Managing Flying Risk – Gliding operations

Public Safety

Clubs have a duty of care towards members of the public as well as their own members. The public must be allowed to exercise rights of way. It may be necessary to temporarily modify the gliding operation or cease launching to ensure public safe passage.

Visiting / New Pilots

Visiting or newly-joined qualified pilots are likely to have a wide range of backgrounds. Specific guidance on the intricacies of flying from a site, particularly those sites of a more demanding nature, might be covered in a visiting pilots briefing note. Ideally this information should be available via the host club’s website so that the potential visitors can brief themselves ahead of any visit. Irrespective of the scope and content of the various publications, before flying visiting pilots should be directed to suitable briefing information describing the site’s key risks and operating challenges. Visiting pilots are advised that the excitement and novelty of the site could distract them from considering how the different site and conditions might involve different preparation and eventualities.

Moving gliders on the ground        

Every year there are many hours of flying lost and tens of thousands of pounds of insurance claims made due to avoidable accidents whilst moving gliders on the ground. There are some simple precautions that contribute to moving gliders safely;

Towing a glider;

  • Confirm the undercarriage is locked down
  • Close and lock the canopy
  • Check any towing equipment is fitted correctly
  • Ensure that all involved including the driver can hear instructions or warnings
  • If using a rope to tow, ensure it is long enough. Consider an overrun or other eventuality.
  • Drive at a slow walking pace

Moving a glider near an obstacle;

  • If possible, steer by holding the wingtip nearest the obstacle
  • If in doubt, ensure someone is checking clearance

Parking aircraft;

  • Consider the weather. Gusts or strong winds can easily move and even lift aircraft. Gliders are particularly vulnerable.
  • Proactive use of wind breaks and parking gliders with tyres on a wing and elsewhere can prevent weather-cocking and unexpected movement.
  • Packing in a hangar can easily result in “hangar rash”. Care should be taken to adequately brief those moving the aircraft and checking clearance.

Opposing Circuits

Opposing circuits (also known as mirror circuits) to the same landing area involve gliders and/or tugs potentially approaching each other on the base leg at a relatively high combined speed when the attention of both pilots is inevitably concentrated on positioning their aircraft in relation to the landing area. Opposing circuit traffic will be difficult to detect. As such, opposing circuits to the same landing area represent a potentially significant hazard that pilots need to be aware of.


Aerobatics can be an excellent tool for learning, practicing and demonstrating pilot skill. Displays are subject to ANO requirements. Aerobatics should always be carried out at a safe height taking into consideration the ever-present potential for misjudgement or loss of control and the minimum height established by the club CFI. Where Flight Manual limitations on “g” or airspeed are exceeded, the incident should be reported. As structural damage may have occurred that can subsequently fail in flight, the aircraft must not be flown until it has been inspected and released for service by an approved inspector.

First Aid and Firefighting

Telephone numbers for the emergency services and guidance for first responders should be displayed prominently at the club premises.  A first aid kit should be kept in a prominent and easily accessible place.

Serviceable fire extinguishers suitable for electrical and fuel fires, as well as a crowbar and axe, should be kept on a quickly mobile vehicle whenever aeroplanes or gliders are operating from the field.

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