Lanarkshire and Lothian Soaring Club

Paraglider over Tinto South


and especially coaching for low airtime and newly qualified club pilots, and how to get it

It is recognised that once a pilot has gained their Club Pilot qualification getting further experience, exploring new sites and flying in the wider world beyond a teaching environment can be a bit of a challenge. Scotland has a huge variety of flying to offer from soaring coastal sites to the highland mountains and everything in-between. The intent of our coaches is to provide help and information so that pilots, especially newer pilots, can progress their flying skills, and enjoy what flying has to offer. The learning process can be a bit random as we are all individuals and we cannot control the weather but the clubs approach to coaching seeks to be as inclusive and as helpful as possible. Do not be shy to ask.

Most importantly of all the intent is for pilots to progress safely and progressively. The BHPA coaching scheme aims to provide continued development at all levels.

All Club pilots are encouraged to progress toward the theory and flying tasks for Pilot qualification. By doing this you will learn things to keep you safer, and flying becomes even more fun the more able you become.

Coaching is for anyone that needs it at any level but we particularly wish to help low airtime pilots.

What is a low airtime pilot?

A newly qualified Club Pilot is easy to define but low airtime is a somewhat broader statement. Typically low airtime might be less than 20 or 30 hours of varied flying although this is absolutely not definitive. It’s not unusual to have three times those hours, or more, but simply be lacking the breadth of experience to progress.

Who are the coaches?

Coaches are pilots of appropriate experience, are volunteers, have been on a coaching course and are willing to give some of their time to help. Coaches cannot provide instruction but can provide valuable guidance. The experience level of coaches varies from relatively low air time to decades of flying and this is important as it’s helpful to have coaches who well remember being newly qualified. So coaches themselves decide what they are comfortable to coach.

One thing they all have in common is that they are approachable. So newer pilots should feel free to do just that and speak to our coaches. There is a list of coaches below and to contact them you can ask on a hill, or pub or wherever or message through the google group, or Telegram groups. We don’t publish everyone’s telephone numbers, but that isn’t because we don’t want to speak it’s because they change and the groups are up to date.

What does coaching look like?

Coaching is both outdoors and indoors.

Outdoors coaching is all about actually being on the hills, getting ready to fly and flying. Often ad hoc but specific coaching sessions can be arranged and these are not necessarily on good flying days. Usually coaching will be on flying days and might include why choose a particular site, a briefing for that site, what to expect of the weather and what might be a done with the day. If you’re not used to mountain environments help might be useful especially on windier days or it might be just ground handling, kiting or those top landings you’ve so far avoided. If possible there’s a discussion afterwards and maybe signing off some tasks for pilot rating.

Indoor coaching can be individual but is usually a new pilot’s night or a more general club night, and it’s about learning some of the stuff you want to know when outdoors. Usually these are evening sessions and most often in the winter. Typically they have covered flying weather, weather forecasts and how to interoperate them, equipment such as parachute systems or harnesses, training through SIV, finding those first thermals, or what instruments do you actually need. If you can think of a good subject we can probably get someone to deliver a talk. Sessions covering topics for pilot exams are not usually covered specifically but could be arranged. And help on what to read up on for exams is certainly available. Pilot exams can be taken any time of year but we normally hold a Pilot Exam day during the winter to make the process as relaxed and as efficient as possible.

Coaching and how to get it!

One of the coaches will usually contact newly qualified and low airtime pilots when they join the club as there is no substitute for speaking to each other. New Club Pilots (CP) and low airtime pilots (LAP) will be sent links and encouraged to join the clubs the New Pilots Google group and Telegram group. Open discussions can be extremely informative. Telegram is obviously for shorter writings and the google group for lengthier discourse. These are complementary to the club’s main google group and Scotland wide Telegram groups and all the clubs pilots are encouraged to be on these as appropriate. See the links on the web site here for joining these groups. And the same with all club nights, socials or flying events, such as the Scottish Nationals or annual barbeque, all are very welcome.

There is a list of our club coaches below and for individual discussions please feel free to message one of us and maybe arrange to speak or meet. If you don’t know any of us or don’t feel confident to contact someone you perhaps don’t know too well then please feel fee to contact me Fred Robinson as current chief coach. I will do my best to help. Helping pilots progress is what coaches are here for. We all started as new pilots.

Fred Robinson
LLSC chief coach