Glider Operations at Boerne Stage Field
Rules and Procedures
August 19, 2009
1. General Characteristics of SASSI Glider Operations
a. Glider patterns are initiated between 600-1000 feet AGL
b. Glider patterns are tighter (i.e. closer to the runway) than is typical for powered aircraft.
c. Once a glider has turned towards the downwind it is committed to landing. A glider is generally unable to delay its landing for traffic separation.
d. Gliders may use left or right traffic patterns for either runway (17 or 35). Gliders may also land downwind in response to an early tow termination (rope break) or to speed clearing the runway for power traffic. All Glider landing, but especially non-standard patterns, will be reported by radio.
e. SASSI gliders have radios and monitor 123.0 while in the vicinity of the airport. Gliders provide periodic position reports when near the airport and when entering and exiting the airport area. Gliders in the pattern report (at a minimum) their down-wind.
f. Gliders , when safely possible, should give way to the powered aircraft. However Gliders have the right-of-way over power aircraft (FAR Sec. 91.113 (d2)). If necessary for safety a Glider pilot has the option of exercising that right of way or even asking a powered pilot to perform a go-around. SASSI pilots will avoid exercising the right-of-way and are expected to:
(1) Make every effort to integrate into the landing sequence by holding in lift if available. Position reports from Power pilots near the airport and in the pattern help Glider pilots avoid conflicts.
(2) Glider will consider circling in lift found in the pattern, landing in the grass, making a short or long landing, or even a downwind landing ( to get the glider off the runway and on to the displaced threshold very rapidly) to avoid a conflict.
(3) If the glider cannot maintain altitude it may have to call for landing, taking priority in accordance with FAR 91.113. Gliders will use this only as the last option which should be preventable with good planning and communication.
2. General Characteristics of SASSI Tow Plane Operations
a. Gliders and Tow planes stage on the displaced threshold of the runway in use. Staging consists of a glider, a tow-rope, the tow-plane, and generally one or more ground crew. It typically takes several minutes to connect the tow rope, prepare the glider, take out the slack, and launch. It takes a little longer if a ground crew is not available or for larger Gliders.
b. During staging traffic can land over or depart in front of the displaced threshold.
(1) The Tow plane and/or glider will make a radio call when staging.
(2) Aircraft wishing to depart in front of or land over the staged Glider/Tow plane need to make prior radio contact with the Tow plane.
(3) Powered pilots are never to do brakes locked power ups with gliders and/or people behind them (see FAR 91.13).
c. Departing Powered pilots who do not want to be delayed by Glider operations should plan on departing in front of the displaced threshold. Powered pilots requiring the displaced threshold for departures during Glider operations must coordinate with the Glider operation to avoid delays. During Power departures on the displaced threshold:
(1) Glider operations should try to keep the tow rope on the side of the displaced threshold until ready for staging and hook-ups.
(2) Powered pilots should do rolling starts when in front of Gliders..
d. Tow pilots announce intentions and positions, including staging, initiation of tow (take-off), turning cross-wind, and Glider release.
e. Tow planes return to the airfield with the tow rope attached. The tow rope should be dropped on or along the displaced threshold of the runway in use. If the drop area is not clear the tow pilot may choose to drop long, land with the tow rope or go-around.
f. A rope break in the first 600 feet, i.e. on up-wind, may require the Glider to execute an immediate 180 degree turn and down-wind landing. Aircraft departing following a towed glider must be aware of this possibility, keep the glider in sight, and communicate with the glider in the event of a rope break (the glider has the option of landing short or in the grass). Simulated rope breaks (early releases) will be announced by the Tow plane or Glider but performed only when traffic permits.
g. During the tow the Tow plane and Glider have the right of way over all other traffic (FAR Sec. 91.113(d)).
3. Consideration of Power Pilots.
a. Gliders will not be assembled on the displaced threshold.
b. Gliders will be as prepared for flight as possible before staging on the displaced threshold.
c. After landing, Gliders will be moved to the displaced threshold as quickly as possible. To facilitate prompt clearing of the runway Gliders are authorized to use the displaced threshold during landing.
d. Gliders will not be left unattended on the runway or displaced threshold. Gliders may be left unattended once staged off the displaced threshold or on the grass runway while tow out vehicles and equipment are retrieved.
e. Gliders pilots are encouraged to use the grass between the taxiway and runway for an optional landing area if this will reduce operational delays for Power pilots.
f. Glider pilots performing push-backs on the runway should yield to departing and arriving aircraft by pushing the glider off onto the grass or nearest taxiway, if a power pilot is waiting and ready for departure.. Extended push-backs should be performed on the grass or taxiway.
4. Winch Operations
a. Winch operations involve staging Gliders on the displaced threshold, positioning a trailer-mounted winch (V-8 engine) off the west side of the departure end of the runway, and running a winch tow rope from the winch to the Glider staging area. Winch operations will be posted by NOTAM.
b. In preparation for each launch the winch tow rope is brought from the winch to the Glider staging area by a retrieval vehicle that drives down the runway. The tow rope is placed alongside the west edge of the runway.
c. Launches are conducted by connecting the winch tow rope to the CG (bottom) of the glider and pulling the glider to its release point 800-1800 feet above the winch. The glider is pulled to its release point in less than one minute. The winch tow rope releases from the glider and descends (under a small parachute) to a landing within thirty feet of the winch. On a typical day dozens of launches are made.
d. Winch launched Gliders usually immediately enter the pattern for a landing, although they may attempt to thermal to a departure altitude. Premature releases at any point during the launch are possible and may result in the Glider landing up-wind or down-wind at any point along the runway.
e. The Glider, ground personnel in the staging area, the Winch operator, and the driver of the retrieval vehicle must have radios for coordination and be constantly monitoring 123.0.
f. Winch operations are only performed when traffic permits. Winch operations are suspended as necessary to allow departing and arriving traffic.
(1) If the retrieval vehicle is in transit on the runway it will clear the runway (typically onto the grass).
(2) Arriving traffic is expected to land over the staging gliders on the displaced threshold. Departing traffic is expected to depart in front of the staging area (displaced threshold). Departing aircraft requiring use of the displaced threshold should coordinate with Glider operations to prevent departure delays.
g. Observers of Winch operations are welcome but they must remain clear of the staging area (displaced threshold), winch, and the west side of the runway. Anyone crossing the west edge of the runway for any reason must be aware of the winch tow rope.
h. Only pilots with a Ground Launch Endorsement and who are SASSI members may do Ground Launches at Boerne Stage Field.
5. Self Launch
a. Self Launch Gliders may use any point of the runway for departure as the Pilot see appropriate, as long as they communicate their intentions.
b. When under power a self launch glider will use the call sign “Motorglider” followed by its end number. When the self launch is power off it will use the call sign “Glider” followed by its end number
c. If a self launch glider is under power and needs to extend its pattern for landing traffic, it is allowed to climb back to 1000 AGL. It is also acceptable for the “Motorglider” to go-around or break out of the pattern and re-enter to accommodate landing traffic.
Power pilots with comments or suggestions should contact SASSi.