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Paraglider AAIB water accident report


dantheman
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Water landings – paragliders

Instructors must stress the probability, except

within the most strictly controlled environment,

that a water landing is not survivable and must

be avoided at all costs. Pilots should, if flying

near water, make sure that a safe dry landing is

within easy reach at all times.

...And that was without 35 kgs of paramotor strapped to his back and a reserve across this waist. Sobering thought isn't it?

Further reading.

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Whilst I agree that landing on water should generally be avoided at all costs "A Bad Thing " the report does point to one key aspect - If he'd released himself from his harness and got clear of the kit he'd probably be ok. Staying strapped in to a huge buoyant harness was the key mistake once in the water. Your life is always more valuable than the equipment.

Stuart

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Taken from the AAIB report

>None of the pilots flying at White Rocks at the time

>of the accident was wearing a life jacket. The pilots

>interviewed stated that they found them uncomfortable

>and believed that they would always be able to land

>either on the cliffs or East Strand Beach and therefore

>chose not to wear them.

There are very capable life jackets which just go around you waist until you need them. See http://www.transair.co.uk/lifejackets.a ... ory_ID=590

Not perfect, but better than nothing. However, if you do wear one, have the straps go underneath your harness straps so that you can ditch the harness. There is a paramotor "lifejacket" system which attaches to the motor. If you would prefer that as well use both, because if you start to get dragged by the wing and your only life jacket is attached to your motor, getting out of your harness without another lifejacket will almost certainly result in drowning.

Rescue crews (for UK waters, read lifeboat) will save life and let equipment go, unless it is a safety hazard (which they will assess at the time).

So in essence, save yourself. Stuff the equipment, it's only money!

>Safety Recommendation 2007-075

>It is recommended that the British Hang Gliding

>and Paragliding Association (BHPA) highlights this

>accident to its members and reinforces the importance

>of using the appropriate safety equipment.

This is the worrying part of the report, which is intended to be concerned with flight safety! Not road safety!

>During the course of the investigation AAIB Inspectors

>were concerned about the proximity of the White Rocks

>paragliding site to the road. The layout of the road

>means that drivers might easily be distracted by the

>sudden appearance of a paraglider in close proximity

>to their vehicle.

>Safety Recommendation 2007-076

>It is recommended that the Ulster Hang Gliding and

>Paragliding Club, in co-operation with the Police

>Service of Northern Ireland, reviews the suitability

>of White Rocks as a paragliding site and advises its

>members accordingly.

So now the AAIB will be required to assess the suitability of a take off site???? Would the Lambourn site up by the ridgeway pass a suitability test as it "might" distract drivers?

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If I was heading for a water landing I'd be tempted (assuming I had the right frame of mind) to unclip all straps and drop out of the harness at about 15-20ft letting the motor overfly me to get a decent distance from the kit when it goes under.

As for take off near roads, try driving north on the M1 and just around Sheffield on the right there is a field that some guys use and they take off directly over the motorway at about 75ft, would not fancy an engine out :shock: I'm always fixated when driving under them, but don't know if that's just because I love the sport ?

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I am not 100% (or even 60%) sure but I think you may be talking about Paul Haxby and or his bunch Dan.

I used to live in Chesterfield and take off daily 100 meters away from Junction 29 of the M1, Always got a turn in before the motorway though.... Like you say the thought of an engine out and the M1 make me go all shivery.......

Paul has got a GREAT site in the peaks just to the West of Chesterfield (maybe we could do a visit) anyone here in touch with Paul these days?

SW :D

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i read the report also .and saw the pilot was no novice.what stood out in my mind was he had just brought the airwave wing.and my view is he knew what he was doing to a certain point even thou he was in the swell on the rocks trying to pull the heavy wing in. all that was on hes mind was i must get this nearly new wing in. the pilots wing was two months old .and when i read the report .my wing cost me nearly two thousand pounds it would certainly make me think twice iam no rich man i cant afford another two thousand pound wing and neither could he. iam very sorry for him and hes family .it wasnt nice reading the report at all and it has made me think.......money or your life.....:0|LAWRENCE tx dan the man to bringing it to our notice.

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If I was heading for a water landing I'd be tempted (assuming I had the right frame of mind) to unclip all straps and drop out of the harness at about 15-20ft letting the motor overfly me to get a decent distance from the kit when it goes under.

