JP's TACTICAL IDEAS V1.2
The SSA for many years has had a detailed strategic plan. For the Society to benefit it needs to go to the next step and take actions at the tactical level to achieve concrete results. The following are ideas that can be tackled. At this point they are the result of brainstorming and may not be practical. Hopefully, the ideas will spur further work and help foster the sport of soaring. Send your inputs to Jim Payne, JPAviation@Skypark.org
Safety--An interesting big goal is "Zero Fatalities." The way to tackle this is to study the causes of fatalities and promote actions that reduce the probability of future occurrences.
To reduce the chance of the improper rigging of sailplanes:
- Continue/Expand the Board's initiative on "Critical Assembly Checks."
- Have SSF determine which glider models do not have automatic hookups (such as ASW-19 or LS-6A) and send letters to all owners promoting procedures to reduce chance of rigging error.
- Encourage retrofit of automatic hookups for gliders, especially in those equipped with manual elevator hookups. Work with manufacturers/repair shops to develop affordable retrofits. Work with the FAA to ease the approval process.
- Where retrofit is too costly, develop warning or mitigation systems. For instance, using electronics it might be possible to build a system that detects when the control is properly hooked up. Or the actuation rod might be modified so that even if it is not hooked up it might give enough control effectiveness to prevent a fatality.
- Develop/publish procedures for detecting and mitigating in-flight failures. For instance, any control anomalies before liftoff should result in immediate release. After liftoff in a flapped ship, the pilot should react to any lateral control problems by going to full negative flap.
To increase the knowledge about crashworthiness:
- Help the Sailplane Development Panel and manufacturers get feedback on cockpit structural failures during mishaps so they can determine if current design specifications and structures are working.
- Develop and support sailplane accident investigators. Have a process of reporting lessons and making suggestions for improvements.
To reduce the chance of a stall/spin mishap:
- Have SSF identify sailplane models with history of departure/spin mishaps (such as Puchaz). Have knowledgeable CFIGs review recovery procedures and recommend proper training for these designs.
- Promote better training. Identify and publicize sites that provide spin training.
- Encourage process whereby future designs are less susceptible to a departure/spin.
To reduce chance of tow plane upset:
- Promote move from Schweizer hooks to Tost hooks (or inverted Schweizer hooks) on tow planes. Arrange FAA approvals/STCed kits for common tow planes such as Cessna 182, Ag Wagon, Piper Pawnee, Super Cub, Bellanca Scout.
- Discourage use of CG hooks when aerotowing. Maybe go so far as to recommend the FAA require nose hooks on all new sailplanes.
To reduce chance of collisions:
- Get transponder Advisory Circular approved that sets aside a universal transponder code for VFR gliders not communicating (getting flight following) with ATC..
- Conduct nationwide review to map areas where airliners and sailplanes regularly share airspace such as between Denver and Colorado Springs and north and south of Reno. Use this information to be proactive on procedures to reduce or eliminate the chance of collisions.
To reduce the chance of canopy related mishaps:
- Design and encourage use of safety latches on side hinged canopies such as on the Grob 103 or aft hinged canopies such as on the rear cockpit of the ASK-21.
To reduce mishaps at contests:
- Write best practices handbook for contests.
- Review contest rules for safety.
- Develop better finish procedures.
- Develop method of canceling tasks after task opening when conditions become hazardous.
- Develop a PC based emergency procedures simulation. (JC)
- Conduct worldwide review of other countries soaring operations. Publish/recommend list of potential good alternatives that will improve safety and efficiency.
- Write/publish more training materials. Use Internet for distribution.
- Develop/publish list of Safety Best Practices such as clear zones, radios in all sailplanes.
- Emphasize value of and promote use of standard procedures such as signals.
- Increase number of safety seminars.
- Encourage a "Back in the Saddle" safety seminar in each region/club at the beginning of the season.
- Encourage cross talk between operations. (I know of two fatalities where elderly pilots were denied tows. They went to different operations, got tows, and had crashes.)
- Expand SSF site surveys. Use insurance loss data to focus the survey.
- Improve the options for pilots needing motorglider checkouts. Encourage motorglider checkout/recurrency courses.
- Support research on pilot escape systems and ballistic chutes. Encourage ballistic chutes on new sailplanes.
- Support a research program on optimum tow rope strengths. The 80% to 200% rule was written when sailplanes were generally much lighter than today's sailplanes. A rope that breaks at 200% of the max weight of a 750 kilogram (1,653 pound) sailplane might be much stronger than optimum.
Promotion--Another interesting big goal is "Double size of SSA." Two items can really help the sport grow. One is reduce the cost of tows and sailplane rental. The second is increase the number of sites where pilots can get tows and training.
To reduce the cost:
- Encourage a 2-33 replacement. Some people think the 2-33 is not sexy enough in this day of BMWs but a simple, rugged, cheap, easy to fly training sailplane would greatly help the sport.
- Encourage more cost-effective tow planes. Use the opportunity of the new Sport Plane rules to make it easier to certify new planes. An Rv-4 fuselage with an RV-9 wing and Subaru engine conversion would be an example of what might be possible.
- Have a towplane design contest.
- Work with insurance companies to reduce claims and hence costs.
