Monday, July 03, 2006

Good, Bad, Very Bad, Very Good, Kind of Bad, Worse, Good Again!

Yesterday was a nice breezy Sunday, and I had heard that the gang was flying out at South Punaluu so I figured I would give it a go. I arrived to find Team Slacker regrouping on the beach, without much interest in any more flying. Johan and Ray were both getting out of the air, so I would have it all to myself. I launched at the North Low launch into brisk but easily manageable conditions. Getting high was easy but pushing across the bay proved to be difficult. Team Slacker wanted to see some action and I aimed to please.

I headed out over water but not as far out as I usually do as on some of my earlier descents. I was intending on doing an assymetric SAT, which is just an off axis SAT. I was flying the Gangster which meant I was flying a lot lighter in my wing than I was used to, so it is not quite as agile and positive. I swung through on a wingover, took a wrap and turned into SAT posture, I either had too little momentum, too much input or some combination of the two. What I end up with is an off-axis spin, meaning I am not beneath the glider when it spins. When controlled it is called an Ass Chopper or MacTwist. But I am uncontrolled at that point and have my lines so wrapped up it looks like colored rope running up to the wing. On top of that I am anywhere but below my glider and my glider is headed where ever it likes. I did manage to stall the wing before I got locked up but I am totally disoriented and fear that the hill is fast approaching.

In case you are wondering if you will ever have trouble finding your reserve handle, I can assure you that you will not. So I give that red loop a good tug and........................nothing happens! I yank and tug and twist and that parachute is locked in there either from G-force, poor design or poor packing. I let out an audible "Oh, F__k!" and realize that I better get to work on the glider above me. I look up and to my suprise the whole mess is starting to unwind, I do a few leg windmills to twist around and finally reach up to undo the last twist. I AM FLYING AGAIN! Life is good. And then...

And then I hear Bob's voice on the radio go "Uh oh..." and it dawns on me what is about to happen before he even finishes saying " that your parachute that just fell?". I want to take a moment to say that I have always desired to throw my reserve in the right conditions to see how it works, but right then was not the time.

With an unusual tug at my back and the sound of the bridles pulling velcro I now have a parachute. She was recently invited to come out but refused, and now that I don't want her she is there with no way to get rid of her. My glider doesn't care and flies off into a downplane and I tug on the brakes to stop the dive. But there is no pressure on the glider and it wafts back at me and wraps lines around my head and neck. My job as a pilot is pretty much done for now so I work on tossing the slack lines off my neck for fear of some magic re-inflation that never comes. The glider is just floating around me like a swarm of mosquitos, until it bores of me and wraps safely around the parachute bridle.

At this point I decide to take in the scenery and to take a guess at my near future. I find I am still relatively high and on a track over the launches headed into the valley. I am thinking I am going down into the abyss behind the normal launch ridge, but luck and a healthy descent rate, despite the strong lift, deposits me and the glider on the very top of a ridge above launch. The glider and I snag any bush we can get a grip on while the parachute tries to pull us over the back and then it falls harmlessly over the back into the fern.

I radio an "all fine" to the concerned gang on the beach and go about my business. I snap a few poor photos with my phone. I disconnect my parachute, stuff it into my harness, sort out my glider and relaunch from the nice little spot where I landed. It really could be a great light wind launch and Alex told me to call it "Reserves".

I figure I might be able to spot my diaper and reserve handle in the ocean or on the mountain but no such luck. I decide to call it a day and head in for a beer.

There were many lessons learned and some great luck used. The one glaring thing is the matter of not getting a reserve. I have heard about this from a few reports and I have even checked the release while sitting in the harness. What I perceived happened is that with all the forces I was experiencing, the seat board was compressing the underseat container and was tensioning the handle to diaper strap. So when I was tugging on it I was pulling against the parachute, but not pulling out the pins, which is what I heard from the other reports. If I am unhappy with the length of the factory strap I think I will extend mine by 6 inches or more to ensure that the pins can be pulled.

Thanks to Team Slacker for the support, even if I didn't need any, fortunately, and thanks for the refreshments and laughs. Oh, I hope I managed to keep you all entertained. See you up there.


Brazilian Ray said...

I'm glad you're ok :)

Gravity said...

But, you know you're NOT... Did you stain you're shorts Dave...?

Personnely, I would have stained my shorts?

firedave said...

Pete, You would think that you would stain your shorts, but in reality you are just too busy to stop and take a fudgy. On the other hand, if I smacked into the hill then the dump would probably be automatic.