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Safety Network

Why?

It has happened that people died only because an available equipment failure information did not reach them. The aim of the Safety Network is to avoid that.

Who?

Please send the up-to-date name and email of your contact person to the CIVL Safety Officer to register in these lists and help keeping them accurate. Only the names are published, the email addresses are in a dedicated mailing list.

National Safety Officers

Argentina - Juan Ramon Castillo
Australia
- John Twomey
Belgium
- Jean Solon
Brazil
- Chico Santos
Bosnia & Herzegovina
- Mirvad Zenuni
Bulgaria
- Michael Yankov & Daniel Dimov
Canada
- Suzanne Francoeur & George Martin
China
- Zhaofang Han
Colombia
- Mayer Zapata
Croatia
- Zlatko Vukicevic & Radoslav Ostermann
Czechia
- Dan Vyhnalik & Klara Beranova
Denmark
- Michael Hasselgaard
Finland
- Jari Lehti
France
- Claude Bredat
Germany
- Karl Slezak
Great Britain - Angus Pinkerton
Greece
- Lillian LeBlanc & Ioannis Myrianthopoulos
Guatemala
- Alejandro Toralla
Hong Kong
- Trevor Gribble
Hungary
- Laszlo Kerekes
Iceland
- Robert Bragason
India
- Ramakant Sharma
Ireland
- Philip Lardner
Italy
- Rodolfo Saccani
Japan
- Toshiyuki Katsura
Liechtenstein
- Siegfried Herzog
Lithuania
- Justinas Pleikys & Jevgenij Blocha
Luxemburg
- Gregory Knudson
Macedonia
- Goran Dimiskovski
Malaysia
- Nasarudin Baker
Morocco
- Ahmed Lahmidi
Netherlands
- Araldo van de Kraats & Henry Lemmen
New Zealand
- Nicky Hamill
Norway
- Runar Halling
Pakistan
- Sajjad Shah & Jabbar Bhatti
Poland
- Zbigniew Gotkiewicz & Mariusz Nowacki
Serbia - Zeljko Ovuka
Slovakia
- Milan Bohuš
Slovenia
- Igor Eržen
South Africa
- Egmont van Dijk & Hans Fokkens
Switzerland
- Beni Stocker
Taiwan
- Elsa Mai
Ukraine
- Eugeniy Bublik
United States of America
- Doug Stroop

Professionals & Media

Hang Glider Manufacturers Association - Mike Meier
Paraglider Manufacturers Association - Hans Bausenwein & David Humphrey
Oz Report - Davis Straub
Sport Aviation Publications - Dennis Pagen

Still to Answer

Albania                                                    Armenia
Austria                                                     Azerbaijan
Bahrain                                                    Belarus
Chile                                                        Cuba
Cyprus                                                     Ecuador
Egypt                                                       El Salvador
Estonia                                                    Georgia
Indonesia                                                 Iran
Iraq                                                          Israel
Jamaica                                                   Jordan
Kazakhstan                                              Korea
Korea PR                                                 Kuwait
Laos                                                        Latvia
Lebanon                                                   Lybia
Mexico                                                     Moldova
Monaco                                                    Mongolia
Montenegro                                              Mozambique
Nepal                                                       Oman
Panama                                                    Paraguay
Peru                                                         Philippines
Portugal                                                    Qatar
Romania                                                   Russia
San Marino                                               Saudi Arabia
Singapore                                                 Spain
St Kitt & Nevis                                          Sweden
Syria                                                        Thailand
Tunisia                                                     Turkey
United Arab Emirates                                Uruguay
Uzbekistan                                               Venezuela
Vietnam                   
Cross Country Magazine

 

Incidents Types

This incidents types list is a synthesis of syntheses of several national overall practice incidents databases. Some sources have been lost, however the synthesis remains. All sources were real, yet sorting the categories and especially the solution proposals are subjective (i.e. the 2012 CIVL Safety Officer). The records run already over several decades, but this list is of course open. So feel free to send any commentary, amendment or new case to the Safety Officer.  Lastly, this list is being corrected in native English and will be updated as soon as possible. Fly safe.

 

issues

proposals

physiology
lack of oxygen flying down, oxygen set
dehydration drinking, camelback
hypoglycemia eating
cold weather checking, gloves, clothing
sun sunglasses, sunscreen, clothing, drinking
need to pee learning technique
white dots on retina good sunglasses
visual flaw (midair path) red tape, FLARM
airsick training
scubadiving less than 12 hours before flight renounce
bad physical shape renounce
lack of sleeping renounce
tiredness renounce
alcohol renounce
cannabis renounce
wounds on ground poor fitness
psychology
personal worries renounce
feeling "beside" renounce
lack of experience training
start of season learning
carelessness training
speeding up delay
nervous delay
anger delay
excess of confidence learning
"testosterone" delay
distraction (camcorder...) delay
forgetting to hook in / legloops OZ method: aircraft = glider + harness, closing legloops 1st
run stop in tandem launch poor preparation
student without guidance pedagogy flaw
panic pedagogy flaw
fear (adrenalin) training
risky behaviour with weather, aerology getting conscious (forgiving only 99% of times)
unavailability, overload comfort, tuned equipment
unavailability, overload simplifying, training
harness
impossible or difficult direct connection all harnesses with front opening: 2015, 2020?
forgetting to hook in direct connection, automatic carabiner backup, main riser easy to clip in
forgetting legloops / waist strap linked legloops / chest strap, upper zipper closing from bottom?
forgetting chest strap external chest strap
impossible standing up position proper rail length, legloops length tuning
impossible lying position riser / footplate connection cord present & tuned, centered rail
forgotten hook in 1/ let go, 2/ U-turn to crash onto hill
zipper failure zipper mounted on velcro sandwich
tilt cord break removable tilt cord, proper cam / friction blocking
impossible wanted parachute opening handle on pod, reached by both hands or 2 parachutes
unwanted parachute opening faired & fitted pod handle
backplate break reinforced backplate connected to safety frame
main riser break main riser properly sewn & connected to safety frame, shock absorber?
main suspension rope break main riser sliding on strong metal rod
separation upon backplate break main riser connected to freefall tested safety frame
legs injuries suit ballast limits to lightest pilots
spine injuries airbag
equipment
face wounds by glasses glasses without sharp rim
loosing helmet tested geometry, strong chin strap
"neck breaker" minimal fairing behind helmet
brain rotational wounds
MIPS helmet technology


