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Old 6th Aug 2012, 15:36   #1 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Düsseldorf, Germany
Age: 37
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Glider pilots: How often do you train your rope breaks?

Hi all!

To the glider pilots among you: After obtaining your license, how often do you train your rope break procedures?

I had a lot of simulated rope breaks during my training, either the instructor just pulled out, or the winch took the power out.

Once I got my license, I always try to get 2 to 3 rope breaks per season. And every time I'm flying somewhere other than my home base, I try to get a local instructor to get into the local procedure.

When I talk to other pilots, there doesn't seem to be consensus. More often than not, I get the feeling that people fly hoping that "it won't happen today".

I've witnessed one fatal accident due to poor procedure during a rope break, so from my point of view, you cannot train this enough.


PPRuNe-Gliders, what's your opinion about this?
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Old 6th Aug 2012, 16:16   #2 (permalink)
 
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Each club has it's own formula. Mine does them as part of the formal check flights required, how often depends on what badge one has.
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Old 6th Aug 2012, 17:15   #3 (permalink)
 
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Do they actually use "ropes?". Do glider pilots have "licences?"
Genuine questions.
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Old 6th Aug 2012, 17:26   #4 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Do they actually use "ropes?". Do glider pilots have "licences?"
Yes and yes....
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Old 6th Aug 2012, 17:39   #5 (permalink)
 
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At my club, experienced pilots get an annual session of refresher training which includes launch failures. This seems entirely sensible to me, as modern winches rarely offer up a real failure and aerotow ropes hardly ever fail (if inspected regularly). New pilots begin with a regular check regime, and out of check pilots probably get a launch failure practice on their check flights.

Of course, if you are witnessed using poor launch technique then you will probably be invited to demonstrate the correct way to an instructor, as he or she has to write the accident reports if you can't cope with a real emergency.

I've witnessed a few real launch failures where the pilot didn't cope properly, and in all cases they were pilots about whom the instructors had concerns - pilots with poor decision-making, or over-confident pilots (often very experienced) pushing the envelope. Funnily enough, it tends to be these types of pilot who object to regular launch failure practice.

Annual practice seems to be enough for the rest of us to fly safely.
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Old 6th Aug 2012, 18:54   #6 (permalink)
 
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Location: Oxford, UK
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Winch launch failure practice, practice, practice.

In my early days at Shenington, we had, on the winch, a reliable 50% SUCCESS rate, using piano wire. Sometimes we even had 3 cable breaks in a row. Certainly kept us on our toes and current; I still remember an enthusiastic launch in a K8, cable broke under strain, spaghetti all over the winch; only thing for me to do was to stay airbourne for a couple of hours and so avoid the telling off for pulling too hard!

Our late CFI, Paul Gibbs, rejoiced in keeping us current; seldom indeed on a check ride with PG did Blogs ever get to the top. As an instructor, I developed a similar vein of sadism; after a briefing on the things we would do after the launch, eg. stalls, spins, going for THAT cloud, etc etc, the sneaky hand on the yellow knob, and boing! Let's see what you can do with THAT problem!

Even more refined, brief the pilot on launch failures, then don't give him one.
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Old 6th Aug 2012, 19:01   #7 (permalink)
 
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Clarification to AlexUM, original poster, and to Tupperware pilot.

No, most clubs in the UK do not use 'rope! Braided steel cable is reliable, and unlike the Dynema rope used in some places, possibly on the Continent,
the braided steel cable does not lie on top of the grass, which causes a problem in clubs that do winch and aerotow, and do sometimes taxy across a cable, very carefully. We never never take off or land across a cable, if using a narrow run, the cables must be retracted before the airtow or motor glider departs.
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Old 6th Aug 2012, 19:33   #8 (permalink)
 
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I seem to remember that rope was once tried at the club I flew from. it was left on the winch drum overnight after reeling it in & the tension cut the drum in half. No, they used to use 3mm piano wire now braided cable.
Using piano wire, several of us that were keen had a "repair kit" in the car.

