Standing for re-election as President MHGC – Gabriel Toniolo

Standing for re-election as President MHGC

Gabriel Toniolo

As you may be aware I am putting myself up for re-election/candidacy for the role of President of the Melbourne Hang Gliding Club. I thought you should hear from me regarding both my motivation for re-standing for the  role and what plans are likely to be pursued should I be re-elected.

First and foremost, I can say it has been a privilege to have served as your President for the past two years. Whilst it is true that I had said that I would stand down from the role, I was asked by the other members of the current Committee and our Senior Safety Officer to reconsider (at our most recent Committee meeting). It was their opinion that it would be in the best interests of the Club that I do so. This is mostly based on the need for continuity for some major tasks that have had long term processes required to see the fruits of our efforts and, one more year will see these achieved. Also, during the month prior to this meeting, I had several long term members let me know that they considered the direction and development of the club, in the past year, had been exceptional. This feedback was heartening to hear. The fact that I am not “working”, outside of the club, and therefore have the time to dedicate to the MHGC tasks, plus a willingness and desire to do so, led me to retract my decision stand down from the role for one more year.

Over the past year, your Committee (including your SSO, Peter Holloway) have worked together as a unified team. This has been an important ingredient in being able to deliver on the promise of appropriate stewardship of the Club. This has had us working on agreed common goals and being able to provide, 1.More organised flying events. 2. More flying and non flying safety events. 3. More guest speakers at monthly meetings. 4. Senior First Aid training available to all members. Etc.

It is important to keep this in mind, when you decide to vote for a committee at the next AGM, vote for a team that can work together. In a committee of volunteers, Club members gain the most from having a committee that are unified and willing to support each other to achieve common goals.

What now for the future of the Club? What this current committee has planned is worthwhile mentioning.

  1. Safety of pilots in their flying activities comes best from hands-on coaching and experience rather than merely policy setting, safety officer meetings and discussion. The current committee remains focussed on a practical approach to safety.
    1. Through more flying events to assist currency of skills
    2. Through practice (training hill launch clinics, towing launch and landing clinics, etc)
    3. Parachute repack nights.
    4. Glider maintenance nights
    5. Water landing nights.
    6. Hands on coaching by qualified SSO.
    7. Senior first Aid training available to all members (fully funded by the VHPA and negotiated by us with St. Johns) Note: every three years
  2. Club meetings are a great social experience where new pilots can begin to gain a sense of mateship and ease with other experienced pilot members. We will continue to aim to keep an appropriate balance for our meetings of being social and informative without unnecessary formality. Hang gliding will always be about having a beer, eating and telling flying tales.

However, the monthly meeting is also an excellent opportunity to provide the membership with expert coaching from guest speakers such as instructors. We have our December Xmas BBQ in lieu of our December meeting and our January meeting is generally quite with many pilots still out flying during the school holidays. As such, we have 10 available meetings to have external guest speakers. Whilst the timing of when these speakers are available to attend is in their hands, we would hope that we could have an appropriate external guest speaker every second month i.e. five per year. We have now achieved gaining support for this from Rohan Holtkamp for the past two consecutive years and hope this will continue. We have secured Steve Ruffles as a guest speaker for the August 2010 meeting (Steve is an ex HG Chief Flying Instructor now teaching weight shift microlights as a CFI. In addition, Brian Webb has agreed to be a guest speaker in this coming year. Brian was one of the founders of Alpine Paragliding school based in Bright, he has been a previous long term member of the HGFA board and still operates a Paragliding business in North East Victoria. He has an excellent website and has a particular passion for all matters of weather and thermal forecasting.

Guest speakers in the past have proven to draw more participation from members and the selection of guest speakers has proved valuable. We will attempt to have a greater number of these nights in the year ahead.

However for the meetings where we do not have an external guest speaker, we can draw upon our internal talent available. We previously had Peter Davies and Glenn Bachelor provide tutorial on the use of GPS for hang gliding purposes. We intend to run this again and include a tutorial on the use and programming of radios and the use of tone squelch. Other nights will focus on revising the material covered in all three of basic theory exams in hang gliding, restricted, intermediate and advance.

Whilst we have kept to our basic agenda items during the past year, we intentionally kept the agenda items to items where there was something to report, as opposed to the previous practiced of covering the agenda items and then stating there was nothing to report. We feel this adds too much formality to the process that is not necessary and not conducive to keeping the meeting as social as possible.

  1. Flying sites: We all enjoy our sport through the availability of flying sites. This year, we have sponsored the site at Gundowring, cemented our goodwill with the landowners of 3 Sisters. Peter Holloway has purchased a “Dragonfly” (aero-tug) to assist members with aero-towing out of Locksley (1.5 hours from Melbourne CBD). Peter has also sourced ground towing paddocks in the vicinity of that airfield. I have actively been dealing with economic development groups within the Murrundindi Shire to find new sites (post fires) in that area which includes the Cathedral Ranges. I am also chasing up the possibility of a NE facing site near 3 Sisters at Junction Hill (this lead has come from Steve Donahue). Our active participation in the continual development of the relationships we have with current landowners, needs to continue. In addition to the work done at “3 sisters” we have, and intend to continue with providing appropriate landowners with Christmas gifts as thanks on behalf from the Club.
  2. Flying Events: More Club events which include a social component will also include club BBQ’s. This past year has seen more club sponsored and funded BBQ’s than any other. We intend to continue to do this, and with the aim of having more formal flying weekend events, this will marry well with the funded BBQ’s. We also wish to encourage ex members back at least as social attendees. Many of these ex flying members would be more than willing to assist current pilots and be involved from a social perspective.