- Work with EAA and others to ensure suitable, affordable supply of aviation fuel or use of auto-gas where possible.
To increase the number of soaring sites:
- Conduct nationwide survey of sites. Encourage new sites in areas with none.
- Encourage training sites in metropolitan areas. Fremont, California was one of the jewels of soaring. It was along a freeway in a large metropolitan area south of Oakland. Because of short commute times many pilots took lessons during lunch and after work. With quiet tow planes every large town would benefit from having a close-in training site. If the mission is only basic training and rides then the airspace needs are low, i.e., within 3 miles up to 2,500 feet AGL.
- Write/Provide business plan for commercial operations.
- Write/Provide business plan for clubs.
- Encourage quieter/more eco-friendly tow planes.
- Promote flight parks. In areas where land costs are escalating flight parks can be a method of preventing the land from going to other uses.
- Promote soaring resorts. Central Nevada would be a prime location.
- Promote cross country training.
Other things that would help:
- Conduct a promotion campaign per Larry Tuohino's ideas. Target the "aviation consumer."
- Conduct a demographic survey of members. This would help gain sponsors who need demographic data to justify spending money on the market.
- Set up web site to allow people to join SSA online or to renew memberships using a credit card.
- Provide automatic membership renewal using credit cards.
- Promote life membership.
- Issue membership number based on date of joining.
- Rework deal with NAA.
- Support BLIPMAPs and other advances in soaring forecasting.
- Expand number of viable racing sites.
- Rather than end the SSA Distance Award and the SSA Fun Contest, combine them and make them an online contest. This would minimize the cost to the SSA and would encourage pilots since finding the current status would be only a couple mouse-clicks away.
- Work with the Reno Air Racing Association to add "tow drags" to the Reno Air Races. Americans invented drag racing and tractor pulls. The aviation equivalent would be two towplanes with sailplanes in tow drag racing from a standing start to 2,000 feet AGL. Put a transmitter in each sailplane that sends the altitude back the ground to be displayed for the spectators.
- In conjunction with Sun 'N Fun have a parallel SSA event at Winter Haven called Soar 'N Fun. Make it fun and educational for pilots and families. Encourage power pilots attending Sun 'N Fun to visit.
- Acquire sponsorships for events.
- Develop a list of contacts in the press and send press releases for every significant or interesting event, i.e., national/world records, contest wins. Example publications are Flying, Aviation Week, Pacific Flyer, GA News, AOPA Pilot, Sport Aviation.
- Design/Issue patches and pins for Competition Pilot Category One.
- Establish/Promote a system for mentoring new pilots. Recognize mentors.
- Represent soaring at all major trade shows.
- Have someone give a paper on soaring at all major trade shows.
- Place articles on soaring in the aviation press.
- Support COBM. Improve communications and promote attitude of "let's make the pie bigger" instead of competing for pieces of a small pie.
Advocacy--One of our most important reasons for supporting the SSA is to maintain our right to soar.
To maintain our right to soar will require good relations with the FAA, Congress, and state and local governments.
- Maintain and nurture a list of contacts at all levels of government.
- Maintain and nurture a list of contacts in all sport aviation organizations.
- Develop/Publish model agreements for wave windows, airport use, operations in and around Class B, C, and D Airspace.
- Work with FAA to make it easier to certificate and maintain tow planes.
- Work with FAA to make it easier to certificate and maintain sailplanes.
- Ensure SSA is represented at "alphabet" organizations. (Bernald Smith is going a great job now. What about the future?)
Admin--To maximized our member's return on investment we need to increase office effectiveness. The member's interface with the SSA is the office in Hobbs. A more efficient and effective the office means lower dues and better service.
To be effective, the office needs to be organized:
- Develop/write/publish policies and procedures manual. Go through all past Board Books to capture all Board passed policies. This should cover all aspects of the SSA. In particular, it needs to conform to labor laws.
- Develop and use an action item tracking process.
- Conduct review of operations to improve efficiency. Do cost effectiveness review of all elements of operations.
- Review merchandise sales. Probably the SSA should only be doing wholesale merchandise sales.
To be effective the SSA needs to communicate well:
- Develop process for timely updates of the web site.
- Provide good financial data for members, including Foundation data.
- Get Member Handbook online. John Leibacher has already done the work and has the handbook ready for linking or posting.
- Get biographies of members of the Soaring Hall of Fame online.
- Fix masthead on Soaring.
- Go to smaller font on Soaring so John Good can reduce his backlog of articles.
- Get archive of all back issues of Soaring online or on CD.
- Publish an index to all past issues of Soaring.
Other things that should be fixed:
- Return SSA purpose to "foster …"
- Get online badge application process working.
- Review cost/effectiveness of operations at Hobbs versus other sites.
- Establish trust fund for supporting volunteer travel. Solicit donations.
- Recognize donations of volunteer time as Eagle Fund contributions. Give various levels names such as Bald Eagle Volunteer, Silver Volunteer, etc.
- Review boundaries of SSA Regions and where it makes sense realign them to better match soaring activity patterns. In any case, adjust along zip code boundaries.
- Set up process to ensure that the official contest results get posted on the web site. The web site is becoming the archive of contest results. After some contests the official scores have not gotten to the web site.