XC landings

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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gregangsten
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XC landings

Post by gregangsten » Fri Sep 07, 2018 9:10 am

OK, I'll 'fess up. After a glorious flight along the Sierras (as usual), I worked my way down the valley for awhile on light lift before deciding on this nice looking field I'd driven by and admired for years. Yes, it was green and being watered but it didn't look like any real crop was growing there and it seemed flat and the plants low. I saw the rolling watering contraption at the end but decided I had plenty of room to land so I cranked around the near end and went on final. I realized then I was a little high and landing in no wind at all and that I was going to be a little long. Focused totally on the approaching wheeled watering line, I went as far as I could and hit a hard flair. Not quite hard enough to stop me though as I was more focused on the pipe than on where my hands were. I popped up of course and then came down hard still with some forward motion and pounded hard. I ended up a few feet from the pipe alright, but twisted my left arm and elbow going through the frame, ending my flying for the weekend.

Making matters worse, I got up utterly covered in these needle-pronged burrs from head to foot.

My take-away? Don't break your routine of picking your target exactly and setting up an approach accordingly, even if you think you don't need to because maybe you do, and it will help your landing anyway.

...and also, avoid green fields unless you've walked on them.

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mrobin604
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Post by mrobin604 » Fri Sep 07, 2018 10:09 am

I will add my story here, that Ken alluded to in the Owens post in the events section.

I was setting up a landing north of BIGEARS (Owens Valley Radio Observatory) next to the Owens River. I planned a left handed aircraft approach onto a section of dirt road that was straight, clear of high bushes and power lines, and mostly into the prevailing wind. It was 3:30 PM so the air had settled down a bit from when I tried to land 90 minutes previous and decided better of it.

Staging in was a little bumpy but nothing unusual. I hit a bit of lift on early final and powered through it to the ground... as I got close to the ground I eased off my speed a bit, which ended up being a mistake as I was hit with a bump under my right wing, which turned me toward the river despite my efforts to correct for it.

I tried to flare to dump some forward momentum in the hopes that I could avoid landing in the water, but it was not enough and I landed just past the bank in a (fortunately) still part of the river, up to my waist in water. I unhooked and bushwacked up onto dry ground.

I dumped harness, helmet, etc, and went back to see about the glider. It had flipped onto its top, and floated to the middle of the river. I tried to pull it to shore but when I got the kingpost free of the bottom the river carried it away from me until it got stuck again... I waded out to try again with a similar result, and the velocity of the river was stronger here so it was more difficult. Realizing at this point that it was probably a lost cause, I went out to at least recover my vario from the downtube, but I couldn't get to it due to the current, and my efforts to bring it closer to me resulted in it getting freed again, drifting down the river, and folding up in the current. I climbed out and headed down the shore to the next opening in the brush. At this point the glider was nowhere to be seen.

As I see it, here are the risk factors that led to the incident:

1) Choosing a landing location with poor worst-case outcomes

The runway I chose was very good, however if things don't go as planned I was facing a landing in a potentially swift river. Better to choose a less satisfactory runway with minimal bad outcomes if I get turned on final.

2) Insufficient speed on final

If I had maintained my speed, I probably could have corrected for the turn. As it was, the bump probably stalled me resulting in my loss of control.

3) Pilot inexperience in the Owens

It was my second flight there, and my first weekend, so I think that may be contributory. Conditions along the Sierras themselves were not outside my experience, but they would count among the strongest of days I've experienced at Kagel. And I've certainly never been turned on final like that at Kagel.

4) Unfamiliar equipment

I was flying Ken Andrews' U2 145, which I had mistakenly thought was similar enough to my 160 that it wouldn't make much difference, however it flew sufficiently differently that I feel the need to mention it. I do believe that it was a very small factor in the incident, since I'd pretty much gotten used to its handling characteristics in the 3 hours previous. But for the sake of completeness I'm mentioning it.

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Steve90266
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Landing in the Crop Field

Post by Steve90266 » Fri Sep 07, 2018 10:18 am

If I could add my two cents here Greg. To be fair, landing in the heat of the day at 4,000 ft in no wind would be challenging for most pilots. The field was wet and the crop made running it out difficult. You and the glider walked away relatively unscathed, and so we are thankful for that.

