Currency & Cable Breaks

Are you Current?

No – This has nothing to do with Blackberries or cash for holidays!

We now have 6 students who have passed their white card test, the latest being Tom. Congratulations!

So what does this mean?

If you have passed your White Card and have up to 50hrs flying time you are able to fly without a check flight for 3 weeks (21 days) in White Windsock conditions. But always check with the duty instructor to get any advice relevant to the day’s conditions and possible local flying restrictions. If you have passed your Red Card flight test and have up to 100hrs experience the currency time is 6 weeks (42 days). If you have passed the Yellow Card flight test or are an instructor and have over 100hrs flying time, the currency time is 3 months (84 days).

But note that with less than 20hrs per year you would not keep your skill level up. 40hrs is only 45mins per week. I have found that I have averaged 70hrs per year over 23yrs, and this excludes any motorglider flying or tugging.

Over the winter you will lose judgment skills. If you only have 50 solo flights you will be well down the ladder and will need to climb back up with an instructor’s help. How many times do I hear “there is no point in doing a circuit”? Just because someone else says this does not mean it relates to you. Everyone is different and every time you fly you have to make decisions, starting with the decision to go flying or not.

When we are learning there is a limit to what the brain can process [Charles: Tell me about it!] at any given time. For example – when learning the skill of basic flying you are probably working at 90% of your capacity and can cope with only a few gentle prompts. As you increase your hours the brain will start to make adjustments without you thinking about it. This can only happen with hours and repeat circuits – lots and lots of hours. Statistics show that 90% of accidents happen in the take-off, circuit or landing phases of flying.

Why does my instructor give me so many cable breaks?

The work load and decision making is probably highest with a failed winch launch at 400-500ft. One moment you are climbing at 55kts, monitoring air speed, yaw string, correction for cross wind and then – Ping! It suddenly all goes quiet. But there may not be the usual sudden noise from the winch hook. If a cable splice (join) stretches you will get sudden deceleration in the launch like the power fails we arrange, but there will be no loud noise.

However the very opposite happened to one of my students last week when the joining link next to the weak link was not in line. It lined up suddenly at 300ft with a metal clonk, “OMG! My student thought – Dave’s pulled the bung” and started to use the recovery plan for a cable break. So make sure you sense some deceleration before you try to move the stick forward – you don’t want to start a cable break recovery when you are in fact still attached and being winched up.

Frequently many students give me very detailed recovery plans, but then fail to carry them out due to the stress of the moment. Admittedly the workload is high but your response will improve with practice.

So to recap the recovery actions:

  • Stick forward to achieve recovery attitude.
  • WAIT for approach speed to be obtained.
  • Then recover the approach attitude.
  • Maintain approach speed.
  • Release any remaining cable
  • THEN make a decision whether to land ahead or do an abbreviated circuit.
  • ALWAYS expect at least one or more cable breaks in check flights. This is not me being rotten to you but gives me a guide to your workload and capacity to fly and deal with problems.

If you are pre-solo you need at least 10 or more until you have mastered the skill.

I have had many real cable breaks. One was on my first launch on a K6 which had been lent to me. Another was with my own K6 on a first launch at Nympsfield, and again at Lasham in the K8, 494, by an overzealous winch driver with the old Tost winches. The training really came to the fore.

So here is looking forward to our next cable break!!!

The Honourababble Dave

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *