Latest Safety Notices

Hairy Dave's picture

How to hold brake handles and survive

I've found the organisers initial statement regarding Dillip's death in Bulgaria (below). Apart from slow rescue services, the main issue is that he was found with a half deployed parachute and the brakes still in his hands. They suggest that holding the brakes and trying to deploy would influence glider behaviour. It would certainly impede throwing of the reserve.

I seem to remember that Dillip was in the habit of passing his hands through the brake handles so that they were around his wrist. This has resulted in similar incidents in the past where the pilot has been found it difficult or impossible to release the brakes quickly enough in order to throw the reserve properly.

However we choose to hold the brakes, it is essential that we are able to release them and and deploy without hesitation. Putting the handles over the wrists is a dangerous practice.

Official statement for accident 15 July 2012

Yesterday, Sunday 15 July, the indian pilot Dilip Kotecha falled at the upper part of Ravnets massif, north of Karlovo and Vasil Levski. Later he died from from internal bleeding and injuries.

He flew above the mountain, 120 m above the terrain, when according to witnesses he had collapses, spiral dive, rescue parachute deployment and hard impact into the ground. 5-10 minutes later 3 pilots landed next to him: Jan Minnaar, Ivelin Kalushkov and Daniel Dimov. They reported promptly the condition of Dilip - unconscious with irregular breathing and bleeding from the mouth. Mountain rescue helicopter was called and it arrived within 1 hour and 40 minutes. Unfortunately around 15:30 he stopped breathing. The helping pilots continued with CPR until the coming of rescue helicopter, when the doctor announced him dead.

It is difficult to find the reason of the accident because the weather conditions were normal and because Dilip was relatively experienced pilot, flying from 1995 and he attended SIV courses. He knew the terrain as he flew 5 competitions in Sopot area. He's been flying his glider - Ozone Mantra 4 for one year, had 100 hours on it and flew it in the crowded Czech Open and Skynomad Open in Sopot 2011.
The area of the accident is in the lee of a strong thermal trigger, which probably caused the initial turbulence and collapse. He was found with brake handles in his hands, which might slowed the deploying the rescue with them (the harness velcro for the rescue riser was not opened entirely and rescue container was 10 meters away from him). Trowing rescue with brake handle might influenced the glider behavior.

As far as the accident was not caused by organization failure, the competition will continue. Monday 16 July is a rest and respect day. Shambhala club will donate all entry fee money to Dilip's family and will support his son until his 18th birth day.

From the organization.

Steve Purdie's picture

Parachute Packing Error

I just repacked an Independence Annular EVO reserve which was last repacked by the owner under supervision at the Zip Slide event before Christmas.

The reserve had been folded at 90 degrees to the design plane. i.e. folded like an Apco Mayday, rather than the intended short concertina folds.

When packed in this manner the reserve opening will be delayed and it is not impossible that it will fail to deploy.

If you packed your reserve like this, please refer to me, The Loft or any Independence dealer for advice on how to do it properly.

The correct manual is very clear on how to pack the reserve.

Steve Purdie
SHGC Safety Officer

Hairy Dave's picture

Safety alert - dodgey foreign tandem pilot on our hills

I've just been informed that our incompetent and presumably unlicensed / inunsured tandem pilot was today spotted crashing into the brambles at Newhaven. He's described as ginger and eastern european, flying a tandem with a funny name. The description of his activities was very scary and we need to act before someone gets hurt and / or site agreements are put at risk.

If anyone out there spots this guy or knows who he is, then please politely approach him and explain the error of his ways. Myself, Steve P, Windy John or no doubt any of the tandem instructors will be happy to help him sort out ratings and proper tandem training.

Not everyone reads this forum - please pass the word around.

Spies tell me he was possibly Russian and flying with his girlfriend. They were flying all new kit, an Aeros Phaeton Occupy wing, yellow / white (graphics bit like Ozone) and Gin harnesses.


Steve Purdie's picture

DO NOT infringe the Olympics' Airspace

Steve Purdie's picture

Pre-flight check or die!

Also be extra careful with leg straps with a flight deck or a canoe (pg or hg) harness...

As we have seen here, a flight deck is enough to cause this problem, it is not limited to canoe harnesses. The mandatory pre-launch check which we all perform before each and every launch (!) will ensure this doesn't happen to one of us...

We have had two serious 'failure to clip-in' events (FIC-ups!) within the club in recent years, one pg and one hg. Let's not have any more.

