Contest Safety Procedures Checklist
This is like the “critical assembly” check, a short condensed list
of the most important safety-oriented contest procedures. This list is written
to enhance general awareness of critical safety procedures, and to help
organizers and pilots all make sure they happen. Disclaimer: Omission of an
item does not mean it’s not important.
Ground and Tow operations
- Is there a daily safety
briefing as required by rules? (9.1)
- Are spectators, dogs,
children adequately kept off the runway and away from dangerous areas?
- Do procedures clearly
define the times and places when people and cars use runways (to grid),
and times when airplanes use runways and people and cars do not?
- Is the critical assembly
check with signed wingtape procedure in effect?
- Are towropes in good
condition, with Tost rings (6.10.2)?
- Are procedures in place to
ensure that there are no people, spectators, objects, cars, in front of
- Are tow pilots
consistently using appropriate tow speeds for ballasted gliders, and
achieving that speed before climbout? (10.6.2.9) (Slow tows are a
- Do towplane patterns
ensure that ropes don’t drag in dangerous places?
- Are there clearly
established relight procedures, including radio calls/frequency, pattern,
landing spot, and recovery procedure?
- Are there clearly
established finish procedures, including pattern, landing,
runway-clearance and recovery?
- Is a “safety box” in
- Critical procedures such
as the above should be written, printed, distributed and on the contest
website, and then covered in briefings. Do not rely only on verbal
- Is start height guidance
followed--at least 500’ below cloudbase or top of dry thermals?
- Is the finish type
appropriate to airport and situation?
cylinder with high minimum altitude is advised when there is a) poor
terrain around the airport b) limited landing space c) power or other
glider activity during launch and landing d) arrivals from many directions
- If a
finish line is in use, head-on traffic between flying finishers’ landings
and rolling finishes should be avoided. There should either be separate
runways, or the final leg should be upwind.
- If a
finish line is in use, finishers will cross the wrong way if there is any
doubt. The final leg should not approach at right angles to the line.
- Is the
procedure in the rules being followed: a) All on 123.3, or b) Switch from
alternate frequency after tow release, and/or switch to it before 4 mile
- Does the
CD or delegate monitor the radio and coordinate with power traffic during
launch and landing?
- The CD should use Advisers
to assess the safety and fairness of the task, especially in the 5-10
minutes before the task opens. (10.8.1.2)
- When possible, avoid tasks
which lead to head-on traffic, especially with cloudstreets or geography
which concentrates traffic, poor visibility, and in assigned tasks or
assigned part of MAT tasks.
- When possible, send
different classes on separate tasks to reduce gaggling.
- When possible, the task
should be set across ridges in very weak ridge lift, and the task should
keep pilots away from poor terrain in weak or low thermal lift (Hobbs
caprock, Uvalde hill country, etc.). Beware of overly large turn areas or
unrestricted MATs in such conditions.
- It is better to set A, B,
C tasks on the ground than to call entirely new tasks in the air. (Most
flight computers allow entry of multiple tasks.) If tasks must be changed,
try to minimize reprogramming time. Leave adequate time between task
change and start open.
- Spratt guidelines of 2500’
AGL to launch, 3300’ AGL to start, should be followed unless there is a
If a pilot feels that important safety-related procedures are not
being followed, he or she should:
- Talk to the CD, CM,
contest committee (3.14) and task advisers. Please be polite, we’re all
interested in safety.
- Explain the problem to
other pilots and get them to talk to the CD, CM, contest committee, and
- Contact the SSA contest
committee or chairman (Ken Sorenson).
- File a protest. (See rule
9.0 and 11.1.3 as well as the rules describing the particular situation.)
- Don’t fly. Remember, the final
responsibility for safety always lies with the pilot in command (FAA, SSA
rule 9.3). Nobody ever “makes” you do something unsafe!
- CD: Rule 9.0 trumps all the
other rules and traditions. It is never the case that the rules force you
to do something unsafe, or prohibit you from addressing the development of
an unsafe situation.