Staging is the key word when there is any chance there will be another pilot ready to go. Staging a wing is doing the preflight inspection and connecting the harness to the wing. With this done away from the launch, you can then gather your wing up in your harness and connected and bring it to the launch. If there are others also ready, you can then get in line to launch.
While setting up and inspecting your wing, if someone is talking to you, let them know politely that you cannot talk right then as you need to focus on your wing inspection. Routine is a key and distractions can take you out of this.
If you arrive at a launch and there is nobody else there, it can be fine to do all of the above right on launch. Unfortunately, not all pilots are taught this common sense. If you begin to stage your wing on launch and a pilot pulls up with a wing that is all connected and staged previously. If they climb in their harness and are ready to go, you should offer to move your wing off of launch to allow them to go.
Clear process: When you are on launch and are getting ready to go, get in the habit of going through a clear checklist.
- Clear yourself – Make sure you have done your connection routine. HHRB is my system, but use whatever system you have become familiar with. Also make sure your are clear on your flight plan and your head is in the right space for the flight you are doing.
- Clear the launch – Look around the launch area and communicate with other pilots that are ready or close to ready to launch.
- Clear the air – Look around to ensure that there are no pilots buzzing or flying near launch.
- Shout Clear – Just prior to lifting the wing, after making sure you have gone through the above steps, announce this by shouting – not saying, CLEAR!
Standardized Patterns – Not all, but some sites have a standardized landing pattern. At some sites in Europe, there are even markers on the ground showing the pattern expected. If there is such a pattern in place, learn what is expected so that you can mix in with other gliders doing approaches. The reason a standardized pattern is in place is to prevent confusion and tricky situations from occurring.
Vertical Clearance – One thing that you can do while making your approach when there are other gliders near your altitude is to help create some vertical space. If another glider is slightly higher than you, you can increase your descent rate as you near your approach pattern by doing big ears for a short period. If you are in the other shoes and are above another glider, you can fly minimum sink to allow the lower pilot to move closer to the landing pattern sooner.
Communication and Predictability – If there is another glider on approach at the same time as you, eye contact with the other pilot will help each of you to keep tabs on how your are working with each other. We do this all of the time when we drive in traffic in a car. The key is to fly predictably and look around a lot to be aware of all else that is going on.