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A Culture of Safety

Skyline is committed to seeking a high level of safety while enjoying the sport of soaring.  We do this by maintaining an environment we call a "culture of safety".  It's an operating environment that encourages members to want to be safe pilots, and to care and look out for other members as well.  The emphasis is on individual responsibility and good judgment, rather than rules and regulations.  

This is accomplished by the Club's offering a variety of safety oriented programs, including at least one mandatory all-hands Safety Meeting each year; the development of an Emergency Response Plan (and training in its application); and in regular meetings of the Club's cadre of instructors and its Safety Committee.  The Club requires that all instructors be Soaring Society of America Instructors, and the various programs, training materials, and alerts of the Soaring Safety Foundation are widely used.   (The SSF, an affiliate of the SSA, produces a variety of training and safety films, slide presentations, and Flight Instructor Revalidation Clincs (FIRCs) tailored to the unique training needs of glider flight instructors.)

But the real distinction is that the culture is one in which pilots welcome constructive, non-critical dialog at all times on any and all aspects of safety.  

"WINGS" Safety Seminars

The FAA recognizes the Club's Safety Seminars (held annually in January or February of each year and occasionally at other times) as meeting the criteria of a required safety seminar for the WINGS safety program.  Each Phase of the WINGS program requires attendance at a FAA approved safety seminar plus flight instruction; for gliders, six dual instructional flights or two hours of flight instruction are needed.  See the FAA website at http://www2.faa.gov/avr/afs/news/wings.htm for more details on this Aviation Safety Program.

Health and Related Issues

At the 2002 SSA Convention in Ontario, CA, Dr. Daniel Johnson made an outstanding presentation on "Physiology and Flight Safety", which can be reviewed at    http://amygdala.danlj.org/~danlj/Soaring/PhysiolOverview/index.html

He made a similar presentation at the 2003 SSA Convention, on the subject of the aging pilot - see http://amygdala.danlj.org/~danlj/Soaring/Aging/img0.html

(You can find other interesting presentations by Dr. Johnson at  http://amygdala.danlj.org/~danlj/AviationMedicine/index.html 

Collision Avoidance

Glider accidents* are much more likely than general aircraft accidents to involves mid-air collisions (MACs). While 0.86% of all GA accidents are MACs, 1.99% of the accidents involving gliders were!!  Mid-Air collisions involving gliders have occurred 18 times since 1982 in the US.  Near mid air collisions (NMACs)are getting more prevalent, and interactions with airliners and/or military aircraft are increasingly worrisome in the Mid-Atlantic area.  Although there has never been an airliner/glider MAC in the US, there has been one in France, and there have been several NMACs (some not officially reported) in the area.   Skyline Soaring Club operates at a mixed-use, uncontrolled airport near very heavy concentrations of military and airline traffic, making the avoidance of MACs a necessary part of our training.  And there are several interesting misconceptions about MACs that it's wise to be aware of.  [ Overview  ]

*Data are from the NTSB online accident data for 1982 - 2003 inclusive  

Soaring Safety Foundation Presentations

You'll also find a link to the Soaring Safety Foundation at http://www.soaringsafety.org/ which, in turn, has a number of very useful links to things like FAA publications. In addition, they have several training/safety presentations which can be downloaded and/or viewed (depending on format) at http://www.soaringsafety.org/present.asp, and several articles on glider safety at  http://www.soaringsafety.org/safety.asp

The Soaring Safety Foundation also makes available presentations for use by member clubs, such as the "Ten Steps" to better safety, an annotated slide presentation, which you can view here at http://skylinesoaring.org/TRAINING/tensteps3/ 

British Gliding Association (BGA) Presentations

Thanks to our colleagues across the pond, Pete Stratton (former Chairman of the BGA Safety Committee) and Dave Wright (currently of that committee), we have access to a fascinating series of bulletins, discussions, and accident reports - - click http://www.gliding.co.uk/bgainfo/safety/newsletters.htmfor the BGA's Safety website!

Accident Reports

It may not make for good bedtime reading, but what you don't know CAN hurt you . . .and you can learn a lot by reading about (vice repeating) other people's accidents,  In the United States, accident reports are prepared by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). At their website, http://www.ntsb.gov/NTSB/query.asp, you can search for individual specific accident reports or, by careful selection of the search criteria, all in a category (e.g., gliders in Virignia.)

In the United Kingdom, accident reports are prepared by their UK Department of Transportation, Air Accidents Investigation Branch.  There's a good website at  THIS LINKthat takes you to summaries of thousands of accidents.  

Just Plain Curious Stuff

From time to time, we read about interesting incidents/accidents that just don't fit into any neat cubbyhole of statistics for learning purposes, but tend to REALLY stimulate thinking.  Here are a couple that just happen to involve parachutes, in very different ways, and with very different results!

    1. In 1999, a Schleicher K-21 was destroyed by a lightning strike.  Both pilots survived by parachuting to safety, but there's a lot more to it than that!  There's a terrific report, complete with some truly compelling photographs hyperlinked within the article, on the accident at  http://www.pas.rochester.edu/~cline/ASK%20lightning%20strike/ASK%20accident%20report.htm

    2. In 2002, there was a bizarre accident in the UK resulting in two fatalities when a skydiver in free fall struck a Ka-8.  Again, there's a fascinating analysis at http://www.aaib.dft.gov.uk/bulletin/feb03/fkj.htm


Comments? Questions? Please drop a note to John Noss, the Club's Safety Officer, at john@noss.ws