Cocoon Harness Incident - Thursday

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.
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JD
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Cocoon Harness Incident - Thursday

Post by JD » Fri Nov 19, 2010 9:06 am

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1vHAjjjtQI[/youtube]

On November 18, 2010, I launched Kagel shortly after 2 PM in a light SW breeze and gentle thermals. It looked to be a good after noon to possibly get in a little distance given the forecasts. There were five other pilots on the ground and our driver, Daryl. I was using an HES cocoon harness that I have flown many times. I do not like putting this harness on or taking it off. It's like crawling through spaghetti. I do not have a standard procedure for getting into the harness and occasionally I put my arms through the wrong openings or will twist a leg loop, etc.

No one else witnessed when I stepped into my harness and hooked it into my T2C, which I had tied down at the nose. Today, I decided to hold the caribiner in my right hand while I did the ritual. Chris Armenta had Katherine's Falcon 3 195 set up next to me and was getting patient for me to move my glider so he could mount his GoPro camera. As a result I may have become distracted when I did my walk-through or when I got into my harness. I cannot say whether it made any difference.

I didn't normally do full hang checks and today was no exception. I do perform a walk-through and look behind me for twisted webbing, etc. I believe I spotted one error on my right-hand side that I corrected. I may have draped my left rear suspension line in between my left leg loop and the harness apron before I inserted my leg. I don't know.

As I walked to the ramp, Daryl offered to give me a hang check and I declined. I cannot say whether the suspension line issue would have showed up or whether it actually happened when I launched. I hold my glider pretty low when I take off and hold up the rope stirrup of my cocoon harness during the process. I got off clean and immediately stepped into the stirrup.

When I went to line line and lay forward, I felt the left fore-aft suspension rope tugging pretty hard. Next I discovered that the rear of the rope was inside one or both ends of the leg opp webbing. In any event it was compromising my control of my glider and digging into my leg pretty good.

I immediately called Sony, who was also on radio to warn everyone on the launch ramp to keep a distance from me due to the harness issue. I considered it to be an emergency since I was having control issues and didn't know the extent of the situation. Greblo chimed in from the Windsports shop w/ several suggestions, including tossing my reserve. Because of the way my leg was being choked I didn't want to take that risk.

Ultimately, I climbed high enough above launch and got enough room from other gliders to get my leg free. After numerous failures to wiggle out, I finally tore loose the end of my left leg loop webbing free from the gaffers tape I use to secure it. Next I fully loosened the leg loop. After that I was able to get my leg out of the loop which freed the suspension rope.

I flew around for 30 minutes in comfort but with only one leg loop. I wanted to maximize my landing safety and so was determined to get back into the loop. I went over to Towers ridge and climbed up to 4300' above the 2200 then flew out front into smoother air. After one failed attempt I was able to wriggle my leg back into the loop then cinched it down to its previous adjusted length.

Landing was uneventful. In the future I will do a full hang check when flying with any harness that is subject to getting tangled. If I'm flying solo then I'll be certain to locate all the lines before I walk to the ramp.

Cheers, Jonathan

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Christian
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Post by Christian » Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:01 pm

Why not do a routine hang check with all harnesses? Curious as to the thinking here, if I understand your phrasing correctly.

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JD
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Post by JD » Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:20 pm

Christian wrote:Why not do a routine hang check with all harnesses? Curious as to the thinking here, if I understand your phrasing correctly.
Christian - It's not always possible and in this case, it's likely that the problem would not have been discovered during the hang check.

I have watched people walk to the ramp following a hang check and I spotted problems with their harness from 50' away that neither the pilot nor wire assistant noticed. I have been given a hang check and my limiter line was wrapped completely around the main but I could not detect it and the wire assistant said nothing when I asked whether everything looked straight.

I discovered a missing pin on my reserve container that may have resulted in an accidental reserve deployment by spotting it on my own video. 600 pilots who watched the same video said nothing.

The thing a hang check accomplishes is that you know you didn't fall to the ground when you laid down. A hang check guarantees nothing else. It's no guarantee that you are even properly hooked in. I have seen a video where the pilot was hanging by the gate on his caribiner. What good did the hang check do him? Was he really hooked in?

My point is that each critical component must be inspected both visually and tactically. There have been a substantial number of pilots who I know personally and have launched without their leg loops over the past 2 years. Hang check? Yes. Visual and tactile inspection? Not likely.

I do a significant amount of flying solo. The driver has already gone back and there is no one else present. Sorry. Hang check not available. What is required is an inspection of each of the critical components of the harness system. One way to accomplish this is by hooking the harness into the glider before getting into the harness. It's no guarantee that something else critical won't be missed while getting into the harness but it's a good procedure.

