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On 1/20/01 Ron Faoro Spun his Atlas and hit the ground hard
Ron had sunk out a couple hundred below after launching. He caught a thermal on the SE spine and started climbing back up using figure eights. Near launch altitude he committed to a right hand 360 close to the hill. His speed was slow and the glider wanted to roll out of the bank heading toward the hill on the downwind leg. He applied more inside brake. The right wing stalled and the glider broke into a spin. It descended and rotated 540º. The canopy re-inflated and began to fly pointed away from the hill. Ron applied more brake and the glider spun again. He impacted the hill fairly hard about 100'+ below launch with the canopy pointed at the hill.
Several pilots went to his assistance and Ron hollered up that he was OK about 15 seconds after impact. He reported some degree of pain in has back with a feeling of compression. He was back to launch less than 10 minutes after impact.
Not wanting to deal with the hike down, Ron re-launched and scratched his way up and over to the main spine. He climbed about 3,000' over launch and landed at Nordhoff High School
It is this authors perception that Ron did not have a lot of energy entering the turn. He was too aggressive with the turn-rate early in the turn resulting in a high angle of attack which resulted in a loss of airspeed which directly results in a loss of centrifugal force which resulted in the bank angle flattening out on the down wind leg which left him downwind close to the hill pointed at the hill. Recognizing the potential of a downwind crash into the hill, I suspect Ron intuitively applied more inside brake which was obviously too much.
When attempting 360's close to the hill several things are important, including:
In speaking with Ron and other witnesses it appears that the glider started to fly again pointed away form the hill. At this point his decent rate wasn't too bad, their weren't any large pendulum oscillations, and he was just off the ground. Ron intuitively felt he could handle the hit if continued straight down, but if he let the glider move away from the hill the distance to the ground would increase. He intuitively restrained the forward progress by applying full brake to drop in. Had he let the glider fly, it is my perception the he would have been ok, but that's Monday morning quarterbacking. Art was watching form the nut house and commented that it was good he crashed so he could get back to launch without having to hike back up from the bottom.