X Country

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I joined the Tampa Bay Soaring Society in 1999, during the nine years I have been a club member we have never had an organized cross-country group training and flying together.  Our club now has many members that own sailplanes that are suitable for cross-country soaring.  With some of our best soaring months coming up soon I think now is a great time to start a group that can learn cross-country soaring together.  Donít feel left out if you donít own one of these sailplanes, the club owns the single seat Lark that, with some work, is also suitable for cross-country soaring.  I envision the group planning cross-country flights as a group and then team flying so we can gain experience together.
We should see very good soaring conditions towards the end of September and the months of October and November.  If you are interested in flying cross-country with the group now is a great time to prepare.  Below are some items that I suggest you consider before we start flying these group cross-countries.     
Your sailplane should have a variometer with an audio function.  This is a must so that a good lookout can be maintained while thermalling.
If you donít have a mounted VHF radio a handheld radio with a backup battery will be needed.  Remember, we will be flying together so our safety and communication will be very important. 
A parachute that has been repacked within the proceeding 120 days should be worn by all of the pilots. Parachutes provide an alternative for surviving an in-flight emergency where the aircraft is uncontrollable. They are effective only if the parachute is serviceable, correctly fitted, and operated correctly. Accordingly, before wearing a parachute you must be familiar with inspection of parachutes, correct fitting of parachutes, and proper operation of them, including exiting the glider prior to use.
We have to assume we may not make it back to our home airport.  While an aerotow retrieve from another airport may be practicable we need to have a properly equipped trailer and retrieve vehicle, with keys immediately available before we leave on any cross-country attempt.  Properly equipped includes gas in the tank, air in all the tires, spares included, and electrics connected and all trailer lights working!  Now is a great time to make sure your trailer is ready.
There are many things we can do to improve our flying skills before we start flying these group cross-countries.  I will send suggested practice tasks to improve our skills in follow-up emails at a later time.
If you are interested in joining me in this cross-country group please reply to me at Bruce Patton so I can get an idea of how many pilots and sailplanes that will be flying.

Bruce Patton


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Last modified:
August 24, 2008