In my case I believe that I failed to take my hand and follow each of the suspension ropes from front to back. Had I done this my left hand would have found its way to the place where the TSA is not welcomed. My junk!

That would have triggered a red light and I would have removed my leg from the loop and freed the suspension line before I launched rather than doing my Cirque du Soliel impression.

I hope you found some part of this useful.

Jonathan

JBBenson
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Post by JBBenson » Fri Nov 19, 2010 4:14 pm

NMERider wrote: Hang check? Yes. Visual and tactile inspection? Not likely.
I have always understood "visual and tactile inspection" as being a part of a hang-check, not something else. How else would one check?

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OP
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Post by OP » Fri Nov 19, 2010 8:25 pm

I did a hang check early in my lessons which exposed a twist I couldn't have seen wearing the harness. I'm set on a visual and tactile inspection EVERY TIME. Even if it's a self hang check, with the keel planted.

One thing that that did give me a scare recently. I picked up the glider to walk to launch; and a sprog zipper wasn't zipped. How did I miss it? I picked up the glider, saw the defect, and set it right back down. Actually I'm glad that Ken Andrews was there and saw the entire thing. He recommended that I re-think my entire pre-flight. I have. Complete uninterrupted preflight every time. As I have been taught!

While I'm at it, I'll confess another. Flying ave S. the last Saturday. There where unfamiliar pilots and crew at launch. It was convenient to have a seemingly competent crew help me launch. Turns out my request to "let me ground handle" meant "CLEAR" as the nose guy bailed unexpectedly. I made it off without incident, yet a reminder why when I was learning no one wanted me to help them launch. New rule in my book, only personally experienced wire help, or a long and thorough talk with the wire help before walking up. Don't let a stranger, no matter the appearance, decide your fate.

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JD
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Post by JD » Fri Nov 19, 2010 8:54 pm

JBBenson wrote:..........I have always understood "visual and tactile inspection" as being a part of a hang-check, not something else. How else would one check?
Blindly, by simply going through the motions and not being cognizant of what one is doing.

Anyhow, today I was able to repeat the error that resulted in the suspension line caught between my leg loop. It's an easy mistake to make and not detect without a full hang check. Of course, launching works pretty good for detecting a crossed line. :D :roll:

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dhmartens
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Post by dhmartens » Sun Nov 21, 2010 10:41 am

Skipping the hang check, error one
Skipping offer of an experienced pilot to help with a hang check, error two
Getting far away from terrain and pilots before correcting the harness, priceless

Doug

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JD
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Post by JD » Sun Nov 21, 2010 10:45 pm

dhmartens wrote:.........Skipping offer of an experienced pilot to help with a hang check, error two...........
Daryl? :o :roll: :lol: :P

I have since had the same exact thing happen to me at home while checking the harness adjustments. Mitch McAleer gave me his technique for doing a self-hang check as well as step-in procedure along w/ some suggestions to make the harness safer that I've followed up on.

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Jim
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Post by Jim » Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:05 pm

I'M SO HAPPY FOR YOU, JONATHAN!

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JD
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Post by JD » Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:29 am

Jim wrote:I'M SO HAPPY FOR YOU, JONATHAN!
Aw shucks, JT--yer making me blush. :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: Where's Oscar, anyway? :roll: :P Did you scare Oscar away? :evil:

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Jim
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Post by Jim » Tue Nov 23, 2010 7:25 pm

Oscar quit because you offended him by abusing his favorite emoticons. Now, back to the thread (so I can't be accused of jacking it):

Why, with all your fine equipment and your extensive experience, don't you fly with a better harness, one that doesn't rival a black widow's web? The Moyes Matrix is nice and I am loving my new Woody Valley Tenax 3; no external lines and not much to hang up inside. Yes, it is different to not be able to get fully upright but I deal with it. So do many others.

And about that hang check... Having Daryl hold your nose BEFORE you get to launch would give you a safe moment to look back at that tangle. But you know this, no?

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JD
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Post by JD » Tue Nov 23, 2010 11:00 pm

Jim wrote:.........Why, with all your fine equipment and your extensive experience, don't you fly with a better harness, one that doesn't rival a black widow's web?..........
Ya mean like this one I was wearing today?
Image

I was in the middle of doing some modifications to my new Wills Wing Covert and my cocoon was the only usable harness I could grab in a hurry that day.

BTW - The Covert is by far one of the the easiest harnesses to get upright and land that I've ever flown.

Today was Chad's turn in the cocoon harness barrel as you might be able to see in the photo. You'll see plenty of Chad's Oscar-style plumber's butt once I do our edit. :lol: :lol: Chad's matrix suffered a limiter line failure while in flight because the protective sheath on the main bridle prevented him from visually inspecting the fact that his limiter line had torn through the stitching in the main. This was after he'd received a warning sign on his previous flight but did not understand the significance of it.

