Runaway Safety

Imagine waking up one morning ready to soar and having no, I mean zero, worries about anything going wrong. WX perfect, sailplane in total airworthy condition, thermals predicted to go up a 8-10 knots with no over-development, a smile on everyone's face at the airport , a clear runway with you being in the number one slot for launch and a full oxygen bottle. Is this a crazy idea or something we can look forward to in the future? My belief is that we can sure come close to this now. How? With Runaway Safety! (Read: play on words)

Here are some questions to ask ourselves:
Waking up, did we get enough rest the night before? Did we get a good breakfast and leave all the "Work Stuff" at the door when we left home? If we have internet access, did we check the soaring forecast for the day? Driving to the airport, did we mentally prepare ourselves for flight? My personal technique is to reaffirm each and every time the possibility that I can get hurt doing what I am about to do. This isn't a scare tactic for you but a reality check. Yes, we are involved in an extremely exciting (dangerous) sport with acceptable risk. Arriving at the airport, is the glider in airworthy condition? Have I used a checklist religiously? Have I done the final positive control check and pre-takeoff check correctly? This phase of flight is the most critical. Anything forgotten or missed shows up in a big hurry on departure roll.
Having accomplished all of the above, one should be on their way to having an enjoyable safe flight, right?
Let's take one more moment and focus on a final thought, (Final: term used to describe the arrival end of a runway or landing area).

Runways are where we can make our best or worst showings. The FAA and ICAO have defined a term that I believe needs mentioning in our glider community. The term is "Runway Incursion".
Here is the definition of Runway Incursion:
Any occurrence at an aerodrome involving the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle or person on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and takeoff of aircraft I love the word aerodrome, it makes me feel like I am living in Great Britain and awaiting my flight assignment over the English Channel during WWII. Seriously, if you take another look at the definition you will notice the word "incorrect" as the meat of the term. The definition does not just apply to controlled airports but to any airport with or without those steely eyed professional in their glass towers. How can we be "incorrect" when operating on a runway?

Here are my thoughts on it:
  • We don't have our radios (if equipped and if not, it's a small price to pay for a large return on situational awareness) in the Oscar November mode (ON), monitoring the CTAF and knowing the traffic flow.
  • We allow our friends, family, guests or vehicles to meander onto an active movement area without being supervised.
  • We push out without taking that one final glance at the approach end and down to the other end, to see that no aircraft are about to land on-top or over the top of us or have blown a tire and may be sitting square in the middle of the runway( tow plane pilots take note)

Adhering to and following a few safety items will definitely take us down the path to Runaway Safety. That is, everyone practices the Safety Culture all the time. Our sport of soaring deserves this. Seeya at Taxiway Alpha 2,
Paul S.

P.S. Here are a couple of links to further your knowledge on Runway Safety and Runway Incursions: www.faa.gov/airports_airtraffic/airports/runway_safety/ www.eurocontrol.int/runwaysafety/public/subsite_homepage/homepage.html