Briefing

Whether this is to be your first, or one of many visits, we will welcome you to 626 Volunteer Gliding Squadron (VGS). We hope that you and most especially your cadets will enjoy your day here at Predannack Airfield.

Whilst the primary objective of the day is the cadets’ education and enjoyment, SAFETY is of the utmost importance at 626 VGS.

There are many stringent rules and regulations that we must (and do) abide by, but we strive to maintain a relaxed and friendly atmosphere in which to operate.  We do this by encouraging an active involvement from both visiting staff and cadets.  However the airfield can be a confusing and sometimes dangerous place for those who are not familiar with our type of operation, and therefore a thorough briefing will be given.

Please read the following information carefully as this will help you understand your role in the proposed activities for the day.

 

DUTY INSTRUCTOR

Shortly after you arrive the Duty Instructor (DI) should introduce himself, and give you a copy of these briefing notes.  The DI is a senior instructor who is totally responsible for the co-ordination and safety of the day’s operations and is therefore your point of contact for any questions or any problems you may have.  The DI’s job is often referred to as “running the line”.

The workload and responsibilities of the DI are very high, and too numerous to mention here, your forbearance and co-operation with the DI is therefore greatly appreciated.

Please note that irrespective of the Duty Instructor’s rank, his authority outranks all other staff (visiting or otherwise) for the day’s operation.

However in the unlikely event that you feel that the DI has not dealt with your particular problem to your satisfaction, then you may raise the issue with me.  I am hopeful that you will not find this course of action necessary and that any dispute can be settled in a professional and amicable fashion with the DI.

 

NOMINAL ROLL (GLIDING PROGRAM SHEET)

You should bring with you a completed Gliding Programme Sheet (Annex D to ACP 20A ACTI No. 32).  Please hand the completed form to the DI.  It is important that you give as much information as possible about each cadet’s flying experience.  This will help us to prioritise each cadet’s flying in the event of the weather restricting our operations.

Additionally, as you are more aware of each of your cadet’s specific needs, we also welcome any information that might help us to give the maximum benefit from every flight.  For example, you may have a cadet who is nervous or one who has a minor disability and you may have a particularly deserving cadet.  If notified of any particular needs we can endeavour, staff and weather permitting, to accommodate these.

Please note that cadets should not fly with a Record of service Book on their person.  All Record of Service Books should be handed to the DI along with the completed gliding programme sheet.

 

BRIEFINGS

A qualified member of staff will be allocated to conduct a Gliding Induction Course Briefing that will include reference to the use of parachutes.  The briefing will also include other safety precautions and a full explanation about what the cadets will be expected to do out on the airfield.  You are encouraged to attend this briefing as well so that you become familiar with the latest practises and procedures.  This briefing can take place before or after the operations briefing, depending upon staff availability.

The Operations Briefing, conducted by the DI, is a mandatory requirement for all staff of 626 VGS.  It covers the day’s weather forecast, flying tasking, airfield layout, aircraft availability and other notices.  Whilst much of this information may appear of little relevance to yourself, and may not be fully understood by all of the cadets, you are invited to attend and we hope it will help you to feel part of the “team”.  As this briefing is conducted in the cadets’ briefing room the cadets are requested to sit quietly at the back of the room, to make space for 626 VGS staff at the front.

CLOTHING

Uniform, peak hats and berets should not be worn on the airfield.

The cadets and yourself will be an integral part of the operation out on the airfield so comfort and practicality are of more importance than smartness.  There is no approved dress code but the following should be borne in mind:

A) WINTER OPERATIONS

The airfield is wet, muddy and cold.  Old, warm clothes, in layers, are recommended.  A hat and gloves are advisable.  Coveralls should be worn, when available.

B) SUMMER OPERATIONS

The airfield may be dry and the aircraft cockpits may be very hot.  Light cotton clothes and a sunhat are recommended.  Sunscreen is essential if it is going to be a sunny day.  Remember that a breeze may make the day seem cool but the Cornish sun can still burn.

The DI or other member of staff will point out the toilet and changing facilities for both males and females.

 

YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES DURING NORMAL OPERATIONS

Whilst there may be many members of staff from 626 VGS out on the airfield they all have specific duties to ensure the safe and smooth running of the operation and may not be able to monitor your cadets’ behaviour.  Immediate supervision of specific gliding activities and duties will, of course, be given by suitably qualified members of 626 VGS staff, but, as the escorting member of staff, we rely heavily on your good self for the overall discipline and welfare of the cadets in your care.  After all you know them much better than we do!  Please note that any request to leave the airfield launch point area (other than for aircraft retrieving) by either yourself or cadets must receive specific clearance from the DI.