Something very similar happened to me at King Mountain this Summer. On the third day, and internal inspection of my harness revealed that the pull-back line had broken externally but not internally. I was unable to pull the slider car aft and could not get prone until I found the cause and did a field repair.
Jim wrote:.........And about that hang check... Having Daryl hold your nose BEFORE you get to launch would give you a safe moment to look back at that tangle. But you know this, no?
The trouble with that tangle is that is was not visible by looking back. Had I laid down fully prone I would have noticed the tugging on my left shoulder and caught it.

I see a lot of hang checks where the pilot is merely going through the motions and is not doing a conscious, visual and tactile inspection. It confirms that the pilot did not fall to the ground but does not confirm the caribiner and hang loop are properly connected and intact.

My feeling is that A lot of pilots launch without their leg loops and other potential mayhem because they falsely believe that because they've gone through the motions of a hang check they are somehow safe.

There's a reason I say in my narration, "Don't think this can't happen to you." I have gotten many messages from pilots who have had similar and worse things happen to them.

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Harness problems

Post by Steve90266 » Wed Nov 24, 2010 12:49 pm

Glad you came out of this OK, Jonathan. Thanks for sharing something we can all learn from. My take aways:

1. Check leg loops and all other harness connections by look AND feel. Double check before walking up to launch.

2. If a hang check is available, never turn it down. At the minimum, it gives the wire guy a chance to be helpful. Good practice for both parties. At best, you or your wire man may discover something that was missed. Two sets of eyes are better than one. When I hold a glider for someone performing a hang check, I'm looking at the carabiner and the general condition of the connections, lines, etc. I reckon that's what most people do (let's hope).

3. Once flying and a problem is discovered, fly the aircraft FIRST. Get away from danger THEN make adjustments or take appropriate action.

All's well that ends well. Keep 'em flying!
Steve Murillo

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noack
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Post by noack » Fri Nov 26, 2010 7:04 am

How about a knee hanger Jonathan????? :P :P :P :P :P :P

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JD
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Post by JD » Fri Nov 26, 2010 9:36 am

noack wrote:How about a knee hanger Jonathan????? :P :P :P :P :P :P
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

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JD
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Post by JD » Fri Nov 26, 2010 10:01 am

Here's a similar incident w/ a similar harness where the pilot did a full hang check and still wound up with a suspension line tangle: http://www.hanggliding.org/viewtopic.php?t=19901
Food for thought!

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Post by OSCAR » Fri Nov 26, 2010 2:08 pm

http://www.youtube.com/user/lltowing2007?feature=mhum I had this happen to me. The camelbak belt was cutting into my stomach and I had minor control problems notice I had to fly more on the left side of the control frame.

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Post by jcflies » Sun Nov 28, 2010 7:33 pm

jonathan,
i'm totally serious here. why did joe suggest that you deploy? was he messing with you because you have a tendency toward the dramatic on radio, or was he serious? it seems a bit crazy to abandon a situation in which you have some control for one in which you are at the mercy of a reserve...
i'm really confused...
glad you survived :D, but i just can't watch the video. i think we, as an hg society, are over-documenting EVERYTHING! even Jonny doesn't vid every flight and post it, and he's JONNY!
janyce

"You HAVE to make it..."

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Jim
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Post by Jim » Tue Nov 30, 2010 8:51 pm

What are you talking about, Janyce? Jonny does document every flight but he prefers to be called Jonathan, in case you didn't know. (actually, he's rather touchy about it).

And, Janyce, I think you've been away from me too long; your sarcasmometer needs calibration. Of course, Joe was ribbing Jonny about a panic inspired deployment.

Jonathan - nice looking harness; still has more strings than mine, though.

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JD
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Post by JD » Sat Dec 11, 2010 10:17 am

Jim wrote:What are you talking about, Janyce? Jonny does document every flight but he prefers to be called Jonathan, in case you didn't know. (actually, he's rather touchy about it).

And, Janyce, I think you've been away from me too long; your sarcasmometer needs calibration. Of course, Joe was ribbing Jonny about a panic inspired deployment.

Jonathan - nice looking harness; still has more strings than mine, though.
Jim -
"Jonny" referes to Jonny Durand and not to me, "Jonathan"
Jonny Durand, AKA:jonnydurand : http://www.youtube.com/user/jonnydurand
Jonathan, AKA:NMERider: http://www.youtube.com/user/NMERider

Joe wasn't being sarcastic about the deployment. The line was wrapped around my thigh in such a way that it was cutting off my circulation and I was at risk of passing out. Later I was able to relieve the constriction.
Cheers, Jono

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