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Fatal Towplane Accident 5-9-20



 
 
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  #171  
Old June 2nd 20, 12:05 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
BobW
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Default Fatal Towplane Accident 5-9-20

On 6/1/2020 2:41 PM, Neal Alders wrote:

Some snipping/cutting/inserting below...but first, some personal bloviating
context of my own. (Sorry! It's pretty much unavoidable, IMHO...)

First, I *love* it when "fresh meat" appears on RAS. It's GOOD when "old
hands" get to see "fresh enthusiasms." It's even "gooder" when enthusiasm
isn't "purely raw" but "aviationally informed." Welcome, and thanks for taking
time to raise some genyoowinely-interesting-to-me points involving things that
puzzled me more or less my entire active time as Joe Soaring Pilot...who never
killed a towpilot, or even endangered one. I worked hard not to, and took
quiet pride in flying safely...always wanted to be able to fly the same glider
the next day! And so, on to snipping/cutting/inserting...

Howdy all, new here, only second post, and please forgive my bloviating,
but this has always been a hot button issue for me. My experience is not
as vast as some, but 32 years in aviation, nearly 14,000 hours and 19,000
take offs and landings in everything from Sailplanes, tow planes, single
engine, multi-engine land and sea, turboprops, Helo's, and now "Heavy
Iron".

I haven't flown sailplanes in, effectively, 2 decades. Did my "return"
flight just yesterday. Disclosure, I am a product of UH and Valley Soaring,
with a standard operating procedure of Low Tow.

2 thoughts.

1. My "fear" of High Tow, as both a glider pilot AND as a Tow Pilot, has
been a MAJOR factor in my failure to return to the sport sooner, and
continues to be a significant deterrent of my potential return. (I feel the
same way about Wheel Landings in tail draggers, I know how to high tow and
wheel land, just not a fan.) 2. If we instilled the same safety enhancing
procedures ("One level of safety")in the sport of Soaring as we do in other
aspects of aviation, IE Part 121 or 135, I honestly feel high tow would
have been essentially outlawed long ago. I encountered VERY similar
attitudes in the skydiving industry where I was working as a chief pilot of
a very large jump operation. Outright hostility towards change, even
safety enhancing change, was unfortunately the normal attitude. It took my
preaching to a group of 200+ skydivers over a PA system, to remind them
that continued unsafe behavior would cause them to be nothing more than a
huge 12 step meeting with really expensive jet fueled filled lawn ornaments
sitting on the airport side of the fence. A drop-zone without its pilot is
nothing, same goes for a glider operation without tow pilots.


The whole "high tow thing" has puzzled me ever since learning
(early-on/1970s?) of low-tow. My best guess as to why there's so much
"investment" in high tow in 'Murica has to do with a weird combination of
mental-inertia and the fact that aerotow likely began with high tow - since
the glider almost-always reached flying speed before the tug "back then." I
imagine the thought process as something like the following...
- "Woo hoo" (thinks Joe Glider Pilot), "I'm FLYing!!!"...
- ...and since he was already in high tow, there he stayed for the rest of
that tow and pretty much the rest of eternity!

It took time (dunno how much, but likely more than a week and maybe more than
a few years?), and some actual ACTIVE thought before anyone "began to explore
low tow." As an aside, it's been - for a LONG time - an item of
somewhat-active personal curiosity of mine to understand how the Aussies came
to "go the universal low tow" route. Maybe we 'Muricans might safely benefit
from their experience? Also, what are their tow pilot death rates
therefrom...hmmm? I don't know the answer and would love for informed Aussies
to begin educating we 'Murican RASidents.
- - - - - -

As UH said early in this thread, over 70,000 essentially trouble free low
tows at Valley Soaring over many decades, most with Schweizer tow hooks
must say something. Low tow is the standard down in Oz, and apparently a
few other places in Europe/Scandinavia according to the gentleman I flew
with in the 2-33 yesterday...

Snip...
Low tow costs NOTHING to try. When it is done properly, it is FAR easier
on the glider pilot AND the tow pilot, and has the amazing side effect of
being safer.


