Glider Turtled (Flipped) on Ramp Wednesday

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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Glider Turtled (Flipped) on Ramp Wednesday

Post by JD » Thu Nov 09, 2017 4:16 pm

When we arrived on launch yesterday early afternoon, it wasn't just windy but gusty and switchy. I decided to set up far back behind the saddle to avoid the breeze. The first three gliders to launch showed that the air was pretty turbulent at both the main ramp and the saddle. I think it was the forth glider and I was busy assembling my gear but heard the commotion and looked up just as the glider was flipping past vertical. It came to a rest on its kingpost. The pilot was unscathed and the glider didn't look bad other that some visible dirt and a bent downtube. There may be a keel mounted video from the 3rd glider in line. We'll find out eventually.

I don't know where the pilot started on the ramp when he cleared his wire crew but I'd like to reiterate some important points:

When the air flow is strong and especially when it gusty or switchy, it's generally safer to get as far forward along the ramp as possible without the wire crew being at risk. The air flow is cleaner farther down the ramp and the glider is that much further from the hillside. The lift tends to be stronger farther down the ramp which helps getting away and over the wire crew as they duck. just a few feet forward or back can make a big difference.

Just some food for thought. Hopefully, the pilot and wire crew chime in at some point about the incident.

The inverted glider is vulnerable to more damage. There were four of us attending to the glider so we flew it upside down and floated it back to the setup area. We balanced it on the kingpost on top of a piece of carpet with nose into the wind. Next we rotated the glider on the kingpost so the tail was into the wind and placed another piece of carpet where the nose would touch the ground. Then we raised the keel so the wind got underneath the top and gently blew the glider over onto the control frame. The leading edges were spared further dirt and abrasion this way.

The more important takeaway here is to get out into the cleaner airflow before wire crew release when conditions are robust. I launched from the saddle and it was pretty strong. Normally I start pretty far back and get a get run going. Instead I had my wire crewman walk me up close to the lip then waited until my glider stayed balanced without his input before launching.

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