Fundamental Risk Management

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Fundamental Risk Management

Postby Garcia » Fri Dec 02, 2022 9:17 am

In light of recent events in our community I thought I would take the time to write some notes/thoughts/reminders to those of you who feel like reading on this rainy weekend here intown.

A lot of the accidents we have been seeing lately are happening in a wide array of pilot experience. In the past a lot of our incidents can be attributed to pilots flying in conditions that are above their skill set, however in the past month almost all of them are because of fundamental things that we were all taught at our beginning of this sport.

I'm not perfect either. There are plenty of launches, landings that I have botched. I've tossed my reserve. I'm not preaching here. Merely just bringing up topics that on a shit day for flying we can all remind ourselves of.

We all come from different areas and different instructors. Here is what works for me, here is what works for the instruction I provide. There are a lot of right ways to go about the sport, and there are a lot of wrong ways as well. I think these reminders below are helpful for the most novice - most experience.

Pre Launch

Well Rested

Well Fed


Have all equipment ready and charged

Site Intro

Ask the locals, check in.

Ask questions when in doubt


Pre flight - Do it, every time. If something is off in the middle of it, have the discipline to start over from the beginning. Everyone learns a similar pre flight, but find what works for you based on your gear. One of the most over looked portions of the pre flight is pilots having a poor lay out of their wing. Make sure you can see the 4 corners clearly, all lines running from the wing to you, not having any hanging on the outside of the tips. And expose the trailing edge so you can see any potential, sticks or knots int he brake lines.

Observations - Pay attention to the cycles on launch from the moment you arrive. Hell, pay attention on the drive up. You'll probably gain at least a few clues to the day and be that much more prepared mentally when pulling on the A's to bring the glider up.

Carrying Extra Brake on Take Off is Better than Too Little - This is a big one. One of the biggest causes of accidents I have seen at Skyport is pilots who bring their glider up, give it little to no brake check, turn, allow the glider to get Infront of them and run to catch up. Sometimes, the glider is there, sometimes it is 50% there, sometimes it is not there at all. Skyport is a steep launch, and the glider can easily over fly you, stay connected to the brakes. You can gradually build the speed back up after you have left launch.

Proper Pacing - Strong, light, medium. Whatever the conditions and cycles are presenting, the only way to have a controlled take off is to properly move our feet with the glider. It helps us from getting plucked, keeps energy out of the glider if we run at it.

Heading - Controlling your heading is so important. Not just in flight, but while our feet are on the ground. Whether its pilots going for their pod or stirrup too early, or just letting the glider pull them through bushes and they run through. Carrying that extra break will allow you to have forward direction control. Lots of pilots lack that forward directional control. they spend so much time kiting at the T Hill in the reverse position however we spend far more time facing forward than back. It is also the best back to get a feel for what the wing is doing over head with out looking at it.


Arrive with enough altitude to determine wind direction - If its the first time I am landing somewhere, 500ft is a pretty good number. Gives me plenty of time to asses conditions and hazards, and gives me a chance for a climb out above the LZ. Some say 300ft, some say 1000ft. Its just a guide line, try to arrive with enough altitude based on your own skill.

No Sharp Turns Close to the Ground - This is what has gotten me in the past and gave me a bruised tailbone. Keep it straight and level, even if you're going into a bush or tree.

Flapping - This is super dangerous. I say that 95% of the pilots in the world do not know how to do this correctly.

Keep your airspeed up - Flying the glider fast, at communication pressure, and active piloting all the way to the deck are super important. You want to have all that flare authority if you do come in hard. Just hang out and be patient. We see pilots trying to force landings at upper Parma all the time. Just go to lower, just go land in the bush. No big deal. But mushing the brakes, or flapping as you're coming in is just going to get you into trouble.

Body Position - Land in an athletic stance. If you were to jump off a 5ft box would you land with your feet Infront of you and on your heels? No! get out of the harness, ready to run, get Infront of the carabiners and have your shoulders over your feet.

In Flight

Terrain Clearance - Ultimately this is site and condition specific. 300ft is comfortable for having time to get the reserve out. Obviously, some of us choose to fly closer than that, some choose to have even more than 300ft. Personally, working up to keeping it tight on terrain here has been a slow learning curve and I have always proceeded with caution. A lot of the times the best, smoothest lift is out front. Thermals have more time and space to come together in the something workable.

Every 360 starts as a Figure 8

This is a good archive from 2017 that I reference quite a bit, fantastic read for a rainy day: ... /index.htm

Reserves Work - It doesn't matter what altitude you are at. You are never too low to throw and you shouldn't be too proud to throw. I have had 3 friends die who have failed to get the laundry out.

SIV - Go do one! Dilan Benedetti is local and is a wealth of information and runs great clinics at Lake Berryessa.

SIV won't prevent you from crashing - The flip side is that you need to have good judgment when you are up there. The conditions we pick, understanding of terrain, lapse and wind combination.

The list goes on and on, but these are just a few of the things I thought I would bring up for review.

Technology is progressing faster than ever, and so are the pilots. No one is telling you what to do, what glider to fly. We all get advice and some of us chose to listen to it or ignore it. Whatever you fly, or however you fly, at least have an idea of the risks and consequences involved. We all partake in free flight for various reasons and I am assuming we all want to enjoy this sport for as long as we can.

As we progress we get further away from our fundamental foundation. Just like the foundation of a house, if you don't take care of it, cracks and weaknesses will form. Every now and again you have to patch things up. Go to the training hill, read up, get a mentor, talk with friends, keep it fun and keep it safe.

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