First of all, you must know that starting a training course is possible even if your professional activities or your family duties do not allow you to spend the whole day on the airfield.
In Vinon, most of the flyable days are run according to the old ritual sequence.
Our staff and the first volunteers turn up at about 9 a.m. Everybody gather at the clubhouse for a cup of coffee and exchange about yesterday’s experience.
Under the guidance of our CFI and the instructors, teams are constituted to open the hangars and take gliders and towplanes out. Soon, the shelters are empty and our aircraft are placed along the runway. The daily briefing takes place at 10.30 a.m.
This briefing is a most important phase in our activity. The first part is devoted to a weather analysis of the flight area. This forecast is a major factor of safety. The CFI will dwell on any specificity of the day. The second part is dedicated to the rules and regulations of the airspace in which the pilots will fly. Then comes the dispatching of the club gliders, the time schedule of the flights, each one knowing what part he will have to play. It may sound a bit sophisticated for beginners, but this routine can be easily understood and assimilated.
Between 11 and 12 a.m., the first initial or trial flights take place.
Around 12, the terrace is crowded with pilots sharing their lunch.
Then, around 12.30 p.m., gliders are lined up on the runway and towpilots start the launching of the most experienced pilots, those who need to be airborne when the first thermal appears, planning a long-range flight. No time to rest! Everybody is busy on the runway to fasten the lines to the gliders and allow the take-offs of some thirty sailplanes. Our four towplanes need less than one hour to perform the launching.
Amidst this intense activity, the instructors organize their teaching afternoon, so that each student has a fair share of new knowledge.
Around 2 p.m., the whole fleet is flying. The only remaining people on the field are the beginners waiting for their turn to fly with an instructor, and “young” pilots with only a few solo flights waiting for their training sailplane to land. More experienced pilots are far away, heading for Briançon or the Northern Alps, according to their abilities and qualifications.
When 6 p.m. comes, the flying day is nearly over. The lifts are gradually decreasing in strength, and one by one, all the fleet comes back to its base. Gliders will be then washed and put back in the hangars, ready for the next day.
When all is over, at sunset, the “friendly gang” meet at the clubhouse for a refreshing drink. Pilots talk about their achievements: this one has gone solo for the first time or has successfully performed his/her first cross-country flight, that one has flown close to the Mont Blanc or the Cervin Mountain, thus covering hundreds of kilometres. Sometimes, a barbecue is prepared around which those who have flown meet those who have spent a good deal of their time helping on the runway.
In our Club, we consider soaring as a team activity, where friendship is the basic rule and selfishness is banned.