jamming cord on launch outside attachments by cow hitches or quick links, no hook nor (radio) wire
difficult parachute opening pilot chute on pod
pilot chute break freefall tested pilot chute
separation on parachute opening parachute bridle connected to harness safety frame
parachute burst in terminal velocity opening freefall tested sail, shock absorber?
injuries upon landing under parachute size suited to gross weight
parachute pod opened before throwing protected closing loop, lines stowed on pod
separation on drogue chute opening, torsion forces drogue chute connected to harness, possibly on axis
interference drogue chute / keel short bridle
unavoidable crash upon landing use glider to absorb energy, warp around one downtube
drowning upon water landing exit to trailing edge, easy harness opening, cutaway?
glider
forgetting safety pin with A frame closing in top area A frame closing in base bar area
fatigue failure of A frame top bolt right size, regular change, silent block?
double weakness of A frame top long bolt through keel short bolt in craddle under keel
torn cast downtube fittings upon downtube bending / break milled fittings
cable folding control bar, unconnection of sleeve & cable or fatigue break articulated control bar
base bar break without backup base bar internal wire (safety frame)
forgetting swan neck safety pin / haulback break in flight no swan neck haulback, backup (strap?)
folded leading edge inserts mylar inserts withheld in top of leading edge pockets
rectangular section spars break by complex forces wound carbon spars
keel break without backup keel internal rope (safety frame)?
forgetting / loosing nose cone by velcro weakness nose cone with fixed upper link, lower link by front wires?
forgetting to close sprogs or keel zippers anti-forgetting zippers?
hang loop dingle dangle or kingpost ready for easy harness clip in: 2015, 2020?
jamming VG cord VG cord stowing bungee on downtube bottom
side wires fatigue break 2,5 mm side wires, eye swage terminals?
corrosion hidden by painting anodized aluminium tubes
tiring, loss of interest glider tuning: symmetry then trim VG loose, symmetry then pitch VG tight
lock out close to ground on towing roll stable behaviour for beginners
weak push out on landing A-frame top behind main riser
rigids side wires disconnection in flight pin secured control wires
rigids spoilers / flaps disconnection in flight pin secured spoilers / flaps
rigids stabilizer lost in flight pin secured stabilizer on reinforced craddle
rigids D tubes delamination control during preflight check
environment
protruding nail, cord jamming on launch surfacing
pitch change on slope change starting run not more than 1 m behind slope change (except cliff)
low pitch on cart, tug launching first keel support allowing to set pitch angle around 20 ° (rigids 10 °)
high pitch on cart, stall ensure right pitch angle (base bar ~ flight position)
tumble out of cart proper cart & bar cradles design, pilot pushing while rolling & holding cart hoses
dragging cart on launch base bar cradles for all bars
reversed velcro AoA limiter replace velcro limiter by glider / harness dual bridle
weak link break on launch properly tuned weak links, regularly replaced
face injuries on line break simple, light & compact release
"rocket" launch under winch tow, unrecoverable stall if line break restricted tension below 50 m, glider / harness dual bridle
jamming tow line no instrument in central part of base bar, sheathed line
impossible release on lock out high tension suited release (no 3 nor 2 cord loops system)
lock out close to ground under towing harness pitch & VG 1/3 tuning, glider / harness dual bridle & fin for beginners
aircraft collision with winch tow line winch tow activity on airmaps
control
low pitch, glider going in front of pilot setting pitch angle around 20 °
high pitch, early & slow glider launch, stall progressive acceleration
loss of control on cart specific reversed control
poor technique (launch, control, approach, landing) simplifying, training
tumble hang glider sprogs tuning, suiting VG to turbulence
drogue chute opening in front of base bar throwing in slow flight


spin close to ground wings level (more with drogue chute), VG loose / flaps on for final
loss of control close to ground transition to downtubes before final
loss of control close to ground holding low part of downtubes on final
poor landing "listening" for trim
obstacle on landing cutting fences / trees
competition
overcrowded launch low stress generating setup / launching system (priority set up)
overcrowded start gate adapting period between launch opening and 1st start to conditions, ex. 1 to 2 hours
midair collision
constant scan of the whole space around, FLARM
high altitude oxygen sets
lost pilots mobile phone on, live tracking
dangerous task line / final glide flight corridor over landable & aerologically safe zones
landing safety keeping daily turn direction (adapting line position on field)?
principles
mental training: visualise problems & emergency procedures
aware of consequences (aviation's hardest is the ground)
aware of own (changing) limits: adrenalin, visual flaws; not cheating with oneself
fit & awake (distraction, excitement...)
ability to renounce: no dishonor but maturity
using logic rather than procedures learned by heart
simplifying procedures to lower work load
anticipating worsening situation (act instead of react), having an alternate
not relying on luck
safety scale (green: fly, yellow: watch ground, red: land)
humility, incorporate mistake's occurrence (airline pilots make 1 / hour)
accepting & assuming mistakes, listening to criticism even from less experienced persons
stepping in if detecting danger or incompetence
declaring incidents to increase common experience
putting stress on little mistakes: 1st step towards accident

 

lack of oxygen
dehydration
hypoglycemia
cold
sun
need to pee
white dots on retina
visual flaw (midair path)
airsick
scubadiving less than 12 hours before flight
bad physical shape
lack of sleeping
tiredness
alcohol
cannabis
wounds on ground

Incidents Types

This incidents types list is a synthesis of syntheses of several national overall practice incidents databases. Some sources have been lost, however the synthesis remains. All sources were real, yet sorting the categories and especially the solution proposals are subjective (i.e. the 2012 CIVL Safety Officer). The records run already over several decades, but this list is of course open. So feel free to send any commentary, amendment or new case to the Safety Officer.  Lastly, this list is being corrected in native English and will be updated as soon as possible. Fly safe. 

