August 27, 2023 at 10:46 AM #18797Dan DeWeeseGeneral MemberCSS Instructor
Visiting H3 & H2 evening flight. Both perform hookin checks and H3 disconnects to assist H2 at launch. H2 launches well and gets away from the hill. H3 is in a rush to shadow H2 and fly together. In this rush and distraction, H3 forgets to hook in. H3 Launch attempt the glider rises up and H3 realizes whats happened and looses the glider and it flies away to a bush landing couple hundred feet below the windsock. H3 unscathed, driver and H3 retrieve undamaged wing from tall bushes and packup.
Anxiety and distraction are Pilot enemy number 1 at launch. Footlaunch FTHI can, and will continue to happen as long as there is hang gliding. The idea, as is with all accidents, is not to let it happen to you. Easier said than done. Admittedly, when I first started flying, I thought to myself, “How can such an elemental mistake even happen?” Then, years and about a thousand flights later, there I was, basebar chest high, full stride, perception at 1/50th real time calculating the probability of climbing in the frame, flying the glider out to the desert floor and saving it from crashing. Nope, let it go. She did a fabulous McAleerian loop not to a graceful landing but a huge “wham” at the top of the launch slope.
Distracted by the sound and feel of the perfect launch/thermal cycle when picking up the glider got me thinking of beaming up in the first most important thermal of a long cross country flight INSTEAD of the launch sequence of glider, pilot, connect, check, go.
STOP at launch, Lift the glider to feel the tension of the harness, Look at the leg loops, Look at the glider and recount your preflight. Got a glider, got a harness, I am connected to the glider. Quote Steve Corbin, “Im going to have the best flight of my life”.
**Note to helmet police: References to helmet omitted for brevity.August 28, 2023 at 11:13 AM #18804Albert SharpGeneral Member
Thank you for the report Dan.
Sharing the information in a positive way is a great exercise, and adding your personal experience is a perfect reminder for us all to remain vigilant. It CAN happen to you.August 28, 2023 at 4:29 PM #18808Dan DeWeeseGeneral MemberCSS Instructor
maybe Ed Wiggins can add one of his many FTHI storiesAugust 29, 2023 at 10:57 AM #18811
I’d be happy to once we are done cleaning up the mess created by the previous board.August 29, 2023 at 3:30 PM #18815George StebbinsGeneral Member
Joe Greblo always uses the 5 C’s: Carabiner, Chin, Chest, Crotch, Chute – I check each one every time before I fly. Of course that doesn’t make it impossible to FTHI, but it does reduce the odds. A mnemonic is a useful tool. I’m glade the H3 is ok.August 30, 2023 at 10:49 AM #18817
When I taught HG at the 20′ sand dune at Pepper Ave (1980-1999) I saw a positive benefit when a student failed to hook in. Yes they were explained the values of a hang check, and picking up the glider high enough to feel leg straps. But soon the flights were seeming easier with fast reflights and a student might start getting complacent as their confidence grew.
I might even provide distractions to see if I could lead the student into a fail to hook in just to make a point about distractions. It wasn’t dangerous as it usually only resulted in jogging down the hill with basetube rising to chest height. I could tell a student 100 times that failure to hookin is a real and dangerous possibility but them actually doing it was a better learning experience than being told the 100 times.
One day a student failed to hookin after having done at least 20 very nice flights on this sand dune. He walked back up and asked “what happened, why didn’t it fly?”. He didn’t realize he wasn’t connected. I responded “you need to have a very loose grip on the glider like perhaps just a thumb and index finger”, hoping the glider might rise up and leave his hold on it. He ran unconnected again and even a third time still not realizing he isn’t connected. I recall it was his 4th flight when he picked up the glider he suddenly realized he hasn’t been connected the 3 prior runs.
I remember that I had a growing curiosity as to how long it might take for the student to realize that he wasn’t connecting. I was concerned that there was a disconnect in the thought process and not just the hang loop. I recall the personal dilemma. I prefer a student to develop thinking skills and not just be spoon fed everything. But sheesh, when he would jog down the dune with thumb and index finger holding the base tube 18″ above his head and he still isn’t figuring out that he’s not hooked in? I think I said after his third flight that he needs an even looser grip even if it means the glider flies away on its own. 30 seconds later (4th flight) was when he suddenly realized what was happening.
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