I’ve spent most of the last thirty years flying cross country, competing, and teaching others to soar and race. I’ve been lucky enough to fly in lots of different places: in the USA from Mifflin, Sugarbush, Parowan, and Minden, all over Europe from Finland to Spain and as far east as Lithuania. I’ve worked in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and even Japan. Along the way, I’ve managed some reasonable distance flights and a few good results in the internationals. Lucky, lucky, lucky. And I’ve spent many dozens of seasons coaching: for the BGA, the GFA, GNZ, for Glide Omarama, and many individual gliding clubs. Again, lucky. On the other hand, I never made any money…hence:
The Soaring Engine Series!
In fact, it wasn’t designed as a money-making project, although given that there is no work in coaching right now a little income has been handy. I sat down to write the first book because I was frustrated at having to teach the same skills time and time again in the classroom. Don’t get me wrong, I love coaching and I can talk all day but there comes a point where one thinks “there must be an easier way…”
Volume four isn’t about soaring. It’s all about the kit: the glider and the instruments. Those of you that have been obsessed with gliding forever might not see the point, because you already know your way around the equipment. I’ve owned, maintained, reworked, and tuned – in order – a Swallow, Ka6, Libelle, Jantar 1, Libelle again, ASW 17, ASW 24, DG100, ASW 24 (again) DG101, Libelle (yet again, but a Striefenader one this time) and now an ASW 24 (yes, again… sigh) and an ASH 25. I know what I’m doing by now. Many of you reading this will have a similar history. But what about the newcomers to gliding? Most beginners today have the means to purchase high-performance ships, but they don’t have the background or experience to operate them efficiently. Sometimes they don’t operate them safely either, which is a real problem. Through no fault of their own, mind: there is almost no training available for the ambitious 200-hour pilot who wants to fly an ASW 27, a DG 800, or a JS1. And all of those machines are much more difficult to operate and more inclined to bite their owners than a Ka6.
So volume four introduces high-performance sailplane technology and design from the pilot’s point of view, pointing out why the aircraft looks the way it does, what it is designed to do and how to operate it without making a fool of yourself. The text also tackles modern avionics: I’ve just refitted my racer with the very latest gear and I’ve had to work hard to get on top of it all, and there’s a lot in the book dedicated to that subject because even experienced pilots are not necessarily up to date with the latest stuff.
I had to add an appendix to cover principles of gliding flight and principles of variometry, so the beginner has some chance of finding his way around the more technical material in the main text. This might be useful to those of you that have lots of experience but need reference material for instructing or coaching.