In a similar vein, always complete the check by confirming that the airspace is clear, including behind you, before starting to launch.

Steve Purdie's picture

DHV investigation of current beginner/intermediate gliders

Their summary:

The test series conducted here clearly supports the general suspicions regarding LTF and EN testing: the norms are at best a coarse sieve – large discrepancies are quickly found, but smaller ones may find their way through. We haven't found any really dangerous gliders in the A and B classes, but it is somewhat frightening to see gliders tested to be as safe as possible, that still require 60m of height to recover from a massive collapse. In doing so they pitch forward alarmingly, rotate through almost 360° and have sink velocities of over 20 m/s. This is not the kind of glider that belongs in the hands of a beginner. Accident investigations clearly show what beginner and low-airtime pilots tend to do in the event of a collapse – nothing! They are usually much too frightened and inexperienced to calmly and coordinately react in the heat of the moment. What they need in such a moment, irrespective of the piloting errors they may have made beforehand, is a particularly friendly glider with moderate reactions. This is often promised for the LTF-A class, but these promises are not always kept.

The performance gliders in the high-end B class are marketed, quite correctly, as cross-country machines. They belong in the hands of experienced pilots and are definitely not for “Sunday” flyers. The thin line between “just OK” and “clearly over-demanding” regarding what pilot skills are required to recover from instability provide a lot of food-for-thought. A slightly steeper folding angle on an asymmetric collapse, a bit more of the span on a frontal collapse or a little more sink in a spiral can change a moderate glider into one that's hard to recognise again. Between “typical behavior for its class”, and cravats, dives or stable spirals lies very little margin for error in some cases. Gliders in this segment are only for pilots capable of active flying, able to recognise the onset of instability and react immediately to prevent collapsing.

The general impression we were left with is that more intensive testing is required, and not just two norm flight tests for certification. To provide realistic judgments on glider characteristics, a test program with several collapses, stalls and dives is necessary. Only then can we determine the entire testing results bandwidth and inform pilots appropriately.

We often hear of the evil surprises that some gliders provide in extreme situations, such as the fatal crash last season of a school pilot after an asymmetric collapse, cravat and spiral dive into rocks. Or the pilot with 20 years experience who moved up to a high-end B glider and dies after not being able to exit from a spiral dive.

To simply write off these incidents as “pilot error, bad luck” does not do them justice. Paragliders are built for pilots, and pilots do make mistakes. In glider classes for beginners and low-airtime pilots passive safety characteristics must have utmost priority. And there we still have plenty of room for improvement.

Steve Purdie's picture

Advance Impress 3 reserve container issues

Subject: IMPRESS 3: Service Bulletin

As a result of new information the IMPRESS 3 reserve inner container has been remodelled and the permissible reserve volumes for the S and M size harnesses adjusted. The new container can be obtained free of charge from our dealers.

In recent weeks it has come to our notice that a few IMPRESS 3 pilots have had difficulties releasing their reserve parachute. Of course we take this seriously and have carried out and assessed hundreds of releases with various pilots and dealers. After detailed analysis, and after talking to the harness certification authorities we have come to the satisfactory conclusion that the current system works without problem, so long as the instructions in the manual are followed and the technical requirements adhered to.

It is clear that, independent of model, there are configurations (and always will be) that don’t work properly. These can be avoided by a proper compatibility check - always required for every reserve installation.

Having carried out all these tests we found that the formula for calculating the volume of a reserve (weight in kg x 2.7 = volume in litres) results in only a gross approximation: so from now on we will be specifying the maximum volume for each harness size. The IMPRESS 3 L remains at 7 litres, the M becomes 6.5 litres and the S has a maximum volume of 6 litres.

This large testing programme has certainly been of value to us. On the one side we can say with a clear conscience that the system is ok, on the other we were able, using the experience gained, to modify the inner container so that even more combinations will work flawlessly.

So that present as well as future IMPRESS 3 pilots can benefit from this improvement we have decided to give all IMPRESS 3 owners this new container. Progressively from March 21st we will be delivering our official dealers the appropriate number of inner containers so that you can supply this new pod free of charge for all the harnesses you sold already.

This new pod also replaces the version delivered from January, 2012 which brought an improvement for the reserves to the superior limit of the volume.


Steve Purdie's picture

Mount Caburn site rules refresher

We are seeing a number of Mount Caburn site rules being disregarded of late. Please ensure that you adhere to all of the site rules as the landowner lives locally and does not need our custom!

