4. FLIGHT TRAINING
4.0 SAFETY RULES IN THE AIR
- Think ahead
- Take care of others
The most important safety rule is to keep constant track of what is happening outside the cockpit. It is much more important to know what’s going on around you than what your instruments are telling you. You should never be staring at your instruments. In fact, you do not really need your instruments to fly safely; later on in your flight training you will perform some flights with a limited instrument panel and you will notice that there are many other methods of judging airspeed and altitude apart from using the instruments.
Tell the instructor about each aircraft you see. He or she will then know how good your lookout is and how much help you need. Tandem seating can make it tricky to tell the other person where another glider is. ‘Over there!’ has its limitations. A good method is to use the clock technique. For example: ‘glider at 2 o’clock higher’; ‘helicopter at 11 o’clock slightly lower;’ and so on. Looking straight ahead a normal field of vision is ±140°, if you turn your head and eyes it is about 290°.
By always looking out carefully you will avoid surprises. Hats with fancy patterns or colours can cause reflections in the canopy and limit the instructor’s view. That’s why many glider pilots wear darker sunhats when seated in the front seat of a two-seater glider.
Even if you can fly the glider perfectly, you will not be allowed to fly solo if you don’t lookout thoroughly. Practise watching all the aeroplanes around you and remembering their position as well as their direction. Looking out plays an important role in all flying exercises. For example: you will not initiate a turn before you have checked the direction of the turn and assured yourself that the airspace you need is clear of traffic.
Pay extra attention to aircraft flying at the same altitude, i.e. on your horizon, especially if they are flying towards you. Sometimes they are very hard to see and the closing rate can be high. If it looks as if an aircraft is hardly moving horizontally or vertically, but it is getting bigger, then it is coming towards you and you will need to alter your course immediately to avoid a possible collision. Any aeroplane whose position in the canopy does not change but increases in size is on a collision course!
Think ahead; change direction and always consider the possibility that the other pilot has not seen you. A white glider with a cloud in the background is often hard to see. The sun or the weather can make it even more difficult to spot a glider, especially when the sun is low or when the air is very humid. Sometimes it is hard to tell by the silhouettes of gliders whether a glider is moving towards you or away from you. Even in bright weather, gliders at a similar altitude are often difficult to spot, because they do not stand out from the visual clutter on the horizon.
Your eyes need about two seconds to adjust from looking at your instruments to looking in the distance. Keep in mind that when visibility is poor, your eyes might end up focussing more on your instruments than on the outside world. If this happens, you have spent too much time looking at your instruments and not enough time looking outside! Whenever you notice yourself doing this, you should have a quick look at the landscape below and then scan the horizon.
There is a so-called ‘scan cycle’ method in which you deliberately pause your lookout in every direction from time to time to look more closely. The scan-cycle looks like the illustration above: you start by looking straight ahead and then round to one side and as far back as you can, then over your head. Then you look back over the nose and check the attitude (the glider’s nose in the right place relative to the horizon) and the instruments, before starting another scan on the other side. Remember to pause in every direction for a closer look, and don’t forget to check the areas behind your wings and directly above you, from which an overtaking glider can emerge.
In short, the scan cycle is: lookout - attitude - instruments.
SOME FLIGHT SAFETY ADVICE
- Clean the canopy and your sunglasses before the flight.
- Open the air vent if you notice that the canopy is getting misty on the inside.
- Do not take off when your canopy is wet after a rain shower; dry the whole glider first.
- Prepare your flight well so that during the flight you can look out as much as possible.
- Be aware of the blind spots of the glider: behind and directly below. During turns, be sure to check the area behind the wing you’re turning towards.
RULES OF THE AIR
As you progress through your training, you will learn about the Rules of the Air. The following points are useful to know early in your flight training:
- If a glider is approaching ANY AIRCRAFT head on, both have to make a right turn to avoid a collision.
- A glider that is on your right has priority; make a right turn behind their tail to give way.
- During approach and landing, the lower glider has right of way, but must not cut in front of another on approach.
- Overtaking a slower glider has to be done either on the right or on the left of it while keeping a safe distance. Never overtake a glider slightly above or by diving below it.
- A glider has priority over a powered aircraft.
- When ridge soaring, the glider with the mountain ridge on the right has priority.
1. If a glider is approaching ANY AIRCRAFT head on, both have to make a right turn to avoid a collision.
2. A glider that is on your right has priority; make a right turn behind their tail to give way.
3. During approach and landing, the lower glider has right of way, but must not cut in front of another on approach.
4. Overtaking a slower glider has to be done either on the right or on the left of it while keeping a safe distance. Never overtake a glider slightly above or by diving below it.
5. A glider has priority over a powered aircraft.
6. When ridge soaring, the glider with the mountain ridge on the right has priority.