"The training system is laid out redundantly, so that if the Life Jacket should fail, then the rescue boat should be immediately at the scene,
or should the rescue boat fail, then the Life Jacket should keep the pilot afloat."
From Jeff Hunt:
There should be a rescue boat separate from the tow boat.
Even with a life jacket, you can get line entanglement issues.
Have assistance ready - there are plenty of shows where PG and HG hit the water, assistance readily at hand is vital.
It´s better to break something on the land than land in (deep) water.
I've landed in the water 2x. because of changed wind direction.
1. My zipper was already blown and stuck 20 minutes before landing;
2. My carabiner was upside down so I couldn't unhook;
3. the buckle of the leg loops didn't open because of my own weight pulling it;
(Manufacturers should invent something else... use something like a seat belt buckle)
4. My comp harness was very tight because I was wearing my motorcycle jacket under it;
5. Dozens of local and foreign pilots in the landing zone suddenly had disappeared!
If you think you might land in the water, at least unzip and unbuckle the leg loops before landing.
Don´t count on a rescue. Even with people around, you are on your own.
Paul Hurless wrote:
Some harnesses don't have leg loops that unbuckle so that can be a problem. Your sugestion of releasing one buckle of the harness to enable getting out of it is a good one (opening two of the three buckles on a parachute harness prior to entering the water is part of what's taught in Navy water survival training), but just as in the military training it is important to keep in mind that judging your height above the water can be difficult. It can be very easy to release too high and you could find yourself falling from much higher than intended. It would probably be better to be ready to get out of the harness as soon as you enter the water instead of taking a chance of dropping free. The main thing to remember about ending up in the water is to not panic and have a plan for getting yourself quickly disconnected from the glider. You have to get away from the glider.
The water temperature MUST be a consideration, here. Hypothermia can do you in rapidly, even if you can get free of the glider.
Without flotation, you won't last long in cold water, and you may not even be able to drag yourself out of the water, at the waterline.
If you are cold and wet, even out in the cold air (if you get ashore), the results can be just as deadly, it will just take a while longer.
At our coastal sites like Funston and Marina, the general consensus is that it's better to crash into the cliff than to ever land in the surf.
The life expectancy of a pilot in the surf is very short, the first wave will destroy the glider and you'll be tangled in the wreckage, usually pinned under water.
There have been several fatalities at our coastal sites (PG and HG) where pilots landed in relatively shallow surf but didn't get clear of the glider and drowned.
Even 10" deep water can be a killer...
There have been some fatal accidents in the Alps in the past: missing the landing zone, and land in a low water, but fast-flowing river.
Against the stream, once you dip the nose, tons of water just crumble the downtubes, and hold the sail to the ground.... No chance ...
Most pilots have no idea, about how "strong" flowing water is... I did a lot of canoeing, so I know / came to know.
A pilot landed on the other side of the creek, and decided to cross over before breaking down.
While crossing the "little over ankle deep" stream, he sat the glider down. Tail into the current. Sail began to fill up with water.
Glider frame collapsed. Pilot was trapped under said mess. He had to be rescued from seemingly innocuous babbling brook. Be careful out there.
We have had some close calls here on the Oregon coast (the water is very cold) in the last couple of years.
Pilots sinking out near a cliff edge. 1 Paraglider, 1 Hang glider. I asked the hang pilot when he knew he was going into the water.
He said he was in denial (which caused him to not consider crashing into the weeds above the cliff) until he hit the water.
Any option is better than the water if the water can get on top of your wing.
It seems like shallow water (2-6 feet) is much more dangerous than deep water (where you are not trapped between the sand and the glider).
Don't even think about the glider - it will be completely destroyed by the ocean in very little time.
The incident mentioned above: 3 days later pieces washed up on the beach - none longer than about 18 inches.
But one GoPro was recovered and the video would make your heart stop.
Treat the surface of the water like the ground. Land into wind unzipped and as “out” of your harness as you can manage in the air.
The glider will float for quite a while due to the plugged tubes so you’ve got time to unhook then get out of your harness.
There’s more room to escape from under the glider at the trailing edge than the front so head that way.
Your harness will float due to the closed cell foam that’s used, plus it may have Styrofoam in the boot.