 

issues

proposals

physiology
lack of oxygen flying down, oxygen set
dehydration drinking, camelback
hypoglycemia eating
cold weather checking, gloves, clothing
sun sunglasses, sunscreen, clothing, drinking
need to pee learning technique
white dots on retina good sunglasses
visual flaw (midair path) red tape, FLARM
airsick training
bad physical shape renounce
lack of sleeping renounce
tiredness renounce
scubadiving less than 12 hours before flight renounce
alcohol renounce
cannabis renounce
wounds on ground poor fitness
centrifugated lectures on high Gs dangers
loss of control without rescue opening lectures on high Gs dangers
psychology
personal worries renounce
feeling "beside" renounce
lack of experience training
start of season learning
carelessness training
speeding up delay
nervous delay
anger delay
excess of confidence learning
"testosterone" delay
distraction (camcorder...) delay
forgetting legloops starting with legloops
run stop in tandem launch poor preparation
student without guidance pedagogy flaw
panic pedagogy flaw
fear (adrenalin) training
risk taking with weather, aerology getting conscious (forgiving only 99% of times)
unavailability, overload comfort, tuned equipment
unavailability, overload simplifying, training
harness
forgetting to close legloops, waist strap linked legloops / shoulderstraps
impossible wanted parachute opening handle on pod, reached by both hands or 2 parachutes
unwanted parachute opening faired & fitted pod handle
legs injuries suit ballast limits to lightest pilots
spine injuries deployable airbag
equipment
face wounds by glasses glasses without sharp rim
loosing helmet tested geometry, strong chin strap
"neck breaker" minimal fairing behind helmet
brain rotational wounds MIPS helmet technology
jamming cord on launch outside attachments by cow hitches or quick links, no hook nor (radio) wire
difficult parachute opening pilot chute on pod
pilot chute break freefall tested pilot chute
separation on parachute opening parachute bridle connected to harness safety frame
parachute burst in terminal velocity opening freefall tested sail, shock absorber
injuries upon landing under parachute size suited to gross weight
parachute pod opened before throwing protected closing loop, lines stowed on pod
drowning upon water landing lecture about cases & reactions, equipment design
glider
loss of control during launch, dragged easier sail behaviour, Rose system
collapses kept entangled more lines in the upper front part of the pyramid?
cutting or fatigue line break proper size lines
collapses, late reaction for low AoA solid profiles?
collapses, turbulence at max speed max speed below max potential speed
spiral stability improve design
environment
protruding nail, cord jamming on launch surfacing
"rocket" launch under winch tow, unrecoverable stall if line break restricted tension below 50 m, improve operator's skills
impossible release on lock out high tension suited release (no 3 nor 2 cord loops system)
aircraft collision with winch tow line winch tow activity on airmaps
obstacle on landing cutting fences / trees
control
spinaker effect simplifying, training
poor sail rising control simplifying, training
line mix simplifying, training
gust training
low angle of attack training
passenger / pilot interaction poor preparation or briefing
back into slope sail control & anticipating
lockout sail control & anticipating
collision following rules, watching & anticipating
collapse training, SIV
stall / surge training, SIV
spin training, SIV
parachutal improving sail control & altitude management
pilot wrapped up in sail lectures on aerobatics
unwanted rescue opening equipment preparation
high wind improving wind analysis & anticipating
poor approach, low turn long straight final
gradient improving wind analysis & anticipating
collapse due to obstacles improving judgement
obstacle on landing improving judgement & anticipating
no braking improving judgement, pedagogy
competition
overcrowded start gate adapting period between launch opening and 1st start, ex. 1 to 2 hours
midair collision constant scan of the whole space around, FLARM
collapse reduce speed by task design
lost pilots mobile phone on (what's app), live tracking, SPOT
dangerous task line / final glide flight corridor over landable & aerologically safe zones
overcrowded landing keeping daily turn direction (adapting line position on field) if possible
principles
mental training: visualise problems & emergency procedures
aware of consequences (aviation's hardest is the ground)
aware of own (changing) limits: adrenalin, visual flaws; not cheating with oneself
fit & awake (distraction, excitement...)
ability to renounce: no dishonor but maturity
using logic rather than procedures learned by heart
simplifying procedures to lower work load
anticipating worsening situation (act instead of react), having an alternate
not relying on luck
safety scale (green: fly, yellow: watch ground, red: land)
humility, incorporate mistake's occurrence (airline pilots make 1 / hour)
accepting & assuming mistakes, listening to criticism even from less experienced persons
stepping in if detecting danger or incompetence
declaring incidents to increase common experience
putting stress on little mistakes: 1st step towards accident

