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  • Scott Ashton

Planning for the Start of Glider Operations for 2018

Before we know it, the temperature will start to come up, and the snow of winter will give way to the winds of March and rains of April. Soon it will be CSA’s first day of operations for 2018! To get there, we have many things that need to get done so it is a good time to review the start-up processes.

Our CSA Winter Gathering will occur Saturday February 3, at the New England Air Museum. This is an informal get-together with lunch and camaraderie, and a great tour of the best aviation museum in the area. We can plan on meeting at 10:30 or so, and we can take tours and then we will plan on lunch at around 12:30. Admission to the museum is $15.00, CSA will be providing lunch. We will have the Spring Meeting and Safety Seminar at the end of March. This is CSA’s business meeting where we will review 2017, plan for 2018, give out awards for accomplishments, and also hold our mandatory Spring Safety Briefing. A specific date, time, and location will be announced. Depending on weather, let’s plan on a mid-April start to operations. Our insurance is back in effect for flight operations on April 15th. To get ready, we have to focus on several areas:

1. Ground Support Equipment - golf carts need the usual pre-season maintenance: batteries charged, mouse nests cleaned out, tires inflated, etc; the lawn mower needs to be checked; and the tent will need to be reassembled when practical.

2. Gliders - two of the gliders stayed assembled through the winter, so only two will need to be assembled. But all the gliders will need general cleaning and maintenance. Since we weren’t able to secure inside storage, this will be particularly important this year. We will also be installing brand new seat belts in each glider.

3. Pawnee - the Pawnee will go in for Annual with Dennis in mid-March. Fortunately we don't have a lot of squawks thanks to the rigorous maintenance over the last few years. However, we want to also replace the Pawnee belts; we are discussing installing a fire extinguisher in the aircraft; and we definitely want to get the fiberglass components repainted. We also need to get the wing and tail covers washed and re-sewn.

4. Pilots - there are things that we need to do to be ready for the start of operations. Many of these will be covered at the Safety Seminar. However, now is the time to review the POH for the gliders you fly, the Glider Flying Handbook, particularly chapters 7 and 8, and the Airman’s Information Manual (AIM) sections on surface safety, meteorology, and communications. To start operations, instructors must get current first, and then any pilots who want to take passengers need to get current per Part 61.57. While instructors do not need to be current per Part 61.57 to instruct (three takeoffs and landings within the last 90 days) since a student is not a passenger but a crewmember, it is still a good idea. That’s because currency and proficiency are often two different concepts. After doing three landings in a glider in April, you may be legal to take your friend flying according to the FAA, but are you really proficient? Ask yourself: when was the last time you did a rope break, or a stall and incipient spin, or a no-altimeter/no-spoiler/no-airspeed landing? (I know of at least one CFI who can say he has successfully done that!). You owe it to yourself, your passengers, and the club to go beyond the minimum to be current and proficient!

I am looking forward to the 2018 season. From the start, as we help the students who soloed in 2017 get ready for their Private Pilot-Glider flight test, we will be focused on helping the students waiting to solo to do it !

I look forward to seeing everyone out at LZD!

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