I saw God Today #350 & #351 Chatfield

Lucky guy

Intermediate syndrome is an affliction that usually affects a pilot after 40 or 50 flights, or whenever they first start to feel good about their abilities.

It’s characterized by over confidence in both man and machine and it usually leads to a blunder that endangers life. It could present itself in any number of ways… an error in judgement, or a bad reaction to Mother Nature. It might be technique or a mechanical issue. Whatever the cause, if the pilot survives the incident…he should think real hard about either quitting or redoubling his efforts to improve.

It might be time to go to a maneuvers clinic or have some quality radio time with a good coach. It’s absolutely a good day to go over the machine and wing with a fine tooth comb.

Optimistically, there is an epiphany that stays with the pilot for the rest of their career, because on that day… the bag of luck is now half empty and the bag of experience is not yet full.

When I realized that my life was being supported by a glorified key

chain and some thin 1/2 inch webbing…

I thanked the Creator that I was still alive.

Then I looked for the best way,

to proceed to earth…

as directly as possible.

I’m still shaking my head trying to figure out how it happened.I attached the riser on the left side to the cheap plastic beaner that I use for the foot steering instead of connecting to the heavy stainless beaner that ties the wing to the buggy. I didn’t realize my mistake until I noticed that the foot steering cable was pressing against my left side. When I saw that the rig was being supported by a glorified key chain and thin 1/2 inch webbing…I couldn’t believe that I was still alive. Not only was the beaner unrated and not designed to carry a load, the loop it was attached to was loaded against the stitching. There were two places where a failure was imminent. Looking at the materials it should have failed when I loaded the wing before take-off …and… I wish it had. It would have been more dramatic and made a bigger impression but it wouldn’t have killed me. As it was a non-incident, I hope that the magnitude of the error sticks with me.

I had to get down …right now! I was 400 feet AGL and about the correct distance to glide back to the field, so I did a slow flat turn toward the field and landed without incident.

What were the causes that lead to this huge goof ?

1. I had switched to the Eden III which does not require the extra loop of webbing to get the hangpoint right. When it is configured this way the hangpoint loops are not long enough to reach the normal keeper on the bullet bars. So…I end up attaching the beaner to a loop on the foot steering for transport.

2. I must not have had enough coffee because it is almost impossible to imagine an alert mind attaching a plastic carabiner to the riser. It is so much more difficult to thread the correct carabiner that it should have set off alarms when that slim plastic beaner tip slipped through the loop so easily. The length was about right and when I pulled on the riser to take out any slack, it pulled the hangpoint loop just as if it were correctly attached.

I thought perhaps I should move the foot steering forward on the bullet bars to get them away from the hang point straps, but I don’t think I’ll do that. Having the webbing behind my shoulders is cleaner and I doubt I’ll ever look at the foot steering again without remembering the day I hung from a cheap 2 inch plastic carabiner.

This is the first real stupid mistake I’ve made in PPG and certainly the first one that endangered my life! I was deeply affected by the experience, and it was heavy on my mind for several days. I will strive to learn from this and be a more responsible pilot.

I vote for better pilot.

Author: JoeO

Powered Paraglider pilot since 2005

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