Monday, February 13, 2006

What I think...

Lately, I have heard several different comments about Pete’s “incident.”

I would like to give my point of view. But before I do, I need to explain how I have felt the club treats Pete. Since Pete brought me into the Paragliding community almost three years, I have noticed several things. The first is that I was welcomed with open arms. I met some of the club members once or twice and I was invited to a fly-in while Pete was having adventures in New Zealand.

Another thing I noticed was that Pete has a tendency to get more “s—t” then most pilots. I know he has a reputation as a renegade. However since we have been dating, I have noticed he is making better decisions about flying. There have been many times he has told me, “I went to ‘X’ place and it was too strong”, or “I hiked up and the conditions weren’t good, etc.” He made comments to me about kiting at Sandy’s or Kualoa Beach Park during the day. These are major improvements from when he was a new pilot.

I have had the privilege to be one of Pete’s passengers many times. I have never ONCE felt that he was not in control or unsafe. Yes, there have been some tough launches, launches that have been blown, but what pilot, tandem or solo can say that hasn’t happened to them. I know how seriously Pete takes giving tandem flights. He wants to share the experience with everyone he knows; however he won’t do it if the conditions aren’t appropriate.

Regarding the rules about tandems that the club and USHGA have put in place, I have noticed that they have been violated many times by many different pilots. It seems to me that Pete is the only person in the club that is having the USHGA rules strictly enforced upon him. In fact, most of my tandem flights were with T1 pilots, before I became a P1. I think if this situation happened to any other T1 pilot the club wouldn’t have made it as much of a fiasco as they have, which goes back to how club members treat Pete. Many of the pilots who have been the most vocal, have themselves broken the rules over and over and over.

On several occasions, I have felt that the club holds Pete to different standard because his nickname is “Suicide”. Yes, he has most likely earned that name, however he has changed as a pilot and his skills have improved. With regard to the rules that the club has put in place, for instance P3 and above launching from Crazy Man, that isn’t being enforced in any way. Within a week the rule was broken, probably earlier. If the club is going to pull in the reins some, then I also feel that T3 pilots shouldn’t ask T1’s to take people. There is a laundry list of “issues” that I could address (e.g., who should be teaching whom, is it ok for a T1 to fly friends and family but not pay passengers, is it ok for a T1 to fly pay passengers as long as “so and so” has asked them to do so, etc.)

With this “incident” I feel that there were some very good decisions made. Passenger AND pilot were safe with no damage done to either. Pete was also able to land the wing on a postage stamp, a difficult task as a solo pilot let alone as a tandem. He was calm during the entire “situation”, so much so the passenger didn’t know anything was “wrong”. That doesn’t make it OK. But, give credit where credit’s due.

I know my opinion is biased; however am able to see both points of view.

If there is going to be a standard it should apply to EVERYONE, no matter his or her expertise. I am not trying to accomplish anything with this post; I am a USHGA and HPA member and I just wanted my voice to be heard.


firedave said...

Wow Hilary, You didn't use my name once, thanks! We do appreciate a fresh point of view and I applaud your choice to speak up.
Good luck on your future tandems I hope to see you two out flying a bunch.

Sandy said...

Bravo for coming forward to give your view of the situation.

I will let you know right off that I was VERY disappointed to here about this (and previous) of Pete's actions with his tandem.

Pete is an extraordinary person who I am very fond of and I am very very happy to know he has your support. We have a few extraordinary pilots on this island, but I do not count Pete or myself among them. Maybe it's kind of a "takes one to know one" kind of thing.

The "rules" that govern this situation are not HPA imposed rules, but well thought out USHGA proficiency guidelines. They were not formed to make senseless hoops for people to jump through. They were crafted to guide normal people to a good degree of experience before they go inflicting their unbridled enthusiasm upon persons who have not yet had the time to fully learn and grasp the full realm of dangers present with this activity (this includes the pilot themselves in the case of solo pilot ratings).

Did his passenger have any reasonable idea that she could have actually landed in the water (or even a rocky ledge). Had she ever given much thought to what wave action does with a paraglider? Or the danger that so many lines floating around you in the water present? At least a true P1 pilot (like yourself) might have had a chance to hear stories and think about these issues before jumping on board.

