|Wormingford Airfield, Fordham Road, Wormingford, Colchester,|
Essex CO6 3AQ Tel: (01206) 242596
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I've rather less to say that usual this year - as mentioned already, we have had some nasty accidents which I don't need to say any more about, but it shows that however experienced and talented you might be, there is still the chance you may make an error of judgement. In a strange way that makes my job easier... just because we have a relatively good safety record at ESGC does not mean we will maintain it, and I am sure you all are feeling a bit more vulnerable than you did this time last year. As John Bone has already said, some people even left the club after these accidents.
Nevertheless, last year we had a visit from the new BGA Regional Safety Officer, Chris Nicholas from Ridgewell, who came to a committee meeting and had a look at our safety policies and systems, and broadly speaking he was happy with what he saw, though he did make some suggestions which we have either implemented already or are actively working on. One is that we needed to update all our club documentation, such as Ground Operations Manual, Accident and Incident Manual, and Health and Safety Policy - these have all been done, and are available on the notice boards and web site, Chris Smith is revising the Winch Operations Manual now, and Mike Benson will soon be providing a brand new Flying Orders Manual which all club members and solo flying visitors will be expected to read (and also sign that they have read) - more details in due course from Mike. Another initiative is a scaled-down reporting system for minor incidents. The BGA felt that the time spent filling in the full BGA accident report forms was putting people off reporting minor but potentially dangerous incidents, and the new forms are on the safety board (which you should all look at regularly). They can be used in the following circumstances:
a) To report an incident that is not in itself serious enough to require formal completion of a full BGA or AAIB accident/incident report
b) To report an incident that you feel may carry a lesson for others
c) To report an incident where you were the only witness
d) To report an incident you feel may be, or is becoming, part of a trend
e) To make other informal suggestions regarding operational or flying safety
f) To make anonymous reports on any safety-related matter
Note that this system doubles up as a "suggestions box" - I hope it will have your support.
Elsewhere at other clubs, 2003 is already turning into what looks like a bad year: a double fatality at Bowland Forest where a motor glider picked up a winch cable on takeoff and crashed, and another fatality at Camphill where a glider apparently flew into a winch cable. Once again, two completely avoidable accidents, proving what we already know, that winch cables are extremely dangerous and unforgiving, and must be treated with the utmost respect.
In fact, as a direct result of the death of Martin Moss at Bowland Forest, I've been asked to go to Portmoak for the summer to replace him as their Club Instructor, and I'm setting off first thing on Tuesday morning, to be joined by a whole crowd of you at Easter. I'll be gone until the last week of August, though I will hopefully get down here for two short spells in the middle of May and at the end of June. Meanwhile, many thanks to Viv Haley who has kindly agreed to keep an eye on things while I'm away. In the longer term, I've done this job for coming up to five years now, and it might be time to think about a fresh pair of hands and eyes for the job, so my intention is to take over again when I get back, but I'd like to resign before I get stale in the job and hopefully not go on beyond this time next year.
Sorry that I've not had time recently to put together another Safety Briefing Notice - it actually gets more difficult to write them as time goes on, because I end up saying the same things again and again... so, for Easter reading, can I simply suggest that you read them all again - they are all on the web site and on the board.
Just a couple of other things about the web site - you'll notice that it has a new front end which we hope will increase the amount of interest from potential new members, but you'll also find a new "info for today" page that includes useful weather links and NOTAMS, and so on. I'll be on e-mail in Portmoak, so you can send me suggestions for the site if you like.
Finally I'd like to re-emphasise one point in John Bone's bit about the new medical system, that whilst John will do all he can to remind you, it is you, the pilot, that is responsible for making sure you are correctly medically certified.
So, have a good and safe summer's flying - any problems please let me or Viv know, and while I'm not around here, you all have a chance to grab some of the cups and records back again! That's all from me - see you all soon.
Safety Officer, ESGC