We have had an action filled year with organised flying events on all our long weekends, several day trip fly-ins where the weather has been conducive. We always hope that we can fly locally on the first weekend following the club meetings, but we understand that many of our pilots have busy lives and with obligations and interests that conflict with flying, to that end we have kept all announcements and timing of day trip fly-ins to days when the weather supports a fruitful outcome for the day. We know that too many wasted days spent on fruitless attempts to go flying can detract from the sport. Next year we are aiming to continue to have formal flying events on all long weekends and increase the amount of day trip fly-ins both hill launch where our weather and sites permit, and through ground and aero-towing from new sites within 1.5 hours from Melbourne. We also hope to hold a weekend fly-in event to the Paps area, Locksley and (if we can get the new site) Marysville. In addition, as some of you may know, our club has in previous years had members have a trip to Teewah, QLD for a week to ten days. We will attempt to restart this tradition during 2010.

  1. Non flying events: Well we had a few of these this year, we held the Glider maintenance night – which we hope will become an annual event, we held the parachute repack night, and for the first time the rigger was funded by the club for the night – we hope to continue with this as an annual event also. We had planned to have a ten pin bowling night and a rock climbing night as scheduled in our calendar of events for the year, but we hope to achieve those this coming year. If the y are well attended, we will aim to have them as annual events.
  2. Pilot development: Over the past year we have focused our attention to help pilots further develop their skills. This has been primarily through hands-on coaching from our SSO and Advanced rated safety officers. This has afforded members the chance to have there practical requirements of “up rating” being achieved, checked and signed off. The additional “organised” fly-ins has also helped members gain more experience and feedback from appropriate senior pilots. We have assisted pilots with their theory exams, and our SSO has provided tutoring, examined and signed off on pilots “up rating”. In addition, our SSO has provided the tuition and training for several pilots to gain their ground tow endorsements.

We plan to continue to assist pilots with development of their skills in a practical way by providing skills clinics. We aim to use training hill “in land” launch clinics to assist pilots to iron out their: inland launch techniques, nil wind launches, etc. Also nearby paddocks will be used for ground tow landing clinics.

Last year the club supported Peter Holloway in obtaining endorsement from the HGFA to be able to be insured whilst he instructed members in obtaining their ground tow endorsements. We are actively supporting Peter Holloway as our SSO to gain instructor status so that he may instruct non pilots in obtaining their “Restricted Pilot” rating. In addition to this we will seek to support Peter in providing instruction in aero-towing and tandem endorsements. This will be a major step forward by any club for many years. However, we have had good support thus far from the HGFA through my discussions with Craig Worth and Mark Campbell. We were able to get the ground towing approved, through great efforts of Peter Holloway and the “MHGC Ground Towing Operations Manual” which was put together by Peter. As we ‘broke the ice’ with that application, we are confident in getting consent with the additional efforts to get Peter endorsed as an instructor. Having this resource within the club will prove invaluable both in gaining new members but also supporting low time pilots within our membership.

  1. Mentoring Program: Your current committee has recognised the need to mentor select members for senior roles within the club. The role of SSO within our club has far outgrown what the club has had for several years. This has been a significant forward step for the club. However, we rely heavily upon the one individual. With Peter Holloway’s agreement and assistance we will look at mentoring future SSO’s in order to have adequate succession at the level the role has evolved under Peter Holloway’s stewardship. This same mentoring is planned for the senior committee positions within the club (including that of President). Scott Rawlings is an example, he has been a welcomed fresh addition to the committee and has the committee’s support in his candidature for the role as Secretary. It should be noted, that whilst Peter Davies is standing down from an official committee role with the club, he remains active within the club and will be available to assist Scott should Scott succeed him as Secretary. We had previously also identified Peter Cass as an ideal candidate for the committee, and, should he not be successful in his candidature this coming year, he will be invited to participate in all of the committee’s activities during the next year. We aim to identify others within the Club who would be willing to be developed under this mentoring program.

Continuity of the work of previous senior club members can be vital in seeing the club continue to grow without faltering backwards. This mentoring program allows for appropriate succession of members up, through the “ranks” if you will, without losing the momentum of what previous teams have achieved.

As I stated earlier, it is in the interests of members to choose and vote on a committee able to work as a unified team on all tasks. So I ask that you consider your voting in terms of a team rather than individuals based on demonstrated contribution to club members and events, etc and not just on popularity, or for deeds unrelated to the position sought by candidates. To this end, if you favourably consider my candidature for re-election to the role of President, I propose the ideal team as your committee for 2010-2011 to be:

President – Gabriel Toniolo

Secretary – Scott Rawlings

Treasurer – Noel Bear

Committee – Glenn Bachelor, Neil Hooke, Peter Cass

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