Background – This document is intended to help new Sky Soaring members to see how they can enjoy the benefits of the club, understand its inner workings and to become a contributor to the success of the club. First, let’s see how Sky Soaring spends a typical year.
A Year at Sky Soaring
|March||This month is the official start of the Sky Soaring year. The first date you need to remember is the 3rd Saturday of the month which is the annual safety meeting held off site. It is mandatory that you attend a safety meeting each year and this is a good opportunity. After the meeting the club returns to the field to assemble most of the club’s fleet. As the year begins, each member (who is approved to fly solo) must complete a “spring check out” with one of the club’s CFI-Gs.|
|April||The soaring season really gets off the ground during this month. With cool nights and warming days, and the farmers beginning to till the land, thermals become stronger.|
|May||Another good soaring month. During Memorial Day weekend, Sky Soaring often hosts a club picnic and cookout.|
|June||This may be the best cross country month of the year.|
|July||Good time to practice your thermalling skills. We often fly on July 4th.|
|August||End of the summer. A good time to prepare to take your check ride during the fall after a full summer of training.|
|September||Labor day weekend and another club picnic & cookout.|
|October||The fall can be a great time for soaring with cool nights and warm days again.|
|November||The official end of the soaring season on the 3rd Saturday with an off-airport annual meeting followed by disassembly of the fleet. Also the beginning of the ChicagoLand Glider Council (CLGC) off-season meeting schedule (note all Sky Soaring members are also members of the CLGC and the SSA).|
|December||We begin all those off-season maintenance tasks that we have been setting aside to enjoy flying. This is the time that you can play an important role in the life of the club. Sky Soaring also hosts a Christmas party, typically on a Sunday evening – watch for an announcement.|
|January||Keep the 1st open for a chili fest at the club along with a (hopefully) first flight of the year.|
|February||More maintenance tasks getting ready for the beginning of the next soaring season.|
A Week at Sky Soaring
|Saturdays||This is the busiest day of the week. Ground crew, tow pilots and CFI-Gs are almost always available starting around 9AM. Read more below in the student section.|
|Sundays||2nd busiest day. Ground crew, tow pilots and CFI-Gs are often available around 10- 12. Sunday morning student flying is a distinct possibility. Read more below in the student section.|
|Weekdays||Every day of the week is a possible flying day depending on the weather and enough people want to fly. Post a message in the online forum at www.skysoaring.com if you would like to fly on a weekday. Ask for a tow pilot and ground crew and a CFI-G if training. See more below.|
Things That You Need To Know
Sweat Equity – The club’s Heart and Soul are the Volunteers who make it all go. The club wouldn’t exist without the tow pilots, the CFI-Gs, the board and a host of others who contribute their time and energy! Now…what can you do? As a long time friend and club member once told me: “If you see something that needs to get done, just DO IT!” Another “long timer” once said: “Don’t be a zoomer” (that is, don’t zoom in, fly, and then zoom out). Those witticisms may sound flippant but try to find something that helps the club that you can make your own. Everyone can sweep, clean or polish. The way to be successful in our club is to come early, plan on spending the entire day, always do something extra for the benefit of the club, and then leave tired but exhilarated at the end of the day.
Flying – Flying at Sky Soaring is on a first-come, first-served basis. Each time that you want to fly you need to come to the field and place your name on the sign up sheet at the flight desk. Be sure to include some idea of what you want to do (training, cross country, which glider, private ship, etc). Hint: sign up as soon as you arrive at the field, as your place won’t expire. After flying it is your responsibility to make sure that your entries on the log sheet are complete and accurate. Finally, at the end of the day be sure to pay for your flight(s) by filling out a payment envelope, include cash or check, and place it in the “ Box” (see below) in the correct slot. The flight costs are shown on the log sheet.
www.skysoaring.com – After joining the club, you will need to register on the club website and once approved you will get access to the private side of our website. On this website are several things;
- Calendar of Events
- Directory of Members
- Important Files
- Message Forum
Email – The Message Forum on the website allows the membership to keep in touch. You will start receiving emails once you are registered on the site and have subscribed to the General Discussion Forum. AVIATION RELATED TOPICS ONLY PLEASE!!!
Students – The onus is on *YOU* to succeed. You will receive from soaring exactly what you put into it. If you simply show up expecting to fly, you will come away disappointed and feeling that the club isn’t catering to your needs. Every year we see one or more new members that hover around the sidelines expecting something to just happen. Unfortunately, that seldom occurs. The result being that another hopeful pilot looses interest and drifts away (which is a disappointment for us all). Our club is less like high school and more like college, you must be self motivated or, unfortunately, you may fail. A soaring club is a rather atypical organization created for the benefit of all. It may seem chaotic at first but there is a rhythm to the day and to the seasons. Get attuned to it and you will succeed. Soaring clubs only work well when everyone pitches in and understands the dynamics of the organization. Our suggestion is to get to the field early every day that you can, have the glider and the tow plane ready to go before others arrive (takes some training to do that, so feel free to ask any club member to teach you), plan to stay the whole day, and, make the best of every opportunity. Reach out to others in the club for advice. You will need to apply for your student certificate at the FAA IACRA website located at https://iacra.faa.gov. Talk to your CFI-G for information on how to apply. There is no medical examination requirement for glider pilots.
Try to stay around at the very end of the flying day, after everything is put away and the “hangar flying” starts – you may learn some really interesting things and get to know the other members. Fly as often as possible and with different CFI-G’s. Study your books. Good luck. Fly safely.
The Wooden Box – This box contains all the forms, payment envelopes and the “Blue Book” (see below) for use during a typical flying day. It is brought out to the flight desk at the start of each day.
The Blue Book – This binder contains one sheet for each member of the club showing their qualifications, training and other information. It is also where the CFI-Gs enter your accomplishments and sign you off to fly certain ships. It is your responsibility to verify that you have a sheet in the blue book and that the information is correct.
“Reservations” – Sorry, but we simply can’t do reservations. We are a club. We are not a commercial operation.
Weather – Remember, our sport is dictated by the whims of the weather gods (and the desires of the membership). If the weather is flyable (minimums are a ceiling of 4-5K MSL, no more than 10-15 knots cross wind, no rain/snow/sleet) there is the opportunity for an operation. An opportunity is not a guarantee. Get to know a good aviation weather web site to anticipate good days. We like https://www.aviationweather.gov/ and http://www.drjack.info/BLIP/ETA/NC.
Privately Owned Gliders – Sky Soaring welcomes privately owned gliders. Tie downs are free to encourage more ships on our glider port. Welcome!
Good luck with your flying in the friendly confines of Sky Soaring Glider Club. We are glad that you are here and hope that you make new friends that will last a lifetime.
The Sky Soaring Glider Club Board