SAFA Skysailor Magazine

22 SKY SAILOR November | December 2023 Welcome to the first in a new Safety column for SkySailor ‘It happened to me’. This column is the place for you, the reader, to share your experiences and drill down into what happened from your perspective. In the AIRS Safety Wrap-up column, we are reporting very briefly on what has occurred and the safety learnings. This column will be different. You are invited to share and expand on the circumstances surrounding your event, what you think caused it and what you have learnt from it, for the benefit of all of us. It won’t replace the AIRS Safety Wrap-up but will complement it. For this first article we will lead off with a close look at what happened to me on 15 August 2023, the third day of my recent, what-was-meant- to-be two week holiday in Piedrahita, Spain. To provide some context to what you are about to read, here’s a view of the launch that I filmed on 13/08/2023, along with a plan view from Google Earth. Now, let’s go to the AIRS report. AIRS #1863 – Failed PG light-cycle launch, Spain Day 3 of a 14-day tour with Fly Piedrahita. After the morning briefing, a task to Ávila and Segovia was set (130km). We arrived as a group on the Peñanegra launch at 12:30pm CEST. Competitors in a Spanish HG comp were set up occupying the upper half of the entire launch surface, as they had done the previous day. I was well rested and appeared to have fully recovered from the jet lag experienced the previous day. My goal was to make it to the first climb and see how I went from there, being out of currency in thermal flight (last serious thermic flight was in November 2022). We all set up our gear and waited for the day to become active. There was a layer of high-level cloud suppressing thermal activity. At about 1:30pm, cycles became more established, increasing in intensity and more consistent in direction. Steve and Johan launched without difficulty, and I resolved to launch next. I had decided to take a lighter cycle and not tax myself immediately. I inflated the wing, gave a firm committed run and became airborne. My harness immediately pulled me back into the seat. As I did, witnesses reported that the cycle died, leaving me nothing but dead air. I managed to get my feet down and touched the ground with my boots. I was again pulled back into the seat. I again managed to It happened to me… in Piedrahita by Iain Clarke – SAFA Safety Management Officer Figure 1: View of Penanegra launch (top); Google Earth view (bottom)