Safety Notices

Gin, 21 Novembre 2013  Rescue Installation

DHV, 11 July 2013  Team 5 Blue Deep Stalls

Gin, 15 April 2013  Airlite Recall

Sup'Air, 15 March 2013  Delight Reserve Extraction

Gin, 17 May 2012  Safari & Boomerang X Brakes

DHV, 09 May 2012  Ozone Enzo Risers

DHV, 27 February 2012  Gin Boomerang GTO Adhesive Reinforcements

DHV, 15 April 2011  Harnesses With Front Cockpit & Leg Fairings

DHV, 14 April 2011  Karpofly Harnesses Reserve Extraction

DHV, 29 March 2011  Skywalk Cayenne 3, Chili 2 & Joint 2 Adhesive Tape

DHV, 18 February 2011  Performance Gliders in Rain

DHV, 21 June 2010  Woody Valley Bix Reserve Extraction

DHV, 12 March 2010  Sol Flex Back Protector

HGFA, 16 May 2008  Sup'Air Altix & Evo XC Reserve Extraction

DHV, 09 March 2005  Firebird RS 2 Reserve Container

Safety Notices

DHV, 14 Novembre 2013  Woody Valley Tenax 3 Parachute Handle

Aeros, 16 August 2013  Carbon Spars Combat Serial Numbers

DHV, 25 March 2013  Skyline Zero Drag Reserve Extraction

DHV, 29 May 2012  Kingpostless Gliders Keel

Wills Wing, 13 April 2012  Kingposted Gliders Hang Loop

Aeros, 28 April 2011  Combat & Discus VG Pulleys

Aeros, 11 April 2011  Harness Leg Loops

A.I.R, 11 November 2008  Atos Leading Edge Setup

USHPA, 15 March 2006  Stall Danger In Tandem Aerotowing

Helmets for Hang Gliding

Helmets for Hang Gliding

Wearing EN 966 certified helmets has been mandatory in Cat. 1 events since 1 January 2010. This List of Certified Helmets is believed to match EN 966. However, recent research has shown that a significant proportion of the brain damage from impacts is from rotational forces, from which current helmets offer no protection, when technologies such as MIPS are available today in snow sports.

To offer the certified protection level, it is critical that helmets fit well and securely, and be replaced regularly. To encourage that, a selection of helmets in more sizes and models at lower costs will make them more available. From 1 May 2014, all pilots in Cat. 1events must wear a helmet certified to either EN 966 (airsports), EN 1077 A & B, ASTM 2040 or SNELL rs98 (snow sports) at all times while flying.

Helmets for Paragliding

Helmets for Paragliding

Wearing EN 966 certified helmets has been mandatory in Cat. 1 events since 1 January 2010. This List of Certified Helmets is believed to match EN 966. However, recent research has shown that a significant proportion of the brain damage from impacts is from rotational forces, from which current helmets offer no protection, when technologies such as MIPS are available today in snow sports.

To offer the certified protection level, it is critical that helmets fit well and securely, and be replaced regularly. To encourage that, a selection of helmets in more sizes and models at a lower cost will make them more available. From 1 May 2014, all pilots in Cat. 1events must wear a helmet certified to either EN 966 (airsports), ASTM 2040 or SNELL rs98 (snow sports) at all times while flying.

List of EN966 Helmets

List of Helmets Currently Used in Airsports Which Are Claimed to Be Certified to EN966

Last updated: 2 July 2013

* Not allowed in Category 1 Championships

ManufacturerModelFull Face/
Open Face
Certification Claimed
Air Extreme (APCO) Cloudchaser FF EN966
FreeAir2 OF EN966
FreeAirCom2 OF EN966
Charly Insider FF EN966
Air control OF EN966
No Limit FF EN966
No Limit Jet OF EN966
Breeze OF EN966
Loop OF EN966
Ace OF EN966
Icaro 4-Fight LT Jet OF EN966
4-Fight LT Integral FF EN966
4-Fight Cut Integral FF EN966
Grid Integral FF EN966
Grid Jet OF EN966
Grid Cut Integral FF EN966
Cut 3 FF EN966
Fly OF EN966
Sky Runner FF EN966
Iguano OF EN966
Skin OF EN966
Independence HI-tec FF EN966
Lazer X-Stream FF EN966
B-Cool OF EN966
Downhill FF EN966
Jetstream OF EN966
Microavionics MM021 OF EN966
MM001D OF EN966
MM020A-N OF EN966
MM001B OF EN966
Ozone Nutshell OF EN966
Plusmax PlusAir OF EN966
PlusAir FF EN966
Sup'Air Evolution OF EN966
Evolution FF EN966
Lubin Aero OF No *
Full Face FF No *
Integra FF No *
Race FF No *
Open Face OF No *
Maxim OF No *
Suchanek OF No *

Risk Awareness

Why Can't We Get a Handle on This Safety Thing?
Mike Meier (USA) 1998

Mike Meier is in the leading team of the hang glider manufacturer Wills Wing and chairman of the Hang Gliding Manufacturers Association. Here he explores why overall pilot safety statistics don't seem to change. He theorizes that over time our perception of "acceptable risk" gets lower and lower because repeated success with less than "100% safe" decisions changes our definition of "100% safe".


Image

If I were to ask you to characterize the view that the "uninformed public" has of hang gliding, what might you say? You might say that they think of hang gliding as a "death sport" or, at the very least, an "unreasonably unsafe activity". You might say that they think hang glider pilots are "thrill seekers" who recklessly disregard the inherent risks in what they do. You might say that they are under the mistaken impression that hang gliders are fragile, unstable flying contraptions blown about by the winds and only partially, and inadequately under the control of the occupant.

If confronted by this attitude in a spectator, how might you respond? You might say that once upon a time, in the very early days of the sport, it was true that gliders were dangerous, and pilots behaved in an unsafe manner. You might point out that in recent years, however, the quality of the equipment, the quality of training, and the level of maturity of the pilots have all improved immeasurably. You might point to the fine aerodynamic qualities of today's hang gliders, the rigorous certification programs in place for gliders, instructors, and pilots, and you might give examples of the respectable occupations of many hang glider pilots; doctors, lawyers, computer programmers. You might make the claim that hang gliding today is one of the safer forms of aviation, and is no more risky than many other action oriented sports.

Later on, you might laugh about the ignorant attitude of the "woofo". Or, you might wonder "Why is it, after all these years, that the public still doesn't understand? Why can't we educate them about what hang gliding is really like, and how safe and reasonable it really is?"

So now let me ask you another question. What if they're right? What if they're right and we're wrong? And what if I can prove it to you?

