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Re: payout

PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2013 11:38 am
by Bob Kuczewski
Bill, your posts are not only educational, but extremely entertaining (translation: hilarious)!!      :srofl:

That's a really great combination because it makes people want to read what you write and learn from your mistakes. It's a real treat to have you posting here on the US Hawks.    :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

Also, I just sent an email message to Mike Lake letting him know that you've added a post to the topic. One of our problems here on the US Hawks is that people come, make a few posts, don't get much response, and then move on. We have well over 100 members, but most of them have trickled through over the years following that pattern. But I think we may be on the verge of having the "critical mass" needed to sustain an active forum, so I'm going to start inviting people like Mike to visit again and hopefully we can move the club another step forward. Thanks to everyone who's posted. Let's keep it up.    :thumbup:

Re: payout

PostPosted: Sat Dec 07, 2013 10:40 am
by Bill Cummings
Bob K. QUOTE: “-----because it makes people want to read what you write and learn from your mistakes.”

If learning from my mistakes will be a good learning tool, I have good news Bob.
There won’t be any shortage of material.

Re: payout

PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2013 10:00 pm
by Bob Kuczewski
billcummings wrote:If learning from my mistakes will be a good learning tool, I have good news Bob.
There won’t be any shortage of material.


Just be sure they're all recoverable mistakes!

Fly safe my friend and thanks for all the great humor. I can build a web site, but posts like yours bring it to life!!

Re: payout

PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2014 9:45 pm
by Bill Cummings
About the slickest nose release that I ever found on a platform launch was made by a Duluth Minnesota HG pilot by the name of Craig Austin. “Yellow Dog.”

Back in the day before we concerned ourselves with kids trapping themselves in the trunk of a car they were using a double jawed electric latch release. It had two bolts and two wires and was quite compact. Now they all have to meet standards and have a big clunky handle that someone in the trunk can pull to extricate themselves and be on their way.

Sky Dog Craig could switch to a spare release in one minute. He would just pull apart the electrical 12 volt plug, back out two bolts, jerk out the toasted release and slap on the replacement release. I don’t think we ever had to use the spare.

An old starter button was positioned (and adjustable) right at the pilots index finger near the base tube as the glider was sitting on the platform. With a push of the button the trunk release would open and spit out a metal ring that was dangling from a line attached to the nose of the hang glider. Now days that type of trunk release is all but impossible to find in a junk yard.

It did allow a pilot to keep both hands on the base tube and around the handholds below the base tube allowing the pilot to hold his/her body any position forward or back that they desired for pitch control

Re: payout

PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2014 8:34 am
by Nate
Bill -

Funny you say that about the trunk release. I had the same idea when I was rebuilding my payout winch and also had to repair my trunk.

I can't speak to other cars, but VW has a simple 12v electric latch without the 2nd handle that goes for about $40.

I miss payout. I just found a 3 mile tow lane. A rare animal. Seems the only animal harder to find is someone who will drive. M Degtoff spelled it out for me in no uncertain terms, you can find someone willing to fly a trike or dragonfly easier than you can find someone willing to drive a car. True.

2014 is blessed to have many props spinning in Texas. Between that and my eye on a foot launch record, my season looks to be blissfully full :angel:

Bring on some XC weather :think:

Re: payout

PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 7:42 pm
by Bill Cummings
Thanks Nate I'll keep that release in mind.

Hey Hawks, A payout story:
Duel title: Random Acts of Stupidity / If anything can go wrong it will.

One February in Minnesota I was finally able to get the damn snow blower started and clear three feet depth of snow from in front of the boat all the way to the street. I and my hang gliding friend and co-owner of our HG operation had planned to escape to Florida. We were both laid off of our jobs due to the freeze up. It was usually a battle getting away due to the cold.

The Econoline Ford Van driver side door bounced back open when I slammed it. The spring on the door latch could not over power the cold thickened grease to allow the latch to grab a hold on the doorpost lug. To slam the door harder would only make the door bounce back faster and farther. (I tried this advanced technique.)
The fix for a problem of this kind is to attack the grease with a can of “Liquid Wrench” or a can of starting fluid. Either one would thin and wash away the grease and allow the spring to work the latch to catch and --well --latch the door shut.
If you wanted to really tempt fate you could do something extremely stupid like pushing the lock button down.
I forgot to move these cans out of the cold garage and into the basement so now I had to run hot water over the cans at the kitchen sink in order to get anything out of them. The cold had contracted the pressure in the cans down to zero.
That was the easy usual stuff. Next I will quickly skip over the part where the van motor would not turn over until I wiped of the oil pan and put a “Coleman,” one jet cook stove under it. The procedure goes on and on.