Every 'Murican who's aerotowed home for any reason and did so using low tow
has probably had similar "Why do we DO it this way?" sorts of thoughts, "this"
being high-tow-as-the-norm. It's sometimes a bizarro world in which we live!
- - - - - -

We must not allow this discussion to diverge down the wrong
path. Talking about reinventing the wheel and making wholesale, expensive
changes to hardware will not work. When a consistent problem keeps popping
up at the airline level, we institute carefully thought out and implemented
procedural change first. Changing equipment is horrifyingly expensive, and
very time consuming. Procedural changes do not take long. And it usually
produces the anticipated result. In my opinion, for what ever it is worth,
a simple change to how we do things might produce a significantly lower
rate of problems. We did it in the jump flying community. Over the last
20 years ONE MAN, who I am honored to call my friend, created a website,
disseminated accident data and proposed solutions to the skydiving industry
as it pertained to jump flying. It produced a significant 50% REDUCTION in
accidents, and his writings have become policy in over 20 nations around
the world to be permitted to operate as a jump pilot. He did all this just
by suggesting some new, more thorough, training methods and changing the
attitudes of those involved. Even a little.


Boy! Betcha $20 the above paragraph will bring outta the woodwork all manner
of strongly-held opinions!! Some will kneejerk take issue with any idea of
"doing things in sport soaring the airline way." (Those guys are proFESSIONALS
dammit; we're doing this for FUN!!!) Others seem deeply invested in
hardware/software "fixes." As a retired long-time manufacturing engineer from
the so-called high-tech field (tape/disk drives, etc.) I'm reasonably
knollichable with hardware-controlling software-development, widget design,
Murphy, etc. In short - and without intending to express any opinion about ANY
of the previously-proposed hardware/software 'fixes of the
high-tow-killing-towpilots-issue - I'm a big philosophical fan of KISS. But
lest we forget "inertial effects" perhaps that's the biggest roadblock to
"solving the dead towpilot issue" IMHO. "We've always done it this way"
groupthink.

Put me in the "Why NOT procedurally change to low-tow-as-the-U.S.-norm?" club.
Other than inertia, I've yet to encounter a substantive argument against so
doing. And, yes, I know "a fair number of" newbie-XC pilots who've aerotowed
home after A/P landings away from the home base who were
advised/instructed/and IMPLEMENTED their Very First low tows under those
circumstances. None had any issues; some joined me in being - at least for a
time! - puzzled as to who we didn't low-tow all the time. (Me? I only ever did
low tows to keep instructors happy. Weird, huh?)

The ONLY seriously-proposed argument I've encountered AGAINST low tow is the
canard that transitioning to it close to the ground MIGHT be more potentially
dangerous than high tow, because of the need to "endure" the tug's wake as Joe
Glider Pilot allows Mr. Tuggie to climb into position. That's pretty thin, IMO.

An aerospacey/engineering-world axiom is: one good test is worth a thousand
informed opinions.
- - - - - -


Change to low tow, make sure students and visiting pilots understand the
importance of FLY THE PLANE FIRST.


What a concept (that last bit, I mean)! Dirt Simple...but all-too-often
ignored when it matters.
- - - - - -

Keep the existing equipment properly
maintained, maintain effective training methods and attitudes and make sure
they all know open canopies, unlocked spoilers or whatever don't matter
when low to the ground. Fly the damn plane first. Deal with the other
garbage later.


"What HE said!!"
- - - - - -

Snip...

Ask yourself, why do most operations here use high tow? Anyone know why?
Cause I have no idea. Why do we switch to low tow for cross country tows?
I remember hearing people flew high tow because they were afraid if the
rope broke near the tow plane on low tow it would somehow fight a 60 mph
headwind and wrap itself around the control surfaces. Even my 13 year old
mind knew that sounded absolutely absurd. It made no sense as even at 13 I
knew enough physics to know that was impossible. I never heard another
reason for high tow in all my years.


Let the Religious Games begin!!!
- - - - - -


Sorry for the rant. Condolences to everyone involved.


Thanks for an informative, thoughtful post!

Bob W.