Statistics

Let's take a look. First of all, you have to admit that year after year we continue to kill ourselves at a pretty depressing rate. Anybody that's been around this sport for very long has probably lost at least one friend or acquaintance to a fatal hang gliding accident. Most of us who have been around for more than 20 years have lost more than we care to think about. It's true that we have seemingly made some improvement in the overall numbers in the last twenty five years; between 1974 and 1979 we averaged 31 fatalities a year. Since 1982 we've averaged about 10 per year. In the last 6 or 8 years, we may have dropped that to 7 per year. On the other hand, what has happened to the denominator in that equation? In 1978, there were 16 US manufacturers viable enough to send teams to the manufacturer's competition in Telluride. Today we don't even have a manufacturer's competition. My guess is that the fatality rate hasn't changed much, and almost certainly hasn't improved in the last 10 years. I'd guess it's about 1/1000 per year, which is what I guessed it was 10 years ago.

So the question is why? The equipment gets better and more high tech every year, we know more about teaching than ever, we've got parachutes, rockets to deploy them, full face kevlar helmets, wheels, FM radios for emergency rescue. We're all about 20 years older, and commensurately wiser and more conservative. How come we're not safer?

rc hanggl1

Accident

I've been asking myself variations on this question for as long as I can remember. Three years ago I had an accident, and in thinking about that accident I thought that maybe I had stumbled onto some little insight into the answer. I'll share it with you.

Here's the story (If you don't like reading "there I was" stories, or other people's confessional accident reports, skip this part. I won't be offended). We were out doing some production test flying at Marshall Peak in San Bernardino. For those of you who haven't flown there, Marshall is a rounded knob in the middle of a 2200' tall ridge in the foothills along the northern border of the east end of the Los Angeles basin. It's a very reliable flying site; probably flyable 300 days a year and soarable on most of them. It was July, in the middle of the day, but the conditions were not particularly strong. We were landing on top, which we do whenever conditions are not too rowdy, because it vastly enhances efficiency. I was flying a Spectrum 165, and setting up my approach. I've logged about 100 top landings a year at Marshall for each of the last 15 years. Even so, I know for a fact that at the time, I was not complacent. I know because I have a clear memory of what I was thinking as I set up my approach. In two weeks, I was due to leave on a three week family vacation abroad, and I was thinking "You damn well better not get yourself hurt before your trip or your wife is going to kill you".

At the same time, I wasn't anxious. I was flying a Spectrum, the conditions were only moderate. I'd made lots of successful landings on more difficult gliders in more challenging conditions. I hadn't had an unsuccessful landing attempt in longer than I could remember. I was relaxed, yet focused. My intent was simply to fly a perfect approach. Such intent is always a good idea when top landing at Marshall; the landing is challenging, and a sloppy approach can quickly get you into trouble. I knew exactly where I wanted to be at every point in the approach, position, heading, altitude and airspeed. I executed the approach exactly as I wanted to.

You top land at Marshall half crosswind, gliding up the back side of the hill. You come in hot, because the gradient can be extreme, and there's often some degree of turbulence. The time interval from 40mph dive, through round out, to flare is very short. I was halfway through this interval, past the point where one is normally rocked by whatever turbulence is present, when both my left wing and the nose dropped suddenly and severely. I went immediately to full opposite roll control, and managed to get the wings and nose just level when the basetube hit. Having turned 90°, I was traveling mostly downwind, at a groundspeed of probably 30mph. The right downtube collapsed immediately, and the right side of my face and body hit the ground hard.

Very briefly, I thought I might die. For a slightly longer time, I thought about paralysis. Within a minute, I knew I was mostly ok. In the end, I got away with a slightly sprained ankle, and a moderate case of whiplash. I had three weeks to think about the accident while I bounced around the rutted dirt roads of East Africa trying in vain to keep my head balanced directly over my spine to moderate the pain.

The thing was, I never considered at the time of the landing that I was anywhere near "pushing the envelope". I've done dozens of landings at Marshall where I did feel that way. All during the previous two summers I had been top landing RamAirs at Marshall in the middle of the day in much stronger conditions. I had never had a crash. Thinking about it, I couldn't even remember the last time I had broken a downtube. I tried in vain to think of a clue that I had missed that this was going to be a dangerous landing.

Finally, I was left with only one conclusion. What happened to me was nothing more or less than exactly what the potential result was, during any of the times I had landed under similar, or more challenging circumstances. That was a dangerous landing because of what could have (and did) happen. The corollary, of course, is that all the other landings I had done, on more challenging gliders, in more challenging conditions, were also dangerous (in fact, they were more dangerous). And they were so in spite of the fact that no bad results ensued in any of those landings.

New Outlook

And suddenly I felt like I was beginning to understand something that I hadn't previously understood.

You see, here's how I think it works. The overriding determinant of pilot safety in hang gliding is the quality of pilot decision making. Skill level, experience, quality of equipment; all those things are not determinants. What those things do is determine one's upper limits. More skill gives you a higher limit, as does more experience or better equipment. But safety is not a function of how high your limits are, but rather of how well you stay within those limits. And that is determined by one thing; the quality of the decisions you make. And how good do those decisions have to be? Simply put, they have to be just about perfect. Consider the type of decisions you have to make when you fly. Do I fly today? Do I start my launch run at this time, in this cycle? Do I have room to turn back at the hill in this thermal? Can I continue to follow this thermal back as the wind increases and still make it back over the ridge? Each time you face such a decision, there is a level of uncertainty about how the conditions will unfold. If you make the "go" decision when you're 99% sure you can make it, you'll be wrong on average once every 100 decisions. At 99.9%, you'll still be wrong once every 1000 decisions. You probably make 50 important decisions for every hour of airtime, so a thousand decisions comes every 20h, or about once or twice a year for the average pilot.

So, to be safe, you have to operate at a more than 99.9% certainty. But in reality, 99.9% is virtually impossible to distinguish from 100%, so really, for all intents and purposes, you have to be 100% sure to be safe.

