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The value of a helmet and poor decision making


kentmartin
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Hi all,

Yesterday I was out trying to do a trip around the big block of controlled airspace that covers central Stockholm (Bromma CTR if anyone knows it).  It was going to be a 150ish km trip, and about halfway through we realised we needed to stop for fuel.  Following my companion in, there was plenty of space to land, completely routine.  I was on a bit of a left turn coming in to not land on the road and sort of remember thinking I'd used a lot of brake already, so maybe I let the brake off on the left a touch, or maybe I was caught by a gust of wind - the guy I was with reckons the latter, but I am not so sure.  I would have done a go-round except my engine had stalled on idle while I was descending. In any event, I spun somewhere between 90 and 180 degrees to the right, right across the road (where there was traffic in both directions).  My head slammed into a metal pole/fence - hard, the fence was only on the far side of the road.  My helmet is cracked, and, I have little doubt that it saved my life.

As an interesting followup, later on I made some really really bad decisions - like many of you, I have a PPL and studied human performance, and, well, you think "I don't know about everyone else, but I would not do something stupid under pressure".  My buddy, who I had only met briefly once before, had not only spent a long time helping me get my glider out of a tree on a steep slope, but also trudged off to get fuel for both of us, while I rested in the 30 degree sun.  Clearly after all that I owed him and didn't want to let him down.

So, with my head still pounding, bruises up one side, desperately thirsty (I lost my water bottle somewhere), hot sun and wearing a hot, heavy motorcycle jacket, a cracked helmet, after carrying my fully fuelled gear, and day supplies a couple of hundred metres, despite being barely able to lift my motor, I attempted a take off.  The wing didn't come up right, which hasn't happened for many launches, and, I aborted early.  Standing there, in all that gear, sweating and basically feeling shit, I was so thirsty, the thought of flying for another 2 or 3 hours without a drink was just too much - that was the thing that ultimately changed my mind, safety was on my mind, but only in the back seat.

I called a taxi which cost a bloody fortune (taxis are extortionate here), and the cheeky bugger ripped me off by about £30, but I knew that at the time and didn't care.  I immediately downed his half bottle of tepid water, then took another 2 litres of fluid at the first petrol station we could stop at.  I didn't even go and get my car as by then I knew I was in no state to drive.

After some fluid, I remember thinking that if I read an accident report that started with the above, I would have thought what a damned idiot, I'd never do that.  But I did.  I can offer no advice to anyone, because, well, I was trained for this and even then.  In the same conditions again, I am certain I would make the correct decision, but, then again, I was certain I would before this.

Then I went to bed, and, slept - a lot.  That was nice :)  A bit bruised and battered still today, but nothing broken, and, will attempt the same route again before too much longer ;)

I'm just looking at new helmets and would appreciate advice.  I don't care about price, or even comfort, protection is paramount.

Attached is a picture of a fence I Googled, similar to the one I hit, and, a couple of pictures of my helmet.  It is noticeably softer where it is cracked.

There's also a video of some of the flight, which was truly lovely :)

 

 

similar_fence.jpg

photo_2018-06-27_21-52-46.jpg

photo_2018-06-27_21-52-52.jpg

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Excellent post for fessing up and revealing your poor decision making.

A lot of us have been in positions where a bit of sanity needs to come to the surface, very well done for reminding us all to think a bit more about safety.

That fence looks hard, glad you are OK.

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Could the 30 degree heat kicked off thermals from the tarmac etc in a built up area cause your original problem? Not sure I would be brave enough to fly in those sort of conditions, but glad you are ok. Like others, thank you for sharing as it helps the rest of us so much. 

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1 hour ago, Guy said:

Could the 30 degree heat kicked off thermals from the tarmac etc in a built up area cause your original problem? Not sure I would be brave enough to fly in those sort of conditions, but glad you are ok. Like others, thank you for sharing as it helps the rest of us so much. 

That's a possibility, I hadn't considered, nice one.  There was a breeze blowing toward the road, which mitigates against it, but it is still possible.

Here's a pic to showing the layout... you did help me realise is that this landing ended up being downwind :/

 

 

 

20180629_150949.jpg

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