Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Piling in at Funston

Last Saturday I was trying a harness new to me with an unfamiliar mechanism, I failed to use it properly and let it distract me from flying the glider properly. The video below has the last few moments captured quite nicely. Fortunately I bounced softly into iceplant, the glider however, did not fare so well, a broken leading edge and downtube resulted.

I had had 3 or 4 attempts at getting upright in the harness before turning onto final, I believe my mistake was taking my feet out of the harness before going upright. You can see me hanging on the downtube and pushing on the basetube with one final attempt, but with my feet out of the harness it doesn't work, and I am suspended by a line that runs to just behind the knees. That is a big head down moment.

What I should have done at this point is forget about the harness and fly the glider. However I did not.
Also I had not noticed how much more north the wind was on the ground than just 80 feet up, this creates a rotor that I flew into quite slowly. Hanging and pushing on the control frame takes away the feel of airspeed.

Ultimately the gliders right wing stalls and falls to the ground, I loosen my grip and my body assumes the head-down position dictated by the harness and BAM. Unable to get my feet below me, the glider takes the full impact of its weight and mine combined, 5x the force of the glider just by itself.

There are a number of lessons that can be learned from this.
1. Always Prioritize flying the glider.
2. Go upright early when trying a new harness.
3. Give yourself an out if you you can even if its a belly landing.
4. Don't grip the control frame to the point where you cannot feel the air.

Crashing at Funston

Here is a picture of the break in the carbon.

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