Home Forums Safety Approach Patterns – Be the Pilot

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    Dan DeWeese
    General Member
    CSS Instructor

    Andy Jackson Airpark, AJX, has separate defined approach patterns for hang gliders and paragliders due to their difference in flying speeds. Heres a video showing what not to do. When winds are SW, the predominant direction, paragliders should perform their approach to the WEST SIDE of the field. Long ago, paragliders were able to fly a right hand DBF approach. Sounds simple enough, but has somehow fallen out of favor as the preferred practice. Focusing solely on a long straight final directly into the wind coupled with being unaware of the HG’s presence in the base leg HG approach pattern on the EAST SIDE of the field, placed this pg crossing the HG downwind leg and cutting off the hang glider pilot’s final forcing him to bear right to avoid collision. Fortunately the hg pilot has lots of experience, remained calm and piloted his way out of the situation and wasnt forced into a crash. Late evening is when new pilots fly and land at AJX. New pilots can become overwhelmed by the sudden appearance of another craft in their approach. When preparing to land, scan the sky for others and plan your approach to provide separation both spatially and timewise. If you find yourself on the wrong side during busy evenings, do your best to fly a predictable path and land one side or the other of the field leaving clear a large clear area for others to safely land. Had the PG seen the HG on his right, he could have held a more southerly path instead of bearing west and taking away the HGs options. When you land, stop, check both approaches for incoming traffic before you move to teardown so you dont block someones final. If someone’s about to land, stay put or move to give the landing pilot more space, then quickly clear the field so others may land unimpeded.


    Mark Hoffmann
    General Member

    dont forget to avoid the 1 or 2 HG training hill students that have just landed while one is setting base leg to final :)


    Well put Dan!  Thank you!


    Or simply said: PG pilots do a Right Hand approach into the landing zone.

    HG pilots do a Left Hand approach into the landing zone.


    Fly Safe!

    Tim Ward
    General Member

    PGs need to be aware that hang gliders circling off the Southeast corner of the LZ are probably blowing off altitude to come in and land — just like PGs blow off altitude zig-zagging over the Ranch, in front of the pine tree.
    Once an HG descends into their pattern altitude, it doesn’t take long for an HG on downwind to get to the base leg turn, because they’re going downwind, and generally at a fairly high airspeed.
    Just because an HG is some distance away doesn’t mean it’s not a factor in a PG landing.

    For every pilot: Any glider at your general altitude when you’re starting your approach is likely going to need to use the LZ about the same time you are, even if they seem “too far away” to matter. Might be a little sooner than you, might be a little later, but sink rates aren’t *that* different.


    It’s just ridiculous that such incidents continue at AJX considering the size of that LZ, the well known approach rules, and the lack of obstacles, as well as the very consistent wind direction in the lz.  I fly at a lot of sites around the country and I consider landing at AJX to be one of the most dangerous things I do.  But I also have had more than one extremely close mid-air flying at Marshall as well.  So I guess I also consider it one of the more dangerous places I fly because of so many pilots who seem to have absolutely no awareness of other pilots in the air near them.  I was once told that I “came out of nowhere” when I was flying my pg with a hg pilot and we both had flown over to Cloud together, so he clearly knew that I was around.  I came out of nowhere by being in front and lower than him in a bright red glider.  Pretty fucked up but the one foot between us as he flew directly over me kept us safe.  In another incident, I was on my hg climbing in the house thermal to the east of Marshall launch when a pg just flew straight at me with no noted intention of ever turning in the thermal.  Another pg pilot came up to me in the lz and apologized for him saying that he was just a dangerous clueless pilot always.  In the LZ, it’s clearly the pg pilots who are the constant problems as they seem to not give a damn about rules or safety in far too many cases (and I fly pg 90 percent of the time so I’m not some grumpy old hg pilot).  I have no idea what it takes to solve this problem but thanks to Dan for posting the video to try to wake a few people up.  But those who need a wake up call most likely will never see the video because I don’t think they are likely to read this forum.  They just pull their pg pack out of the closet and go and create mayhem in the air.  Sooner or later they will kill someone due to their stupidity.  I just hope it’s not me.

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