Yes, many of us turn a blind eye to those who break or bend the rules. Others of us grumble to ourselves, knowing it is difficult to modify the behavior of the personality types that pursue these sports, but still we vow to encourage our fellow pilots to use better judgement. Some persons are given more leeway, not just because they are more difficult to approach, but also because they may seem to possess more innate ability, and/or greater opportunities for the cross-training that enables them to advance more quickly than others.

You, Pete, and I have pursued professional careers that don't include paragliding, skydiving, BASE jumping, rock-climbing, rappelling, kitesurfing, etc. Our jobs don't permit as much time or convenience as many of our friends have for developing the skills to accelerate our proficiency in these types of recreational activities. We're NORMAL. They're the exceptions.

Yes, Pete has been improving. It's been great he's had you to take flying with him. At first, I was very afraid for you. You were so very new to our circle, I feared you had not yet had time to hear all of the scary stories that relay previously unconsidered dangers that lurk for the flight of a paraglider. You had not enough time or skills to observe Pete's flying abilities before you let yourself be taken up with him. Fortunately, all has been well, and you have shared many wonderful flights with him. Yes, with your help and his own dedication, he is improving, and may one day be suitable for sharing his enthusiasm with the uninitiated, but I for one do not think that day has yet come, nor does his official rating reflect that.

As for "In fact, most of my tandem flights were with T1 pilots, before I became a P1." -- I'd like to beat them senseless as well. But of course, IMO, they were already pretty senseless. It also just goes to show that you were probably not as aware of the danger you were putting yourself in either. Just because you didn't get hurt didn't mean you weren't in danger. Even if they were hot-shot solo pilots (and how would you have known that?) doesn't mean that they were going to be crack tandem pilots so early in their tandem careers.

And for "I also feel that T3 pilots shouldn’t ask T1’s to take people." I completely agree! And so does USHGA, from their SOP's: "When present at a flying site, a Tandem Paragliding Instructor shall personally ensure that all tandem flying requirements and the site requirements are being strictly followed. " Will the real T3's please stand up?! (Ok Fireman, I guess you just did.)

I look forward to many more wonderful flying experiences with you and Pete. Maybe I'll even take a tandem with him some day if he'll still have me after this tirade. But not from CrazyMan's or in any conditions which I deem are not well matched to his still up and coming tandem pilot abilities.

Brazilian Ray said...

Hello Pete and Hilary, aloha!

I'm glad to hear you felt "welcome with open arms" and I hope you always do. You both are great people, fun to hang out and fly with.
I know I'm not the best guy to talk about rules, but we are improving (there are so many gray areas)! I think the best think has already happened: we all learned a lesson (I'm sure the people involved did) and that is the main thing so we can move on.
Personally my respect for Pete has increased in the past year.... in my opinion he's been making a lot better decisions and has been kitting a lot more than when I first met him 3 years ago. Also, I think he needs some more kitting, air time and experience to become a full proficient pilot (there are notmany in hte island and even them make mistakes). When Pete started flying tandems I wouldn't fly with him, but now I think I would.
See you in the air!

Brazilian Ray

Anonymous said...

What were the good decisions?

Anonymous said...

For the record as a T-3 pilot I look for consistancy and authroity on launch. If a pilot can launch well he will likely be safe...any flying monkey can fly a tandem :0. I also look for authority pilots must be seem composed and confident on launch before they are ready to fly the tandem. Its 15 square meeters bigger and it is not your friend on launch.

Also for the record Pete was not given the nick name HE EARNED IT! When he stops using it and people stop calling him Suicide he will be close to being ready.

We all hope he doesn't earn the nick name others are already using...Homicide


ps I hate nicknames

Leo said...

Nuff said hummm. "gotta earn it brah" is what it is.

Nothing like some drama (nothing unusual in the hawaii paradrama club) at least for me to use and see an opportunity for growth ( sharing social and technical skills in this case)

Pete, teh call to action is: let's go kiting together, wecan get this done.


Anonymous said...

Aloha all,
Here's my two cents worth:

1st of all as Hillary pointed out we have all been very slack over the years at 'All' of our sites with regards to USHGA rules and reg's concerning Tandems. These are growing pains that every club must go through.

But recently and maybe due to pressures from Board members or 'outsiders' we have come to the conclusion that we Do Not want to remain a Pirate club, but would like the club to police itselves and get with the program. We talk about holding competitions, Fly-ins, etc. But until then we have to get serious about our sites, Reg's, and rules. We are still having alot of accidents and some very potentially serious ones.

