter with instructors and winch drivers. They may fly on days when City University are on site, or on other days. If they have capacity for CGC members (to fly single seaters or two seaters), they will share this on the WhatsApp group.
If you don’t already have the WhatsApp app on your smartphone, please click on the link below to view instructions on how to install WhatsApp:-
Once you have WhatsApp installed, please click on the link below to join the WhatsApp group, volunteer availability for duties and to see when we are flying:-
We hope that people will use the WhatsApp group actively to:-
- Share which days we hope to be flying
- Share when club members would like to come out to fly
- See who may be available to instruct, drive winches or fly tugs
We are hoping that by taking this approach we will maximise the use of the limited resources available to us at present and create a dynamic community of people wanting to fly and enjoy each other’s company at the club over the winter.
We will let everyone know when the first City University flying day is confirmed and will monitor how these different arrangements are working for members after a few weeks, and make appropriate changes where needed.