Blown Launch at Kagel

Please tell what happened and how it might have been avoided. Names should be ommitted. This forum should help others learn from mistakes that caused or nearly caused a mishap.
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Greg Kendall
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Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2006 9:42 am

Blown Launch at Kagel

Post by Greg Kendall » Tue Apr 05, 2016 7:24 am

My name is Greg and I’m a launch blower. That’s twice now. The first time was 25 years ago on the training hill. The second time was Saturday at Kagel.

I attempted to launch from the paraglider launch in moderately gusty afternoon conditions. I waited a while until the wind was straight in and as steady as it was going to get. One or two steps into the launch run, I got turned pretty hard to the left. My instant decision at the time was that the turn was unrecoverable, so I tried to stop. That didn’t work. I had too much momentum. My feet came off the ground (I think) and I spun around to the left and rather gently pounded into the grassy slope. I wasn’t looking at it, but I’m pretty sure that my left tip was in the weeds for just about all of that.

I escaped without a scratch. The glider damage was limited to a folded right downtube (It’s always the VG side) and a small scuff on the sail (which I’m about to replace anyway). The biggest bummer was missing a good day of flying. I had to settle for a hike down the hill. Thanks Cathy and Neidra for helping and driving my glider down. I swapped out the downtube that day and flew (successfully) the next day. Now I’ve got one flight in a row without breaking anything.

There’s no video, but if there was, it would probably show the lamest launch attempt ever. In trying to stop, I think I let the nose come up. If there was a video and it got posted, the comments would probably be something like “That guy has poor launch skills. He needs pull in and run. Who sold him a topless glider?�

I’m not sure they’d be completely wrong. I know that I’ve never been very good at fixing a turn during a launch run. I’m usually hesitant to use a launch that doesn’t permit a bit of a turn (nor one that doesn’t permit a bit of a dive). I got complacent in choosing that launch. I’ve seen some beautiful lanches from there (and had some good ones myself), but there’s very little room for an unintended turn. I don’t have the statistics, but I’ll bet we’ve had as many blown launches from the paraglider launch as from the main launch and probably 1/10th the number of attempts. I might use that launch again, but not in gusty conditions.

As for my decision to abort the launch, I can’t say for sure what would have happened if I had instead reacted to the turn with good launch technique, but I think I would have just pounded in a little further down the hill and with a little more energy.

I’m still thinking about what might be a safe way to practice recovering from a lifted wing during a launch run that doesn’t involve driving all the way to Crestline.

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JD
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Re: Blown Launch at Kagel

Post by JD » Tue Apr 05, 2016 11:11 am

Greg Kendall wrote:My name is Greg and I’m a launch blower....
Is that anything like a leaf blower?
I’m still thinking about what might be a safe way to practice recovering from a lifted wing during a launch run that doesn’t involve driving all the way to Crestline.
Run your Litespeed on level ground in light to nil wind without your harness. Deliberately yaw or roll it and then recover. Since I use a boot rope to hold the tail of all my harnesses off the ground it makes it much easier for me to practice this when I'm occasionally running my glider from the runway to the 'beer-down' area.

Obviously, I fly Marshall Peak a lot and have the benefit of launching the top.

Since we're on the topic of blown launches, a friend of mine went to set up his glider on launch this weekend and discovered internal damage to at least one major structural tube that he was previously unaware of from his last flight which was a blown launch. His glider got flipped since it was windy so it's not like a simple broken tip wand or control bar leg.

Greg Kendall
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Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2006 9:42 am

Post by Greg Kendall » Tue Apr 05, 2016 9:25 pm

I like the running on flat ground idea. For that, I think I want to replace my carbon base tube with something more expendable (and maybe with wheels).

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JD
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Post by JD » Wed Apr 06, 2016 3:43 pm

Greg Kendall wrote:I like the running on flat ground idea. For that, I think I want to replace my carbon base tube with something more expendable (and maybe with wheels).
Certainly a good idea to have wheels at a minimum. I believe that the North face of the overshoot ramp could work well on days where the wind is nil to North. Ultimately, using Joe's scooter winch should work to simulate a shallow launch slope by applying less power than needed to get airborne. Now the pilot needs to lean into the glider while running and can practice controlling yaw and roll as if doing a launch from the saddle or top of Marshall, etc.

Other benefits aside from being able to launch these two places is more pilots able to launch the North side of Kagel on a convergence day or safely get off the South ramp on a moderate blow-down day.

jdevorak
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Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 8:37 am
Location: Kagel LZ

Post by jdevorak » Wed Apr 06, 2016 6:45 pm

my name is oh---jay and I'm a launch blower. it has been a few years now but the same thing has happened to me. As I recall, I had a reasonable run and 10 feet out my glider is turned to the left. As my feet were already off the ground, I shifted my weight hard right. I flew out of it but just barely. Now when I use the saddle I am a lot more cautious.
eat right, exercise, die anyway!

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Steve90266
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Saddle Launching

Post by Steve90266 » Fri Apr 08, 2016 1:42 pm

I've been launching the saddle for a while now with no incidents yet, thankfully. I never make the attempt in gusty conditions, or when it's not straight in. There has to be some velocity to the wind. Light winds there are a "no go" for me.

Whenever I'm contemplating the saddle, I walk down to the launch and stand in the wind for a while. I try to measure consistency and make the determination.

The saddle has bitten more than a few pilots over the years. It looks deceptively easy, so when you do decide to launch it, keep your guard up and go aggressive with your run, even if you don't think it's called for.
Steve Murillo

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gregangsten
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launch blowing

Post by gregangsten » Fri Apr 08, 2016 2:15 pm

Thanks for posting that, Greg. Just goes to show you it can happen to the best of us.

So I guess the lesson learned is avoid it when gusty. I haven't launched it as much as some people but my take is that when it is really strong on top, the saddle is easier because it will be slowed down there. If it's at all cross on the sock up top though, avoid it because that funnel will make rotors. And if it's gusty, there's a good chance it will be cross now and then.

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