The DI may well get you involved with the co-ordination of operations, perhaps by requesting your assistance as “Aircraft Log Keeper and Signaller” and will give you a separate briefing, if required.

At the discretion of the DI you may take your transport (at your own risk) onto the airfield.  He will tell you where to park.  However, if you do take your transport onto the airfield cadets will have a natural tendency to sit in it!  It is imperative that this is not allowed to happen as we rely on the goodwill and hard work of the cadets to launch and retrieve the gliders.  The harder they work the more chance we all have of doing the maximum flying.

 

FLYING ALLOCATION

In addition to giving your cadets Gliding Induction Courses the Gliding School has other commitments set by Headquarters Air Cadets, including Staff Continuation Training (SCT), Gliding Scholarship training (GS) and Advanced Gliding Training (AGT).

HQAC set the following priorities for the tasking:

1.     SCT

2.     GS/GIC/AGT

3.     Misc. (Glider familiarisation for accompanying adults etc.)

The reason SCT is the highest is simply because if we haven’t any pilots in “current flying practise” we cannot carry out the other tasks.  Although it would seem that you are a lower priority 626 will always meet it’s commitment, weather permitting, to provide your cadets with the maximum available amount of flying.  If weather conditions permit each cadet will usually be given the option of having fewer longer flights rather than a number of shorter ones.

 

INCLEMENT WEATHER

If you are unfortunate enough to attend 626 on a day when the weather is not suitable for gliding operations you will generally be expected to remain at Predannack until after lunch time when a decision will be made by the DI as to the potential for the commencement of gliding operations in the afternoon.  If gliding is unlikely to take place you will be free to go.

Whilst waiting for the weather to become suitable we will keep the cadets occupied for a while by giving an extended GIC brief, possibly taking in the operation of the winch and other equipment.  After this the cadets should remain in the briefing room where there is a television and some board games, to help keep them occupied.

As the escorting member of staff, other than keeping an eye on their behaviour, you need not remain in the cadets’ room but feel free to join the VGS staff in the Instructors’ crew room.  You may find that people are engaged on domestic issues but you are welcome to help yourself to hot or cold drinks, if you wish.  We do not make a charge.

Please note that for obvious reasons there are stringent meteorological parameters laid down within which we are permitted to operate.  Whilst the weather to a “layman” may appear perfectly suitable, this may not be the case.  Please be reassured that the DI, who has access to the Meteorological Office at RNAS Culdrose, will be monitoring the weather and will authorise gliding operations if at all possible.

 

LUNCH

Regulations dictate that each pilot has to stop for a one hour lunch break if the day’s operation will exceed 9 hours.  The time at which we stop depends upon the weather and task commitments.  In exceptional circumstances lunch may be taken on a shift basis with a reduced operation during that period.

Your cadets should have been briefed to bring a packed lunch.  The DI will notify you in sufficient time to allow the cadets to collect their packed lunches, if they haven’t eaten them already!  You will normally remain on the airfield for lunch although it may be possible for the cadets to be taken back to the briefing room for a break.

A gas ring, kettle and fresh water is provided in the launch control caravan.  A limited supply of aircrew energy rations will normally be available to all staff and cadets at the launch point during the day.  These will be in the form of hot and cold drinks and biscuits or crisps and are intended as an addition to, not alternative to, the normal requirement for meals.

 

DEPARTURE

We will try our best to complete your cadets’ Gliding Induction Courses by a specified time if this is requested when you arrive, weather and overall tasking permitting.  If for any reason this is not the case we will continue to operate (weather and light permitting) until it is completed.  If however you must depart at your specified time the cadets who have not flown, or who have not had their full allocation, will not get another chance until your Unit’s next gliding detail.  You should let your Wing Gliding Liaison Officer/CCF Liaison SNCO the result of your visit using the appropriate form.  If your cadets do not fly your Unit will be given a further allocation when possible.

If your cadets complete their gliding early we would very much appreciate you remaining until your specified time.  This will help out the other cadets who are attending, perhaps for GS or AGT.

Please ensure that before you depart you have collected all the Record of Service Books and that your cadets have collected all their belongings from the airfield caravan and briefing room.  You also need to take the completed Gliding Programme Sheet for your Unit records.

We at 626 are constantly striving to improve our efficiency and our service to our customers.  We welcome any constructive suggestions or inputs, so please mention them to the DI before you depart.