So, I thought I ought to put on my Chief Coach and safety officer’s hats and add a few thoughts on the issue of coaches offering assistance. Firstly, I feel that coaches have a duty of care to pilots flying our sites. The worst incident our Club has had, involved a pilot flying against the advice of Coaches and instructors. The pilot was seriously injured and could easily have ended up in a wheelchair! In this case those present were right to try and advise the pilot not to fly! Had things been different, ie no cautionary advice given, pilot ending up permanently disabled, and inevitable court case to attempt to get compensation, those coaches and instructors present would have been questioned as to why they did not warn the low airtime pilot of the danger he was putting himself in! They may even have been accused of negligence! There’s a lot in the old adage ‘you can lead a horse to water’. Once informed, the Pilot is then fully responsible for his own actions.
Secondly, I would like to look at how we Coaches might go about helping a new, and/or visiting pilot. If a coach is at a site where they meet someone he or she has not seen there before, it is perfectly acceptable to approach them and introduce themselves as a Club Coach, and to then go on to ascertain whether the pilot may need assistance. At this point, it is extremely difficult not to become an ‘instructor’. If we try to tell the pilot everything we know about flying the site, they will only remember a few of the points we raise and may forget the main safety points. Overloading them with our wisdom will only serve to make a low airtime pilot more nervous and less focused! Instead, try to get them to suggest what problems or challenges the site may potentially create. If it has come from their own lips they are more likely to remember. The Coach can then prompt the pilot to come up with the information. A typical question might be, - If the wind increases so it is not possible to use the take off area for a landing, where would you think you could safely land. Because the pilot then comes up with the answer, they are more likely to remember it.
Try to only tell the person safety issues that they cannot clearly see
. Eg. If there are red flags on the cliff top when flying south from Mappleton, you must not pass them, as the military are likely to be exploding old bombs on the beach.
Our Coaches should be valued, used and respected! They don’t do it for fame or reward, but usually they want to ‘put something back’ and help others as they themselves were helped!
Let us all try and ask questions of each other when we are flying, either as visitors at other sites, or at our own. Let’s share our mistakes with others and not be afraid of constructive criticism. None of us are squeaky clean or perfect, and everyone has something to offer.
If anyone has anything to add please feel free!
Safe Flying, Berzo.
A place for the people wanting to be coached and for club coaches
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