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Letter to the FAA

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Old June 27th 17, 08:45 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
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Default Letter to the FAA

Some years back there was a fatal Pawnee glider kiting accident. I had the opportunity to inspect the skeleton of the Pawnee, it had been consumed by fire, at the aviation wrecking yard. I wasn't permitted to take photos.

The Pawnee had two Schweizer hooks installed on a plate and connected to the ship with a flat metal strap that could not have been more than 1/4" thick. During the kiting, this strap with bracket and hooks, bent upward. This put enough slack in the release cable so it could not activate the release. It bent the hook up so far it impacted the rudder and bent the rudder frame upwards several inches.

I mention this as even if you are currently using a Schweizer hook, whichever way up you have it, it still needs to be on a mount that's designed for towing gliders, not just banners.
Old June 28th 17, 11:41 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
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Default Letter to the FAA

K&L sells towhooks.

Old June 28th 17, 01:26 PM
Walt Connelly Walt Connelly is offline
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Posts: 338

Originally Posted by Dave White[_2_] View Post
Hello Walt, First I want to thank you for all the great tows when I was working on my CFIG back in February. If you want to send your letter to the FAA, and it sounds as if you will, you might want to take some precautions. In the 40+ years I flew for a living only 3 or 4 pilots contacted the FAA with safety concerns. To be fair we had other avenues, i.e. Union, etc to air our grievances. But a few did go to the FAA and later had regrets. If they pursue your concerns you may be asked some hard questions. Did you report the incident? To whom did you report the incident? Employer, NASA, FAA, SSA, or anybody else? Did you do a proper preflight of the tow hook? There will be many other questions but I think you get my point. They will be thorough and you will feel as if you are in crosshairs. And you will be in the crosshairs. Before you put a stamp on it get some advice from an aviation lawyer. AOPA has a great legal staff. I would trust their opinion on how to approach the FAA before listening to anyone else. Good luck.

Thank you, I truly loved towing skilled pilots, students and the geriatric crowd not so much but such is life.

As an old retiree I am not aware of all the avenues available for reporting and
"complaining" but I am trying to be careful in all aspects of this endeavor.

I of course reported this to the manager and VP, they are well aware of the incident, more aware than they would like to be I am sure. If there are other avenues of reporting please advise. I was all over the FAA site looking for reporting information and could not find any. Go figure.

I am finding it very difficult to find the information I need as many links to things I want to read are not working. I have learned alot though and my conclusion is that tow pilots, unless they are A&P's or otherwise very familiar with regulations and requirements are doing things everyday contrary to manufacturers recommendations among other things. For instance I understand that towing a glider of a maximum gross weight exceeding 1500 lbs is prohibited by the Schweizer manufacturer, not so with the Tost which I can find information that it exceed 3000 lbs.

One might conclude from this thread that there is an acceptable death rate among tow pilots and that $2500 dollars and repositioning release handles is too much to prevent a death.

Hope you are having a ball teaching.

Old June 28th 17, 04:30 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Dan Marotta
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Default Letter to the FAA


I *loved* chicken snacks! A breast, a wing, a roll, and a hard boiled
egg for a quarter. The war ended when I was half way through UPT so I
didn't get the opportunity to become a Yankee Air Pirate.



On 6/27/2017 9:05 AM, Walt Connelly wrote:
Dan Marotta;949794 Wrote:
Sorry Walt, my comment wasn't directed at you. It was a comment on the

lack of knowledge of math and statistics.

I'll either die today or I won't, so I guess I'll stay in bed and stay
comfortable until it happens. That 50-50 concept only works with coin
tosses, etc. and, as used, is disingenuous.

On 6/25/2017 2:09 PM, Walt Connelly wrote:-
Dan Marotta;949727 Wrote:-
If it was really 50-50 nobody would be flying. Did that statistic

from MSNBC or Johnny Depp?

Actually it was in an article from Tom Knauff called "Launching
Emergencies." I read everything I can find on the subject. I saw the
humor, the tongue in cheek of what he said, did you not?




Dan, 5J


I don't take anything personally, i am not a person.

I am all about math and science but I did see the humor in this
comment and I am sure that Tom meant it that way. During the Vietnam
Police Action my squadron commander once said, we might die today and
then again we might not, so let's go fly the mission and see what
happens. In our case the most dangerous part of flying was the take
off. We were over and above maximum allowable war gross weight for our
aircraft, Go AiR FORCE. The second most dangerous part was that
inflight box lunch. But we still made the take off and I still ate that
lunch and I survived.

Have a great day.


Dan, 5J
Old June 28th 17, 04:42 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Dave White[_2_]
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Default Letter to the FAA

Glad to see you saved my message as my fat fingers managed to delete it trying to edit on my phone👍 I would start with NASA even though you are outside the 10 day window and copy to SSA. https://asrs.arc.nasa.gov/report/electronic.html You might consider joining AOPA as they have a great legal team and a good track record of dealing with the FAA.
Old June 29th 17, 11:30 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
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Default Letter to the FAA

A Tost CG release is made to release with a rear load on it. Why couldn't that release be mounted on a tow plane so that when the glider got too high it would "back release"?

