If you’re new, we’d like you to feel really welcome in the DSC. Most of us remember vividly what it was like leaving the school environment and joining a club for the first time, so we understand. This also means we’ve got various systems in place to help you progress. You top priority should be to engage with the coaches. Please be bold and make yourself known to us. We’re generally a friendly bunch!
Short of time and need a coach now? Click here for our coach list. If not, please read on!
When most new Club Pilots leave the security of the school environment, join a club and and venture out onto the hills for the first time, it feels a very big leap. For a start, you’ll no longer have the assurance of your instructor’s watchful eye, or the comfort of their voice on the radio. Joining a club full of strangers is a big enough challenge for most people, let alone being introduced to a bunch of new and unfamiliar flying sites! But don’t worry, we have quite a few resources to help you, there’ll be other newbies in exactly the same position as you and there are usually plenty of people keen to help if you just ask. To kick you off in a good direction, there’s a helpful page on the BHPA website called “You’ve got your CP – Congratulations!” which summarises what you should be aiming for over the next few months as you develop your skills.
One of the club’s primary functions is to help new pilots find their feet, so we’re keen to make sure new members are guided and supported. Your job is to introduce yourself to us so we know who you are! Registering on the club website forum opens up member’s areas. Feel free to use the forum to discuss issues, ask questions and make yourself known to everyone (there’s an “Introductions” area there for this very purpose). Most members now use social media on their phones, we have a busy DSC Facebook page and make extensive use of Telegram groups to discuss flying conditions. If you have a day off, do come out to the hills and meet us all. These days if it’s remotely flyable there’ll be a number of “hopefuls” gathered at lay-bys near any suitable hill. Even if you come out and aren’t able to fly, you’ll usually learn a lot. Hopefully you’ll be directed to a club coach who can give you a site briefing – and you’ll start to put a few names to faces too. Be brave, introduce yourself and ask questions! If you have any unanswered queries, our New Members Officer Chris Dervin is very knowledgeable and happy to help.
A vital part of your safe flying progression at this stage is through the coaching system. In many ways the new pilot doesn’t know what they don’t know. This is only to be expected, but the presence of a coach to monitor your progress and give guidance is vital to your safety and progression – especially in the early stages of your flying career. A coach can meet up with you in the morning of a flyable day, discuss options and suggest ideas to help you get the best from your day. Ideally they’ll be available after your flight for a debrief, to offer encouragement and give you pointers for next time. Coaches will sometimes run impromptu ground handling sessions or even guide XC newbies on their first flights over the back. The coaches also run occasional “Breakfast Briefings” (usually on flyable weekends). These are open to all but are particularly designed to provide support for newer pilots. Check the events calendar for any upcoming briefings. Various talks and lectures are run from time to time (usually at Camphill and mostly over the winter) so keep an eye out on Facebook and the events calendar. They will almost certainly improve your flying knowledge.
Our club coaches are selected volunteers who have taken a BHPA Coach training Course, and are annually revalidated by the Chief Coach. They are generally nominated for their aptitude as coaches rather than logged hours or flying prowess and are a helpful and knowledgeable bunch. So whatever your particular need, there should be a coach available in your discipline to offer encouragement, guidance and support – wherever stage you’re at. We recommend that new PG pilots print off the Foundation Layer of the BHPA Pilot Development Structure put it in your Pilot Task Book and bring them with you when you come flying. The coaches will look through it with you and help you set goals and work through your tasks. You will find a list of current DSC coaches here, and if you have any queries about coaching, contact our Chief Coach Andy Mac
Although coaches are usually more than glad to help, always remember that they are human! So they won’t know everything, have ups and downs, don’t have infinite patience and would usually rather be flying than answering irrelevant questions on launch! Please make the coaches’ work as easy as possible, express your thanks when they help you, and consider buying them a beer or a bacon butty now and then. One of our senior coaches Rick Hedley once wrote an article to help new pilots engage the coaches. You can download it here.
Over 10 hours?
After discarding your red ribbon, you’ll naturally be wanting to further expand your knowledge, develop your skills and set your sights on obtaining your Pilot rating. Maintaining continued contact with a coach will help keep your progression on track. Your coach will suggest various tasks and challenges for you, debrief you on them afterwards, and help you work through the Pilot Development Structure as well as signing completed achievements in your Pilot Task Book.