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Re: payout

Postby Bill Cummings » Thu Jun 06, 2013 10:30 am

Well there is still the possibility of the naked girl picture on the side of the release mast so at best I only am operating on strong circumstantial evidence.
As much as I don’t like it there is still some wiggle room as to whether or not the winch/reel operator was watching the pilot full time or not.
The slack in the line at the truck indicates to me that at some unknown instant the pressure was dropped. (Too far!)

Purely speculating now: It is possible, with both of the winch operators hands busy with the line tension controller, his chin high profile could simply be his body English, in unison with his thoughts of: “Bob! GET UP!” (If it were me my neck tendons would be standing out too!)
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Re: payout

Postby SamKellner » Thu Jun 06, 2013 11:03 am

Bill, Check PMs
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Re: payout

Postby Bill Cummings » Thu Jun 06, 2013 12:47 pm

On audio:
When ever you’re ready buddy.
All righty!
He said he’s ready. Let’s go. Thirty five.
Here I would recommend a specialist jargon.
_____
“All righty,” could have simply meant, I hear you or copy that, and not necessarily the signal to move the truck.
Words between two people during a platform tow operation should follow a set jargon that has been agreed upon ahead of time by all parties and never deviated from. The goal is to allow no confusion to creep into the operation.
I have always avoided the word Go as a signal to start a towing process or launching.
It sounds too much like the more important word. No!
For that reason for all types of hang gliding take off I use the word, “Clear!” to signify that I am leaving the launch position. I’ve heard pilots us the word, “Launching!” which is fine but for either word everyone in the crew should know ahead of time what the WORD will be.
There should be a printed check list in view of the pilot and the pilot should go through it out loud for the crew to hear.

As an experienced tow pilot I much prefer being on constant transmit while under tow. If I ask for faster to have more towline tension I have told my driver/operator that I am pilot in command and to disregard any pressure gauge or any idea of what change they think I should be getting and follow my commands.
While under tow the driver does not need to talk to the pilot. If the driver has to stop the tow vehicle simply ease up and stop.

If my communication system fails I have instructed the driver/operator to ease off of the tension.

One exception where I allow the driver to act on his own is if I can’t release and can’t communicate. My drivers are to give me all the tension they can so I can break my proper strength weaklink (without looping or hammer head stalling) and be free of tow without taking my hands off of the control bar. This has proven to me to be far safer than letting go to grab a hook knife. Which I have never done.
How will my driver know when I can’t release if my communications fail?
The driver will stop short of the end of the runway/road/shoreline and wait for me to release. The driver will not use up all the towing potential so that the driver has enough room to break my weaklink if I don‘t release when I should have. I simply hate using a winch that the driver has to stop, get out, and adjust the winch pressure in order to brake my weaklink. I won’t use that type of winch any more.
But I digress --and spiral off topic---back to the video---


At 1:34 to 1:39 watch as Bob starts leaving the road and the winch operators head moves left in unison with Bobs deviation.

At 1:54 note the towline position over the right side of the truck box. This angle of the towline from the trucks direction of travel is more to the right of the truck than the perception we get through the wide angle lens. This angle off of the truck would have Bob mostly to the right side of the truck and hardly at all behind the truck. At 1:54.

At 2:34 stop the video and note the seating arrangement of the winch operator.
My thinking is that there is room for improvement.

At 2:35 note the need for a nose over stop.
An added safety feature.

As seen from the take off camera position on the road near the tow vehicle starting point, the lockout starts beyond the point of no return at 2:48
Okay now I'm going to go check PM's------
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Re: payout

Postby Bill Cummings » Thu Jun 06, 2013 2:35 pm

Sam, Check PM's
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Re: payout

Postby MikeLake » Thu Jun 06, 2013 5:12 pm

billcummings wrote:.......
When ever you’re ready buddy.
All righty!
He said he’s ready. Let’s go. Thirty five.
Here I would recommend a specialist jargon..........



“Here I would recommend a specialist jargon.”

Spot on.

