What goes on at the Gliding Site on an average day?
Glider Ops Staff Members Arrive All staff members, except one person, live in Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton, and other areas. They are “on the road” in crew vans and private vehicles around 6:00 AM each Saturday morning to travel to the Gliding Site. By the time the staff members arrive at the gliding site by 8:00 AM, they have already been on duty a couple of hours.
Equipment Is Prepared Aircraft are prepared and completely checked by a qualified glider pilot to make sure that everything is safe for flight. Once this “daily inspection” is complete, the pilot who did the check signs Part 2 of the aircraft’s official logbook certifying that he/she takes responsibility for the condition of the aircraft. It is a big responsibility. Other members of the staff inspect the auto tow vehicle (lights, brakes, fluids, belts, mirrors, etc.) to make sure that it is serviceable for the day. Equipment is checked and loaded for transport to the runway.
Moving To The Runway The gliders are towed out to the runway from the hangar or tie-down area. Sometimes, the gliders have to be towed to the other end of the airport because of the way the wind is blowing. That could be as far away as 1.5 kilometers. Each glider has to be escorted by three ground crew members – one person holding the nose and one person on each wing tip. Our auto tow truck can tow both gliders at the same time, one behind the other, in a “glider train.”
Staff Briefing Before flying operations begin for the day, a full briefing is conducted. The briefing does not begin until everybody is there because it is MANDATORY that all staff members attend. This briefing includes the following topics: Condition of the aircraft Weather Conditions Purpose of the Day Launch Method Tow Patterns Landing Areas Individual Responsibilities Emergency Procedures
Crew Rest Periods Regulations in the “Air Cadet Gliding Program Manual” require that pilots spend no longer than two hours in the cockpit. That means that if the gliding site is short of pilots, each pilot must take a 30-minute break every two hours before flying more glider launches. If there are lots of glider pilots on duty, the pilots will exchange every two hours. Proper nutrition is also outlined in the “Air Cadet Gliding Program Manual.” Glider launches will stop at noon-time for 30-45 minutes so the staff can eat lunch and take a rest break.
Sharing The Airport Gliding Operations are often suspended while other aircraft arrive or depart. In aviation, everyone shares the same runway, so you may notice that the pace of glider launches will be slow on some days if there is a lot of traffic. The other users at the Miramichi Airport range from light aircraft to mid-size jets. The Province of New Brunswick Air tanker Base is also located at the Miramichi Airport. In addition, Med-Evac medical flights, Flight School training flights, Dept. of Fisheries, Search & Rescue and Law Enforcement flights use the same runway as Glider Operations. There is also a very active COPA flight at the Miramichi Airport
The Wind The Launch Control Officer (LCO) is always paying attention to the wind’s direction and speed. The LCO uses the windsock on the airfield, as well as a hand-held wind speed indicator, and the professional wind indicator instruments operated by the Miramichi Airport Commission. The “Air Cadet Gliding Program Manual” contains some very strict regulations about how much wind is allowed during gliding operations. Up to 25 knots is allowed from the front, but if the wind is at right angles to the take-off and landing path, only 8 knots is allowed. The wind speed and direction is why gliding sometimes gets cancelled on a beautiful sunny day.
While You Wait You should bring games, sports equipment, learning activities to occupy your time until it is your turn to go up in a glider. Be sure to ask to have your photo taken beside one of the aircraft at the gliding site.
Getting To The Gliders The Glider Ops staff will drive you from a waiting area out to the gliders in one of the crew vans. Five or six cadets at a time will go gliding. As those cadets complete their flights, the van will return them to the waiting area and pick up another group until everyone has gone flying. When you get out beside the runway, you will be instructed to stay in a “safety area” until you are called out to a glider. It is important to wait quietly so as not to distract the Glider Ops staff who are launching and recovering gliders.
Other Jobs Every flight by each glider and the tow plane is “logged” by the log-keeper. Each entry includes the glider registration, the pilot and passenger’s name, take-off time and landing time. Also added is the name of the auto tow truck driver and the observer in the truck with the driver. The auto tow truck has a driver and an “observer” who never losses sight of the glider during the launch. Sometimes, when a new observer is being trained, an “observer instructor” is in the truck too.
End of the Day After your last flight of the day around 1600 hours, your Officer will return a “survey” form to a member of Glider Ops. This survey form will give the Glider Ops staff some ideas about improving our service to visiting squadrons. After answering any of your final questions, a staff member will say good-bye and escort you to the entrance gate for your trip home. The Glider Ops staff has about an hour of work left to do after you leave. The gliders have to be towed back to the hangar or tie-down area, and all of the equipment has to be put away.
End of the Day The gliders have to be safely stored. If the tow plane has been used, it must be re-fueled before it is put away. The auto tow truck has to be taken to the local gas station for fuel too.
End of the Day A de-briefing session is the final item of the day. All staff members attend. Each person from the youngest staff cadet to the Site Supervisor has a chance to give an opinion about what went well during the day, what has to be improved for next time, and any Flight Safety issues that came up during the day. By the time Staff members get to the hotel for the night, it is getting late; and later in the Fall, it is also getting dark. On Sunday, staff members get home even later because they have to drive back to their homes in Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton, etc.
Thanks for taking the time to view this presentation. Now you know a little bit about what goes on at the gliding site. Have Fun at the NB Gliding Famil Site