Please tell what happened and how it might have been avoided. Names should be ommitted. This forum should help others learn from mistakes that caused or nearly caused a mishap.
Greg Kendall
Posts: 57
Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2006 9:42 am

Post by Greg Kendall » Wed Nov 25, 2015 10:39 am

I thought I’d share what I do for hook-in verification just in case it might be useful to someone. My system has been working for me for about 20 years now. If you’re a new pilot, talk to your instructor before following any advice that I might give.

The theme here is redundancy through doing multiple different checks. Redundancy is the only way to get high reliability from a system of not-so-reliable components. In this case a component is a human trying to remember to do a check.

I hook in where I set up. I don’t ever move a glider toward launch without first hooking into it. If you see me doing that, please stop me because it means that I’m having a major brain fart. I recognize that there is a tradeoff between the danger of getting flipped over while walking to launch and the danger of launching unhooked. I think that the former is far less likely to result in disaster.

I also define an imaginary boundary around any launch that cannot be crossed without stopping to check everything. My checks don’t take long, but the boundary should be far enough (30 feet or so) from launch to allow room for anyone who’s in a hurry to go around.

The main check I do at the boundary involves kneeling down until my hang strap and my leg loops are tight. The advantages of this check over the traditional hang check are: you can do it by yourself, you get a leg loop check in the process, you can more easily see your carabiner, and it’s quicker. I don’t do a traditional hang check unless I’ve changed something (glider, harness, hang strap, biner, etc.) that might affect hang height.

Once within the boundary, I stay hooked in. If I back off launch, I go back outside the boundary before unhooking. After that, everything starts over (or I start pulling battens).

Once on launch, I set the glider down and reach back and tug on my hang strap before lifting the glider. I’ve tried to make this an unconscious habit that will still happen even if my brain is shut off. I often do it several times per launch. By the way, when I pack up my harness, I don’t hook my biner to anything. I don’t want it to feel like it’s hooked into a glider when it’s not.

Finally, let’s try to get into the habit of checking the hook-in status of anyone that we see on or near launch with a glider, whether we’re currently helping them or not.

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Post by Jim » Wed Nov 25, 2015 4:13 pm

All good habits, Greg. I follow much the same routine as you except, before approaching launch, I grab the front wires, step forward to tug on the strap and look back at my glider for un-zipped zippers or released tensioners.

And one additional habit related to not clipping the carabiner onto the harness: when I get into my harness, it is always away from the glider (meaning not under the sail). I grip the hang strap at the base, follow it up to the 'biner for twists and always approach the glider with the carabiner in my hand so I have to do something with it.

I try to remember hook-in checks at launch, too, but I have to admit, watching for launch conditions makes me forgetful sometimes. All the more important to follow a pattern such as yours before getting near launch.

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