Sundowner Crash at Pine SS Launch 9/11

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Sundowner Crash at Pine SS Launch 9/11

Postby sd » Fri Sep 11, 2015 7:08 am

Continued updates moved to the General Discussion Forum starting on 10/8 at

Tuesday 9/30 Update:
Scheduled to head home this Friday 10/2 after spending a couple weeks at the Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital in Santa Barbara. The therapy here has been amazing, My mobility is limited, but I've been incrementally getting stronger and can do short distances on crutches at a slow pace. I'll wear a turtle shell brace for 2 to 3 months to stabilize my 6 fractured vertebra but don't need it when laying flat in bed. Can't weight bear for 6 to 8 weeks on my left side due to the fractured pelvis near my hip joint. The broken ribs only bother me when I cough, The internal bleeding was no longer an issue after the first week. I finally got my appetite back a couple days ago. Will try to watch my diet and continue loosing weigh, so I should be able to carry heavier tandem passengers when I get back in the air again.
Saturday 9/19 update from a public computer at Cottage Rehab Hospital on De Lavina St near the main Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara. Diablo has most of the details and is the best source for incident info, but in brief, I was trying to launch in gusty midday conditions from the south side of Pine last Friday 9/11. Got plucked on lunch (15 to 25 feet agl?) and spun the wrong way. The glider was flying ok, but I was facing the hill with 1-½ riser twist, so my steering was problematic. Glider started to turn downwind to right. Let go of brakes and reached up high to try and untwist and or steer, but got the opposite result of what I needed. Glider went into a hard turn downwind, then back at the hill. Hard left frontal torso impact. Broke pelvis on left side, ribs on left side, 6 vertebrae, some of which are unstable, plus lacerated kidney and liver with internal bleeding. No spinal cord damage.

Obvious pilot error, but not certain of the exact sequence because it happened fast and recollection is fuzzy.

Expect to be at CRH for another week or two. 6 weeks non weight bearing on pelvis. 2 to 3 months in brace for broken back. Estimate a year for max recovery. Hope to be airborne again in time for the late spring season in Santa Barbara (2016).

Thanks to all who have reached out or have me in their thoughts. I'll give a more detailed report sometime after I get home.

Look forward to reading your flying stories. Seems like the Pine season has been good and still has some potential days coming (Sunday the 20th?)


Pine Fri & Sat 9/11-12

Pulling the trigger late Friday Morning. Meeting Diablo in Ventura at 10:15 for Pine
Friday morning look at the weekend:
The inland flying has been ballistic most of the week, with the best potential likely Friday and Wednesday (Bruce Barmakian, flew from Crestline to Sylmar). Tuesday and Thursday were likely ok also but not as stellar as Wednesday and Friday. Wednesday was nuclear with heavy rain, hail, lightning, and flash flooding, , but unlike truly inland sites like Colorado and Utah, we can usually skirt the nasty stuff and navigate the ocean side feed line.

The flow has been from the east, so the eastern launches have offered more long distance potential flying west.

The flow starts to switch on Saturday, and by Sunday it looks like it will come from the west. Saturday is forecasted to be east up high with some on-shore flow from the west down lower, then the west pushes in from the west on the western end of the area late in the day.

Friday’s lapse rate looks strong. Fading through the weekend, but Saturday still looks better than average. The big potential flights for Friday might require launching from Blackhawk, but local flights from Pine back to Santa Barbara or beyond look like they were doable all week. I think we can still get back to SB from Pine on Saturday, or perhaps further if you stay inland, but expect to hit a headwind further west, so a deep route over the wilderness has its risk. Upper level flow should be from east at least up to Monte Arido and Old Man Mountain, and likely further.

On Wednesday, the front ranges in Ojai and LA were working, but by Friday the front range looks more inverted, still soarable, but not good enough to connect to cloudbase. Substantial coolilng along the coast on Saturday and Sunday, but still hot inland.

Expect some high clouds remnants from Hurricane Linda on Saturday, which could be thick enough to reduce the inland heating below the forecasted targets.

A number of pilots have gone to fly the Owens. I’ll likely try for a local flight from Pine on Saturday. Logistics are in progress, but I think we may have a couple of drivers. If you are coming from Santa Barbara, plan to leave your car in SB and fly home.

Edward was aviliable to crew on Friday, but there wern't enough pilots willing to ditch work to justify a run.
Last edited by sd on Thu Oct 08, 2015 8:52 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Pine Fri & Sat 9/11-12

Postby Fast Eddy » Fri Sep 11, 2015 7:14 pm

Pine Mtn Friday Tom had line twist after takeoff and went in hard from about 30'. Helicoptered out and is at Ventura County Medical Center. According to Dr no life threatening injuries although he has numerous broken bones including mid and lower back, fractured pelvis, internal bleeding which they are following closely. Fractured ribs and punctured liver, etc. Tom is in good spirits. They are preparing a room outside of ICU. Please forward this to all and feel free to contact me for updates 805 701-3619 Diablo
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Re: Pine Fri & Sat 9/11-12

Postby Fast Eddy » Mon Sep 14, 2015 7:10 am

Update as of SUN

Tom is doing much better. His internal bleeding has subsided and no surgery is needed at this time. This week they will know more about his lower back and pelvis injuries.
He was fitted for a cast to support his mid to lower back.
( I can only imagine the ITCH Factor) :shock:
Tom is eating and doing better. Should be in a room today (monday) for visitors etc.

Call tony for updates 80five70one36one9
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Re: Sundowner Crash at Pine SS Launch 9/11

Postby tommygun » Wed Sep 23, 2015 12:02 pm

glad to hear you are already thinking about flying in the spring. I'll be out in Carpinteria in a week, so don't hesitate to call me if you need something. Tom L
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Re: Sundowner Crash at Pine SS Launch 9/11

Postby gracecab » Wed Sep 23, 2015 2:15 pm

Tom - I'm sure you've got your work cut out for you to rehab. Take your time and get well... Glad you are going to start the healing process I'm sure it will be nice to get back into your own bed... hospitals suck.

Now you can finish all those long flight record breaking logs you've needed to let us read about...
Chris Ballmer aka gracecab
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