Last edited by Crash one; 6th Aug 2012 at 19:36.
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Old 6th Aug 2012, 19:41   #9 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
No, most clubs in the UK do not use 'rope! Braided steel cable is reliable, and unlike the Dynema rope used in some places, possibly on the Continent,
On aerotow they do Mary.....you should know that..hehe
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Old 6th Aug 2012, 20:19   #10 (permalink)
 
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Weak links work harden with use, which results in a well used one having a higher breaking strain than a fresh one. Its not unusual to have a weak link last months, only to then have two or three break replacements in quick succession, until one survives long enough to get enough launches to also be work hardened.

The Air Cadets had a policy at one time of giving pilots a new weak link for a first solo flight, which was just about the worst thing that one could do, as it would fail at a lower tension than the cadet and winch driver was used to on the previous launches.
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Old 6th Aug 2012, 21:22   #11 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Weak links work harden with use, which results in a well used one having a higher breaking strain than a fresh one. Its not unusual to have a weak link last months, only to then have two or three break replacements in quick succession, until one survives long enough to get enough launches to also be work hardened.
Something lacking in the design department here. If they survive & become work hardened they are no longer the "weak" link they are supposed to be. How could one be re-calibrated to the next strength up? Prob impossible without breaking it to find out.
If weak links are designed like this then they are worthless, dangerous, chance of ripping the tow hook out of the glider. I would suggest some thought be put into them.
I believe they are just a short length of steel plate of varying thickness to suit the weight required. Bad idea.
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Old 7th Aug 2012, 01:15   #12 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Poplar Grove, IL, USA
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AlexUM,

Here in the states I only fly aerotow. In my 20ish years I have done about 5 simulated rope breaks, and two real ones, though one of the real ones I was in front of the rope. I was happy the real one was at harris hill, none of this 180 degree turn stuff, just head for the edge of the ridge and figure it out from there. On my day the ridge worked enough that I was able to climb and land back, else I would have landed at our emergency field.

IFMU
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Old 7th Aug 2012, 07:12   #13 (permalink)
 
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The odds against a rope break on aerotow are excellent - I've never had one in 50 years gliding. The odds against a towplane engine faliure (or some other serious problem) however are rather higher, and part of the pre-take off checks are 'what do I do if the tow terminates prematurely'. And a continual monitoring on the climb out of the same action plan.

Getting out of position in severe turbulence at some sites, in wave rotor, (and having to pull off) is always a distinct possibility, and that's again part of the action plan. Not happened so far, but I've come close.

Wire breaks on winch launching are rather more likely, and part of the annual proficiency check at the club where I fly. Again, a pre-take off plan taking wind, field layout and so on means that they are a non-event.

PPPPP

Last edited by Fitter2; 7th Aug 2012 at 07:12.
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Old 7th Aug 2012, 08:12   #14 (permalink)
 
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Hey, Tupperware, I think the original poster was referring to winching. It would be really peculiar to handle wire on airtow....though I am unfamiliar with those gadgets that retract the rope (?) after the glider lets go.....seems to me to add unnecessary complication, one more piece of machinery to fail, instead of occasionally dragging the tow rope through the hedge on return to the field. However, airfield supervision (the humble role to which I have been demoted since no medical any more) should ensure that the ignorant public, or for that matter ignorant pilots, should be kept well clear of the approach as getting dinged on the head by a flailing towline and steel rings is undesirable.

So, repeat after me. Braided steel wire for winching, Rope for aerotow. and keep it simple.

Reminiscing once again, regarding launch failure on aerotow; at Booker, High Wycombe, at about 200 feet behind the tug in a K13 back seat, suddenly we found ourselves pushing the rope. Tug went on without us.
I said - in a slightly elevated tone - "I have control!!" and turned to look at my options, which included being able just to slide in a handy corner of the airfield, so I ditched the rope (took 3 hours to find it later) and landed the glider back in the handy corner.