If your helmet is certified it will also have a Styrofoam liner and will therefore float quite well.
What you do after you get out depends on how far from shore you are. If you’re “at sea” stay with your glider as long as you can so you can be seen.
If you’re close to shore and are confident of your swimming ability then ditch your shoes, use your “floaty bits” and head for land.
How shall I put this…? If you land in the surf, especially in the impact zone, you are probably going to die. Really? Yes, really!
Consider this…. a Falcon 195 with 1 foot of water on top of it weighs 12,171lbs – think about that for minute.
That’s two large SUVs. It WILL crush you. Therefore, if you have a choice between a spectacular cartwheeling downwind crash
on the beach and an elegant landing in the surf, Assume The Position, take your medicine like a big boy and crash on the beach.
Posted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 06:22 pm Post subject: Harness Extrication - Updated Jan 10th 2014
Hang Gliding Topic 1:Updated Jan 10th 2014
Hang Gliding Harness Extrication
Hang Gliding Harnesses float, the issue is that the Hang Glider does not, or if it does, the wing is usually directly over the pilot
- so one solution is to swim free of the harness, and quickly.
An emergency suggestion: Use a Hook-knife to cut through the sail to get your head above water.
Use a hook knife with one continuous blade. A Hook-Knife with two blades that meet in the middle can jam with material. Good example: http://www.benchmade.com/products/8
It may be a waste of precious time to try to unclip from a Hang Gliding harness, especially in murky water. Practice in yours to find out.
If swimming free out of our harness works for you, unclipping and / or the use of a hook knife should be reserved for last resort measures.
See 2 minutes, 30 Seconds into this video from Italy: http://www.gardabigsur.com/
Jeff Greenbaum wrote:
"There are some Hang Gliding Harness designs where the pilot cannot possibly crawl out of the shoulder area either because of size or harness design.
I personally fly coastal (water present) sights with my carabiner twisted just a couple of turns past the point of not allowing the gate to open."
This is true. Newer Hang Gliding harnesses are much more secure, and need to pass certification tests.
Steve Moyes, on hearing our recommendation to escape from the harness rather than unclip, observed that any harness which allowed this without needing to be undone in some way, would certainly fail certification, and probably let the pilot fall out in extreme turbulence or during a tumble or inversion... a sobering thought.
The problem we found in our practice sessions was that a harness and body combination is very buoyant.
For Hang Gliders, this caused the pilot to become wedged under the glider at the top of the A frame, where it's very cramped, with lots of wires, ropes, straps, and cables floating about.
Under these conditions, and with poor visibility (remember, it's pretty hard to see under water without goggles), many found it very hard to find the carabiner, locate and open the gate, remove the hang strap and safety, and swim clear. Using a hook knife was better, but it still took time to locate the right strap to cut. Some of the cheaper hook knives were very poor, requiring a lot of hacking and sawing to cut through even the simple tape loop we used as a sacrificial hang loop in our tests. We found the most reliable strategy was to have a plan to escape from your harness (whatever style it is), and STICK to it. People got into difficulties very quickly if they vacillated between trying to escape from the harness, unclipping, cutting themselves free, or cutting through the sail to create an air pocket (although we didn't test that one!)
By the way, don't think that water landings are only a problem for coastal pilots. We had a fatality several years ago, many miles inland when a pilot overshot his landing approach and landed in a small irrigation dam.
The question has been raised that for some pilots it may be faster / easier to cut a Hang Glider harness's leg straps than thick hang straps (which need to be tightly tensioned to facilitate cutting) and then exit the harness backwards.
Handling a Hang Glider in Water:
• When towing the glider to the shore, tow from the nose wires, raising the nose out of the water.
Leave the Nose Cone on.
• Remove the Hang Glider Nose Cone if and as needed to assist in draining water from the wing.
You want a TOP end boat. Good power. Easy lift / designed with rescue in mind. Not this!!! Grrr.
Better, but NOT by much: You should not have to require 6 rescuers + in the boat to handle expected situations.
A properly designed boat makes easier extrication from the water.
What do you think the outcome was here? Good chance of it being good, with all that help available? What do you think?
The pilot died. Dragged under water by the hang glider. Drowned. Read the Story Here.
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