Monthly Soaring Magazine Articles for 2006

January - Time to Stop Flying? by Bernald Smith

It's a great time to be growing older - people are staying active and living longer, which means there are more senior pilots in the air.  Are they more likely to be accident-prone?  If you look at age-rated highway accident/fatality rates compiled by AMA and NCIPC, the per-mile accident/death rates do go up with age.  But, a study by BGA shows age-rated glider accidents lower for older pilots.  Statistics from the SSA Glider Insurance program also support that, in that there are far fewer accidents with older pilots, but of course the population of older pilots is unknown within SSA as we don’t have those kinds of statistics like BGA has.  Are old pilots superior to the spectrum of old car drivers? Read the full article.

February - Bad News by Bernald Smith and Gene Hammond

Folks, lets get serious about our flying.  According to the data listed below from the NTSB and other sources, for the years 1999-2004 inclusive, there were 48 glider/towplane fatalities.  We have to go on faith with the government data, but if it’s even close to being correct, that’s pretty bad for what’s going on. Read the full article.

March - Keep your eyes on the Goal by Rich Carlson

“My that experienced pilot looks low! What’s he doing now? Why is he heading in that direction? He should know better than that!”  How often have you heard these questions at your gliderport?  How many times have you been the pilot? Did you ever think that some pilots may have been inadvertently trained to do this? Read the full article.

April - Slips by Gene Hammond

During discussions with pilot examiners across the United States, the Soaring Safety Foundation (SSF) has learned that one of the weak areas noted during practical tests for all glider ratings is slips to landing. Read the full article.

May - Stalls by Bob Wander

The Soaring Safety Foundation is concerned with the number of stall and stall-spin accidents that occur. These accidents feature high energy at impact. High impact energy translates into significant risk of personal injury or death. The 'G' forces that your body must endure, in a sudden stop, vary with the square of airspeed. Impact at 50 knots features four times the G-force than does an impact at 25 knots. Read the full article.

June - Nothing published

July - Nothing published

August - Spins by Bob Wander

Over decades of instruction I have discovered that very few pilots can answer all three questions that follow. Please write down your plain-English answer to each of the three questions below. Limit yourself to 50 words or less for each answer, please! Question # 1: When the spin begins, why does the glider nose pitch down? Question # 2: When the spin begins, why does the glider bank to the left or to the right? Question # 3: When the spin begins, why does the glider yaw develop into continuing rotation? Read the full article.

September - Current or Proficient by Rich Carlson

FAR Part 61 clearly states that pilots must be both current and proficient if they are to safely operate a glider. Currency requirements like, 61.56 Flight Review, 61.57 Recent flight experience: Pilot in command, and 61.69 Glider towing: Experience and training requirements typically spell out the minimum amount of flight experience that a pilot needs to exercise the privileges of their pilot certificate. Other regulations like, 61.31(j)(1) Type rating requirements, additional training, and authorization requirements, and 61.107 Flight proficiency state that the pilot must be proficient in various flight maneuvers. While most pilots are familiar with the currency regulations, they tend to gloss over the proficiency ones. Do you? Read the full article.

October - What happened to my 50:1 Glider? by Eric Greenwell

It’s not a surprise to a self-launching sailplane pilot that his sailplane doesn’t sail nearly as well when the propeller (and engine on a lot of them) is extended. What is a surprise to many is how much performance they lose, because they’ve never tried it, or it’s been so long since they tried it, they forgot what it was like. Read the full article.

November - Winch Launching by Bernald Smith

There’s been some recent discussion among some folks within SSA about the cost advantages of winch launching vs aerotow, spurred no doubt by the perceived rising prices of aviation fuel.  (I note that at $3/gal, auto fuel is relatively cheaper than when I first started to drive in the early 1940s.)  It should be recognized that along with advantages, there may be disadvantages to winch launching, compared to aerotow.  At least one important one is that of their relative safety, as reported by countries with extensive winch launch experience. Read the full article.

December - Potential Hazard Training by Bernald Smith

So, compared to aerotow, winches can be dangerous, as shown by statistics last month.  Does that mean winch launching is too hazardous?  Is that the only risky thing about soaring?  What about stalls?  They shouldn’t be risky, except of course, close to the ground.  Ditto for what comes after a stall in many aircraft, the spin.  Aerobatics risky?  Even up high?  For all flying, didn’t our mothers tell us don’t fly too fast; don’t get too far above the ground?  What does that old saw tell us?  Maybe that the ground is what folks are used to, where you probably wont get hurt if you don’t move, (unless the move is to jump out of the way of a falling object). Read the full article.