What Pete did that day could have happened to anyone of us, and it has with regards to another in-experianced tandem pilot that landed in the same spot.

My thoughts are that maybe a more experianced tandem pilot might have decided that conditions were not good enough to launch a fully weighted tandem glider; and as a result the pilot in command had to make a very serious emergency landing in a very serious tight rocky cliff spot. This could have resulted in serious injury or even death to one or both of the participants. The passenger was probably not even told that "Paragliding is inherently dangerous, and may result in injury or even Death".

What if? The tandem had landed in the surf or been dragged into the surf off of the rocks (It did get wet) and the passenger and pilot were entangled in the canopy we would have had two fatalities that day, and Makapuu would have been closed down for sure...

If the passenger had been a P-2 (as per USHGA rules) he or she might have changed the outcome of the situation by suggesting an emergency landing earlier on the beach or maybe waiting for better conditions? This is why USHGA says that a T-1 must only fly with P-2 or above. It is supposed to be a learning experiance for the tandem pilot. Not the passenger...

Here are the USHGA rules regarding tandem operations:

19.03 Operating Restrictions and Limitations
A. Tandem 1:
1. May fly tandem recreational flights only with passengers in possession of a current USHGA
Beginner Rating (they mean P-2) (or higher) card, and utilizing their designated launch method (FL, PL, ST, or
2. When flying with cross-discipline pilots, a novice rating is recommended for the passenger.
3. Maximum allowable wing loading must be within the placards of the glider.

B. Tandem 2:
1. Pilot may offer recreational tandem flights only, utilizing their designated launch method (FL,
PL, ST, or AT).
2. Pilot may not accept any form of remuneration for his/her services.
3. Passenger must have in their possession a current plasticized USHGA Student (they mean P-1) (or higher)
rating card. Temporary rating forms are not acceptable.
4. Maximum allowable wing loading must be within the placards of the glider.

C. Tandem Instructor:
1. May offer recreational or instructional flights, utilizing their designated launch method (FL,
PL, ST or AT).
2. Student must have in their possession a USHGA Student rating (or higher).
3. Maximum allowable wing loading must be within the placards of the glider.
4. A Tandem Instructor rating only authorizes issuing Tandem-1 ratings, not any other rating or
Special Skill.
D. Prior to all tandem flights, the passenger or student must be informed that such flights are conducted
under an exemption granted by the FAA, and that the ultralight vehicle does not meet aircraft
certification standards set forth by the FAA.
E. When present at a flying site, a Tandem Paragliding Instructor shall personally ensure that all tandem
flying requirements and the site requirements are being strictly followed. He shall personally inspect
the USHGA ratings of both tandem passengers and pilots, and shall have the authority to halt those
tandem flights that are in non-compliance. Noncompliance shall be reported to the Regional Director.
F. Possession of the FAA's Part 103, FAR Grant of Exemption #4721 is mandatory while flying tandem.
G. This exemption expires on October 31, 2006 unless sooner superceded or rescinded.
H. All tandem accidents should be reported by the tandem pilot involved and any other tandem pilot
aware of the accident.

In summary it is the duty of all T-3 pilots on site to check the paperwork of all tandem pilots and passengers and may halt the flight based on their findings.

I will be checking from now on.

Recently we have had 2 broken legs, shoulder injuries, punctured lung, etc in the club. We have not had a fatality in our club for over 15 years, lets not start now. If there are too many tandem accidents or fatalities in USHGA the FAA will yank our ability to conduct Tandem operations all together. Now how would you feel if you died and were the direct cause of USHGA losing their Tandem exemption from the FAA?


firedave said...

USHGA Beginner is P1, Novice is P2, I would think that is your area of expertise Pete

Anonymous said...

Pete remember the last time someone asked you to "halt" a flight? That went well. I guess perhaps you have turned over a new leaf and will start enforcing rules at a sight the club has been reluctant to set or follow any rules for. I get quite a laugh from the whole thing when I think back to my planned first tandem ever.

Long ago in a time most of us want to forget ever happened there was a buisness here and they were short tandem pilots one day and I was asked to do one. On the hike to lauch at Kahana the passenger asked me how many of these I had done....the answer after today 1! I will never forget the look on her face.

