Winching in southerlies

Winching in southerlies

There has been much discussion on when we can and can’t winch safely with southerly winds. There have been far too many incidents recently when we have landed cables and parachutes much too close to people and gliders. Despite all our attempts to teach and brief pilots to allow for cross winds correctly these incidents continue. If we don’t do something we may well have an accident. After much discussion we decided that we have to increase our safety margins and have set out the rules as follows:-

  1. If there is any southerly component in the wind use the small cable shutes.
  2. The maximum southerly cross wind component for winching is 5 knots when launching from the West end and 10 knots when launching from the East end. This is the wind speed measured at wind turbine height of 200 feet*.
  3. This does not absolve the winch driver, duty instructor and all pilots from using their brains. Clearly we must launch such that if the cable broke at the winch at the worst moment then there must not be any significant possibility of the cable or parachute falling on anything other than the airfield grass. For example in a 14 knot SW wind don’t launch if someone is towing a glider back over the old Quarry area where the field is at its narrowest. If the winch driver is not happy to launch he must not do so and must not be coerced into doing do by overenthusiastic pilots or instructors. Although pilots should all allow for drift we have found by bitter experience that we can’t rely on them doing so correctly.
  4. The winch driver must never purposely “cut” the launch because the glider is not allowing for the cross wind correctly. It is safer to continue the launch, wind the cable in normally and then seriously consider whether to do another launch that day.
  5. If a winch parachute lands where it can’t be seen by the winch driver he must go and find it and move it to near the centre of the field before winding it in.
  6. We must continue to teach correct “laying off” for crosswinds. Whenever possible this should be part of annual and site checks. It must always be discussed during these checks.
  7. I will monitor the situation over the next few months and tighten of slacken these rules as necessary.

* We have ordered an anemometer to fit on the club house roof. We will have to find out by experimentation whether this gives more reliable data than the wind turbine in southerly winds (we all know what it will do in northerlies!).

Thank you for taking the time to read all the above some of changes are quite different to what we have done in the past please remember that these things do change and these changes are made for the safety of all involved and the good of the club. Please operate in a safe manner if in your opinion it is not safe to carry on Stop you have the backing of the CFI and the flying committee.
Steve Tromans

Posted in Winching.