Safety Notes January 2022

By Brian Stewart on  January 18, 2022 18:35

Happy New Year everyone

Cognitive Bias

WTF’s that? In simple terms a cognitive bias is a systematic error in thinking that occurs when people are processing and interpreting information in the world around them and affects the decisions and judgments that they make. Whenever we launch, this is the culmination of a sequence of decisions that may have begun with a weather forecast several days ago. While we are flying we are constantly taking in information, processing it and making decisions and judgements based on this data, so some understanding of how cognitive bias can leas us into bad choices may be useful.

Attentional and Anchoring biases will lead us into fixing on the first bit of information we get – e.g. the forecast for 3 days ahead shows light winds, and not looking again; or only paying attention to some things and ignoring others – such as a nice 10 mph breeze on the hill but not looking at the 20+ mph wind at 45 degrees 500’ higher. A Confirmation Bias can lead us into only looking at sources of data that confirm our original judgement.

Optimism Bias is fairly self-explanatory, and links with the Dunning-Kruger effect which describes how people believe they are smarter and more competent than they really are (we all know that person, don’t we?), leading to over-confidence.

Halo effect – when you see your favourite skygod having fun in the sky doesn’t mean it’s OK for you.

Do you attribute your mate’s great flight to just luck, while your success is pure skill; or your bomb-out was someone else’s fault for distracting you? If you shout at another pilot for being too close, are you always sure you’re in the right? Or if you are the one getting the abuse, do you analyse the situation calmly afterwards to see if you could have done something differently?

This is just a sample of the complex web of biases that psychologists study to try to guide people into better decision-making.

Challenging your biases. Even the psychologists accept that despite knowing all about them, they are just as likely as anyone to be led into their traps, but the ability to recognise them goes a long way towards being able to remove the from your decision making. What are some factors you have missed? Are you giving too much weight to certain factors? Are you ignoring relevant information because it doesn't support your view?  Thinking about these things and challenging your biases can make you a more critical thinker. Be aware of your over-confidence – can you dispassionately analyse your own strengths and weaknesses? Identify the risks you take – have they become just bad habits that you’ve got away with, so far? Set aside time to consider your decisions – good and bad.

Here’s a link to a video of a flying encounter. The pilot doing the filming later spoke to the chap on the blue and yellow wing who said he thought there was plenty of room based on his “20-years’ experience relative to an obvious novice”. I leave it to you to think about the cognitive biases that may be in play here.

Tight lines, everyone.


Pilot Lecture 2 – 17th March 2022

By Brian Stewart on  January 18, 2022 16:46
Pilot Lecture 2 – 17th March 2022

Metoerro, Mereteology, Meterelegy Weather

An excellent turnout of Pilot candidates attended a presentation at the Sea View as part of our series of talks preparing members for their exam. Our own Jacob Cleverley treated us to a thoroughly-researched presentation on the complex topic of weather, or ‘met’ as real aviators call it – Jacob should know, he works with the best.

This is a demanding, complex area of theory and Jacob’s presentation cut through the dense scientific theory to make it understandable by everyone and will have given all who attended a very thorough grounding. Highlighting several of the topics, Jacob was able to give practical examples relating to local sites and his own experiences flying them. However, the old hands in the ‘naughty corner’ at the back of the room could have done without being shown what the East coast looks like from 3500’.

A big thank you from the club and especially the Pilot candidates. We look forward to reading of their successes in the near future.

New Gate Code for Winter Hill

By Andy Archer on  December 6, 2021 21:19

Hi All,

I was contacted by the Arqiva Engineer responsible for access up to the Winter Hill mast and our take off.

Arqiva have recently changed the lock code on the gates due a number of unauthorised access issues by the general public, gaining access to the moor with their vehicles. 

Arqiva believe this is due to the gates being left open/unlocked or the lock being left on the code making it very easy for someone to press the button to gain access. 

A number of times the engineer has been called out in the early hours of the morning to release a member of the public that has been locked in.

We are not the only users of the access track and they have communicated the same to other organisations that have the access codes, to ensure continued use we need to make sure we abide by the rules being set by the landowner, United Utilities, and Arqiva who look after the mast.

New Rules:

  1. Generally only the lower gate will be locked.
  2. If both gates are locked they will have the same code.
  3. The lock codes will be changed every 3 months or sooner if required.
  4. Do not allow anyone to tailgate you through the gate.
  5. Make sure the gate is locked shut behind you.  Do not leave unlocked, even if you know another member will be on their way in a few minutes.
  6. On securing the lock ensure you scramble the code, DO NOT leave it on the unlock code.
  7. PSC members must obtain the code from a member of the committee, DO NOT distribute it further.
  8. Report any suspicious behaviour to a member of the committee.

To obtain the code please speak to or PM (WhatsApp/text/email/FB messenger) one of the committee members who will provide you with the code.

Going forward I will be on the distribution list for the new codes, therefore as soon as a new code is communicated to me I will ask members to contact one of the committee to obtain the new code.



PSC Sites Officer

Winter Club Night - November 2021 - Neil Charles - Live tracking, FLARM and flight deck gadgets

By Carl Fairhurst on  December 3, 2021 14:45


Here is the talk given by Neil Charles for the PSC club night on the 8th November 2021.

For more details, see the Get Tracking link on Neil’s page.