Go for It

And now I think we can begin to understand the problem. Let's first consider this: we all have a strong incentive to make the "go" decision. The "go" decision means I launch now, relieve my impatience to get into the air and avoid the annoyance of the pilots waiting behind me, instead of waiting for the next cycle because the wind is a little cross and the glider doesn't feel quite balanced. It means I turn back in this thermal, and climb out above launch and stay up, instead of taking the conservative choice and risking sinking below the top and maybe losing it all the way to the LZ. It means I choose to fly today, even though conditions are beyond my previous experience, rather than face listening to the "there I was" stories of my friends in the LZ at the end of the day, knowing that I could have flown but didn't, and knowing that they did and were rewarded with enjoyable soaring flights.

So the incentive is there to choose "go". The only thing we have to counter this incentive is a healthy respect for the possible dangers of failure, and our ability to evaluate our prospects for success. And here's where we get caught by a mathematical trap. Let's say I'm making my decisions at the 99% level, and so are all my friends. Out of every 100 decisions, 99 do not result in any negative consequence. Even if they're bad decisions, nothing bad happens. Since nothing bad happens, I think they're good decisions. And this applies not just to my decisions, but to my friends' decisions as well, which I observe. They must be good decisions, they worked out didn't they? The next natural consequence of this is that I lower my decision threshold a little. Now I'm making decisions at the 98% level, and still, they're working out. The longer this goes on, the more I'm being reinforced for making bad decisions, and the more likely I am to make them.

Eventually, the statistics catch up with me, and my descending threshold collides with the increasing number of opportunities I've created through bad decisions. Something goes wrong: I blow a launch, or a landing, or get blown over the back, or hit the hill on the downwind side of a thermal. If I'm lucky it's a $50 downtube or a $200 leading edge. If I'm unlucky, I'm dead.

Not so Wrong Image

If we can agree at this point that making 100% decisions is the only safe way to fly, it then becomes interesting to consider, as an aside, what the sport of hang gliding would look like if we all operated this way. Pilots would choose to fly in milder, safer weather conditions. They would operate much more comfortably within their skill and experience limitations. They would choose to fly more docile, more stable, easier to fly gliders. Landings would be gentle, and under control. Hang glider manufacturers would sell two downtubes and one keel for every glider they build (the ones that come on the glider) instead of three or four replacement sets like they do now. There would be far, far fewer accidents (as it is now, there are about 200 per year reported to USHPA). There wouldn't be any fatalities, except maybe for one every couple of years if a pilot happened to die of a heart attack while flying (it's happened once so far that I can remember).

Since this isn't anything like what the sport of hang gliding does look like, we might conclude that hang gliding, as it is presently practiced, is an unreasonably unsafe activity practiced by people who lack a proper and reasonable regard for their personal safety. In other words, we might conclude that the "uninformed public" has been right about hang gliding all along.

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Testing

If you don't like that conclusion, I'm pretty sure you're not going to like any of the coming ones either. But let's first ask this question, if we wanted to address this problem of bad decisions being reinforced because they look like good decisions, how would we do it? The answer is, we need to become more critically analytical of all of our flying decisions, both before and after the fact. We need to find a way to identify those bad decisions that didn't result in any bad result. Let's take an example. You're thermalling at your local site on a somewhat windy day. The thermals weaken with altitude, and the wind grows stronger. You need to make sure you can always glide back to the front of the ridge after drifting back with a thermal. You make a decision ahead of time, that you will always get back to the ridge above some minimum altitude above the ridge top, say 800'. You monitor your drift, and the glide angle back to the ridge, and leave the thermal when you think you need to in order to make your goal. If you come back in at 1000' AGL, you made a good decision. If you come back in at 400, you made a bad decision. The bad decision didn't cost you, because you built in a good margin, but it's important that you recognize it as a bad decision. Without having gone through both the before and after analyses of the decision, (setting the 800' limit, observing the 400' result), you would never be aware of the existence of a bad decision, or the need to improve your decision making process.

This was one of the main ideas behind the safe pilot award. The idea wasn't to say that if you never crashed hard enough to need a doctor, you were a safe pilot. The idea was to get pilots thinking about the quality of their decisions. Not just, "Did I get hurt on that flight?", but "Could I have gotten hurt?" During the first couple of years of the safe pilot award program, I got a few calls and letters from pilots who would tell me about an incident they'd had, and ask for my opinion as to whether it should be cause for them to re-start their count of consecutive safe flights. I would give them my opinion, but always point out that in the end it didn't matter, what was important was that they were actively thinking about how dangerous the incident had really been; i.e. what was the actual quality of their decision making.

Looking back on it now, I would say that the criteria for a "safe flight" (any flight which didn't involve an injury indicating the need for treatment by a licensed medical professional) was too lenient. Today I would say it shouldn't count as a safe flight if, for example, you broke a downtube. A few years ago (or maybe it was ten or twelve, when you get to be my age, it's hard to tell), we had a short-lived controversy over "dangerous bars". The idea was that manufacturers were making dangerous control bars, because when smaller pilots with smaller bones crashed, their bones broke before the downtubes did (today, most of the complaints I hear are from the other side, pilots who would rather have stronger downtubes even if their bones break before the downtubes, because they're tired of buying $65 downtubes, which they're doing with some regularity). I have a different suggestion for both of these problems: Why don't we just stop crashing?

Self Critic

Of course I know why. The first reason is, we don't even recognize it as "crashing". I continually hear from pilots who say they broke a downtube "on landing" (I even hear from pilots who tell me - with a straight face, I swear - that they broke a keel, or a leading edge "on landing"). The second reason is, we don't think it's possible to fly without breaking downtubes from time to time. I mean after all, sometimes you're coming in to land and the wind switches, or that thermal breaks off, or you're trying to squeak it into that small field, and you just can't help flaring with a wing down, sticking the leading edge, ground looping, slamming the nose (WHAAAAACK!) and breaking a downtube.

We regularly observe our fellow pilots breaking downtubes, which also reinforces our perception that this is "normal". I'm going to go out on a limb here. I'm going to say that if you've broken more than one downtube in the last five years of flying, you're doing something seriously and fundamentally wrong. Either you're flying too hot a glider for your skills, or you're flying in too challenging conditions, or at too difficult a flying site.

