My week at Shenington

Editor’s Note: Before deaf pilots met at Shenington,Tim, the newest member of deaf pilots had a 5-day course. Below, he writes about his experience of his one week course!

My week at Shenington.

Why did I choose this 5-day course over any other type of courses available?
A good question. Having read some comments and articles from various sources in the Internet, including the British Gliding Association website, a lot of people have said that doing an intensive 5-day course would help remember a lot of things, recapping more easily than spreading the coursework over long period with gaps in between which, for some, can be difficult to recap what has been learnt from last time. Some gliding clubs offer courses called “Fixed Price to Solo” which might suit some students better than a 5-day course.

How did I feel when I started this course?
Excited! Praying that each day’s weather is flyable and soarable! Although my 5-day course is marred with 1.5 days which are too windy to fly, it did not dampen my enthusiasm!

Monday
Start of my week! Started nice and early with some briefing from my instructor on some weather reports, stating it was a bit windy throughout the day, but it was not considered bad. Did 5 flights today, with the first one in the T61 Falke motorglider for 30 minutes to do some recaps, followed by 3 winch launches, and ended up with 1 aerotow up to 2,000ft. It was lovely to experience all three different types of launches in a single day! Due to windy conditions, it was fairly tricky to learn to make nice and smooth turns. Flown well considering and ended up with a nice meal and some drinks in the bar in the evening.

Tuesday
Weather was worse than yesterday, with winds of 15kts and gusts of 30kts. Normally, it is not advisable for students to learn to fly in those conditions, but Gavin believes that it is worth learning at this stage for students on how to cope with strong winds, trying to keep the glider “on track” in those conditions! On my third winch flight of the day, I experienced a REAL winch failure (cable snapped), and John (as usual in his wisdom) dealt with this and landed the K-13 glider beautifully considering those windy conditions! I performed an approach control with John’s assistance. Did some rudder controls, even in those conditions and flown pretty well. 6 Winch flights today.

Wednesday
Very windy! A little worse than yesterday, flown only two winch flights before we abandoned for the rest of the day. It was a shame that my flying course is delayed due to heavy winds! My logbook reads that I flew very well in difficult conditions, but needs to do more practice on monitoring attitude when turning. I’ll have to remember that. Did some flight simulator in the afternoon which did help in many ways after a few teething issues with the software (map & terrain). Afterwards, I watched a video about the BGA Safe Winch Initiative which is an initiative to help keep gliding a safe sport.

Tim doing his pre-flight checks.  Don't forget the rudder!

Tim doing his pre-flight checks. Don’t forget the rudder!

Thursday
Very disappointed. Instructors have declared that today is unsuitable for flying due to heavy gusting winds and rainy conditions. Went on the flight simulator instead to practise some turns with ailerons and rudder co-ordination and watching the yaw string, etc. I found them very useful and keeps you aware and mindful to check your instruments frequently (97% Lookout, 3% instruments). Did some briefing on winch launch (ready for tomorrow as I’m told is going to be superb weather for flying – we’ll see). It was nice to see Yoav arriving as I was concentrating on trying to land the virtual glider on to a virtual landing strip!

Friday
Thank goodness, the winds have moved on, leaving us with lovely calm and sunny weather (it was fairly cold, but I am not complaining). Quite a lot of club members turning up today, having a go on several various gliders, with 67 flights for the whole day! I flew 9 which is 1 flight over the normal 8 flights/day for my course. During the first 7 flights, John has progressively given me control of the winch launch, starting from the top of the climb, progressing down to the rotation phase (but not yet on the ground run bit).

Tim learning to Winch

Tim learning to Winch

Then on my 8th flight, I was absolutely ecstatic as I landed the glider for the first time without John’s assistance. I had to ask John several times, “Did you really let go of the stick?” and sure enough, a video is simply stunning to watch “see it for yourself” to prove it. That was the best highlight I have had for today. Thanks John!

All in all, it was fantastic day and my gripe was that “if only” today’s weather applies to Tues/Wed/Thurs of this week. Ended up going to an Indian Restaurant (I am not fond of curry/spicy foods, but John & Yoav fancied going for a curry meal, so I took them there and had some English food myself (not embarrassed by that at all) while they all tucked in hot and spicy foods themselves. Went back to the club and enjoyed the evening in the bar, sharing some jokes, flying hints and tips and more drinks!

Tim & John

Tim & John

My week’s course is not completed and will be coming back to do some more flying to use up the balance remaining.

It was an interesting mix of weather with flying both calm and windy conditions and not forgetting an experience with a REAL winch failure. You couldn’t top that.

Now, the exciting bit’s over (for now), I’ll be back….

Editor’s Note: You can read more about the events this week at Shenington’s Flying Reports