top of page


Updated April 10, 2019

Purpose:  Hood River Soaring (HRS) provides these standards and safety process to its members in order to provide consistent, safe, operations.  All PIC rated pilots shall know and understand the standards.  These standards, however, are not requirements for operation.  These standards are a reference point – a point from which to deviate.  Deviations require detailed briefing, and pilots assume the added responsibility when choosing to deviate.  Without this brief, all members understand that the standards will be followed.  These standards are not intended to change how we operate but codify those operations and illuminate for new pilots the details of those operations.  These standards are specific to Hood River Soaring at Ken Jernstedt airfield.  This document is also not intended to replace or repeat regulations, handbooks, instructions, or other documents required to be understood prior to flying as a PIC.


This is a living document that may be changed at the will of the Hood River Soaring board of directors in order to continually improve the safety and efficiency of our operations.  It is a repository for lessons learned and best practices and should be reviewed and re-adopted annually or more frequently as required.


Safety Process:  Hood River Soaring seeks to provide safe and efficient soaring opportunities for its members, patrons, and the general public. HRS and its members acknowledge that glider and glider-tow operations present dynamic situations and piloting challenges that are unique within general aviation.  The human factor element will ensure that the club will forever fail to reach zero defects.  Because of this, HRS has implemented a robust safety process, which allows for a non-retributive collaborative environment where pilots can learn from each other.  The safety process is not concerned with individual performance; rather it is concerned with group performance.  Success depends on teamwork and communication.


An element of this process is the safety report.  HRS club members will issue a safety report regarding all operations, normal and otherwise.  This report is the responsibility of the senior club member at the conclusion of every day of operations.  The word “senior” is used to identify the field manager if present, CFI-G if present, a Commercial Pilot if present, and finally the Tow Pilot, if only private tows are being flown.  The senior pilot may delegate the report to another club member if another perspective is required.  The report will include, the length of operations, number of tows, and any unusual occurrences (defined as any deviation from standards or brief as applicable) and can be in the form of an informal email, or phone call.  The distribution on the report will include at a minimum the safety officer, tow pilot, and present instructors.  The safety officer will determine whether information needs to be passed to the board, senior members, or wider audience.  S/he will make this determination based on the value of the information as it applies to continued safe operations.  Those items s/he deems valuable may contribute to the modification of this document.   Safety emphasis will always be on group performance.

Safety Process

Safety Officers:

  • Stan Voynick – President, HRS

  • Mike Kingen – Director of Safety

  • Bret Russell – Safety Assistant

  • Rick Kemper – Chief Tow Pilot

  • Mark Stanfield – CFI-G

  • Jeff Pinnock – CFI-G

Safety Officers

Terms and Definitions:

  • Dog Bowl – a point on the East Hood River Valley ridge southeast of Ken Jernstedt airport which represents the southern terminus of the main ridge soaring area.

  • Notch – large break in the East Hood River Valley ridge due East of Ken Jernstedt airport.

  • High School – Hood River Valley High School which represents the point on the ground coinciding with the initial point for gliders entering the down wind for a landing on runway 25.  Gliders will circle here waiting for their planned altitude at which they will fly to the downwind.

  • WAAAM Blanik – at the WAAAM driveway and highway 281 which represents the point on the ground where the downwind to runway 25 begins.

  • Hood River Bend - represents the point on the ground coinciding with the initial point for gliders entering the down wind for a landing on runway 7.  Gliders will circle here waiting for their planned altitude at which they will fly to the downwind.

  • Orchard Road Bend – the bend in Orchard road which represents the point on the ground where the downwind to runway 7 begins.

Terms and Defintions

Pilot Currency:

  • Currency – per 14CFR 61.57, 3 takeoffs and landings in 90 days in category, class and type (if required).

  • AC 61-98D – “Pilots should design a currency program tailored to their individual operating environments and needs, which should emphasize proficiency beyond the minimum currency requirements.” Hood River Soaring will foster currency through a two-pronged approach:

    • Annual Safety Meeting attendance or HRS approved alternative

    • Personal currency program review with a Commercial pilot or CFI-G

Pilot Currency

Ground Operations:

  • Every tow will include a brief that discusses at a minimum: airspeed for tow, and direction of tow. The club acknowledges that this information may be passed via ground crew, radio, or hand signals.

  • Glider well-being is the responsibility of the scheduled PIC from releasing tie downs until relieved by another qualified PIC or until the airplane is tied down.

  • Passengers will be seated and belted prior to towing the glider to the runway, if practicable.

  • Ensuring the traffic is clear and moving the glider past the foul cones onto the runway is the responsibility of the field manager or designee.

  • A traffic call will be made prior to entering the runway hazard area.

