Monthly Soaring Magazine Articles for 2015

January - First Flight by SSF Trustees

Soaring is spelled with U, didn't you know? It is YOU we write these items about, because you are soaring. Yes, you may say you need soaring, but so very much more importantly, not only soaring, but the world, needs you. Not necessarily as an SSA member, which is of course nice, but as you, your living self, whether you soar or not, you are who we want to be here tomorrow, the next day and all the next days. Without you being here whether you soar or not or belong to SSA or not, it's a cruel world without you. Read the full article.

February - Exciting Losses by Pat Costello

"Ooops! They sure blew that approach. How are they going to get the glider out of the trees?!" Or "Joe leaned on his canopy and cracked it." Which of these two losses is more exciting? Which will be talked about for days even weeks to come? Which will get the most attention from other pilots? Read the full article.

March - Check-out Time Again by Tom Johnson

It is that time of year again. Time to dust off your skills set. Yes, it is that annual soaring season checkout time. Time to see if you can still fly tow, thermal, and land an engine-less aircraft. Now I fully understand that some of us fly the year round but most of us take some kind of break during the year so put what I am suggesting into action on your next Flight Review, or better yet, go get a "beginning of your soaring season" Checkout when you get back from your break.
Read the full article.

April - Annual Soaring Safety Foundation Safety Summary by SSF Trustees

This report covers the FY14 (November 1, 2013 to October 31, 2014) reporting period. This summary is printed in SOARING, the complete report can be found on the SSF web site ( A review of the NTSB accident database shows a 16.0% increase in the number of US soaring accidents during this time period compared to the FY13 reporting period. There was no change in the number of fatal accidents in FY14 compared with FY13. In addition, the number of insurance claims rose significantly in FY14. While the long term trend in accidents reported to the NTSB continues to decline, there is general agreement that more steps must be taken to continue reducing the number of accidents and to eliminate all fatal accidents. Read the full article.

May - Training AND Safety, the SSF mission by Richard Carlson

In 1981 the Soaring Society of America board of directors established the Soaring Safety Foundation to be the Training and Safety arm of the SSA. The SSF trustees were tasked to develop programs and mechanisms that would assist the membership in reducing accidents. Read the full article.

June - Approach Speed Recalculated by Ron Ridenour

I just finished reading Bill Gawthrop’s account of his accident in the March Soaring entitled Oh !**!, I Crashed. I applaud Bill for writing this article in the hopes that it will help others to avoid a similar fate. His open dialogue and candor of the events provide some valuable insights into what happened that day and maybe how to fly differently while on approach. Read the full article.

July - It's Time to Go by Tom Johnson

Great soaring day!! You are almost ready to go. Your task is loaded and your gear is stowed. Now it’s time to put the parachute on and get into the sailplane. But wait! What is the purpose of the parachute you are strapping on? Is it merely a cushion or is it something that can save your life if needed? Read the full article.

August - Cause and Effect by Richard Carlson

Most glider pilots really want to understand why the glider acts the way it does in all modes of flight. After all, understanding why something works helps us to get the most out of our flights. So when it comes to encounters with turbulent winds close to the ground most pilots want to know if the glider is reacting to a vertical gust (thermal or downdraft) or a horizontal gust (wind gradient or shear). It is especially important when you encounter a downdraft or negative wind shear. In one case the glider will pitch nose up and in the other it will pitch nose down. In both cases the pilot will notice an increased descent rate. Let's look at events in detail and see why the wind shear event is so dangerous. Read the full article.

September - Glider Accidents that have happened before... by Ron Ridenour

Unfortunately, this summer has been no different from previous years in the type or number of glider accidents. As of the first week of July, our Soaring community has had 2 fatalities, one may have been a medical issue and one was a winch launch accident, these types of accidents have happened before. Read the full article.

October - Scenario Based Training by Tom Johnson

You are going to be hearing a lot about Scenario Based Training (SBT) in the coming months. The Safety Standdown at the SSA Convention in Greenville will center around introducing this topic to the community. Read the full article.

November - Aeronautical Decision Making by Stephen Dee

In a recent article from SSF, you learned the value of incorporating Scenario Based Training. In this article, I would like to review the basics of ADM, and how it can be learned, and taught. Read the full article.

December - Scenario Based Training by Tom Johnson

For the past few months, we have been discussing the use of Scenario Based Training (SBT) as the preferred method for training our pilot community. A structured SBT program is the basis for a modern Aeronautical Decision Making / Risk Management program. The military and airlines have been using this approach for years with excellent results. By adopting SBT in clubs and commercial glider operations, the soaring community can reduce accidents too. Read the full article.