Hang Glider Neck Injury In Failed Landing

Steve Purdie's picture

BHPA safety Advisory: http://www.bhpa.co.uk/pdf/safety_advisory/sa010.122013.pdf

In a recent accident the hang glider pilot, as a result of a base-bar collision during landing, swung through the control frame. His harness allowed him to move forward to the extent that his head was in front of the high aspect-ratio glider’s nose plate, which his weight and momentum pulled down violently on to the back of his head / neck region. The pilot suffered serious injury.

Hang Glider pilots should make landing approaches with their hands on the uprights and shoulders raised.

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Getting "beaked"

The Americans call this getting "beaked".
All pilots are taught to let go of the uprights in the event of a crash. This is to avoid breaking arms. I hope the BHPA is not changing this advice.
Crashing downwind whilst flying straight and level is the best way to get beaked. If you are crashing downwind (!), fight like hell to get the glider into a turn, then let go and ball up your body, i.e. fetal position (but don't suck your thumb!).

Steve Purdie's picture


I attended to a 'beaked' pilot in Doussard this spring. Thankfully he was walking within a few minutes.

To be honest the issue scares me! I have a 45 kg glider with a short bowsprit, so if I did mess up there would undoubtedly just be a hole where my neck used to be.

I keep wondering is a longer bowsprit would a) make the glider easier to lift up & b) less likely to kill me?

Steve Purdie
Stuff. You know you want it!

the inability for this to

the inability for this to occur used to be a part of the (now defunct) british certification requirements.

yes, a nose extension can stop this happening. even better if you bend the front of it up to function as a skid to help stop the nose digging in during a nose-over.

wheels on the A frame corners help a lot, but are not a complete answer. (wheels incidentally add surprisingly little drag, especially if 'discus' shaped)

alternative solutions include a tether from the rear part of the keel to part way down the pilots main suspension. must be long enough to allow full pitch control and short enough to prevent the pilot's head getting in front of the nose-plates.

or a chest link to the control bar. i experimented with this arrangement for a while to prevent falling into the wing whilst inverted.

or fly supine...