Personal Journals about Hang Gliding

Re: Rethinking towing

Postby ziggyc » Mon Jul 01, 2019 3:52 pm

Her name was Nancy Tachibana. She would have been 45 this year. As avidly as she enjoyed hang-gliding, as certain as she was and confident in those whom she entrusted with her training, there was very little she could have done differently on Sunday, April 3rd. Except perhaps go home after her 3rd successful tow that day. From the description of the accident, it happened quickly. Whether she turned away from the line and locked out, as has been put forth, seems entirely possible. But so does the notion that the release mechanisms failed.

It is my hope that organizations like USHPA do better to stay impartial and do proper investigations. In this case, they did not. And even went so far as to cover up and destroy as much as they could in order to save hang-gliding from a black eye. I would point out that Nancy got a hell of a lot worse than a black eye. When she plummeted to the ground she was going an estimated 35-40mph and landed head first, herniating her brain into her spinal column. The helmet made it out just fine. She was brain dead instantly; 41 years of life and love....gone in an instant. She was kept alive by machines for one more day so that family and friends could say their goodbyes. If proper safety measures were in place, checked, double-checked, triple-checked even, then it's very possible that Nancy would still be here.

From what I gather on these forums, towing is frowned upon, for the most part. If someone is to be trained in hang-gliding, then according to what I've read, towing is the last thing they should be doing. Nancy held an H1 rating; not a total beginner, but far from being an expert. She had only begun flying solo, without being in tandem with a trainer. Going forward from this tragedy, I would hope that people who love to hang-glide continue to do so. And that those who teach it treasure the lives of their students as if they were their own kids. An ounce of experience goes a long way. Unlike when you're on the ground, when you're in the air, you get zero screw-ups. This is something I could never do myself. But Nancy, ever the thrill seeker, absolutely loved it. If there isn't a way to make towing a safer activity, then it should be accessible only to the experts.
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Rethinking towing

Postby wingspan33 » Mon Jul 01, 2019 6:36 pm

I hope I can call you Ziggy.

I would like to say that many of the US Hawks prefer the idea of good old basic foot launched hang gliding. The problem with any other form of getting in the air is that it adds complexity. Complexity increases the chance of error. I have done two types of towing, aero towing and ATOL truck towing. When doing so I was probably rated as an Advanced (H4) pilot. I've never done static winch towing. If I remember correctly static was what was involved in Nancy's case.

Personally, I don't think towing is a bad way of getting in the air. But way too many inexperienced pilots have died doing one version or another. Unless a student is flying with an instructor I don't think that any pilot rated less than experienced Intermediate (H3) should be doing it. Certainly not a Beginner (H1) rated student.

One exception would be Scooter Towing, which is designed as a teaching tool and keeps a student just a few feet above the ground as they get a feel for how the wing flies. Scooter Towing can also very slowly increase a student's altitude as they show their ability to fly and land the glider in a consistent fashion. There's also always an instructor watching the student and operating the "scooter" in response to how the student is doing.

Hill training should always be a/the major part of hang gliding instruction. So much of what makes a glider fly is learned there. Wind, plus running speed, plus nose angle = flight, and you don't fly if you don't understand them in combination and separately.

I would add that I've been a hang gliding instructor and seriously felt that my student's lives were in my hands. No student of mine was ever hurt out on the training hill. I am proud of that fact. One of my students died while hang gliding months after he'd had lessons from me. He was sold an intermediate wing (as, at best, a Novice [H2] skilled pilot) by some shop out on the west coast (I taught him in NYS) and then he flew from a high site someplace in Norway which is where he died. It was a very sad day when I learned the news. But I was no longer his instructor at that point. Someone else, besides the late pilot, should have the guilt of his death on their mind (or minds).
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Re: Rethinking towing

Postby Bill Cummings » Mon Jul 01, 2019 7:53 pm

Quote: Ziggy,
“If there isn't a way to make towing a safer activity, then it should be accessible only to the experts.”
This sentence is confusing to me.
How would one become an expert in towing if the activity was only accessible to experts?
I must be missing the intended point.
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Re: Rethinking towing

Postby wingspan33 » Wed Jul 03, 2019 8:58 am

Bill Cummings wrote:Quote: Ziggy,
“If there isn't a way to make towing a safer activity, then it should be accessible only to the experts.”
This sentence is confusing to me.
How would one become an expert in towing if the activity was only accessible to experts?
I must be missing the intended point.