The take away for me is that when landing in the Owens, try not to go for green grass fields. I heard a story about Powerline Mike doing the same thing and ending up knee deep in a swamp! Grass fields tend to be deceptive. Instead, look for relatively flat, dead grass plots of land. Of course, if given the choice between a field strewn with boulders or a grass laden field, I'd probably take the grass, depending on how lucky I was feeling that day. You did fine.
Steve Murillo

vannoppen
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Post by vannoppen » Fri Sep 07, 2018 4:16 pm

Robin. First off Congratulations on two great days of flying. Second. Did you ever recover the glider. Third you are lucky to be alive. Imagine if that had not been a calm section you touched down in. My first and only flight from Walt’s was landing at the Independence Airport. I’m pretty certain I’m goitnext weekend and hope I learn some lessons from you and Greg’s landings. What you chose to do seems like a very reasonable decision yet as demonstrated there were lessons to learn. Brown over green, fast approach, and no fast moving stream near by. Oh yeah Luck

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mrobin604
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Post by mrobin604 » Fri Sep 07, 2018 4:39 pm

vannoppen wrote:Second. Did you ever recover the glider.
Nope.
vannoppen wrote:Third you are lucky to be alive. Imagine if that had not been a calm section you touched down in.
Yup. If I had made it to even the other side of that loop, it would have been a lot more dramatic.
vannoppen wrote:My first and only flight from Walt’s was landing at the Independence Airport. I’m pretty certain I’m goitnext weekend and hope I learn some lessons from you and Greg’s landings. What you chose to do seems like a very reasonable decision yet as demonstrated there were lessons to learn. Brown over green, fast approach, and no fast moving stream near by. Oh yeah Luck
Good luck! I think I've had enough of the Owens for this year so I'm going to skip this next trip :D

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stebbins
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Post by stebbins » Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:57 am

I'm glad you both are ok.

RE: green vs brown. When given a choice, I prefer greenish brown. Usually, that's what pasture looks like. Pasture won't have pipes and equipment as the owners are protecting their cash cows. Greener means less turbulence/lift. Browner means less chance of swam, high crops, etc. Looking straight down at the field often lets you see through the plants to gauge if they are crops or just pasture. Just my two cents. I'll usually land in the scattered brush over a fully operating crop. But a pasture over either.

Just FYI, I was planning on going to the Owens on the weekend of the 21st, but I broke my toe in a pantry accident at home. Really! (That's pantry, not panty...)

So no flying for me for 4-6 weeks.

I was really looking forward to testing the XC potential of my Sport 2 in the Owens. I've flown all kinds of gliders there, but never that one.
Fly High; Fly Far; Fly Safe -- George

kyardley
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Post by kyardley » Mon Sep 10, 2018 9:52 am

Since I know you are OK, I laughed out loud at your retelling of the incident. You have my sympathy at loss of your gear. Most pilots have to wait for film to see their glider destroyed with them in it. You got to actually observe the Owens River roll your glider into a ball. Oh wait, that wasn't even YOUR glider - it was Ken's. Now I'm laughing again!

Here's to the mistakes we live to regret. I owe you a big hug.

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rebardan
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Post by rebardan » Mon Sep 10, 2018 12:32 pm

tie some hackle on the keel . she'll float higher?

AlC
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Hang Glider in the Owens River

Post by AlC » Tue Oct 16, 2018 5:38 am


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JD
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Post by JD » Tue Nov 13, 2018 3:42 pm

FYI - Dave Turner from http://sierraparagliding.com found Ken's glider and has the precise location recorded. I put Dave and Ken in touch with each other (hopefully) and the glider can soon be high and dry rather than submerged and damp.
Cheers, JD

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mrobin604
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Post by mrobin604 » Tue Nov 13, 2018 4:13 pm

JD wrote:FYI - Dave Turner from http://sierraparagliding.com found Ken's glider and has the precise location recorded. I put Dave and Ken in touch with each other (hopefully) and the glider can soon be high and dry rather than submerged and damp.
Cheers, JD
Sooo... here's the weird thing.

That's not Ken's glider.

His glider did not have a harness clipped to it. I unhooked and climbed out of the river with my harness.

This means that someone else has one-upped my landing.

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JD
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Post by JD » Tue Nov 13, 2018 7:24 pm

mrobin604 wrote:....This means that someone else has one-upped my landing.
More like they one-undered your landing. Didn't mean to torpedo the topic. Is there a new sign-off co-branded w/ PADI?

Doug found me the actual video of your landing.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0dFzy0yD7c[/youtube]

mario
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Post by mario » Thu Nov 22, 2018 6:46 pm

I’m sure this has already been solved. My guess is that it wasn’t a harness that Dave saw, but some of the red sail that Ken’s glider had on it.

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JD
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Post by JD » Fri Nov 23, 2018 5:54 pm

mario wrote:I’m sure this has already been solved. My guess is that it wasn’t a harness that Dave saw, but some of the red sail that Ken’s glider had on it.
I am not aware of any further information.

Hey Ken & Marshall,
Any updates?
JD

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