The following is a post of Joe Gregor's to the CHGPA listserv on 8/5/97, with tips on how to handle approaches when multiple pilots are headed to the LZ in close proximity to each other.

>Landing short or long of the first glider would be a very risky venture
>and we wouldn't want to advocate that the second glider slow his/her
>approach in the hope that the first glider would clear the field (what if
>the first glider whacks and they have difficulty moving the glider?). It
>would seem that a reasonable solution would be to turn a right-base
>(instead of a left-base), turn right onto final and land in Mungs. If the
>situation occurred with a south approach, then you would extend your
>left-base and turn a left final to land in Mungs.

This works well for fields in which there are well placed alternates. At others it is more important to pay attention to sequencing yourself into the pattern. If you are worried about traffic conflicts on approach, you should consider leaving the ridge early, before the flush cycle, and at a time when you would have the pattern to yourself. If everyone gets flushed simultaneously, a sequence of some sort usually presents itself. The gliders who were lower on the ridge and/or have heavier wing loading will end up having the right of way since they will make it to the ground first. If you are in this position you should head out with alacrity and burn it in to open up as much distance between you and those behind you as possible. The people who are lighter/higher might wish to hang out on the ridge a little longer to minimize sink, and fly closer to min sink on their way to the field, again, to open up the spacing.

If you find yourself flying close trail with another glider there are still things you can do. Remain cognisant of those around you, both ahead and behind. If there is another glider coming in behind you, try to land to one side of the field one third of the way in. Emma Jane's is more than wide enough to land two gliders simultaneously side-by-side in light wind, end-of- the-day type conditions. For the H-II's: realize that if you are behind a high performance glider, you are not likely to overtake the guy even flying fast.

If you are behind one of your co-horts, your spacing will likely remain the same if you were both at the same altitude to start with, have similar wing loading, and are flying similar performance level gliders (a pulse behind a falcon could be a problem, though) - small corrections should be enough to maintain a safe distance. Stretch out the downwind 10-15 seconds if you are behind. If you are ahead, consider turning base/final 10-15 seconds earlier. And don't get psyched out, a glider is not all that big an object to avoid. All you want to do is to avoid ending up in the same 300 sq ft box that the guy ahead of you ends up in. Most of us have a hard enough time hitting a box that size when we want to, right?

Some sites have several fields to choose from (primary vs secondary), or single fields with several options for landing points, like the primary at Fisher Rd. Don't get fixated on following your original flight plan to the bitter end. You should be prepared to amend your plan if so required by conditions. The best way to prepare for this is to chair fly as many specific scenarios as you and your friends can think of. Ideally you want to avoid having to think on-the-fly early in your career. That puts you well behind the glider, where you don't wanna be. You wanna be able to say: Hmmm, gotta switch to plan b, c, d, whatever. It shouldn't be an essay question, it should be multiple choice. And you should be constantly checking your answer throughout the flight to make sure that it's still the correct one.

Finally, help maintain everyone's situational awareness by talking to each other. Let the guy ahead of you know that you are there. If they are not on the radio, yell. If they are close enough to be a real factor, they will most likely be able to hear you. They don't need to know what you are saying, just that you are there (Perhaps we should all fly with police whistles for this purpose?). You should check six frequently (if not for yourself then for your fellow pilot) whenever thermalling in gaggles, ridge soaring in marginal conditions, and coming in on downwind.

And if you don't have a radio - get one - and be wired to send as well as receive. Learn and exercise a modicum of radio discipline, and pick a common channel for the day/site. If you can't talk and fly at the same time, learn how. This is the flying biz, folks, you gotta be able to walk and chew gum at the same time if you want to avoid endangering yourself and others.

-- Joe, serious guy.