Home Forums Safety Incident report – Hangglider unplanned landing Regionals

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  • #12489

    Incident summary

    On May 15, approximately 5:00 PM, pilot got low behind the ridge in the Regionals area and landed in the brush behind Regionals



    The winds at Marshall at the time of the accident were recorded as south, 10 to 15 mph.


    Emergency response

    None needed








    Pilot involved

    The pilot is a current member of both USHPA and CSS with the appropriate rating for launching from Marshall under the supervision of an instructor.


    Root cause

    Pilot determined the safest course of action was to make a controlled landing in brush.


    Proximate cause

    Pilot flew behind the ridge and realized she was too low to safely reach AJX.


    Corrective action

    Pilot is a student under instruction and was on second flight at Marshall.  Pilot flew behind the ridge due to lack of experience about ridge sites and potential for rotor and sink conditions.  Pilot hit sink behind the ridge and made decision to land on moderately level terrain near Regionals.  Pilot will continue to work with instructor.


    Jonathan Dietch
    General Member

    Suggested Corrective Action: Pedal faster, dammit!

    Gary Anderson
    General Member

    “Hangglider unplanned landing behind Regionals” and the root cause is that the pilot decided to land there.

    Is there something missing here?

    Gary Anderson
    General Member

    The corrective action said that “Pilot flew behind the ridge due to lack of experience about ridge sites and potential for rotor and sink conditions.” then said the corrective action was to continue with instruction.

    The pilot was a student and flying under radio instruction precisely because they lacked experience and might not recognize when they are in danger.  Recognizing that kind of danger must be the instructors responsibility because the student pilot does not have adequate experience.

    So, how does a student-pilot flying under instruction get into a rotor behind the mountain?

    • Did the instructor see that the student pilot was behind the ridge?
    • Did the instructor tell the student pilot that they were too deep and needed to fly towards the front of the mountain?
    • Did the radio fail?
    • Did the student pilot ignore the instructor?
    • Was the student pilot so confused that they did not understand the instructors commands?

    How and why did this actually happen?



    “Pilot flew behind the ridge due to lack of experience about ridge sites and potential for rotor and sink conditions. ”  If this information was obtained from the pilot, or from the supervising instructor, then this pilot had no business launching from Marshall in 10 to 15 mph south winds, or really is not ready to be flying the mountain in anything but super light sled run conditions.  How can a pilot be qualified to fly in such conditions when they lack a basic understanding of potential rotor and sink conditions when flying on the lee side of a ridge?  I know that I took hg lessons in the days when dinosaurs were roaming the earth (1980) but we were actually required, or strongly advised, to READ books on learning to fly hang gliders.  I’m pretty sure books on that subject still exist although I know that everyone wants to learn everything on their I phone these days.  Dennis Pagen stills sells his books and all it would take is a quick glance inside to learn about rotors and the dangers they create.  How about the advise of staying within a 1 to 1 glide ratio of the front of the ridge as you drift back as a good standard for new pilots?  The above post laid out some criticisms of the instruction but I want to place plenty of blame on the pilot for not doing the homework necessary to fly safely.  When I was a beginner I read Pagen’s book until I pretty much had it memorized and I think that saved my ass on more than one occasion.  Let’s try some self responsibility for being a safe, competent pilot.  It ain’t that hard.  And don’t even get me started on the PG pilots who have absolutely no clue as to how to join another pilot in a thermal, and who don’t seem to think there is anything wrong with just flying straight through the thermal you are circling in.  Flying late day at Marshall has become more dangerous than flying mid day conditions because you have to constantly see and avoid those who have no clue what they are or should be doing.  Come on people, up your game.  There are lives on the line every time you launch.


    Thanks Gary.

    Tim Ward
    General Member

    The pilot had twenty-ish previous high altitude solos, and was in town to learn foot-launching and landing.

    I don’t see any red flags there for a late day flight off Marshall.  I’d certainly expect a pilot with that many solo flights to have some idea of rotor, sink, and turbulence and where they’re typically found.  It’s in the H2 curriculum.






    Alan Crouse
    General Member

    Were they under instruction on radio, or just under instruction?  Unclear from the first couple of posts.

    Thank you

    Dan DeWeese
    General Member
    CSS Instructor

    Radio was to aid in students DBF approach. Previous flight was uneventful but a bit short.

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