I will take time to warn anyone that finds themselves in this type of a situation that when you have to take off the air cleaner cover to spray starting fluid do not make the mistake that I did by holding the wing nut in your mouth. It will necessitate another trip to the kitchen sink to free up the wing nut.
As a young boy I once froze my tongue to an iron, well, pump, handle. Since that day everything tastes pretty much like an iron pump handle.

One thing I did remember to do when winterizing and covering the boat was to lift the winch starter rewind motor up and remove the rewind belt so that the belt would not have a kink in it like it did after the previous winter. The belt seems to have a memory for where the small pulley was sitting all winter if you forgot about it.

I’ll skip way, - way, ahead to a lake near Winter Haven, Florida and me taking the first platform tow up since the previous September back in Minnesota.

We went through the preflight and heck we’ve been doing this for thousands of times throughout the years --what could possibly go wrong?

I pulled the base tube safety pins out from over top of the control bar and told Don Ray to, “Go to Cruise.” (Feeling quite confident.)
Next I said, “CLEAR!” Don pulled the nose release cord and I was off!

As I was pulling towline off of the drum I noticed the green rewind belt jumping loosely on the big drum pulley. WTF! OMG! Holy - TWANG! It locked up with less than ten feet of line out! The belt snagged the side frame of the winch.
I yelled to Don to, “Circle back so I don’t get the vario wet!”
Don put the boat into a big steady, slow, circle as I tried not to move inches left or right into a lock out.
We pulled it off! I made it to the beach near where we started.
I don’t care who you are and how good you are ---stuff sneaks up on you!
This was one lock up out of many. You should expect a lock up when you platform tow.

Re: payout

PostPosted: Fri Sep 12, 2014 8:55 am
by Nate
Reminds me of a good winter project.... bleed the brake system on winch and recalibrate.

Find a back up rewind motor.

Platform Towing Mistakes (# 852) To Learn From

PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2014 9:45 pm
by Bill Cummings
bobk wrote:
billcummings wrote:If learning from my mistakes will be a good learning tool, I have good news Bob.
There won’t be any shortage of material.


Just be sure they're all recoverable mistakes!

Fly safe my friend and thanks for all the great humor. I can build a web site, but posts like yours bring it to life!!

More Platform Towing Mistakes (# 852) To Learn From.
It would be too much time to look back through the log books to find out what day this happened on but I guarantee it is etched solidly in my mind.
(Almost to the level of wake up screaming.)

In other posts you may remember me espousing the need for a nose over stop on your platform rig so that the nose of the glider doesn‘t receive damage or leave a mark on a person on the launching rig. It took several painful and scary lessons to come up with my mandatory rule that every platform tow rig must have one installed.

With over eight hundred post on this web forum alone I may be repeating myself. If so just close out and move to another post.

My HG and boat towing friend Don Ray and I were on Lake Pepin which is a wide spot on the Mississippi River between Minnesota and Wisconsin (USA).

I was ready to platform launch with my Airwave Magic 3 equipped with floatation.

Each of us having been gouged and clunked several times I then came up with a short sighted idea.
While we were traveling miles downwind to the cliff we would be towing up in front of, we would tie the keels tail to one of the water ski towing eyes on the stern of the boat.

This would reduce all the blood letting and keep the nose plate of the hang glider from clobbering us. It took a while for this lesson to be beat into our heads.

I started to hook in as Don pointed the boat into the wind at the base of the 400 foot cliff.

Just then another boat turned to intercept us. The Sheriff’s Boat would usually look us over for water craft compliance maybe because we were so very visible with a hang glider on a boat.
But this time it wasn’t the sheriff just a guy wearing what looked like an official hat. His female partner turned out to be a teenaged hottie in a two pieces of dental floss.
An understandable distraction for my driver, Don.
They wanted to get a closer look at our operation.

I said to Don, “So Don, where were we in this preflight list?”
I fully expected his eyes to be torn from their sockets as he pealed them away from all the bare skin.
Don turned to me and said, “ Well you look like your hooked in ok!”
I told him to, “Go To Cruise!”

Once the Hall wind meter was floating at launch speed I yelled over the noise of the 85 hp Johnson Outboard, “Clear!”
Don pulled the nose release and I launched.

Try not to get confused here but even though we were headed west away from Maiden Rock Bluff thing immediately, “Went South.”
The keels tail was tied to the back of the boat.

The rope to the keel pitched the nose of the glider almost vertical then the plugged on tail float tube was stripped off of the glider. I leveled out and looked down to see the tail float and tube thrashing on the water behind the boat.