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  #172  
Old June 2nd 20, 12:05 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Neal Alders
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Default Fatal Towplane Accident 5-9-20

UH, correct me if I'm wrong, but in the 800 or so low tow flights I have done, you never climb and then transition. You stay in ground effect, wait for the tow plane to climb above, then follow. I don't think I ever felt wake turbulence when in low tow, unless it was intentional during training, or when in high tow. I feel far more wake turbulence in high tow than low tow.

Bob, thanks so much for the compliment. It felt like I never left the cockpit. Well, except for the uneasiness being in high tow. I doubt I have more than 50 high tows as a glider pilot in my entire life. LOL
  #173  
Old June 2nd 20, 12:15 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Neal Alders
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Default Fatal Towplane Accident 5-9-20

Sorry, forgot to answer your first question. It is safer because, #1 Safer for the tow pilot #2, easier to keep tow plane in sight. Better visibility looking up, than down. Ever lose sight of the tow plane in low tow?

Also, food for thought.

Next time you are in high tow, look at the position of the tow planes elevator relative to the stabilizer. Then, move to proper low tow. (Tip of gliders vertical fin a foot or two below the prop wash, on a Super Cub the horizontal stab should still be below the bottom of the trailing edge of the wing, about an inch of visible light between them) and check the elevator position again. In the Super Cub, the elevator was almost perfectly trailed with the stab in low tow, vs about 30% deflected up elevator in high tow. That tells me it is more efficient, and less aerodynamically loaded.
  #174  
Old June 2nd 20, 12:19 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Charlie M. (UH & 002 owner/pilot)
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Default Fatal Towplane Accident 5-9-20

There is nothing to "push down through" with a low tow takeoff.
I started doing it in the '70's at our field, doing rides with it, training students to do it, field checking other pilots at our field.

Yes, we also teach high tow, boxing the wake, etc.

Yes, I also fly high tow at contests, since that is more common at other fields.

One other thing to keep in mind, low tow allows the tow pilot to use trim during normal towing since a proper glider position put the load just about through the thrustline of the towplane.

I won't go further in this discussion since it has been hashed many times just on RAS let alone at various operations.
  #175  
Old June 2nd 20, 12:33 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Neal Alders
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Default Fatal Towplane Accident 5-9-20

I have 100% confidence my newness to the board, my Big Iron driving job, and my 2 decade break will no doubt raise a fair bit of dander.

Bring it on baby! LOL

There is a time when airline pilots opinions made me roll my eyes too. However, now that I am in the left seat of said 200,000+ pounds and 228+ lives depending on my decision making abilities, I now regret having that reaction. Well... some of it was deserved! LMAO

The American airline industry went 9 years, and 330 MILLION+ domestic flights with ZERO fatalities. Then a woman not wearing her seat belt got sucked out a 737 window after the engine went into Unscheduled Rapid Disassembly mode.

That record wasn't easy to achieve. And it wasn't an "accident". Regulations are written in blood. It is just as much the culture as the regs. I am paid by the minute to fly the way the boss pays me to fly. Even if I don't agree with it. We have an AMAZING safety culture at Spirit Airlines (let the jokes begin). Go arounds are free (for the idiots who cannot manage energy properly)the management has never second guessed any of my safety calls or decisions or any passenger ejections. I love my airline. Our maintenance and training departments are second to none.

As a result of my exposure to this world, I have begun to question *some* of the things I have seen in my 32 years being around this amazing world of flight. I am getting older, hopefully wiser, and maybe if I'm lucky, a little smarter.

Stumbling across this thread hit a tiny nerve, and I felt I couldn't stay silent. If I **** people off, well, these things happen. Won't be the first time. After 20+ years in the skydiving world, I would rather have friends come up to me ****ed off, then tell them I am sorry at their funeral.

Most solutions are insanely simple. Fighting the headwinds of change are not.
  #176  
Old June 2nd 20, 12:35 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
[email protected]
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Default Fatal Towplane Accident 5-9-20

On Monday, June 1, 2020 at 5:24:27 PM UTC-5, Hightime wrote:
I have been flying gliders for a long time and only enter low tow for training to test the students ability to stay in control during aerotow , what I don’t understand is how would low tow be safer . Do you take off and then immediately push down through the prop wash to the low tow position ? 300 AGL is a most critical time due to low level turbulence and height , is this the time to be pushing through propwash to low tow ?