  • The ground crew will only approach or retrieve the tow line when the tow plane is stopped at ground idle and the tow pilot has approved an approach to the airplane which is signaled via hand signals or eye contact.

  • With towline in the hand of the ground crew, the tow pilot is cleared to taxi down the runway until the tow rope is almost fully unspooled. At this point the tow plane will stop and wait for visual signals.

  • Prior to walking away from the glider cockpit, the ground crew will confirm the glider pilot has completed his checklist including the canopy closed and locked.

  • On signal, the tow pilot will taxi forward and tension the line.

  • On signal, the tow pilot will call for takeoff and begin the takeoff roll.

Ground Operations


  • It is the assumption of the formation that radio communications will be ineffective on takeoff while the tow plane is at high power. All communication will occur via tow plane and glider aircraft signals, and standard (or briefed) routing will be the primary objective of the tow plane until sufficient altitude (1000 ft AGL) is achieved to troubleshoot abnormalities.

  • The tow pilot will expeditiously advance power to full, maintain runway centerline with proper crosswind inputs, and stick aft.

  • The glider pilot will maintain centerline with proper crosswind inputs and attitude.

  • For a scenario where the glider lifts off first, the glider will maintain centerline with proper crosswind inputs, and attempt to maintain no more than 5 ft off the runway, until the tow plane lifts off.

  • The tow plane will attempt to achieve briefed airspeed prior to leaving ground effect.

  • The tow plane will maintain runway centerline until passing 50 feet to ensure the glider has the best opportunity to land at the far end of the runway upwind should the rope break.

  • The turn to the cross wind will be based on headwinds ensuring that the track of the formation across the ground provides at least one avenue for landing out for the glider until reaching 200 feet when a 180 degree turn to the downwind landing is achievable.

  • Once past 200 feet, the tow plane should adhere to normal traffic pattern navigation and will reduce engine power by 50-100 RPMs for noise abatement.



  • In all cases, the tow pilot should maneuver the formation so that, upon release the tow plane can make a descending left turn, and the glider can make a right turn.

  • Soft release will be pre-briefed to the tow pilot which is the standard for the Schweizer hook equipped aircraft.

  • All routings are traffic and wind dependent. It is the responsibility of the glider PIC to ensure a non-standard pattern is briefed if winds dictate.

  • While in tow formation, it is the responsibility of the tow pilot to monitor traffic and if required, deviate from prescribed patterns to avoid closing on traffic. In these scenarios, the tow pilot will prefer climbing overhead the field until the traffic conflict is resolved.

  • Pattern Routing

    • The glider should release as the tow is intercepting the glide path from the downwind to the landing. This may occur at less than a thousand feet but not less than 800 feet.

    • If the glider does not release into the pattern, the tow will continue by turning South and then East climbing overhead the airport.

  • 3000’ Training Tow

    • The 3000’ training tow will use the paperclip pattern to climb primarily overhead the field. The 3000’ tow can end up over the town of Odell or over the town of Hood River, based on flow into the airport.

  • Ridge Routing

    • The glider should release at briefed release altitude or as desired, along the ridge. The tow pilot will maintain a race track pattern along the ridge and continue climbing until glider release.

  • Scenic/White Salmon/South Valley Routing

    • Scenic routing will include a climb to 5000 ft AGL or higher. The tow pilot will fly a “paper clip” pattern overhead the field ensuring safe gliding altitude prior to turning to the North or South as briefed.


Soaring Procedures for Safe Flying: HRS follows the FAA Glider Flying Handbook "rules of the road." All pilots are advised to consult the handbook which may be downloaded at Glider Flying Handbook. The following procedures are excerpted from the handbook:

  • Make all turns away from the ridge. A turn toward the ridge is dangerous, even if gliding seemingly well away from the ridge. The groundspeed on the downwind portion of the turn is difficult to judge properly, and striking the ridge is a serious threat. Even if above the ridge, it is easy to finish the turn downwind which may take the glider over the ridge crest; this puts the glider into heavy sink.

  • Do not fly directly above or below another glider. Gliders spaced closely together in the vertical are in each other’s blind spots. A slight change in climb rate between the gliders can lead to a collision.

  • Pass another glider on the ridge side, anticipating that the other pilot will make a turn away from the ridge. Sometimes the glider to be passed is so close to the ridge that there is inadequate space to pass between the glider and the ridge. In that case, either turn back in the other direction (away from the ridge) if traffic permits or fly upwind away from the ridge and rejoin the slope lift as traffic allows. If using a radio, try to contact the glider by the completion number and then coordinate the passing.

