CFI Conference Notes

Notes from a recent CFI conference held at Keystone Glider Port in Julian, PA
By Tom Knauff


The conference began at 0900.

Each attendee introduced themselves and expressed opinions as to what subject matter most interested them.

These included:

Legal requirements of flight training Standardization of flight training
Teaching beyond the basics Cross country
Aerobatics Teaching judgment/decision making
Accident prevention programs Logbook entries
Emergency training Towing
Human factors, older pilots Medical considerations
Signals on tow Supervising new flight instructors

Gene Hammond spoke about the successful site survey program in Sweden and Norway.

Al Groft from the FAA spoke about the new cooperative efforts of the FAA.

Tom Knauff spoke about the Accident Prevention Manual/ pilot decision making process.

After lunch, the group split up into pairs to fly specified flight maneuvers in two Grob 103s and Duo Discus.

Maneuvers included:

Positive control check Pre-takeoff checklist
Take off procedures Aerotow
Signals on tow Release procedures
Aileron drag demonstration Shallow, medium and steep turns
Forward and turning stalls Normal landing


A discussion on the positive control check turned out to be a lively discussion with lots of comments from the participants.

The pre-takeoff checklist centered around three checklists used by different organizations. It also seems CFIs within organizations may be using different checklists with students causing some confusion.

The major differences in the checklists where the inclusion of wind as a checklist item. Most people have now added the letter "E" for an emergency plan.

Failure to properly perform an adequate pre-takeoff checklist is recognized as a major factor in takeoff accidents.

Factory supplied checklists are often inadequate, but also contain important items not contained in memorized mnemonics, therefore must take precedence.

Teaching the takeoff recognized problems with PIO's in new glider types flown by low time pilots. Setting the control stick slightly aft of neutral and allowing the glider to fly itself off the ground seems to be an answer to the problem. This techniques was then tried during the flying session. An additional method was to hold the elbow close tot he body or leg and hold the control stick lightly to reduce large control movements.

A discussion of signals on tow centered on the dive brake open signal by the tow plane fanning its rudder. There continues to be problems with some tow pilots and glider pilots not knowing the signal.

It was also pointed out the tow pilot should give no signal if there is a positive rate of climb and the towplane is not in any danger.

The role of the wing runner during a normal launch indicated this person plays an important role in the safety of the entire launch if they are trained to watch for safety items such as the canopy locked, dive brakes closed and locked, flaps set in a logical condition, tow rope condition, as well as conflicting traffic and other obstructions in the takeoff path. The wing runner should ask the pilot if a positive control check was performed.

Bystanders must be asked to be quiet and be non-disruptive while a pilot prepares for launch.

Releasing from aero tow, the group agreed a normal tow requires the pilot to first clear for traffic both left and right before releasing. A level turn is then made to the right. Schweizer release mechanisms can easily be modified with a small piece of rubber to control the shock of a normal release rather than using a "soft" release technique.

A discussion about rope breaks and other takeoff emergencies was led by Doris Grove. The entire group was then given a chance to perform 200 foot rope breaks in the Grob G103. The day was barely VFR. Joe Parrish compared rope break emergencies to the Space Shuttle abort plan.

Teaching aileron drag (adverse yaw) indicated a student pilot can be expected to make coordinated turn entries and recoveries on the second lesson if the instructor uses sound teaching principles on the first and second flights. If so, the student then can progress normally to aero tow and landings.

What is a shallow, medium and steep turn? The group discussed this issue but did not try for a concensus.

The final topic was the pre-landing check list. Several mnemonics were shared and all basically had the same items in different orders. Standardization of this item might be possible.

It was also agreed that one checklist (pre-takeoff or landing) is not possible to use on all gliders and some changes are necessary.


The weather has turned for the worse and it is unlikely much flying will be done the rest of the week.

The availability of factory tech notes and service bulletins was discussed. It is possible this service might appear on the SSA web site in the future.

Joe Parrish led a discussion on how to teach landings. TLAR and variations seems to be the preferred method. Safety problems with a suggested 45 degree leg from downwind to base leg were revealed.

Pilots need to appreciate the need for higher pattern heights in windy, turbulent conditions, and avoid any low altitude turns.

Close inspection of all the different pre-takeoff checklists revealed a simple change to the most popular checklist will accommodate everyone's ideas of what items should be in the standard checklist.

The new checklist could be CB SWIFT CBE, adding the W for wind.

Phil Ecklund presented a 12 month accident prevention program consisting of "attention items" each month of a year. The first month is the consideration that efforts to date have had little effect on accidents. Current efforts must be doing some good and a pilot has "up bumps" of increased safety awareness after attending a safety seminar, or performing a biennial flight review, but the goal should be to raise this level of awareness all year long. The second month emphasizes there are solutions. The Glider Pilot Accident Prevention Manual is a useful tool that should be used by all CFIs during training.

The group was introduced to reports of incidents and accidents involving tow planes.

There have been several reports from the United States, Canada, and the European community, of gliders in free flight being involved in mid-air collisions with tow planes turning away after another glider on tow has released.

It is essential, even life-saving, to thoroughly clear the area prior releasing from tow.

The glider pilot must look to the left prior to release to assist the tow pilot in clearing the area prior to releasing, and advising the tow pilot if traffic appears to be in conflict.

A session on teaching stalls was followed by flying where each pilot was given an opportunity to try stalling the glider from different attitudes and discovering new insights how an aircraft responds.

The final session involved fulfilling legal requirements and instructor sign offs.

Tom and Doris hosted an evening lasagne and sausage dinner.


A wide variety of subjects were covered on this day.

Dick Eckels led a discussion on ground operations and operation safety. Disruptive behavior by bystanders near the takeoff line is identified as one factor that can be controlled.

Marvin Holland led the discussion on teaching boxing the wake. Signals on tow, and removing slack from the towline revealed factors most had not considered during a flight training course.

Other subjects covered included collision avoidance, and distractions during the flight.

Legal aspects of altimeter setting to MSL resulted in a lively discussion. Cloud clearance regulations pointed out there are no speed limits above 10,000 feet. Glider pilots probably don't realize what risks they take when flying close to clouds. Existing transponder technology is not providing glider pilots with the low power drain hoped for.

After lunch, teaching side slips, and crosswind landings was followed by PTS changes for the commercial rating.

ABC - Bronze badges leads naturally to cross country and perhaps competition flying. The role of the CFI in assiting a new pilot through this training is important for a safe introduction to cross country. Off field landing courses are very valuable training.

Final subjects included transitioning new pilots to single place gliders, Transitioning to flap only gliders and thermalling techniques.

Rain covering the entire east coast of the USA has reduced flying opportunities at the conference. At the end of this day, all agenda class room items have been covered. With no chance to fly Friday, it is decided to end the conference after four days.

Everyone expressed enthusiasm for this conference format. An outstanding event that should be repeated at other locations.