The student said "Why didn't you let me fly it? I could have done it!"

I replied "Well, I wasn't sure I could!!"

And again, from the other end of the rope, the 150 Supercub was not climbing at all well and the earth bank at the end of the short runway was fast getting closer, T's and P's OK, looked in the rear view mirror, and noticed the K13 had the airbrakes open! Scraped over the bank, climbed at about 45 mph IAS, and at 300 feet dumped the glider. All the second guessers told me I should have carried on....but my knees had turned to jelly. And the BGA rule says waggle the rudder to signal the glider that his airbrakes are open. Are you kidding? at 45 mph at 50 feet you think I'm going to wiggle the rudder? Oh yes.

The glider landed in a local field, no damage. But all three women aboard the combination have never forgotten that educational experience!

This is why we fly, to have adventures worth sharing in the bar.

I'm off to New Jersey on Thursday for the rest of August, so hasta la vista.
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Old 7th Aug 2012, 08:22   #15 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mary meagher
waggle the rudder to signal the glider that his airbrakes are open. Are you kidding?
Indeed! I have the same trouble when over speeding on the winch. I believe I am signalling the winch driver to slow down. My desire not to have the imminent bang happen when I am at 45 degrees with full rudder seems to overrule every time.

BB
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Old 7th Aug 2012, 09:53   #16 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crash one
Something lacking in the design department here. If they survive & become work hardened they are no longer the "weak" link they are supposed to be. How could one be re-calibrated to the next strength up? Prob impossible without breaking it to find out.
If weak links are designed like this then they are worthless, dangerous, chance of ripping the tow hook out of the glider. I would suggest some thought be put into them.
I believe they are just a short length of steel plate of varying thickness to suit the weight required. Bad idea.
Don't be ridiculous. There are hundreds of thousands of winch launches every year in Britain alone, I've never heard of a tow hook being ripped out of a glider. I know sweet FA about metallurgy but I'm sure that the manufacturers have taken such things into account.

Mary, some places do use rope on the winch. Skylaunch visited us a while ago to set up a winch for a continental club, equipped with a nylon rope. Also, from John Marriot's "Aerotowing Guidance Notes":
Quote:
If the glider brakes are open, do not signal immediately unless absolutely necessary, try to get the glider to a safe height if possible, then signal.
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Old 7th Aug 2012, 10:35   #17 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Scotland
Age: 74
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Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crash one
Something lacking in the design department here. If they survive & become work hardened they are no longer the "weak" link they are supposed to be. How could one be re-calibrated to the next strength up? Prob impossible without breaking it to find out.
If weak links are designed like this then they are worthless, dangerous, chance of ripping the tow hook out of the glider. I would suggest some thought be put into them.
I believe they are just a short length of steel plate of varying thickness to suit the weight required. Bad idea.


Don't be ridiculous. There are hundreds of thousands of winch launches every year in Britain alone, I've never heard of a tow hook being ripped out of a glider. I know sweet FA about metallurgy but I'm sure that the manufacturers have taken such things into account.
I don't think I'm being ridiculous, OK so the hook might not get ripped out but the cable can break somehere else, or the glider could over speed & not feel the effect.
If the thing work hardens, & being an engineer I know that happens, then the thing is not the same as it was designed to be. Whatever the consequenses are.
So DID the designers take that into account?
Maybe gliders a stronger than they should be,. Either way I say again if something work hardens it is a piece of useless crap.
This is the same as replacing a fuse wirh a nail
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Old 7th Aug 2012, 11:28   #18 (permalink)
 
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Do glider pilots need a medical?
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Old 7th Aug 2012, 11:42   #19 (permalink)
 
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Yes, minimum as NPPL.

All about to change though, I believe.

BB
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Old 7th Aug 2012, 11:52   #20 (permalink)
 
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Doubtless for the worse if EASA have anything remotely to do with it.
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