Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good

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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RichardShaw
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Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good

Post by RichardShaw » Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:31 pm

I had always thought of myself as a better than average pilot, that's probable why complacency played a large roll in what could end up being a career ender for me.
A couple of weekends ago the day was looking less than average so a small group of pilots decided to fly Mt. Lukens to change things up.
After driving up the washed out access road we all sat up our gliders, I was the third off, the first two pilots made it off with what looked like more effort than was discussed before launch. I stepped up to launch and was in a hurry to catch up with my buddys that just left. The conditions seemed to be getting lighter so I decided to take two steps to my left and several steps back, (this was in my mind to build up speed in-order to compensate for light or no winds).
This choice complicated my launch in three ways.
1) It changed my launch line down the hill.
2) It made me completely lose site of launch and my path across the ground cover.
3) Transitioning from flat ground to a reasonably steep slop requires a larger angle of attack change (that I didn't pull off)
I yelled clear and ran to the edge of launch and started down trying to pick my way through the brush not to trip, as I began to fly away my right wing tip brushed the top of a bush putting me into a spin, I hit the ground about 100' down from launch. I walked away without a scratch, the glider received two tears on the leading edge and one bent down tube.
"Keep thy airspeed up, lest the ground come from below and smite thee".
William Kershner

Richard

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Malury
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Post by Malury » Thu Apr 26, 2018 12:34 pm

WOW! That's unfortunate. I am glad to hear you are OK Richard. Don't let it become a career ender. Just get back to your conservative, normal launch procedures.

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chadness
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Post by chadness » Thu Apr 26, 2018 1:18 pm

Hi Richard,

thanks for the lesson learned info. This shows that even really skilled and safe pilots like yourself can make minor mistakes that make the critical difference in (rare) cases where there is little margin for error.

When I started learning to fly (still learning) in the 80's, I attempted a crowd pleasing but foolish approach at the training hill. When the crash came to a halt with a broken leading edge, keel and downtube, the other downtube finally gave way resulting in the wing falling down on me too. So humiliating. No injuries though. When I gathered enough pride to shamefully and reluctantly hand the wreckage over for repair to my instructor (Jeff Nicolay), he said something like "Chad, don't take it so hard. I have destroyed more gliders than you will probably ever fly". Later I told him how helpful that statement was to me, and he said something like "I said that only because you are a safe and competent pilot in nature". If you knew Jeff, this was lot of discussion:)

Due to lack of injury on that event and your recent event (based on your overall skills/judgement) seems like they are a relatively inexpensive lesson within a flying career (IMHO).

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RichardShaw
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Post by RichardShaw » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:39 pm

Thanks for the replies,
To answer DQ's deleted reply. This was the falcon league, and you would have to see Lukens launch to understand the gravity of my screw-up.

I haven't, nor do I want to quit, but this really makes me realize that I'm not the only one affected by my flying.
After the dust settles I do hope to be back in the air.
"Keep thy airspeed up, lest the ground come from below and smite thee".
William Kershner

Richard

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JD
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Post by JD » Thu Apr 26, 2018 7:32 pm

RichardShaw wrote:Thanks for the replies,
To answer DQ's deleted reply. This was the falcon league, and you would have to see Lukens launch to understand the gravity of my screw-up.
Didn't think anyone other than Bob & Doug read the forum so I zapped it.

Can we all assume your were flying a single surface glider and not a topless (since it was a Falcon League day)? If so, I have to admit that would add slightly to the :oops: :oops: :oops: factor.

Are you saying that Lukens launch is in good shape and that you would have been okay had you stood on the down-sloping portion of the ramp when you started your run?
I haven't, nor do I want to quit, but this really makes me realize that I'm not the only one affected by my flying. After the dust settles I do hope to be back in the air.
I will have to admit that reading your original post had me rather upset. As your Jewish mother it's my job to worry but did you have to give me such an ulcer? What kind of son would do such a thing? Is this how I raised you? Oy!

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RichardShaw
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Post by RichardShaw » Thu Apr 26, 2018 8:22 pm

No what I ment is launching Lukens is challenging enough (even on a single surface) with out the complacation of slope transition.
"Keep thy airspeed up, lest the ground come from below and smite thee".
William Kershner

Richard

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JD
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Post by JD » Thu Apr 26, 2018 8:53 pm

RichardShaw wrote:No what I ment is launching Lukens is challenging enough (even on a single surface) with out the complacation of slope transition.
What were you flying?

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RichardShaw
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Post by RichardShaw » Fri Apr 27, 2018 6:43 am

A Falcon.
"Keep thy airspeed up, lest the ground come from below and smite thee".
William Kershner

Richard

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JD
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Post by JD » Fri Apr 27, 2018 6:52 am

RichardShaw wrote:A Falcon.
You mean a FallDown? :( :o :cry:

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TerryH
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Post by TerryH » Fri Apr 27, 2018 6:53 am

Wow. Thanks for the report. I'm glad you're okay, Richard. Gliders can be fixed.

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