Bill,

My best guess would be that pilots who have shown solid skills in hill launching, soaring in ridge lift and thermals and landing in a few different kinds of LZs would be the "experts" that Ziggy is talking about. I, for one, had hit that mark before I ever did any towing. The expert label, as you've said, can't describe a tow pilot before they have ever towed.

I would mention again, however, that Scooter Towing is a towing method intended for the early stage hang glider pilot. So a newer pilot could be an "expert" at Scooter Towing after a dozen tows or so (depending on how well they've done). I'm sure that this kind of experience would help the Novice (H2) pilot gain a quicker understanding of other forms of towing. I'm not sure a Novice should be doing those other types of MORE COMPLEX towing - unless with a tandem instructor.
Last edited by wingspan33 on Wed Jul 03, 2019 10:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rethinking towing

Postby Bob Kuczewski » Wed Jul 03, 2019 10:33 am

A Memorial Video for Nancy Tachibana:

"People talk about the sport of hang gliding dying. It's not dying. It's being murdered. By the U$hPA." - Rick Masters

Join a National Hang Gliding Organization: US Hawks at ushawks.org
View my rating at: US Hang Gliding Rating System
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Re: Rethinking towing

Postby JoeF » Thu Jul 04, 2019 4:19 am

Join a National Hang Gliding Organization: US Hawks at ushawks.org

View pilots' hang gliding rating at: US Hang Gliding Rating System
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Re: Rethinking towing

Postby Bob Kuczewski » Fri Jul 05, 2019 2:47 pm

Additional information ...

Screen shots from the video:

Video1.png
Video1.png (263.25 KiB) Viewed 291 times

Video2.png
Video2.png (249.62 KiB) Viewed 291 times


Screen shots from Mission Soaring web site (http://www.hang-gliding.com/):

Mission_Soaring1.png
Mission_Soaring1.png (311.77 KiB) Viewed 291 times

Mission_Soaring2.png
Mission_Soaring2.png (261.8 KiB) Viewed 291 times

Tad Eareckson has a 15 page topic titled "2016/04/03 Tres Pinos fatality" available here:

    http://www.kitestrings.org/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=89

Jack Axaopoulos aids USHPA in the cover up with his private "not for public viewing" topic on hanggliding.org here:

    http://forum.hanggliding.org/viewtopic.php?t=34243

On the U.S. Hawks:
ziggyc wrote:It is my hope that organizations like USHPA do better to stay impartial and do proper investigations. In this case, they did not. And even went so far as to cover up and destroy as much as they could in order to save hang-gliding from a black eye.

Organizations like USHPA (and hanggliding.org) are operated by the people making money off the sport of hang gliding. They will never be impartial. The U.S. Hawks is operated by people who fly for recreation. We have a different focus. Thanks for posting here.

As for the safety of hang glider towing, I feel there are some factors that make it safer than slope launch and other factors that make it more dangerous. It is the management (or mismanagement) of those factors that makes the larger difference. Personally, I prefer slope launch when possible, but there are many areas where it's not available. If I had to learn tow launching, there's no one on this planet that I would trust more than Bill Cummings.

Thanks again for posting. I hope you'll continue.
"People talk about the sport of hang gliding dying. It's not dying. It's being murdered. By the U$hPA." - Rick Masters

Join a National Hang Gliding Organization: US Hawks at ushawks.org
View my rating at: US Hang Gliding Rating System
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Re: Rethinking towing

Postby JoeF » Fri Jul 05, 2019 10:38 pm

Join a National Hang Gliding Organization: US Hawks at ushawks.org

View pilots' hang gliding rating at: US Hang Gliding Rating System
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