SAFA Skysailor Magazine

24 SKY SAILOR September | October 2020 Now we turn our attention to some reports involving inclement weather. In AIRS #1267, a posse of experienced PG4 and PG5 pilots were recently flying at Quinn’s Beach (WA) in moderate to strong conditions (11-17kt). Some white caps were evident on the water and some rain cells were cycling through the area. Top landings and touch and goes were being performed in steady coastal soaring conditions. A rain cell was observed approaching the site, and the pilots moved north and south of the cell, rather than landing. This cell developed and expanded rapidly, hitting the coast with a gust front. With wind strength increasing rapidly, eventually hitting an estimated 25kt, the pilots decided to land. All had to use full bar with very little and sometimes negative penetration. All managed to touch down with varying degrees of success. The three gliders south of the rain cell were swept backwards as soon as they lost forward flying momentum at touchdown – Pilot 2 was swept over the coastal fence and across the road and was entangled in a tree, Pilot 1 was swept across the beachside carpark and was controlled on a grass garden verge, Pilot 3 was swept back on to the beach and was controlled in the beach scrub. Pilot 4 north of the rain cell was swept back 250m inland and had a fast, hard landing in a carpark due to rotor. The tree landing resulted in a number of cut glider lines, the verge landing resulted in some pilot bruising. One of the pilots suffered three fractured ribs and a collapsed lung. Things could very easily have ended up much worse and there are a number of safety recommendations arising from this report. • Always have alternate landing areas identified – there may be limited beach options because of winter storms washing away the beaches, tides, or strong and high surf. • Be prepared to land very quickly as situations change very rapidly. • Practice strong wind collapse techniques. • Ensure speed bars are connected and allow full travel to utilise the full speed bar range. Two of the gliders involved could only utilise 85% of their range. • Match your wing size to flying and wind strength conditions, making sure in moderate to strong conditions you always spend time assessing the gust factor before flying. If the biggest gust observed exceeds your maximum comfortable landing wind strength, do not fly, and never fly if the biggest gust observed exceeds 75% of your wing's top speed. • Remember that winter flying often brings with it strong and gusty conditions subject to sudden change, so you always need to have a safe landing option within easy reach. • Finally, if a rain front approaches, LAND! Now we move to the Carlo Sand Blow at Rainbow Beach (QLD/S) on New Year’s Eve 2019. AIRS Safety wrap-up – July 2020 Windy winter’s day at Mt Tamborine, SE QLD – Photo: Scott Tucker