Yes, you stay 3 feet above ground and wait until tow plane climbs to proper low tow position.
  #177  
Old June 2nd 20, 12:45 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Neal Alders
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Default Fatal Towplane Accident 5-9-20

And I have ZERO desire to make soaring like airline flying. That would ruin it. Even for me.

However.

The "single level of safety" mindset is what needs to slowly work its way into the mainstream. Too many ego's and not enough cooperation is how people die. The desire to fight the system has to be replaced with asking why the system needs to change, and being a part of the solution instead of the problem. Fix the easy things first, then hit the harder stuff. Sometimes the hard problems disappear after the little problems are solved.
  #178  
Old June 2nd 20, 01:31 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
[email protected]
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Default Fatal Towplane Accident 5-9-20

Neal,
This accident occurred when the Glider pilot was distracted by a canopy that swung open. He probably tried to grab it and didn’t maintain proper tow position! Even if he intended to fly low tow, the canopy distraction would result in the same (too high) tow position! I’d bet 90 % of ballooning accident happen on or shortly after takeoff where there is insufficient altitude to attempt low tow maneuvering. I wouldn’t want to attempt going into low tow below 1000 feet ...........an this altitude, 90% of the “ballooning” accidents have already occurred!

I hesitate to even bring this up, but my club had a ballooning accident last year involving a brand new tow pilot making his first tow and an instructor Glider pilot making his first flight the year. The Glider ballooned on takeoff and the tow pilot toggled him off, immediately............some said “too soon”? I didn’t see it and take no position on the issue, but I did see the broken Sailplane sitting in the sagebrush! Our club has no way to give dual tow pilot instruction . A new tow pilot is really making his “first tow”, with no dual instruction on towing whatsoever!
Food for thought,
JJ
  #179  
Old June 2nd 20, 01:45 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Hightime
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Default Fatal Towplane Accident 5-9-20

I got to try this someday , I’ve never tried it .
  #180  
Old June 2nd 20, 01:50 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
2G
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Default Fatal Towplane Accident 5-9-20

On Monday, June 1, 2020 at 5:31:40 PM UTC-7, wrote:
Neal,
This accident occurred when the Glider pilot was distracted by a canopy that swung open. He probably tried to grab it and didn’t maintain proper tow position! Even if he intended to fly low tow, the canopy distraction would result in the same (too high) tow position! I’d bet 90 % of ballooning accident happen on or shortly after takeoff where there is insufficient altitude to attempt low tow maneuvering. I wouldn’t want to attempt going into low tow below 1000 feet ...........an this altitude, 90% of the “ballooning” accidents have already occurred!

I hesitate to even bring this up, but my club had a ballooning accident last year involving a brand new tow pilot making his first tow and an instructor Glider pilot making his first flight the year. The Glider ballooned on takeoff and the tow pilot toggled him off, immediately............some said “too soon”? I didn’t see it and take no position on the issue, but I did see the broken Sailplane sitting in the sagebrush! Our club has no way to give dual tow pilot instruction . A new tow pilot is really making his “first tow”, with no dual instruction on towing whatsoever!
Food for thought,
JJ


The whole issue of high tow vs low tow assumes that the glider pilot is in actual control of his/her glider. In a kiting glider accident, the glider is out of control because the pilot is distracted and has effectively stopped flying the glider. All of the training, procedures and haranguing at this point goes out of the window because the pilot has become a passenger. A friend of mine stopped flying tow after being subjected to BOTH an extreme low tow followed by a kiting. He dumped the glider and recovered at the sagebrush level, followed by flying underneath power lines.

As I have said before, I am a firm believer in the KISS principle until it has been proven to me that another approach needs to be taken. And, then, that approach should use only the least complex solution available. I earned my living as a design engineer for over 40 years, so this is not my first rodeo.

Tom
 




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