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Postby ls7 » Sun Apr 03, 2011 10:32 pm


Choose a day very soon after a long period of poor weather when you haven’t flown for at least 6 weeks. All the others who have turned up eager to fly again will be the audience needed for full-blown pratthood. Assume that after a quick check flight, with or without the expected simulated cable break, you are right up to speed. Try to take your solo flight when winch drivers have just changed and the next man, preferably inexperienced, is doing his first launch of the day. If that turns out to be immediately after lunch when you are bloated from wolfing down your sandwiches, so much the better. A full bladder will help.

If possible pick a glider you have not flown for some considerable time. If it’s your own, hang onto any worries about whether you checked the rigging properly, the rushed DI, or the unexplained rattle you heard last time. Keep chatting to whoever is waiting to see you off. Gossip about club politics, last nights TV - anything but gliding. Best of all, arrange for someone to tell a long-winded joke.

Your approach to the take-off drill is of great importance. As you mutter the magic words that keep you from harm, restrict them to your lips; do not let them penetrate your mind. Mention “Eventualities” but on no account try to visualise them, or believe that they might happen to you on this very flight. By all means glance at the windsock but do not let the image past the retina of your eye. As you lock the canopy, you should become aware that you are not completely comfortable; straps should feel too tight or not tight enough; the pedals should seem to be in a different slot from usual; something should be digging into your back…don’t stop though, there are others wanting to fly.

Take no notice of smears on the Perspex directly in front of you until the joke teller shouts his punch line, and immediately signals take up slack. Do not check the position of the instruments on this particular glider till it begins to move. Keep your hand away from the release.

There - you have done your best to set the scene properly. A launch emergency cannot be guaranteed, of course, but you have given such a strong invitation that there is every chance of an over-run at the start, a cable break at a critical height or best of all, perhaps, a gradual winch failure.

When it comes, you have one thing left to do. Dither. Pratthood (at the very least) will then be yours. This will be confirmed by your friends - and others, including the CFI - who gather where you have come to earth. Congratulations, and welcome.

With acknowledgements to S&G and Phil Brett.......
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