We have a rigid set of procedures and commands used to launch.
“All out” for example (borrowed from the sailplane boys) means, well, all out.
This is repeated three times so there is little chance to misinterpret.
There is nothing in the tow launching of hang gliders that can be treated casually including the command set.
The “GO” or “NO” has caught many a pilot (normally when cliff launching it is true).

These procedures are universal across the UK as laid down by the BHPA with minor variations. UK tow groups don’t tend to go off and do their own thing.
The US is a big place so perhaps it is harder to get consistency. Is there such a thing as a US wide set of procedures?

“As an experienced tow pilot I much prefer being on constant transmit while under tow”

For the UK this is a fairly alien concept. It is very unusual for the pilot to be in contact with the winch-man.
We do have a couple of emergency ‘leg waving’ signals but it would seem that our winch-men (who will have always gone through a training program) take a bit more of a ‘piloting’ role.

The most important (pilot to ground) signal is one to back-off (or guillotine the line if necessary) used to handle release failures.
Having said that I don’t expect my release to fail any more than I expect my side-wire to fail or my nose catch to unhook or my floating cross-tube to jam.
Carrying a hook knife is another alien concept as is using a weak-link as a backup release, prevention being better than cure. The above two methods are always hit and miss at best and I certainly wouldn’t dumb down my weak-link to accommodate the latter strategy. I would guess we are miles apart on that topic.
I hope the above across the water information sharing is useful.

The jury is still out on “What the winch-man saw” then.
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Re: payout

Postby Bill Cummings » Thu Jun 06, 2013 7:52 pm

Mike Lake quote:
“These procedures are universal across the UK as laid down by the BHPA with minor variations. UK tow groups don’t tend to go off and do their own thing.
The US is a big place so perhaps it is harder to get consistency. Is there such a thing as a US wide set of procedures?”

Bill Cummings responds:
Mike, You know mike I should know the answer to this question but I don’t.
I’m sure that at one time I clicked on a USHPA link, started to read the procedures, almost had a stroke, and closed out the search engine and blocked it from memory. I think I found a link to the UK procedures, read them, and thought about hiring a lawyer to read them to me. Would you be so kind as to post the UK procedures link? I’ll take another look. Hopefully I’ll get through them the next time.

I patterned my boat platform launch from the boys in Florida USA that were platform towing before it was officially announced that platform launch was invented by the ATOL guys in Texas USA. True I didn’t have mine installed until after the ATOL announcement came out but I first saw one at Pete Bonifay’s house. On the lake behind his house.
I was definitely PL towing before any USHGA, (at the time), procedures were printed. I know this because USHGA asked me to help them set up the towing manual. When I told the USHGA that I would do the water towing aspect they never got back to me. (At that time they wanted pilots to stay away from water.)
We had 3,600’ of rope on the winch and couldn’t see leg signals so we water proofed a citizen band radio.


Mike’s repost of my quote---
“As an experienced tow pilot I much prefer being on constant transmit while under tow”

Mike’s response---
“For the UK this is a fairly alien concept. It is very unusual for the pilot to be in contact with the winch-man.
We do have a couple of emergency ‘leg waving’ signals but it would seem that our winch-men (who will have always gone through a training program) take a bit more of a ‘piloting’ role.
The most important (pilot to ground) signal is one to back-off (or guillotine the line if necessary) used to handle release failures.
Having said that I don’t expect my release to fail any more than I expect my side-wire to fail or my nose catch to unhook or my floating cross-tube to jam.
Carrying a hook knife is another alien concept as is using a weak-link as a backup release, prevention being better than cure. The above two methods are always hit and miss at best and I certainly wouldn’t dumb down my weak-link to accommodate the latter strategy. I would guess we are miles apart on that topic.
I hope the above across the water information sharing is useful.

The jury is still out on “What the winch-man saw” then.”

Bill Cummings response:
I once heard, “A good pilot will never hurt a driver but a bad driver can kill a pilot.”
Especially when we started Moyes towing with the stainless steel tow bar where the rope was connected only to the tow bar’s upper and lower releases.

