Airspeed is What You Need - DON'T LET YOUR GUARD DOWN!

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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Airspeed is What You Need - DON'T LET YOUR GUARD DOWN!

Post by Frederick » Thu Jul 27, 2017 9:15 pm

From Steve Murillo (who has flow from aircraft carriers):

Arthur Simineau and I decided to go to Crestline this past Saturday. Winds on launch were light and variable, I'd guess 2-8 mph, blowing mostly straight in with the occasional minor cross from the NW.

I'm flying a Sport 2 155. As I approached launch with Art on my nose, hang check and hook in check were standard. Standing on launch with wings balanced, wind at almost zero, I could see what I thought was a nice breeze coming up the hill. I called for "clear" and Arthur obliged.

I began my launch as I normally do, which was not enough. About half way down the ramp I did not feel the glider picking up off my shoulders as has been the case in almost every launch I've ever had.

By this time I was committed. I pulled in slightly on the nose and accelerated through the remainder of the ramp, using it all, barley clearing, but getting airborne. Art later reported that he observed the control bar falling, not rising, and thought to himself "this is going to hurt". :-)

The fact that my adrenaline kicked in at the last second gave me enough umph to get into the air. But here's the lesson learned: When in doubt, especially at a strange launch, KEEP THE NOSE DOWN AND CHARGE THE HILL!

Had I started the first half of my run as aggressively as the second half, I would not be writing this. We Kagel pilots are so used to the fairly strong winds and steep launch at Kagel, we are used to getting airborne in just a few steps. But Crestline launch is less steep, and the winds that day were very light. The perfect one-two combination to put an unwary pilot on the ropes!

Lesson learned, and I hope someone else will benefit from this.

Steve R. Murillo

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Post by Fat Fred » Thu Aug 03, 2017 8:16 pm

Was this the actual Crestline launch or was it at Marshall?


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Post by JD » Fri Aug 04, 2017 12:48 pm

This sounds to me exactly like Crestline launch. Marshall has two, much better ramps. Yesterday, we had a pilot get turned by a thermal on the Crestline ramp. He did not have the speed or altitude to recover and it cost him a leading edge and other repairs. No injury however. The pilot before him had to run like heck all the way to the bottom of the ramp. The first of the three pilots got airborne in just a few steps in very light winds and immediately climbed. This was all due to thermal activity from the convective development overhead. There are some rules of thumb to safely launching from Crestline in in nil to light winds. When visiting an unfamiliar site it is always a good idea to ask the locals about any ramp issues. The answers may surprise you. It's also a good idea to watch one or more local pilots launch in such marginal conditions.

In the original post there is not mention of the number and location of streamers along the length of the ramp. It does vary from time to time and in strange conditions it's a very good practice to install your own extra streamers in order to verify weather or not the ramp is filled in with wind from top to bottom.

Another peculiarity of the Crestline ramp is that wind does not equal lift and no-wind does not equal no safe launching. You can have sink on the ramp even though the wind is filled in and you can have easy launching conditions even those the streamers are nearly limp. You can also have wind and lift on the top of the ramp and run or waddle right through it and out the other side, only to drop to your knees and skid down the ramp.

There are many other issues with that ramp that I will save for any pilot who approaches me in the Crestline setup area or on the ramp.

Here is an example of launching the ramp safely in dead calm conditions:

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Crestline Launch

Post by Steve90266 » Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:30 am

Jonathan, you are correct. This was Crestline launch, not Marshall. I've launched Crestline many times before, but never had an issue. This one caught me a bit off guard, but my instinct for survival kicked in and I was able to accelerate the last part of the run.

To my fellow pilots - guard up!
Steve Murillo

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Post by Mike M » Sat Sep 09, 2017 5:42 pm

Yes ... airspeed is pretty much key to any takeoff -- applies to powered pilots as well.

This little dance should look familiar:

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Post by henderthing » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:54 pm

Here's one of my launches from a couple years ago at Crestline.

Thermal coming through picked up my right wing with unexpected force!

I feel I had a decently strong launch, and somewhat panicky overreaction, but managed to correct.

Also--note the streamer at the bottom of the ramp. It's pointed uphill as I begin my run, but at the end--it's pretty wonky...


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