  • The glider with its right side to the ridge has the right of way. Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations requires both aircraft approaching head-on to give way to the right. A glider with the ridge to the right may not have room to move in that direction. The glider with its left side to the ridge should give way. Additionally, when overtaking a slower glider along the ridge, always pass on the ridge side. If the overtaking glider encounters sink, turbulence, etc., it must maneuver away from the ridge. This is acceptable. When piloting the glider with its right side to the ridge, ensure the approaching glider sees you and is yielding in plenty of time. In general, gliders approaching head-on are difficult to see; therefore, extra vigilance is needed to avoid collisions while slope soaring. The use of a radio during ridge soaring is recommended. Pilots must be familiar with 14 CFR part 91, section 91.113, Right-of-way rules: Except water operations, and section 91.111, operating near other aircraft.



  • The Initial Point (IP) for landing runway 25 will begin at the “high school” at 1600-1700 ft MSL and will use a right hand pattern to the north of the field.

  • The Runway 25 traffic pattern will be entered via the 45 to right downwind to intercept the WAAAM Blanik which is the beginning of the downwind.

  • The Initial Point (IP) for landing runway 7 will begin at the bend in the Hood River at 1600-1700 ft MSL, and will use a right hand traffic pattern to the south of the field.

  • The Runway 7 traffic pattern will be entered via the 45 to right downwind to intercept the bend in Orchard Road which is the beginning of the downwind.

  • All gliders will primarily land on the paved surface. If the paved surface is occupied, gliders should land on the grass.


Rope Breaks:

  • Less than 200 feet – land ahead or to the right avoiding the tow plane if it is still on the ground. The tow plane will move to the left.

  • 200 feet – downwind landing.

  • Above 200 feet – abbreviated/normal pattern.

  • Depending on the altitude of the glider during the guillotine event, the glider pilot will release the line over unpopulated areas (first priority), and where the rope can be recovered (second priority).

  • Any actual rope breaks or guillotine events require a debrief between the two involved PICs prior to the end of the day.

Rope Breaks

Tow Plane Specific Standards:

  • The tow pilot’s primary responsibility is the safety of the tow airplane.

  • The tow pilot will guillotine the tow line whenever flight controls reach a stop in a stable situation, or dynamic movement of the aircraft puts control into question.

  • The tow pilot’s secondary responsibilities are to safely navigate the formation and communicate position to non-participating aircraft, particularly when taking the runway.

  • The tow pilot will pull forward as the ground crew is pulling the line back and forth along the wing. The tow pilot will stop the pull forward movement when the line reaches the spool and will not continue until signaled by the ground crew.

  • The tow plane will not takeoff with less than 15 gallons of fuel as indicated on the external fuel gauge, more than 1.5 hours of Tac time since last refueling, or 10 tows (whichever happens first) for any local flight or tow.

  • The tow plane shall not takeoff with less than 15 gallons indicated.

  • The tow plane will make a traffic call prior to entering the runway hazard area.

  • The tow plane will enter and exit the runway through designated areas, or within ½ a wingspan of a light beyond the wingtip (maximum distance from light).

  • The tow plane will initially park near the glider offset in heading so as not to send prop wash towards the glider or ground crew.

  • For the first flight of a tow pilot, runup checks will be conducted at this point, ensuring prop wash is not pointed at glider or ground crew.

  • Runup checks for the tow pilot will include flight controls checks, proper position of switches and engine controls, and a check of all flight and engine instruments. Aircraft runup needs only to be completed during the first event of a tow pilot for the day.

Tow Plane

APPENDIX A - Glider landing Patterns:

Landing patterns

The landing patterns shown here illustrate the recommended initiation and turn points for gliders landing on 4S2 runways 25 and 7.  Base legs as shown are approximate and will vary according to wind conditions and the chosen touchdown point.

Note: These images are best viewed on a large screen.  Viewing on a mobile phone is not recommended.


Ken Jernstedt Airfield 4S2.jpg

LANDING PATTERN FOR 25 (2D illustration)

Landing pattern for 25 - 2D.jpg

LANDING PATTERN FOR 25 (3D illustration)

Landing pattern for 25 - 3D.jpg

LANDING PATTERN FOR 7 (2D illustration)

Landing pattern for 7 - 2D.jpg

LANDING PATTERN FOR 7 (3D illustration)

Landing pattern for 7 - 3D.jpg

APPENDIX B - Terrain:


The maps linked to this appendix show the terrain most commonly flown by gliders launching from and returning to 4S2.  Useful landmarks are named to help orient pilots who are new to flying in the Hood River Valley.  This appendix is a work in progress.  Watch for more terrain maps to be added!

Click on the sections below to link to their corresponding maps.  Note: These images are best viewed on a large screen.  Viewing on a mobile phone is not recommended.

Hood River Valley.jpg
Upper Valley Thumbnail.jpg
Lower and mid valley thumbnail.jpg
The ridge thumbnail.jpg

APPENDIX C - Click to view: Safety Review 2019 Webinar

bottom of page