Selecting Active Runway

At York Soaring there are 10 runways; 14/32; 05/23; 17/35; 21; and 12/30. From a practical standpoint we only use 4 of them:

  • 14 and 32 are by far the most used runways, being the preferred runways about 95% of the time. They are generally well aligned to the prevailing wind; are wide enough for side by side take-off and landing operations, and offer the convenience of close proximity to the Flight Shack and the Office.
  • 21/23 is used when there is a wind from the SW that creates a crosswind component on 14 or 32 in excess of about 10K.  Left-hand circuits on 21 for gliders landing, tugs land on 17, gliders takeoff on 23.
  • 30 is used for landings when the circuit to 32 or the landing area on 32 is congested. It is also used as occasional alternative for take-off when 32 is in general use.
  • 09, 17,and 35 are the original runways at YSA. 17 is sometimes used by the towplanes for landing when 14 is in use but the wind favours 17. None are used for towing although they could be, and all are available for landing if needed, usually for rope break and off field landing exercises.

The Line Chief selects the active runway for the day based on the direction of the prevailing wind. If there is no wind, 32 is the default runway. The preferred option is always 14 or 32 unless the crosswind component exceeds 10 knots in which case 21/23 is used. If the wind makes another runway, i.e. 05 necessary, it is usually a non-flyable day. In fact, it is almost certain that 05 has never been used as the assigned runway.

The circuit direction is determined by the crosswind direction. It is usual that some crosswind is evident, if only in brief gusts and the glider circuit always has the base leg into the crosswind e.g. for 32 with a wind from 310 a right hand circuit would be used, and if the wind is from 330 a left hand circuit would be used. When the decision has been made the circuit direction sign should be set so that all pilots can see what circuit is in use.