As for take off near roads, try driving north on the M1 and just around Sheffield on the right there is a field that some guys use and they take off directly over the motorway at about 75ft, would not fancy an engine out :shock: I'm always fixated when driving under them, but don't know if that's just because I love the sport ?

from LAWRENCE hi if i was landing into the water i personal would be too busy using the brakes and not look at height instrument .wait until my feet touch the water because while flying over water judging height isnt easy. straps to harness allready unbuckled once feet touch .then jump into water. i wouldnt wait until 10 to 15ft up because motor could land on top of you.just my view also if you read the risk and reward bible or watch dvd jeff goin explains what to do in water landinds :0|LAWRENCE Edited by Guest
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  • 2 weeks later...

We tested a water landing in a swimmingpool. Because everybody wants to know what happens when

you hit the water.

We took an (old) Fresh Breeze motor and replaced the motor with the same weight amound of bricks.

Because there wasn't enough room to use a paraglider the pilot jumped only with an harnas and the paramotor into the water. Once in the water he was floating halve straight up at his belly. The feultank

(50% filled with water), exhaust and frame gave enough buoyancy to let the motor float. The pilot was able to swim with the harnas strapped on and the motor on the back. After a couple of minutes he disconnected the harnas and the motor. This went much easier then ussumed. After the motor was disconnected the motor sank slowly to the bottom of the swimmingpool.

Conclusion: With a Fresh Breeze motor and harnas it's easy to handle a waterlanding. This was without a paraglider and normal stationary water with normal temperatures. ( I've got photos )

It's nice to test it once. All you need is a old paramotor (without the motor) and a harness. Most swimmingpool owners don't make trouble about it.

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  • 3 months later...
We tested a water landing in a swimmingpool. Because everybody wants to know what happens when

you hit the water.

We took an (old) Fresh Breeze motor and replaced the motor with the same weight amound of bricks.

Because there wasn't enough room to use a paraglider the pilot jumped only with an harnas and the paramotor into the water. Once in the water he was floating halve straight up at his belly. The feultank

(50% filled with water), exhaust and frame gave enough buoyancy to let the motor float. The pilot was able to swim with the harnas strapped on and the motor on the back. After a couple of minutes he disconnected the harnas and the motor. This went much easier then ussumed. After the motor was disconnected the motor sank slowly to the bottom of the swimmingpool.

Conclusion: With a Fresh Breeze motor and harnas it's easy to handle a waterlanding. This was without a paraglider and normal stationary water with normal temperatures. ( I've got photos )

It's nice to test it once. All you need is a old paramotor (without the motor) and a harness. Most swimmingpool owners don't make trouble about it.

I'm not trying to be antagonistic or anything here, and as a total newbie I may be talking out of turn... BUT...

Erm, is it just me? or is there a serious flaw in this test procedure. First of all, jumping into a swimming pool with an approximation of weight made of bricks will not give you anywhere near realistic characteristics, especially without the added loads/forces of a wing.

Also, any body of open water is subject to forces far beyond those that can be simulated in even the largest of swimmimg pools. Crosswinds, tidal flow, undertow/swells, waves etc etc etc.

As for the wing, the report says it was seen to be still flying at first. At the base of the cliffs it's anyone's guess what that was doing in the various vortices that always occur. (A VERY painful, but thankfully brief unexpected flight happened to me when I launched a 4sqM parafoil kite too close to rocks on Dartmoor in only a 15knott wind a few weeks ago!) Once it gets waterlogged and therefore then subject to the law of sod AND Posiedon,, it doesn't bear thinking about. :(

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You're right- the charachteristics of the wing change fiercly when it's wet. While flying last year, ii noticed a rain shower approaching so i turned for base and outran the shower and landed successfully. I didn't have time to pack up the wing and it got saturated with the rain. I't took two of us to lift the wing it was so heavy when it got wet!

GD

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Conclusion: With a Fresh Breeze motor and harnas it's easy to handle a waterlanding. This was without a paraglider and normal stationary water with normal temperatures. ( I've got photos )

Living in an area surrounded by water there have been several water landings in the sea around Cornwall. The hangliding/Paragliding club have a general rule of thumb "If you land in the sea you are going to die"

However I do know of one incident where a friend (Rob Ings) flew a paraglider for the very first time from Chapel Porth cliffs and landed in the sea but survived.

If he'd released himself from his harness and got clear of the kit he'd probably be ok.

He was a lifegaurd for many years and very fit (marathon runner). On landing in the water he detached himself from the wing and harness and managed to get out of the water. Despite being very capable in the sea and his fitness, he was exhausted and feared for his life.