Now let's ask one more thing. If hang glider pilots stopped dying, and if hang glider landing areas stopped resounding with the sound of WHAAAAACK every second or third landing (in other words, if hang gliding started looking like fun, instead of looking both terrifying and deadly), do you think maybe the public's perception of the sport might change? (Not do you think more of them would want to do it, in truth, no they probably still wouldn't.) But do you think maybe they'd stop thinking we were crazy for doing it?

Maybe they would.

And maybe they'd be right.


Original article: http://www.willswing.com/articles/Article.asp?reqArticleName=HandleOnSafety

Risk Analysis

Reducing Your Risk - Greg Hamerton (ZA) 2001

Greg Hamerton writes fantasy novels and paragliding articles. He has been flying paragliders since 1992 and has flown over 100 wings. He prefers responsive handling and agility but rates passive stability highly as he enjoys taking photographs and snoozing whilst gliding. Here he analyses the components of risk and how to prevent them to reach the pilot.


Margin

"Keep a good margin of safety", the instructor advised. Great. But what does it mean? How can you reduce your risk when leaping off a mountain with a piece of fabric (and maybe some metal too)?

Free-flyers are exposed to a variety of risks, coming from different aspects of the environment. By identifying where the greatest risk for the day lies, you can make an effort to take precautions by increasing your safety margins in each of the other aspects. The idea is to reduce the number of risk elements that can reach the pilot at one time.

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To actively manage your risk, find ways to counteract the particular danger, trying to achieve a "green light" state in each segment. The closer the threats have crept in toward the pilot in the centre, the more "red light" warnings are lit, and the more cautious you should be with other elements. When too many elements are impacting the pilot with high risk, the inevitable accident happens, which is a complete failure of risk management. You can usually handle one risk at a time, but when two or three threats compete, things get hectic. By examining each element in turn, I hope to provide some insight into maintaining a good margin of safety.

Weather

No matter your level of experience, sudden bad weather can "take you out". It is the most important risk to manage. The first thing you can do to actively reduce the risk is to watch the weather forecast. It sounds simple, but it gives you an idea of what to expect. The weather forecast predicts a cold front coming through in the morning, with the wind swinging through 180° thereafter, and strengthening to 50km/h. If the day dawns with a light 15km/h, you already have the warning bells ringing. The more changeable the weather is, the higher the risk is, because the predictions and your own judgement onsite are less accurate. Right, so you're now on the hill. Put up a windsock. If it's ranging from left to right, the wind is variable, which increases the risk of turbulence. If the wind is gusting from 5 to 30km/h, the risk of turbulence is again higher than a steady 20km/h. Have a look at the average direction of the wind. The straighter it is, the more penetration problems you have when trying to escape from being blown over the back, thus your risk is higher if the wind is strong and straight. But if the wind is skewed to one side, the risk of turbulence increases, as your risk of being "blown over" reduces. Lastly, the wind strength is vital - the stronger it is, the fewer other risks you can tolerate, because things go wrong really fast.

Wing

Until you have attended a maneuvers clinic and you are familiar with the limits of your current glider, you're flying with a higher glider-risk than you need to, especially if it's a new glider, or you've upgraded to a new class. Try to choose a wing you will be happy on all the time, not only in the smooth conditions. The DHV or AFNOR class is a guideline, but doesn't show how often a wing collapses (paragliders, hopefully not hanggliders). Although manufacturers like to advertise their glider's top speed, useable speed is usually lower, and deteriorates with the presence of turbulence, especially on high-performance models. However, if you get to the slope and it's strong and smooth, look critically at the airborne gliders before pulling up your solid intermediate. The long-and-thin competition wings have the use of all their speed then, and might be flying when you can't. However, on the very turbulent days, your glider risk will still be manageable. Finally, a regular equipment inspection and yearly factory check will help to keep your glider risk in the green.

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Site

For a demonstration, imagine all five of your other risk elements "red-lining" for a moment. You have a cold and a hangover, and you have borrowed an aged competition glider for the first time. It only has an old canvas harness. You have no shoes or helmet. You don't know what weather was predicted, but someone mentioned Föhn conditions. The wind is strong, gusty, and crossed on launch. The hair standing up on the back of your neck yet? Good, now look at the new site before you, and all its nasties will jump up at you clearly. Consider yourself flying only half the wing, badly, and being thrown around unpredictably. Rough, rocky terrain increases the risk of turbulence, and limits your emergency landing areas. Small landing fields with critical approaches raise the risk again. If there are no visible wind indicators (lakes, fires, airborne gliders), the site risk is again even higher. When flying cross-country, you are coming upon a new site every five minutes, which is why it requires constant analysis, and lots of caution. A pilot ahead of you flies right up against the slope and seems to be okay. Should you follow? Well, ask yourself how experienced that pilot is. If you have less experience (or don't know), you would be red-lining to be flying as close. Position yourself in the safest part of the air where you can still fly, not in the quickest place to get up. This lowers your risk while you are building the necessary experience and ability.

Gear

Good old body armour. Anything you can put between you and the ground reduces your risk here, and it's as easy as pulling out your credit card. Defend yourself with fullface helmet, boots with ankle support, thick foam in the harness (especially at the base of the spine), knee and elbow pads. You can add an airbag to be doubly sure. You look like more of a dork in a hospital bed than covered in protective gear. Besides, they won't see you for long - you're not going to stand around on takeoff, are you? Reserve parachutes are a very good idea, but they do not reduce your risk just by buying them. You must learn how to use them, and check your system regularly. Accidental deployments are risky moments. Also, 50% of reserve's I've handled during repack clinics have deployment problems, usually due to bonded Velcro strips, awkward harness designs, or incorrect elastics used on the nappies. Packing errors are less common, but it does highlight the need to understand the reserve before it can work for you and not against you. Keeping in touch with others via radio and cellphone means you can benefit from shared knowledge and team rescues. Finally, a GPS is a useful tool for XC flying, giving you a constant update on your speed over the ground, which reduces your risk of being blown over a ridge in wind you didn't recognize.