I was thinking that I would just fly the ridge for my hour and instead of landing deep water I would land on the sand bar at the base of the cliff.

I wasn’t climbing so I signaled for more speed but Don gave me a palm up signal. I was getting all the boat could give. Yet into the wind I wasn’t climbing!!

Something must be wrong so I pointed toward the sand bar and Don headed that way.

When I was in easy glide to the sand bar I released and the glider started to pitch down into a nose dive. I had to let go of the base tube and grab the rear wires to the keel and push myself as far back as I could to stop the nose dive.

In all the excitement due to the loss of pitch control I forget any utterance that I may have made. It probably went,--”GEE WIZ, I’M GOING TO CRASH AND KINK ALUMINUM-----AGAIN!”
I made a few s turns so as not to run out of sand bar while heading into the wind. I didn’t want a water landing with my tail float missing.

When it was time to flare there wasn’t any more room to weight shift rearward.
I ran out a no flare landing and slam dunked the nose plate in the water with the base tube at the waters edge. Lucky! No rocks, just sand!

I unhooked and went behind the glider to find that the keel tube was kinked at a ninety degree angle down. The kink was three inches ahead of the rear anchor bolt for the haul back and rear wires. When I lifted to straighten out the kinked keel tube it snapped off and the glider fell flat on the beach. The king post laid forward and the whole wreck was only about 5 inches off of the sand.

The kinked keel allowed the cross bar to move forward and that was what was the cause of the glider trying to nose dive.
Earlier I had been planning on flying without the tail float for an hour. Holy Smokes.

After that before we ever tied the keels tail down we would first hang a redundant carabineer with a flag to the hang strap so that we couldn’t forget to untie the tail before we hooked in.

This same thing happened to Cindy Drozda at Hobbs New Mexico while platform truck towing. She hurt her knee and glider about a year or so after my tied keel event. Had I not been so embarrassed I should have spread the word. Cindy may never had her accident. (I’m told someone else tied her keel and she wasn’t aware of it being tied.)

If you have a nose over rack you will never need to remember to untie the tail.

Re: payout

PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 11:09 am
by Bob Kuczewski
Great story Bill!!!!

Human beings have a great capacity for learning from the tales of others, and your story with all of its humor and detail is much more memorable than simply saying:

      Always check that the glider is ready for release before initiating a tow.

I believe stories like this will be a great contribution to the US Hawks Training Manual when we finally get around to finishing it.

Thanks so much for posting and sharing your rich history in the sport with us "newbies".    :) :thumbup: :wave:

Re: payout step-tow-static also.

PostPosted: Thu Jun 18, 2015 11:13 am
by Bill Cummings
I attempted to remind everyone about not repeating an accident that we had learned in the past but two deaths have resulted when the warning was either ignored or missed. Below find the answer I gave months before that would have prevented the deaths. I have used red color font for the answer to the problem.

brianscharp wrote:
msoaring wrote:Apparently the USHPA has posted an accident report for "members only" on their website. As I am no longer a USHPA member I do not have access to the report. Can someone with special permission post it here?

No one has that special permission.
USHPA wrote:The PDF file you are about to download is intended for members only. You may download it for personal
use, but you may not upload or re-post the file on another website. By clicking on the button below you
agree to these restrictions.

You can see it here.
2015/03/27 Jean Lake crash
PostPosted by Tad Eareckson » 2015/05/31 09:18:47 UTC

billcummings wrote:Step-towing,
I haven’t confirmed the rumor with Brad L. yet but this does in fact come to you direct from “RUMOR CENTRAL.” Brad, while step-towing, years back, rolled two trucks. (Not at the same time.)

I have only step-towed with cars, snow machines and boats. To find out how to roll a truck step-towing or better yet how not to roll a truck I will leave that up to Brad’s vast towing experience. Hopefully he will jump in here and give us the scoop.

I just remembered! I’m not totally innocent. I did roll a snow machine over several times. (On different days.) It’s hard to say which takes more talent. Rolling a snow machine or a truck. First hand I know that rolling a snow machine over while step-towing isn’t difficult at all. It usually happens when the snow machine breaks traction due to the sideways pulling of the towline and then the rubber track digs in and stops the side skidding abruptly. This sudden stop of a sideways skid will most often separate the driver from the machine.
An experienced driver like myself will simply yield to this overpowering science of inertia and allow the divergence to occur unimpeded. The machine will remain upright.
A steadfastly stupid driver will try to resist being thrown and in total ignorance will hang on to the snow machine’s steering handle grips. The hopeless attempt at self preservation is actually what rolls the snow machine over. The sideways pull on the handle grips is on the second highest part of the machine. The only higher part on the recently upright machine would have been the extremely cold and brittle plastic windshield. Sadly, using Super Glue on an exploded plastic windshield is not a viable option.
The dealership’s exorbitantly high price on a clear piece of plastic becomes reasonable with only one 25-30 mph run across a frozen lake at 20 degrees F. (Wind chill factor of about zero degrees F.)

