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Old 07-05-2010, 06:44 PM
fdmurphy44 fdmurphy44 is offline
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Default A.T Protocol and Misc safety

Not sure how many have heard about an incident that occured Sunday while preparing to aerotow. I am a bit biased with my recollection of the incident but here's what I think occured. Glider pilot in cart and being assisted by another pilot. Glider set up about 60 to 80 feet on the east side of the trees near the runway convergence. Tug pilot mentioning that the glider needs to be brought up to just beyond the west side of the trees and heads to the tug. Tow line is attached to the tug with the carabiner end is at the tow dolly with pilots. Tug pilot is in tug and begins roll down the south runway to the south west. North runway is in use with scooter tow operations and a pilot preparing to launch. Tug waits about parallel to foot launch pilot and asks the person assisting that pilot to remove the glider from the proximity of the south runway at the north/south intersecting runway after foot launch pilot launches. This is done and tug pilot begins to roll down the runway once the foot launch pilot is clear and on final.
This is where a combination of events conspire to create the incident. Tug pilot is rushing so as to not interfere with other operations on the field. As such, the progression down the runway is quicker that usual. The glider pilot was not positioned on the west side of the trees as expected and was already hooked to the tow line. The assisting pilot was waving the "take up slack signal" and had his left hand on the tow line near the carabiner with the bridal extended. The tug pilot was expecting to reach the usual part of the runway where the slack on the tow line would be soon be near taut. At the instant the throttle of the tug was arrested the tow line snapped tight and broke the weak link on the glider pilots bridal. The tow line and carabinet shot forward with great force and severly cut the arm of the assisting pilot. A trip to the hospital and stitches were required.
Many things quickly became evident and others took a bit of time to sort out. In the end it was decided that the tow line should not be connected to the glider pilot until the tug was in position and the line very near full extention. The launch assist person should always remain in a position to quickly be free of the line and never allow the line to sinch up on a body part while slack is being taken up. Never stand in front of and always remain well clear of the line while the line is under tension.
Accidents are always a combination of events that take place in a specific sequence. Breaking that sequence can mean the difference between and accident and a non event. It doesn't take much of a lapse to set that sequence of events into motion. In the end, things were not as bad as they might have been but much worse than they should have been. Lessons were learned and a new procedure put in place. Lets all keep one another safe and always alert to break the chain of events that lead to accidents.
Frank Murphy

Last edited by fdmurphy44; 07-06-2010 at 06:52 AM.
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