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What is a "Site Survey?"

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Old February 11th 19, 10:43 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Burt Compton - Marfa Gliders, west Texas
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Default What is a "Site Survey?"

In responses to my "Traveling Checkride Examiner" post and questions on the SSA Clubs & Chapters group I have received e-mails such as this one:

Q. "Burt - Your recent message on Chapters-SSA got me thinking about site surveys.
What exactly are they? How much time is required? What's the cost?"

A. The "Site Survey" is a program I developed in 2001 for the Soaring Safety Foundation (SSF, not the SSA.) The SSF is the training and safety arm of the SSA. Co-founded in the 1980’s by Bernald Smith and Gene Hammond, the SSF conducts Flight Instructor Refresher Courses (FIRC’s) across the USA, writes monthly articles in SOARING magazine, offers Safety Seminars and the "Site Survey" program.
The SSF maintains a training and safety website at www.soaringsafety.org

The current SSF Trustees are Chair Richard Carlson, Tom Johnson, Steve Dee, Ron Ridenour and Burt Compton.

The SSF “by your invitation” program was modeled after a mandatory program by the Swedish Soaring Federation that I observed on a visit to the Swedish Soaring Convention near Stockholm in 2001. They credit their mandatory club survey program as a reason for one to zero fatal glider accidents in each of the recent years!

In the USA a Site Survey is only by the formal (e-mail) invitation to me by the soaring site managers or the club board of directors. We have conducted 96 surveys (so far) of clubs and commercial glider operations across the USA, from Vermont to Oregon and in every SSA Region.

Scheduled so far in 2019: February I’ll conduct a free and confidential survey in Florida. In March, another survey in Utah. Who's next? I'm waiting for your invitation.

It is a friendly observation of your operations. It is FREE, and CONFIDENTIAL.
NOBODY outside of your club or soaring site receives a report.
Not the SSA, not your insurance underwriters and not the FAA.

We make no notes of my observations. A club member escorts us throughout the day and takes the notes. The notes stay with club.

A Site Survey is typically a one day visit on a weekend. Later that evening we gather for a debriefing to discuss national accident trends and then a roundtable review of your safety culture along with our observations, including your good ideas and perhaps the not so good! Together, we discuss solutions. It is then up to the soaring site managers to implement any procedural changes, or not.

Why is it free? The Soaring Safety Foundation (SSF) maintains a separate budget for the Site Surveys from private donations specifically earmarked for the SSF training and safety programs, not from SSA funds. The budget is for 12 Site Surveys (year-round) and the schedule is generally first-come-first served. However, a club in dire need to keep their insurability or in potential jeopardy with the FAA or the airport management might be bumped up the list.

Let's discuss details and dates.
I have more information in a file that I can e-mail to you upon request.

Burt Compton, Trustee of the Soaring Safety Foundation (SSF)
Manager of the Site Survey program.
Master CFI and a Designated Pilot Examiner, celebrating 52 years in soaring..
On Facebook as "Burton Compton" for your amusement.

Old February 11th 19, 11:18 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
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Posts: 58
Default What is a "Site Survey?"

Burt Compton did a site survey of our club.

Per Burt "A club member escorts us throughout the day and takes notes. The notes stay in the club."

This is exactly how it was done at our club. Burt gave us an outsider's view of what was happening and helped us look at our procedures and problem areas. We came up with a very helpful list of changes we needed to make. Burt was at all times friendly, helpful and non-judgemental. I highly recommend this great program from the Soaring Safety Foundation.

Chuck Zabinski
Finger Lakes Soaring Club


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