We should all make sure we follow the RULES!!!

What were they again?

Please make sure I'm doing it all correctly.


The Dangler said...

OK then.....the past is done, lets talk about the future. There are a lot of up and coming T-1s and I think we need to state what we're going to do now. It seems that everyone(?) is on board to follow the ushga rules as written and to try to encourage the other pilots to do so as well. I pledge to follow the about you Brah!!!

Anonymous said...

Check out #2 at
"For training purposes, this exemption applies only for flights for the purpose of giving insturciton in two-pace unpowered ultralight vehicles from USHGA-approved launch sights."

Read it carefully. Two place flights are not allowed from non USHGA sights. For you rule followers this means no flying tandem at any sight other than Kahana.

Wake up. I'll have my hook knife on launch for all you tandem hoolagans trying to fly from any non-ushga sight.

PS the hang insurance does not cover our lauches.


Leo said...

uh oh....


Alex said...

Hillery, sorry these guys have hijacked the discussion on your "stand by your man" article. I have been suggesting to the T3 guys that they should try to work together and "self-regulate" the tandem flying here to avoid having the club or USHGA or FAA involved. It doesn't seem like it should be that hard. But I guess if they'd rather just fight amongst themeselves and promote further divisions between us all then we're in for a tough time.

Suicide said...

Hillery thanks for the kind words.

You are right on all counts. Everyone knows it.

People have their own agenda and their own points of view.

The simple fact is: I should not have made the flight. I was wrong to do so. I am lucky no one was killed.

HHA . . . let's move on.

Tomorrow . . . someone else will break some rule (e.g., a P-2 will launch at Crazy's or a P-4 will hike-up after a finishing his beer) and we will have . . . yet another . . . dramatic event to discuss.


Anonymous said...

Whatever guys, especially you Doug.

You were by far a better pilot, and when I asked you you to do a tandem flight (5 years ago +/-) for me at the time, you had already established yourself as one of the most conservative pilots on the island. And you followed the rules in getting 'Your' T-1 rating. It wasn't untill after you got your T-3 that you dissed us.

I'm getting involved now, because I've been asked by the club to intervene as the only Master PG pilot / Instructor, and the most senior pilot here on Oahu and/or Hawaii.

What does the flying site have to do with safety? We're talking about the qualifications and experiance level of a certain pilot that wishes to become a tandem pilot.

Unfortunately, we do have only one USHGA site here on Oahu. Do want to pay for more and be regulated more by the State? Or should we Police ourselves for safety reasons? Besides it's 99% of the time the pilots fault when an accident happens anyway.

About the insurance, USHGA does NOT cover any commercial activity. Including tandems. So beware you may be liable for a lawsuit if you hurt anyone or their property. All it covers is the landowners.

Fireman, to answer your question about my knowledge or area of expertise, the correct answer is:

C. The Tandem 1 rating involves minimal requirements and regulation, as this form of flying takes place
between qualified and consenting USHGA rated pilots. This rating is authorized by Tandem
Instructors after administering the written examination and witnessing the proper flight skills utilizing
the designated launch method.*

1. Attendance in a tandem training program or USHGA Tandem Certification Clinic is mandatory.

D. Tandem 2 rating requirements are much more stringent, and require a substantial amount of tandem
experience, as they allow flights with USHGA Student rated passengers of limited experience, who
have in their possession a USHGA Student Membership Card. This rating is authorized only by the
office of the USHGA, after the applicant pilot submits proof of complying with all requirements.

A consenting USHGA rated pilot is a P-2 or above for T-1's. It is for Tandem training purposes only.
A student USHGA rated pilot as per T-2 ratings is P-1, and cannot accept any pay.
T-3's can take anyone for a tandem Discovery flight for pay.

Would anyone of you allow one of your kids, wife, or mother to fly tandem with someone that didn't have the necessary skills or qualifications? I think not! Insurance or not!

Look I don't want to start up an old fight here, I'm just trying to help out the club which asked me to step up and / or "Get with the Program" Haha. I Always like the saying 'When you a point a finger, four more are pointing back at you'; I can accept that. I have the experiance to back it up...

If you don't want my help HPA, just say so. I am very busy with my students, and my roofing company.

See ya in the next eighteen more years without a scratch?

The "Reaper"