Old June 29th 17, 11:39 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Tango Eight
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On Wednesday, June 28, 2017 at 8:43:11 AM UTC-4, Walt Connelly wrote:

One might conclude from this thread that there is an acceptable
death rate among tow pilots

You state this like it's shocking.

There's a death rate associated with taking aspirin. Or lying in bed.

I looked up all fatal accidents for airplanes in the NTSB database containing the words "glider" and "tow". Back to 1970, it's 24. This link will open that search http://tinyurl.com/y9flwdkh

While there's nothing to celebrate here, that number is an order of magnitude smaller than the number you get in a search for fatal glider accidents over the same period of time (295) and nearly three orders of magnitude smaller than the number of all fatal accidents involving airplanes (22,062). If you sift through those 24 reports to find the fatal accidents where failure to release (for any reason) might have been a factor (many of the accidents happened well after the glider released normally) you might well be down to single digits. I've read about a third of them so far. In any event, you will get to a "small" number, albeit one with that came with catastrophic consequences for family, friends and associates in each and every case (as happened 22,000+ other times over hte same time frame in GA as a whole).. I have no death wish and I do not enjoy the prospect of unnecessary or easily avoidable risk to myself or my friends, and neither does anyone else I know.

Neither am I (or anyone else I know who tows) unconcerned about the potential for problems with the "Elmira Death Hook" (thanks, Gregg), but there's an awful lot else out there that (statistically) is far more likely to be our undoing, especially if we go soaring as well as tow. I do recommend towplane operators improve their release hardware at their earliest opportunity if they are still flying an EDH. And this is my own plan. In the meantime, as previously stated, we're still towing.

You'll do as you see fit of course. But I won't be at all surprised when no one at the FAA takes this very seriously, because on the numbers, they should have better things to do. If per chance someone does (Hi Steve, I hope you're reading!), then the right way to go is get helpful information in the hands of operators, not simply ground everyone.

There are STC'd kits for many towplanes available. By no means all, and mine is one of the oversights so no, I do not have the option of writing a $2500 check and making this happen immediately. Thanks for reading.

best regards,
Evan Ludeman / T8
Old June 29th 17, 11:39 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Charlie M. (UH & 002 owner/pilot)
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Default Letter to the FAA

Ummmm.......the glider would have to be over/in front of the tug?!?!
By then, the tug pilot is standing on the rudder pedals and grabbing anything to release the rope.
Old June 29th 17, 11:52 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
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Default Letter to the FAA

On Thursday, June 29, 2017 at 6:39:57 PM UTC-4, Charlie M. (UH & 002 owner/pilot) wrote:
Ummmm.......the glider would have to be over/in front of the tug?!?!
By then, the tug pilot is standing on the rudder pedals and grabbing anything to release the rope.

Nope. Hook would be mounted so that the "rear" of the hook(in a glider) would be up and then installation angle tilted such that the back release function would actuate at the "desired" angle.
First look(I just looked at one) is that the hook would not be operating on a regular basis with the force in the direction intended. That would make me concerned about reliability and wear issues.
Old June 30th 17, 12:10 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Martin Gregorie[_5_]
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Default Letter to the FAA

On Thu, 29 Jun 2017 15:30:42 -0700, Waveguru wrote:

A Tost CG release is made to release with a rear load on it. Why
couldn't that release be mounted on a tow plane so that when the glider
got too high it would "back release"?

Probably because the angular difference between the rope on the ground
run and when it back-releases over the winch would be far too great to be
useful when dealing with a tug upset.

Two points:

- I don't know at what angle the cable is in relation to the glider datum
when the hook back-releases above the winch, but for sure the rope
angle during a winch launch is at least 40-45 degrees most of the time
and must increase to around 90 degrees above the winch. Don't forget
that there's bow in the cable.

- when doing release checks before the first winch launch of the day,
it can be quite difficult to pull the cable down and back under some
gliders with enough force to cause a back release. Usually this is
because the CG hook is fairly close in front of the main wheel.

Both effects are the result of the 'hook' not moving during a launch
until the pilot pulls the release. When a back release occurs its because
the rope is applying sufficient rearward force to move the guard ring
back far enough for the cable ring to fall off the end of the 'hook'.

The guard ring is on standoffs which pivot on the hook body and are held
forward by a spring. This is not very strong: when moving gliders round
the field its often easier to put the tow rope onto the CG hook by
pulling the guard ring back with a couple of fingers and slipping the
rope's ring over the rear end of the 'hook' than it is to open the canopy
and operate the release to put the rope on the nose hook.

[email protected] | Martin Gregorie
gregorie. | Essex, UK
org |

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