Ability

Some pilots are naturals, others must learn the hard way. Unfortunately, it is human nature to think we are in the first group until we stuff it up. There's an easy way around this pitfall. Even if you're a reincarnated bird, follow in the footsteps of the hard-learner (you can just do it better ;-). Aerobatics are best begun in a maneuvers clinic, but thereafter you can build your ability by practice, practice, practice - up high. The awareness and sensitivity you build up with your wing is invaluable. A quicker way to enhance your ability is to take your glider to a field or easy site and work on your groundhandling. Professional launching does wonders for risk management. It's all about flying when you want to, not when the gusts decide. When you're up in the air, be critical of your position relative to others. The higher your overall risk profile is, the further away from the ground or compression zones you need to be, just to keep yourself on a par with others. When you're new to the sport, your ability to recognize danger is limited, so you only notice that you're in trouble when things are very bad. This is another reason why you should be out in front of the ridge, ahead of the sports pilots and the skydogs who are going "over the back".

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Knowledge

The best is the experience you build from airtime, so if you're not a local at the site you've chosen to fly, know that your risk is high, unless you've got hundreds of flying hours to draw upon. On the blown-out days, seek out whatever theory you can to boost your knowledge. Many good books have been written on flying, the weather, and first aid. There are websites on flying, email forums, and even the war-stories in the flyer's pub contain a grain of useful truth. XC courses, SIV courses and competitions round off the picture. The more involved you become, the more your growing knowledge helps to reduce your risk. Just be aware that you will sometimes overestimate your knowledge - it's a symptom of being human. We always, always "blow it" at some point.

Putting It All Together

You've bought a new glider, one class up from the one you're used to. So your wing segment is red-lining (new glider + upgrade). What can you do to reduce your risk? Choose your elements carefully - go to the safest site you can for the day, be less tolerant of risky weather than usual, pretend that you have less ability than you know you have and fly accordingly, seek out as much knowledge as you can about the wing, its DHV rating, and the site you're flying, put some extra gear between you and the ground.

It's all about making sure you have enough other "green lights" on your panel at all times, so you've got that margin of safety.


Original article: http://eternitypress.com/freshair/risk.htm

Life Perspective

The Long Haul - Brian Germain (USA) 2004

In addition to being a Professional Skydiving Instructor with over 14,000 jumps , a parachute designer and the President of Big Air Sportz parachute manufacturing company, Brian Germain is the author of several books about skydiving and psychology, including Transcending Fear. With his psychology background and sport experience, he gives talks and seminars on fear management. Here is his outlook about one's goals.


Goals

There are many areas of this sport in which we can invest ourselves, so many avenues in which to excel. By focusing heavily on a single discipline, we are able to achieve significant notoriety in a fairly short period of time. By utilizing the superior training techniques, personal coaching and wind tunnel rehearsal, modern skydivers are able to reach significant prowess in just a few months of participation in the sport. Although the speedy gratification of our desires is tempting and rewarding in the short term, there is a larger, more important goal. We must survive.

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Fast Learning

I asked Lew Sanborn (skydiving legend) what he thought was the biggest problem in the sport today. With very little hesitation he stated that what concerns him the most is “new jumpers trying to make a name for themselves before their skills are ready for them to have that name”. We want to get it all in one shot, and instantly achieve all of our goals. In a pursuit as complex as skydiving, it is impossible to get all the necessary information in a short period of time. We have to keep learning, and hope that our knowledge bucket fills up before our luck bucket runs out.

Ego Versus Survival

It is difficult to see the big picture of our lives from where we are at any given moment. We forget that the medals we strive so hard to achieve will not mean much when we are older. They will just represent more stuff to box up when we retire to Florida. In the end, the things that matter most pertain to the choices that we wish we could take back. Twisting an ankle today might seem like a small issue, but in fifty years from now, it will be something that effects whether or not we can ever jump again.

Picture yourself forty or fifty years from now. Are you still skydiving? Do you have pain in your joints from a bad landing? The quality of your life in the future is dependant on the choices you make today. If that wise old geezer that you will someday be could somehow communicate to you in the present-day, it might sound something like: “Stop trashing my body!”

We are insecure when we are young. We are so uncertain of who we are that we feel a need to prove ourselves at every opportunity. We think that who we are is based on our most recent performance. We go to great lengths to show the world what we can do, and often pay a hefty price for our impulsiveness. Short-sighted goals neglect to take into account anything that does not achieve that goal. If looking cool and wearing the right gear is your highest priority, you may find yourself joining the dead skydivers club before too long.

Wisdom

I hate sounding like an old fart. People assume that being safety oriented means that you have to be boring. Not true at all. We can have fun; we just need to keep the throttle below 100% thrust if we are to control where we are going. The long-term survivors in this sport all seem to have this perspective; whether or not they talk about it. We sit around in trailers at boogies, shaking our heads at the ridiculous behavior that repeats itself over and over. We watch people eat it in the same ways that they did last year, and twenty years before that. It’s like the message did not get out or something. The message is: “Pace yourself, this is a long journey”.

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Right Stuff

On every jump there is a way for your life to end. No matter how many jumps there are in your logbook, the Reaper is watching for the moment that you stop paying attention. He is looking for the one thing for which you are not prepared. This fact does not require your fear, it requires your attention. If you are to be there at the Skydivers Over Sixty Swoop Competition, you must let go of your grip on trying to prove yourself, and stay focused on the stuff that really matters.

The real identity of a skydiver is not in how many medals they win or how stylishly they swoop. It is in how long they jump and how safely. There simply are no Skygods under the age of sixty. If you want to prove yourself, stay alive.


Original article: http://www.bigairsportz.com/art-longhaul.php