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3/24/05 Comment to a lengthy thread on the SCPA discussion page in response to a flight at Bates on Monday, 3/21/05
old articles before to 2006 were lost prior to moving the discussion forum to a new hosting provider

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I suppose it would be rude not to respond, but Iíve enjoyed the discussion and thought it would be inappropriate to influence the flow.  I've read all your post once or twice.

Some of the points. Context, Wind, Safety, Image, Values, Flack. Iíll try and be short, but...

I posted Monday because I try to post all my flights, good and bad.  I often think that others learn more from my mistakes than my success.  Iíve been hurt more than once, and I donít ever want to get hurt again.

I got hurt on Tuesday.  Was playing Frisbee with the kids (Dylan, Sam, & Tess / 7, 6, & 2) up on the second floor of the parking garage behind the hotel on Harbor next to the state park in Ventura.  It was pouring rain, so the parking garage let us play outside and stay dry.  The second floor was closed to cars, but you can still access up the stair well (good spot to sort your gear on a rainy day).  The Frisbee was fun and we were headed back to our car parked on the first level.  The stair well was covered but open on the sides and wet.  Everyone was in high spirits and we were going down without registering the hazard or making a prudent adjustment.  I think I was more focused on staying dry and keeping up with the faster kids.  We were moving at a speed commensurate with our enthusiasm.  I was carrying Tess in my right arm.  About midway down the lower flight, my feet slipped forward and I was laid out with my legs horizontal and my back angled slightly back.  My momentum carried me forward so I went down 3 to 5 steps before impacting.  The weight of carrying Tess in my right arm aggravated the impact.  My injuries were to my back and right elbow.  Tess was scarred, but physically undamaged.  Expect to be recovered and airborne again within a month.

Obviously, life can change with little warning.  Iím 50 years old, and have been working in hazardous environments for many years.  Some of the jobs I work on mandate formal safety meetings twice a day, and not the kind were you blow smoke.

We all have varied values, and there are also group and sub group entities that generate their own aura.  Our community is conflicted between wanting to be perceived as Sunday golfers and still have meaningful discussion about the hazards.  Attitudes will vary because our flying fulfills different needs and desires for different pilots who have varied interest and ambitions.

Regarding Context:  This thread took off on a rainy Tuesday in response to a post about Monday, but seems to use Sunday as an example.  Not much posted about Sunday, but the lead post calling for a Parma meet time indicates the wind would be a factor and would likely get stronger with vertical mixing.  The day had the potential to blow out, and did in places at varied times.  The wind built slowly at Bates, much slower than typical.  The marine weather was a bit unusual in that the wind was locally stronger in the SB channel than around Point Conception.  A number of pilots had good flights and operated within their personal limitations.  I didnít see anyone flying in conditions that were excessive, but perhaps they did later when I wasnít present.  A pilot made a radio inquiry about the conditions at the Skyport while I was setting up.  I think it was Bo.  He wanted to know if the conditions were reasonable, and I responded that it was my perception they were advanced.  I do hope everyone checks the weather as part of their preflight preparation.  Sundayís winds aloft forecast was calling for 150 knots at 34K in the afternoon.  You can check my weather archive for Sunday.  http://paraglide.net/log/05/05_03-20/2_frameset_weather.htm

You can sometimes fly in wind that is stronger than the forward speed of your aircraft.  Pilots have been doing so on the Rincon for 25 years.  My first post frontal day my rookie season flying a HG in the fall of 81, I went to La Conchita.  There were 50 pilots launching from the 300í road cut.  I remember trying to hold position with the bar pulled in near Solimar and watching John John come by backing up on his Moyes Red Tail.  Flying in the wind has more advanced hazards.  I was in over my head that day.  Shortly afterward, one of the pilots flying a Comet 135 was backing up into the houses at Seaward.  He didnít want to land going backwards so he turned downwind and impacted into an inside corner of a roof line.

One of the functions of our forum is to share ideas and experiences. We donít have to agree. Itís not a prefect world, and sometimes comments seem personal. There was some flack back and forth in this tread, and most of us want the last word.  Iíll continue to share my mistakes, but I have the stature to accept or dismiss some of the flack.  Other less tenured brethren may be more sensitive and avoid sharing if they think they might take some hits.  Please continue to share and comment, but if your comment might be perceived as offensive, write it, let it sit for awhile then reread with empathy before posting.

My writing is perhaps a bit dry, but I deliberately try to avoid pushing my subjective opinions.  Some suggest I have a responsibility to lead by example.  I try to do it in my own way according to my personal ethics.  I canít take responsibility for losing Bruce, but recognize that I contributed to the equation.

The sun will rise tomorrow, with us our without.

Sincerely, Tom Truax (aka The Sundowner / SD)