In a cold sea and moderate swell you will only have a limited amount of time before the great force of nature will claim you.

Don't think water landings are just a bit dodgy. In the sea you will probably / most likely die.

Be safe.

Whitters.

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Its not just that the fabric is heavy when wet, it is a bag and when full of water weighs over a ton! in a swell or a current or worst in surf being tied to a ton being moved around by the ocean is unsurvivable.

Water landings are designated as "unsurviveable" and any that do survive them are indeed fortunate.

One particularly dangerous scenario is beach landing. You can land safely on the beach by the waters edge and the end of the wing comes down in the surf. You think you wil drag it out but the surf recedes and the wing, only part full of water, is already too heavy to pull. You get pulled off your feet as the next waves rolls in. The glider is now full of water and rolling at the botton of the wave. As that wave goes out you go with it and get rolled up in your lines.

What I have just described has happened. It is unsurviveable. The briefing is to unclip immediately and make yourself safe, only then think about retrieving you glider.

It is better to crash into the cliffs and get a broken leg than land in the surf!

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  • 3 weeks later...

The fabric is zero porosity, so it doesn't absorb water as such, but as Francis said, it is a bag designed to collect and evenly distribute a much less dense liquid..Air.

There is a very good reason why kitesurfers use a different technology to other 'kiting' type sports. They use a single surface wing with a sealed, inflatable leading edge

Just doing some very basic maths.

1 cubic metre of seawater = 1 Tonne. By that reckoning, a reaction 26 will very quickly swallow about 1.5 tonnes of water when ditched.

Make your choice, having the prospect of being patched up by Whitters & co with a broken bone or two, or being fished out at some point by a trawler. I have broken bones before, I'm sure many of us have, but you only get to drown once.

This principle would apply for inland waterways too, although freshwater is about 1/3 less weight by volume. Still wouldn't make me want to rely on an inflation device producing 100 (ish) newtons of bouyancy.

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Remember that the water that becomes encased in the wing doesn't immediately make the wing weigh 1.5 tonnes so it sinks, it is only the weight of the fabric itself that will determine whether it sinks or floats. So the buoyancy device only has to keep the weight of yourself and your gear afloat, minus the weight of the water it displaces. A typical scuba diving buoyancy device might only provide 30Kg of lift, but it's plenty to keep a diver with full twin cylinder kit afloat.

However your point about it having huge inertia is very well taken, and there is nothing you could do to prevent yourself being dragged by a current or waves. As a diver, I'm well used to the forces that a body can be exposed to, and the sea at work is awesome in the extreme. Just floating on the surface in full diving gear can become unpleasant if there is anything of a swell, and I wouldn't want to do it strapped to a paramotor.

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The prospect of ditching a paramotor raises some very interesting questions doesn't it?

Looking at how a parachute/wing behaves in the water when subjected to even minor swells makes you shudder.

I think it is the dynamic forces of water in motion acting on the wing and transmitting the result through the lines that would cause the trouble. The forces involved are huge even with the mildest swell in motion - in the shallows where wave action is accentuated could be even worse as you would contact the bottom and probably tumble.

Thrashing around in your personal bowl of dynema/kevlar spaghetti surrounded by straps, kit, terror and nothing to breath doesn't bear thinking about as a survivable proposition. Ask any Navy helicopter pilot who has been through the 'Dunker' what just getting out of a seat and finding your exit is like. They hate the experience but it does demonstrate admirably the sheer difficulty of moving around in the water wearing flying kit and making your way through obstructions - on one breath of air (if you are lucky enough to get your timing right with your breathing).

Ditching one of these thinks is probably survivable in the first instance if you exit cleanly before hitting the water (getting the exit height right is difficult when leaving - they say don't jump!) and have a flotation device available after exit. Just swimming away and making it to shore is going to be a trial wearing standard clothing on a summers day. Winter time?

Even thinking that ditching your paramotor is an exercise that you might get away with is a dangerous practice imho. All of this makes skimming water sat in your paramotor, however shallow the water beneath a Darwinian pastime of breathtaking stupidity which makes me question the sanity of those who do it. Using it as a way of demonstrating how cool the sport is.... well, you decide. I had a rant about iton the Paramotor Magazine Forum last year. The accident stats are throwing up instances where people are dying after engaging in this practice.

Just another opinion....

BSAC Adv

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  • 2 weeks later...

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