Only rarely did we have a small lake to tow on. Minnesota has many lakes of many sizes.

Burn Lake here in Las Cruces, NM (USA) wouldn’t rate a name in Minnesota. It would just be referred to as a gravel pit with a little water in it. (Which actually is what it really is.) (I mean was. The drought has it completely dried up.)
Most of the time, in Minnesota, there was no need to step-tow since we usually had enough lake to top out on the static tow with one run straight into the wind. Only on small lakes would we have to circle the lake to top out on the towline.
However once we put a winch in the boat that had 3600 feet of towline and depending on the wind direction we would sometimes have to step-tow to get most of the line up.
I’ll back up for the new pilots for a moment. Step-towing with a winch in the boat has the glider up to about 1000 feet using up ¾ of a mile of lake into a 5 mph wind.
With still more than 2000 feet of line on the winch the boat will turn one hundred and eighty degrees and make a faster downwind run. At the same time the boat is turning left (for example) the glider turns slightly to the right trying to keep a slack line off of the surface during the turn. The pilot is still flying mostly into the wind waiting for the towline to draw tight again as the boat is racing downwind. As the pilot sees the drooping towline close to drawing tight the pilot must turn to follow the boat before the line goes tight. The pilot needs to be following the boat before the line goes tight otherwise the glider will lock out and dive off to its right.
If a pilot realizes that the towline will go tight before the turn to follow the boat is complete the pilot must release before the lock out starts.
The boat driver can also slow (maybe even stop) the boat to help when the driver notices that the pilot will not complete the turn in time.

During this phase of the turn for the downwind run pre-planning had to have occurred on the ground. At times the pilot step-towing will have the towline trailing below and behind. The release cord needs to be configured so that the release cord will not go tight and release on its own.

The math will not come out right most of the time for a downwind run. The boat driver can not depend on just increasing the downwind run by five miles per hour to compensate for the 5 mph of wind that they took off into. Most always the wind aloft will be greater than on the surface. Many times a boat does not have the speed for the downwind run to keep the towline off of the surface. Now it is up to the pilot to do what is possible to keep the towline off of the surface. This can be done by flying a zigzag (Serpentine.) pattern behind the boat.’

Some may think step-towing is flirting with a lock-out that could lead to an accident but so too would be driving off the edge of the road while dialing in the car radio. “You should tend to avoid that!” -- (Quote : Richard Johnson - out of context of course.)

The biggest safety concern I will get to in just a bit. First this. When the boat turns upwind the pilot, for a little while longer, will be pulling the towline to the downwind end of the lake. The boat, let us say, turned left so the pilot is slightly headed right still trying to keep the line from drooping and touching the surface. The boat and glider are heading away from each other. It is important to keep in mind that the line is going to draw straight and tight way faster than it did for the downwind turn. More care must be taken to be following the boat when the towline does draw tight because it happens faster when turning back into the wind.

Now the biggest safety concern:
Depending on the type of towline you are using it may be heavy and descending abruptly from the pilot or it can be light and trail more straight behind you during mid turn. Pilot and passenger have died during this turning phase and all because they were surprised during a turn.

When step-towing I use a heaver length of rope at my end (maybe 20 feet) so that the towline will hang abruptly below me. This causes more drag but it is worth it.

What killed the pilot and passenger was the line was trailing behind and a sharp dip of a wing to turn back before the towline went tight again put the lowered wingtip down and under the trailing towline. The towline snagged the wing and was now on top of the previously dipped wing. When the rope went tight that was the beginning of the end.

The chance of this all happening faster would have been when turning back into the prevailing wind.

Many big lessons have been learned throughout our relatively short history of hang gliding.
The cost of this lesson was very high and I didn’t want the lesson to fade away with time only to be learned the hard way again.

Youtube has an abundance of hang gliding flying going on. Some of the things I see going on are frightening. I stare in disbelief at the screen and have caught myself yelling, :o “Holy Shirt! Didn’t anybody tell you!?” :shock: (Paraphrased.)
So if you see something on Youtube and you know better what they should be doing leave a comment. That’s what I’ve started doing.