Hard Lessons - a discussion starter

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Hard Lessons - a discussion starter

Postby kault » Sat Jul 07, 2018 10:13 pm

July 5 was a beautiful day at Bridal. Six pilots were in the air having a great time until the first pilot to land, Alan Dicky, encountered strong winds at the landing field, (30+ km/hr gusts). He reported this by radio. Of the other five pilots, Gary P, Sam-from-Edmonton and moi had working radios and were able to benefit from this and later communications. Alan guided Sam-from-Edmonton down safely despite turbulence that gave Sam a 60%+ collapse at about 200 meters above the LZ. Alan also observed another Sam (Waddington) east of the LZ and warned him as well but to no avail - Sam W didn't have a radio. At this point Gary was at Gloria and I was working my way west from Upper Launch. Shortly after this Alan observed Sam W dropping out of site over the new construction site east of the LZ. Alan was concerned and I immediately called Sam's phone and left a message. Fortunately, Sam phoned a few minutes later to say he was OK and I relayed this to Alan.
Meanwhile, Gary and I were heading to the LZ but still very high when we saw Martin N landing in the median between the LZ and the freeway exit (almost due north of the LZ). He too had been caught as his radio had died earlier. He couldn't make the LZ and landed safely going backwards. As a result of seeing this, Gary and I headed west to the old Hang glider LZ off Ford Road in Rosedale. This is a huge field with clean air but it was still gusty with 35-40 km/hr of wind. Both Gary and I landed going backwards and had a few hairy moments getting our wings under control. I filmed Gary's landing.
Meanwhile Sam Waddington had used his GoPro to film the flight and he generously allowed me to share the footage.
I'm using this and the accompanying video as a conversation starter. My theme is "fly with a radio" but there is lots that can be discussed from this story. Please add your thoughts. Should this post have been an "incident report"?


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the other martin
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Re: Hard Lessons - a discussion starter

Postby the other martin » Sun Jul 08, 2018 6:39 am

To begin with I always fly with a radio and a cell phone. The cell phone is not readily accessible while I am flying, however the radio is always handy and secure. This day I turned on my radio on launch to find it was already switched to the 'on' position and it was dead. I can't speculate whether it was inadvertently turned on while in my harness or if I forgot to turn it off after my last flight. End result I might as well have been flying with a rock for all the good it was doing me.

The flight was great. I spent four hours going to Ludwig and Elk. No issues with winds. Not having a radio I wasn't sure if there were vehicles on launch to be driven down. I checked. Four non-pilots on launch confirmed their vehicle was the only vehicle in the parking area. The winds were strong west but nothing unmanageable for top landing.

Had I had a functioning radio I would have received updates to the winds in the air but mainly the wind in the landing field.

I flew out to Rosedale and checked on ground speed. 20 to 25 kph. This was at an altitude of 800 meters.

I turned to the landing field and noted the trees were showing a howling west wind. The trees were bent. The grass in the landing field was showing gusts and waves. I set up at the west end of the field and slowly hovered down. At 500 meters the winds were more intense. I did bar when I realized I would not make the landing field. Too low for safety on bar. I chose the median and hovered down to a no step landing. Killed the wing in the lee of a large tree. No issues.

Lesson learned. 'Never fly without a functioning radio!!' Updates are critical on wind conditions, other pilots in the air, their location, their abilities, and general safety. Once on the ground the cell phone was a godsend in terms of learning what occurred and in terms of retrievals.

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Re: Hard Lessons - a discussion starter

Postby Martin » Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:24 am

Thanks for sharing... Makes me want to look up more techniques on killing a wing in super strong conditions. I do a fare bit of kiting in Strongish air but it would be good to have skills for when conditions take an unexpected crap.

Regarding radios, nice when they work... But don't count on them! Most people don't take the time to make sure they bullet proof and have backups for when they fail.... And they will. One frustration I find in the lower mainland is how much bs ends up puking out of the com with bad radio etiquette and usage that I find myself pulling the plug. That said, they are a great safety feature if used right.

Can't help but comment about the pilot that landed in the subdivision. No offence intended and I know this is going to be unpopular... But I don't care anymore (having been around this sport for 45 + years) ..... I know ultralight kits are a fashion, the lighter and simpler your gear the greater the cool freedom factor is but to the pilot in the vid, you look nicely prepped for a day kicking back on a sandy beach but for a day of aviation? Over rugged mountain terrain?

Light weight runners? No gloves? Shorts?

Seriously, being prepared is an underpinning of surviving a long time in this rediculously dangerous sport. Proper boots, gloves (even if they are nice simple kiting gloves) full leg covers... Enough clothing that you could spend a night hanging in a tree? Or at least enough coverage to survive a brisk drag through some gravel and concrete in a unfinished subdivision?

I know it's tempting to just hang with the flip flops and Tee shirt and shorts for a little pop off a coastal site in the summer... The posting is a good example of how even the most binine of conditions can go bad.

Fyi, back in the late 80's we were stupid. Had a day where we ignored some wild weather forecasts.... Several of us got in the air and winds went nuts... 50km, gusting 80km... Lucky nobody died. Radio communication did stop others from launching... And inform others that if you were in the air if was time to bring your "game" or die.

Grumpy old man....

Comrade Martin

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