We were only inside about 5 degrees of a left or a right lockout. The tow driver could be said to be flying the glider more so than the pilot.

Even now with one point PL towing the driver/operator could show the pilot a tow rate that the pilot could hardly believe. (because the pilot was hitting on the driver’s wife. It's always best to owe your driver a lot of money so that the driver is very careful.)
If my radio doesn’t work for, “Pilot In Command,” towing I don’t fly.
I feel that an experienced tow pilot will tell you what he needs or if he is silent for longer than three seconds ease off the throttle. (NOT TALKING ABOUT STUDENTS TRAINING HERE!)
Every release that I ever used on the frozen lakes of northern Minnesota State, USA, froze up with snowy slush at altitude at several times or another. That is one thing that will cause any release to fail. I’m sure there are other as yet undiscovered causes that will make a reliable release fail.
One back up that never failed us was a weak link of not more than 350 pounds, 1.6 of my all up weight, that will not hammer head stall me when it breaks. It for sure will not loop me before it brakes. The stationary hydraulic winch, pulley system that I tow on will not brake a 70 pound weak link but it would never be strong enough for PL towing. For PL I use 350 pounds for a weak link.

For me a hook knife is only good for cutting my hang strap to get free of a glider upside down and sinking in the lake. Or cutting the hang strap after a tree landing. Never had to do it. I did once land in trees though. Tree landing is bad. Trees landing is better.
By the way most plastic hook knives will not cut a hang strap. Try it on an old strap that has been retired. It might scare you.
Cutting a towline is way down on my list of options. In Bob Buxton’s case I feel it would have wrapped around a bush along side the road one to two seconds later and he still would have pounded the nose plate. However if the winch slack snagged and locked up the winch before the truck stopped I would cut the line then.
Mike Lake quote:
The jury is still out on “What the winch-man saw” then.
BC responds:
We need testimony from the winch man Mike so, yes!
But should we forgo the sworn oath and the lie detector?
Your call.
Thanks for your input Mike.
BC.
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Re: payout

Postby MikeLake » Fri Jun 07, 2013 3:05 am

….frozen lakes of northern Minnesota State.

Now I must admit that sounds a bit extreme even for someone used to the English climate. You must be a hardy lot. I don’t think frozen releases have ever been an issue here and that possibility would likely require a particular set of failsafe procedures.

We are not miles apart on that topic of weak-link values after all, in fact it would seem I am standing right beside you. My bad.

If I’m not 100% happy with the winch-man he doesn’t tow me. The club would soon remove a winch-man’s status if he was not on the ball. I accept, of course, we are all only human.

I’ve also done my share of ‘frame towing’. The youngsters today don’t know they're born!


Indeed something from BB's winch-man would be useful.
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Re: payout

Postby MikeLake » Fri Jun 07, 2013 4:41 am

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Re: payout

Postby Bill Cummings » Tue Dec 03, 2013 12:55 pm

MikeLake wrote:http://www.bhpa.co.uk/pdf/BHPA_Tech_Manual.pdf
Section 2 chapter 1



Thanks for the link Mike.

Hawks,
I jumped out of bed last night :yawn: and wrote myself a note to post about winch/reel towing. :idea:
The following problem situation only happened to me one time. The bigger problem was that I got lazy and did nothing in anticipation of the possible problem so it eventually snuck up and bit me as it had others.