Rules being disregarded:
- Do not launch from below the 'top of the hill' i.e., not from half way up the hill to avoid the walk up. See the last item in this list.
- Keep the car park locked at all times. In particular when pilots are in the field as this can encourage non-members to enter.
- Right hand 360 only until more than 1000' above launch
- Do not overfly the cottages near to the farm complex at the bottom of Mt. Caburn
- Do not overfly the cottages near the car park at the bottom of Mt. Caburn
- Do not overfly the car park
- Do not slope land on the main face of Mt. Caburn other than at the no longer visible 'white mushrooms', which were situated:
- One by the lowest stile into Airworks' landing field
- One by the tree line at the east near the top of the hill
- One by the tree line at at the east just before it diverts east and some 100m above the cottages
- Slope landing is permitted on all parts of the western ridge, but do avoid interfering with any training.
- Do not land in Airworks' landing field except in an emergency.
- Do not park at the western end of Ranscombe Lane. Park only in the club car park or in Glynde village car park (if parking here, walk up the public footpath opposite the post office)
- Do not re-launch from the western ridge of Mt Caburn if Airworks are training there (The rule is do not launch at all, but they are accommodating.)
- No commercial coaching or training on the western ridge.
- Only walk up the eastern edge of the hill, currently following the line of the established path, though there are moves afoot to move us further east.
- When on the main face, do not stray from the path, especially at this time of year when ground nesting birds are present and various protected flora will be soon to flower.

Steve Purdie's picture

Yesterday at Mt. Caburn

As usual the spring mayhem returned with a vengeance with the sea breeze!

Why is it that pilots put their gliders away in September and think that they will be perfectly competent when their wings next see the light of day in February or March?

Granted there were a couple of low airtime pilots who were not exactly helping the reputation of red ribbon pilots, but the majority of the people flying badly were of at least 'intermediate' level, if not actually very high airtime pilots.

Some of the pilot's causing concern were not UK trained and not Polish! Sebastian has intimated that he would like to help integrate these pilots into the club as they may feel too intimidated or whatever to approach our existing coaches for guidance. I can only applaud this initiative - over to you Seb!

All this winging about poor piloting does no real good when the pilots concerned do not realise what it is that they are doing wrong, so I'll start a list:

- Telegraph your intentions to other pilots
- Fly predictably
- Avoid creating 'boxes' of gliders to trap one another.
- Think about the nearby pilots and their options and intentions
- Small changes of course to make the next pilot's life easier will usually make them less stressed and ultimately make your life easier.
- Observe air law, but remember that the rules are for collision avoidance; If you are out from the ridge but with it on your right, you cannot expect an oncoming glider which is tight to the ridge to move out in the expectation that you will move in! Only move in when it is safe to do so and then take your rightful place close to the hill.
- Observe build-ups of craft in any particular region and fly in the opposite direction! We managed to safely and without conflict complete a number of soaring tasks and top landings with a number of pilots through the afternoon. We only had to stop for a very short while in the middle of the afternoon when there were no unoccupied regions of the sky.
- Other than the fairly short period I mentioned above, it was not overcrowded per se on Sunday, so operating the red banner to close launch would not have helped. It was just that the few pilots who were there were flying so inconsiderately that they made it seem busy. If you think it is too busy for you, don't launch. If you cannot keep away from other pilots, whether you feel that it is them flying poorly or not, it is time for you to land. Remember, a good pilot will find more thermals than a bad one, even though there is a large amount of luck involved in locating them. This same 'luck' is involved in whether a pilot finds the sky overcrowded or not. The difference is that the pilot who is overwhelmed by the level of crowding they perceive will hurt someone...
- If you think it is too busy and you cannot be certain to fly in a manner not to make it worse, don't launch! There were a number of very experienced pilots who felt that the mayhem would have put their lives at risk and so they chose to wait until the culprits had exhausted themselves mentally and had to leave for an early bath, after which it became pleasantly uncrowded :0)

P.S. I am so glad that the Dyke webcam is down! I would not like to see a general weather forecast page/section that would encourage a zillion people to go to an already crowded site, though I would like to see one to encourage people to try sites further afield.


The Old Station

Steve Purdie's picture

APCO Force

A force recently suffered line detachment during a spiral dive. As yet there is no information regarding the age or history of the wing nor the severity of the manoeuvre, however, Force owners are recommended by Apco to 'in the meantime reasonable steps of precaution you suggest should be followed and extra inspection of the wing, as well as avoiding wild manuevers'