2017 was simply an amazing year for CT Soaring Association by any measure, thanks to all of you. The two most important measures for me are also the most simple – we had a safe year, with no accidents, incidents, or drama (as I mentioned in my presentation at the beginning of 2017), and second, everyone had a lot of fun, camaraderie, friendship, and learning.
We accomplished a lot: we had a record number of operations, first solos, passed check-rides, and new members. We added the 1-34 to the fleet last year and it saw much more use this year as members stepped up their experience. We also added new tow pilots and instructors which enabled several two-day weekend operations and even a few midweek ops.
We also benefited greatly from Daryl’s persistence in earning Designated Pilot Examiner status with the FAA. Few have an appreciation of the level of work involved to become and maintain a Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) certification, and Daryl’s dedication will have significant benefits for all glider pilots in the region. Thank you Daryl!
As the club grows, it becomes more complex to operate – we now have four gliders, a tow plane, and two golf carts to maintain and to keep track of. Kudos to the team which worked really to keep up with both scheduled and unscheduled maintenance. Several days of flying were made possible by timely AOG (Aircraft on Ground) maintenance at the field. And of course our instructors and tow pilots are owed a debt of gratitude. We wouldn’t have had the year we had without them.
For 2018, I hope to see club members spread their wings. We have a number of students who having soloed can start thinking about flying the 1-26, while more experienced members can become familiar with the 1-34. Soaring at Daniel-son can be a bit of a sled ride on all but the rarest of flying days, but we do have locales within driving distance that can offer different and often better soaring conditions. Let’s work on an encampment this year - maybe at Springfield or Wurtsboro - so we can experience longer flights and different conditions. We need to continue making improvements to the flight training program – more formal use of the CSA syllabus, more frequent ground school sessions, and better management of the flight training day to decrease the time to solo and to improve the learning experience. We had a lot of discussion this year regarding the scheduling and timing of student flights.
We started the year with a lot of students and the backlog meant we had more students than daylight on some days. Everyone’s patience this year was appreciated as we worked with those closest to solo; now we must make sure everyone else gets their turn this year. We hope to continue increasing our instructor and tow pilots cadre so we can increase the number of days of operation. Making available more flyable days will give everyone more opportunities to fly.
From a safety perspective, we can always do more. We will continue to raise awareness among our members and other users of the airport and emphasize careful preflight inspections, good training programs, detailed briefings, and most important, good judgment and decision-making.
Finally, this is YOUR club. If you have suggestions, questions, comments, etc please bring them to someone’s attention. Also, we do appreciate everyone’s participation in keeping the club going. There is a lot that has to happen to keep the club running –from paying bills to washing the gliders and everything in between and we appreciate, indeed we NEED, everyone’s help. If you are not sure what to do or how to do it, please ask.