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By WhackityWhack
#404966
I've decided to stop using a weak link on aero-tow. Here's why: I have personally seen three weak links break on guys coming out of the field just in the last couple years; very low altitude breaks surprising the pilots. Fortunately, nothing bad happened on any of those I witnessed but the ensuing flail by the pilots trying to get immediately into landing mode was something to see!

Now, for me, I want to reduce the chance of that happening. I believe the chance of a weak link breaking low is a bigger threat to me than is the chance of the weak link saving me on a low altitude lock out; and even if I do have a low altitude lockout, it's not a guarantee the weak link will save me anyway.

When I did use a weak link, I inspected it before each tow and I changed it out every ten flights.

So, for those of you who are AT regulars, what are your thoughts?
By blindrodie
#404967
I always feel I'm "ready" for that weak link break and I practice mentally and physically for just that occasion. I would never go without a weak link. I do however consider the conditions and whether a "stronger" weak link would be better than no weak link at all.

Be safe!

8)
User avatar
By magicpotato
#404968
I'd much rather have the weak link snap and force me to land on my belly than to fly without a weak link and get whipped around at the mercy of the tow plane. If you botch a landing, it may not be ideal. If you get locked out and accelerated towards the ground, it may be deadly. A weak link is your first line of defense against you losing control, or the tow pilot losing control.

Also, think about the tow pilots safety. Say you get popped out of the cart and the bar slips out of your hands. Now instead of getting released you cause the tow plane to nose into the ground. Further more, say the tow plane crashes on takeoff and you had to turn away from trees before you had a chance to think about releasing (maybe the adrenaline kicked in and you forgot to release). A weak link means you get away with not experiencing the same fate as the tow plane.

If your concern is landing quickly after takeoff, don't zip up, keep one leg loose and ready the other to hop out of the harness and replace your weak link often. Having done sailplanes for many years, nobody would let you fly without having a weak link. The idea is if s**t hits the fan, don't drag other people into the mess. If I was a tow pilot and I found out the guy was not using a weak link, I'd tell him to find another place or another pilot to fly.
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By WhackityWhack
#405006
magicpotato wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:22 am
I'd much rather have the weak link snap and force me to land on my belly than to fly without a weak link and get whipped around at the mercy of the tow plane. If you botch a landing, it may not be ideal. If you get locked out and accelerated towards the ground, it may be deadly. A weak link is your first line of defense against you losing control, or the tow pilot losing control.

Also, think about the tow pilots safety. Say you get popped out of the cart and the bar slips out of your hands. Now instead of getting released you cause the tow plane to nose into the ground. Further more, say the tow plane crashes on takeoff and you had to turn away from trees before you had a chance to think about releasing (maybe the adrenaline kicked in and you forgot to release). A weak link means you get away with not experiencing the same fate as the tow plane.

If your concern is landing quickly after takeoff, don't zip up, keep one leg loose and ready the other to hop out of the harness and replace your weak link often. Having done sailplanes for many years, nobody would let you fly without having a weak link. The idea is if s**t hits the fan, don't drag other people into the mess. If I was a tow pilot and I found out the guy was not using a weak link, I'd tell him to find another place or another pilot to fly.
Thanks for your thoughts. That is the kind of stuff I was looking for. :)

To a few of your points and my thoughts on each (and I've thought long and hard about all of these):

"If you get locked out and accelerated toward the ground" I'm not sure or guaranteed that my weak link is going to break BEFORE I hit the ground so there's that.

"A weak link is your 1st line of defense against you or the tug pilot losing control." My 1st line of defense is ME releasing. My 2nd line of defense, in my mind, is the tug pilot giving me the rope. When I was using a weak link, during climb out I would always think, "where will I go if it breaks now?" , Now I keep thinking, "my 1st move is to my release".

I do like your point about if you need to make a sudden turn away from the trees and didn't have time to release. But Would the weak link break fast enough to help me there? I don't know.

I will have to discuss this with some of our tow pilots and get their thoughts. I may switch back to using it but I don't like the idea of an unintentional break low just climbing out of the field. We don't have loads of open fields where we tow either so it can be a bigger deal if you're dropped off the line early.
User avatar
By magicpotato
#405007
You're right, releasing and trying to cut away is the first thing that you should try to do. I would consider that as more of an offense, rather than a defense, though. A weak link breaking means things have to be pretty bad already, and it's a passive system in the event that I can't cut loose in time.

One thought I had was while reading this was "If a weak link is breaking on normal takeoff, then why wouldn't it break in a lockout?" Not sure if those guys that have had it break were getting more flights out of it than usual, but that doesn't add up for me.

And like I said, it's as much as a fail safe for the tow pilot as it is for you. Consider the same situation taking off and flying low over trees. You get too low on tow and the glider stalls from the prop wash into the trees. Now the tug pilot is probably going to get pulled into the trees right with you unless he is quick to his guillotine release.

I like discussions such as this as well, makes me come up with a proper reason for my own thoughts. Personally, I hate aerotowing hang gliders. It's one thing for sailplanes, but doing the same thing with half the control authority and my face 3 feet closer to the ground, eeeeeehhhhh only if there's no other option to get in the air. I want all the odds in my favor if I do it then. To me that means: no zipping up on takeoff and one foot ready to pop out at a moment's notice, flying at least with some skids in case of a belly/ botched landing, having plenty of energy before releasing from the cart, having a proper weak link installed, and flying with a tethered hook knife in my mouth ready to go. Okay, maybe the hook knife thing is a little overkill, but come on it looks badass 8) .
User avatar
By magicpotato
#405008
Just to clarify, I meant "you have to be in a pretty bad situation" not "you have to be pretty bad." :ahh:
User avatar
By gotandem
#405014
This forum used to have contributions from people who had a lot of experience with these type of issues. Weak links etc. have been discussed at length before. I cringe when I read that someone wants to do away with the weak link. As a AT regular who teaches this stuff I'd like to add my 3 cents.
-Don't do away with the weak link.
-Use one that is right for your weight/setup.
-Learn to deal with an early disconnect from the towline.
Please understand that the use of weak links does not prevent a lockout. They could help but they really serve a different purpose. I don't like to explain all this here because I think this forum is not a good medium to teach hang gliding subjects like these. When in doubt, consult an experienced AT operator and attend an AT course.
Bart Weghorst
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By hgflying
#405017
Listen to Bart !

I use 200# weaklink, Tuf-Line Braided Dacron - for my glider/body/equipment it comes in at 1.2G. I've never had a break, and I've had some rough tows (Arizona, Florida, Texas, California). A weaklink is needed ... for example, what happens if you bump off the cart and your glider digs in? You put both you and the tow pilot in danger without a weaklink.
By Seahawk
#405018
gotandem wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 1:58 pm
This forum used to have contributions from people who had a lot of experience with these type of issues. Weak links etc. have been discussed at length before. I cringe when I read that someone wants to do away with the weak link. As a AT regular who teaches this stuff I'd like to add my 3 cents.
-Don't do away with the weak link.
-Use one that is right for your weight/setup.
-Learn to deal with an early disconnect from the towline.
Please understand that the use of weak links does not prevent a lockout. They could help but they really serve a different purpose. I don't like to explain all this here because I think this forum is not a good medium to teach hang gliding subjects like these. When in doubt, consult an experienced AT operator and attend an AT course.
Bart Weghorst
http://ozreport.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=24846
Bart Weghorst

Now I don't give a s--- about breaking strength anymore. I really don't care what the numbers are. I just want my weaklink to break every once in a while.
That is just incredible! Remind me not to send anyone to your joy-ride operation, Bart.

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