Somewhere I had read about what pilots could do to eliminate a problem that happened to them.
Here is what happened again to me/(us).
I was water towing my friend Don Ray up from the Mississippi River in front of the cliffs up river from Lake City, Minnesota (USA).
The towing part went fine and so did Don’s release from the towline.
Things went to hell when I started to rewind the towline only it didn’t make itself evident until I let go of the rewind button and it kept on rewinding!? The starter motor would not stop. :o :shock: :?
At that moment I still had a lot of rope out on the water and only wanted to reposition the boat then start rewinding again.
I pounded on the top of the line tension control handle where the starter button for rewinding was located.
That didn’t work.
I next tore the wires off at the starter button in an attempt to circumvent a stuck rewind starter button. :twisted:
This also didn’t work. :shock: :?
The starter motor pulley was trying to burn through the rewind belt.
:idea: I quickly lifted and blocked the spring tensioned starter motor up with a plastic quart oil jug. This saved the belt. 8-)
Now the starter motor was running at high RPM without the belt friction. The motor was very hot against my hand. :thumbdown:
It had to be a wire short in the small wire between the button and the solenoid.
I tore the small wires off of the solenoid. :twisted:
Those that know the type of luck I deal with have already figured out that this also didn’t work.
I have to smile now (not then) about what the fishermen were thinking about this wild man, pounding, screaming, cursing, all the while frantically stripping the wiring off of some strange contraption in the back of a boat.
The full plastic oil jug under the starter rewind motor was close to melting.
Having stripped all the small wiring off of the winch/reel it was now time to start stripping off the heavy starter cable to stop this runaway motor.
Then the idea hit me! Instead of stripping heavy cable from the solenoid back to the starter motor then on to the battery ---how about starting at the battery end?
What an ingenious idea! Why didn’t I think of it sooner. I was able to save the plastic oil jug and stop the starter rewind motor without damaging any more wiring simply by taking off a wing nut at a battery post and removing a cable.
I took out a wrench and removed a big cable from the solenoid and reattached the battery connection. Next I pulled the rope along the shoreline where boats wouldn’t run over the towline and by hand pulled in a little more than I,000’ of line.
While Don was soaring for his hour on the ridge I installed the back up solenoid and rewired the winch.
The solenoid had welded itself together inside and would not disconnect when the button was released.
The fix to this problem is to wire two solenoids in series so that one can still drop open when the button is released should the other solenoid remain in the connected position. In other words, a double shut off to the starter rewind motor.
Another fix is when one solenoid burns out and fails to engage you can have along a jumper cable to bypass the bad solenoid quickly, continue towing, and then change out the bad solenoid at the end of the day.
So I heard about this first then it happened once to me. A tow operation could make it to retirement and never have it happen. However when it did happen to me I was really kicking myself having known the solution. :oops:
My situation could have become more of a problem on water or land.
Having a lot of line out in a bad place or time could rapidly change from an inconvenience to a hazard not just to ourselves but to others. All you need is the imagination for bad stuff that runs in my DNA.
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Re: payout step-tow-static also.

Postby Bill Cummings » Thu Dec 05, 2013 10:08 am

Step-towing,
I haven’t confirmed the rumor with Brad L. yet but this does in fact come to you direct from “RUMOR CENTRAL.” Brad, while step-towing, years back, rolled two trucks. (Not at the same time.)

I have only step-towed with cars, snow machines and boats. To find out how to roll a truck step-towing or better yet how not to roll a truck I will leave that up to Brad’s vast towing experience. Hopefully he will jump in here and give us the scoop.

I just remembered! I’m not totally innocent. I did roll a snow machine over several times. (On different days.) It’s hard to say which takes more talent. Rolling a snow machine or a truck. First hand I know that rolling a snow machine over while step-towing isn’t difficult at all. It usually happens when the snow machine breaks traction due to the sideways pulling of the towline and then the rubber track digs in and stops the side skidding abruptly. This sudden stop of a sideways skid will most often separate the driver from the machine.
An experienced driver like myself will simply yield to this overpowering science of inertia and allow the divergence to occur unimpeded. The machine will remain upright.
A steadfastly stupid driver will try to resist being thrown and in total ignorance will hang on to the snow machine’s steering handle grips. The hopeless attempt at self preservation is actually what rolls the snow machine over. The sideways pull on the handle grips is on the second highest part of the machine. The only higher part on the recently upright machine would have been the extremely cold and brittle plastic windshield. Sadly, using Super Glue on an exploded plastic windshield is not a viable option.
The dealership’s exorbitantly high price on a clear piece of plastic becomes reasonable with only one 25-30 mph run across a frozen lake at 20 degrees F. (Wind chill factor of about zero degrees F.)

Only rarely did we have a small lake to tow on. Minnesota has many lakes of many sizes.

