Nationally, in the 12 months from September 2013 - October 2014 there were no personal injuries resulting from winching.

There were no accidents involving a stall or spin.

There were 4 reported wing drop incidents, but in all cases the pilot released early to avoid a cartwheel.

Let us at DGS have another safe year of winch launching!

I highly recommend to any pilot that has not had any practice lately on launch failures, to ask an instructor for a refresher; winter could be an excellent time to practice!

A poster from the BGA will be sent to our club and posted in the clubhouse.

Safe flying!

Mike Gadd DGS Safety Officer

Welcome to the DGS Safety Corner

At DGS we take safety seriously. The purpose of the Safety Corner is to provide a single point of contact for all safety related matters for the benefit of all club members / visitors.
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Flying in the Snow

The road to the airfield  on a snowy day
The following was circulated at Shenington and is a useful reminder of how things can go wrong when flying in snowy conditions.

Taking to the air when there is snow on the ground offers a new and attractive perspective to our normally familiar landscape.

DGS on a snowy day. Photo from the east end of the runway looking north west
There is nothing quite like looking down on pristine white snow-covered ground on a sunny winter's day, or even not so sunny! We do have to take some extra care that we do it safely though.

K7M G-DBVB ready to launch
Here are some things to think about:

Never launch with any snow or ice anywhere on the aircraft.  Pay special attention to gaps between flying and control surfaces even if Mylar or similar sealed.  

Do not fly in falling snow, the visibility can get very poor very quickly and the snowflakes disorientating, plus the danger of accumulation on flying surfaces and the canopy.

A light dusting of dry powdery snow on the runway will not normally cause problems with the launch, though visibility for the glider pilot on the ground run during an aerotow will almost certainly be compromised -and quite possibly loose snow thrown up by the parachute in the very early part of the winch launch will do the same.

Any significant lying snow will have the above effect as well, but more serious considerations should be thought about.

The normally obvious airfield shape, layout of runways, transition between surfaces may well be obscured. 

The airfield may be "invisible" and from a surprisingly short distance, especially for inexperienced pilots (and sometimes more experienced too!).

Snow will pack into the release hook, soft snow will rapidly freeze solid, at best that will make hooking on impossible and leading up to the worst case where releasing will be impossible!

Snow will go into the critical parts of the release hook that you cannot see or get to on most gliders - cleaning out the parts you can see is not enough and just because it passes the "release checks" on the ground will not guarantee it doing so at height in the colder air!

Snow will pack into the wheel box where friction during the ground run will melt it very slightly and then it will rapidly re freeze in the lower temperature aloft, leading to a landing with the wheel jammed solid. Inconvenient when you need to tow back, causing possible damage to the landing gear, but more seriously, potentially leading to a loss of directional control on the landing run.

I would add a couple more points:

Bringing snow into the cockpit on boots and clothing will add to the humidity as it melts increasing the likely-hood of condensation on the canopy.

With a complete covering of snow on the ground and in flat light caused by a featureless stratus sky there is the possibility of a 'white-out'. This causes a loss of contrast such that it is sometimes not possible to judge where the ground is (even when walking!) Judging when to round-out would, at best, be difficult.

David Jesty

DGS Safety Officer

Caring for Canopies

In the winter months with low sun and a tendency to mist-up, canopy cleanliness becomes even more important.

It is part of the DI to ensure that the canopy is clean. It is the pilot-in-charge's responsibility to ensure the canopy is still clean enough before launching.

The only way to clean a canopy is by using copious amounts of clean water to flush off any dust or mud first. Then to use soft clean cloths to dry and then polish the surfaces with an appropriate cleaner.

Wiping with a sleeve causes permanent damage. 

Wiping with paper towels causes permanent damage.

Finger-prints reduce visibility. Never touch the canopy with fingers (except touching the DV panel to slide it open from outside). There is absolutely no need to EVER touch the canopy with fingers. 

DGS Safety Officer

Fying with Defective Instruments

Here is an article written by Bob Pirie, one of our instructors, after one of our gliders had a problem with it’s ASI.
A salutary reminder to all of us from Bob and Phil’s experience.
Despite an ASI needle ‘tweaking’ during d.i. inspection and thus giving the impression of working, I have known several of instances of gliders (usually having been parked outdoors for several days) accumulating water in ASI tubes and not working – but the BobBug obviously had a similar effect.
As well as the importance of taking preventive measures while parking up a glider for the night, and then carrying out a thorough d.i. inspection before the next flight, being familiar with the characteristics of the glider you’re flying is vital if things do go wrong (which the pilot-in-charge fortunately was in the instance reported).
All pilots should be able to identify and cope with an ASI malfunction, bearing in mind that it may not stop working altogether, but may simply mis-read. Both can be very disconcerting if not scary, and the latter downright dangerous if it goes unrecognised.
I would suggest that anyone converting to a ‘new’ type of glider (or whose knowledge of the glider they fly regularly may be a bit rusty), should prepare themselves for an ASI failure by, firstly, getting a briefing from an instructor. Then, once they have gained a basic level of familiarity with the glider’s handling characteristics (and provided they have plenty of height – and with one eye on the serviceable ASI), they experiment with attitude/speed/airbrake/trim etc. and most importantly stall warning symptoms.
Next – not necessarily on the same flight, and again with plenty of height (after a thermal climb,say, but not actually in a thermal) – configure the glider for landing including (if applicable) lowering the wheel, selecting landing flap and trimming for approach speed. Then try a dummy approach for a few seconds. But before commencing this brief descent, do a clearing turn and have a good lookout for other aircraft – especially beneath you.
Make and retain a mental note of what a ‘normal’ approach attitude looks like, the trim position and the way the glider sounds and feels. Then you’ll stand a better chance of staying ahead of the game if and when your ASI does let you down.
Do not put yourself at risk of running out of height when doing this exercise. Afterwards, unless you’re intending to actually land, remember to retract your wheel before continuing with the flight, thus reducing the risk of inadvertently retracting it rather than lowering it when you do eventually configure the glider for a real landing.
Bob Pirie

GPS Guide

The GPS Guide produced by the CAA-led Airspace Communication and Education Programme (ACEP) and referred to in the last BGA newsletter is now available online at
The BGA believes that, used correctly, GPS is a significant aid to avoiding airspace infringements, particularly so in the complex UK airspace structure. The BGA is an active participant in ACEP and recommends this guide to all qualified glider pilots.

Winch Launching

The BGA has updated their information on Safe Winch Launching. This can be viewed / downloaded at