Burn Lake here in Las Cruces, NM (USA) wouldn’t rate a name in Minnesota. It would just be referred to as a gravel pit with a little water in it. (Which actually is what it really is.) (I mean was. The drought has it completely dried up.)
Most of the time, in Minnesota, there was no need to step-tow since we usually had enough lake to top out on the static tow with one run straight into the wind. Only on small lakes would we have to circle the lake to top out on the towline.
However once we put a winch in the boat that had 3600 feet of towline and depending on the wind direction we would sometimes have to step-tow to get most of the line up.
I’ll back up for the new pilots for a moment. Step-towing with a winch in the boat has the glider up to about 1000 feet using up ¾ of a mile of lake into a 5 mph wind.
With still more than 2000 feet of line on the winch the boat will turn one hundred and eighty degrees and make a faster downwind run. At the same time the boat is turning left (for example) the glider turns slightly to the right trying to keep a slack line off of the surface during the turn. The pilot is still flying mostly into the wind waiting for the towline to draw tight again as the boat is racing downwind. As the pilot sees the drooping towline close to drawing tight the pilot must turn to follow the boat before the line goes tight. The pilot needs to be following the boat before the line goes tight otherwise the glider will lock out and dive off to its right.
If a pilot realizes that the towline will go tight before the turn to follow the boat is complete the pilot must release before the lock out starts.
The boat driver can also slow (maybe even stop) the boat to help when the driver notices that the pilot will not complete the turn in time.

During this phase of the turn for the downwind run pre-planning had to have occurred on the ground. At times the pilot step-towing will have the towline trailing below and behind. The release cord needs to be configured so that the release cord will not go tight and release on its own.

The math will not come out right most of the time for a downwind run. The boat driver can not depend on just increasing the downwind run by five miles per hour to compensate for the 5 mph of wind that they took off into. Most always the wind aloft will be greater than on the surface. Many times a boat does not have the speed for the downwind run to keep the towline off of the surface. Now it is up to the pilot to do what is possible to keep the towline off of the surface. This can be done by flying a zigzag (Serpentine.) pattern behind the boat.’

Some may think step-towing is flirting with a lock-out that could lead to an accident but so too would be driving off the edge of the road while dialing in the car radio. “You should tend to avoid that!” -- (Quote : Richard Johnson - out of context of course.)

The biggest safety concern I will get to in just a bit. First this. When the boat turns upwind the pilot, for a little while longer, will be pulling the towline to the downwind end of the lake. The boat, let us say, turned left so the pilot is slightly headed right still trying to keep the line from drooping and touching the surface. The boat and glider are heading away from each other. It is important to keep in mind that the line is going to draw straight and tight way faster than it did for the downwind turn. More care must be taken to be following the boat when the towline does draw tight because it happens faster when turning back into the wind.

Now the biggest safety concern:
Depending on the type of towline you are using it may be heavy and descending abruptly from the pilot or it can be light and trail more straight behind you during mid turn. Pilot and passenger have died during this turning phase and all because they were surprised during a turn.

When step-towing I use a heaver length of rope at my end (maybe 20 feet) so that the towline will hang abruptly below me. This causes more drag but it is worth it.

What killed the pilot and passenger was the line was trailing behind and a sharp dip of a wing to turn back before the towline went tight again put the lowered wingtip down and under the trailing towline. The towline snagged the wing and was now on top of the previously dipped wing. When the rope went tight that was the beginning of the end.

The chance of this all happening faster would have been when turning back into the prevailing wind.

Many big lessons have been learned throughout our relatively short history of hang gliding.
The cost of this lesson was very high and I didn’t want the lesson to fade away with time only to be learned the hard way again.

Youtube has an abundance of hang gliding flying going on. Some of the things I see going on are frightening. I stare in disbelief at the screen and have caught myself yelling, :o “Holy Shirt! Didn’t anybody tell you!?” :shock: (Paraphrased.)
So if you see something on Youtube and you know better what they should be doing leave a comment. That’s what I’ve started doing.
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