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By Eteamjack
#397838
Sat Apr 1st started like a normal day then things went crazy. On the way to Elsinore a big rig driver tried to kill me (not joking). About 5 miles from Elsinore the freeway came to a complete stop. Someone had rolled their vehicle. Got there
about half hour late, but everyone was still at the LZ. We loaded the wings on my truck as it is large enough to carry several. Conditions were light Santa Ana winds from the North North East. We drove to the Edwards launch where we probably should have stayed and checked conditions. Conditions were light just soarable. Majority wanted to travel further to the E launch which I did not have a problem with. Upon arriving found the wind blowing in pretty consistently. We chose to remain there. Back flag was reflecting
moderate North winds which is not optimum for the E launch. Launch was closer to North East @ 8 mph which is good. Approx 6 hangs and 6 pg's. Bill Sod first to
launch scratching for several minutes before breaking for LZ. After several minutes Bill arose from the LZ climbing to I believe 6K. The remainder of the hangs launched pretty much experiencing same conditions. Eric D was also able to make a low save. All the PG's took off climbing 500 over, Then a big flush cycle came along and they all disappeared beneath the ridgeline. Couple of them also made low saves. This left only me by myself. Dave Beardslee
the only remaining person at launch was about to truck back to the LZ. As I walked up to launch the wind subsided. After couple of minutes my thoughts were I'm not going to do this with no witnesses. Out of no where a wuffo rides up on his cycle and begins chatting with Dave. Ok now that issue is null. Wind begins to cycle back in at maybe 4 mph. The following is additional information I feel helps partially explain my launch failure. Three weeks before I had made major adjustments to my harness. Test flew it at Crestline and was
happy with changes. My shoulder and leg loops were seriously out of adjustment. The landing was the best I had made on this wing since purchase. When I flared it rotated really sweetly and I made a no step. Back to the E. Fearing my spectators were going to abandon me I committed to launch. I had a bad habit of using a jack rabbit start and when I felt the wing was flying the angle of attack would increase as I proned out. Many people had commented on this issue and I honestly tried to correct (unsuccessfully). Started my run down the launch in light wind. Felt the tug on the hang loop and felt the wing lifting signalling me to go prone which I did. Soon as I proned out I felt the wing seriously mush. The right wing tip made contact with a bush at the very end of launch. I powered through it, but the damage was done. Right wing stalled as I left the mountain. Began a spiraling helicopter turn to the right circling back in to the face of the mountain. I saw nothing but large boulders in front with one large bush which unfortunately I missed. The wing made contact and slung me chest first into a very hard boulder. My parachute took the majority of the abuse. As my upper body came to a very abrupt stop my left leg flung around and made serious contact with a secondary boulder. I was approximately 200 ft below launch in very ugly terrain. My leg was caught up in the rear cables and I had way too much tension to unhook myself. Dave showed up after a few minutes. He also was unsuccessful at unhooking me. Neither of us had a knife. 911 had already been called before Dave started down. The fire dept responded quickly as they're just down the street. First res ponder also had no cutting tools. He made assessments of my condition and radio'd for someone to bring cutting tools and a basket. Now were gettig somewhere. Shortly several others were on site. Leg was freed from the cables and hang loop cut allowing me to drop to the ground. By now shock had set in and I had pretty much given in. I was cut out of my harness and rolled into basket. No real pain until this activity began. Firemen informed me a helicopter extraction was the only means to get me back up to the road. Shortly it arrived but I had to be moved to a space the cable could access safely. This was a pretty painful endeavor. The wing could not be dismantled so I gave permission to cut it apart so it could not become entangled with the helicopter. The cable came down and I was hoisted into helicopter. Couple of minutes later I was being transferred into an ambulance. Trauma center is about 5 miles away. Ambulance crew did their best, but the ride was a painful one because of the mountain roads. Shortly thereafter we arrived at the trauma center. Lots of xrays determined I had a broken femure. Several broken ribs and cracked sternum. The sternum is the center of all pain . Couldnt eat, sleep,breath, cough, laugh or even move without excruciating pain. Didnt even know I had serious leg issue, Thank God for pain killers.
Dr operated on the femur the following day. Spent a week in hospital mostly as I couldn't begin any rehabilitation because of sternum. Finally got home after
a very uncomfortable stay. A lot of things at the hospital could have been done to make things better, but they weren't. Home now with the wife as my nurse and she is doing a very admirable job. Everything is on the mend only issue is I'm being treated for blood clot issues. Prognosis 3 mo recovery as long as clotting issue is resolved. I bring this story to you emphasize the importance of not allowing the angle of attack to increase until mush. This whole incident is attributed to pilot error. Pilot error is most serious during launch and landing.

Thanks for reading and know this is not the way I wanted to end 38 yrs of the most rewarding experiences anyone might experience. There is no getting back on the horse for this 71 yr old.
Last edited by Eteamjack on Thu Apr 20, 2017 6:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
By Eteamjack
#397840
Bills have already began flowing in. $2500 for ambulance. Please if you fly do it
realizing what the costs will be if you screw up as I did with no insurance. I have insurance and would never have participated in this sport without it. My retirement funds would have grown wings and departed me. P.S. you don't need to comment on what a lucky SOB I am already know.
User avatar
By NMERider
#397842
Eteamjack wrote:....Bills have already began flowing in. $2500 for ambulance. Please if you fly do it
realizing what the costs will be if you screw up as I did with no insurance. I have insurance and would never have participated in this sport without it. My retirement funds would have grown wings and departed me. P.S. you don't need to comment on what a lucky SOB I am already know.
Jack,
I'm always grateful to read a sign-off written by the pilot and not by the executor, bereaved spouse, sad friend or news media. You're a lucky SOB because you enjoyed 38 years in this sport and not because you lived to write your own farewell message. The health insurance/finance statement is worth noting for everyone. There have been a few contribution campaigns here and many more elsewhere for hapless pilots who crashed without adequate or any health coverage. Even the most self-confident pilot can let his/her guard down for one moment and that's all it takes to become bankrupt along with one's family. Of course if it wasn't for under-insured pilots, there'd be far fewer students and equipment sold so this is a sad irony.
Your earlier message about putting on a show for a spectator has killed or injured more pilots than most of us may realize. Spectators include other pilots whether they are flying or not. As much as hang gliding is best pursued as a buddy sport not unlike SCUBA, ultimately, one has to be utterly selfish and self-centered in order to remain safe.
I hope to see you out there by the Oak tree this season. You're not getting any farewell from me. I need an OTB driver for my next beach flight. :wink: :lol:
Cheers,
Jonathan
User avatar
By flybop
#397844
Thanks for telling your story. We all need to do everything we can to be as safe as we can. This is true,not only in aviation, but in everything we do.

Good luck with your recovery. Keep us posted.
User avatar
By dbotos
#397845
Jack,

Thanks for telling your story and glad you‘re here to tell it. Hopefully it will help others stay safe.

Did they check you for aortic arch tear at the hospital? Sometimes that can result from chest or inertial trauma and can be a latent killer. Hope you make a full recovery!

David
User avatar
By miraclepieco
#397847
Eteamjack wrote:There is no getting back on the horse for this 71 yr old.
Do you think your age was a factor? If you were still in your 30s, might you have had the physical ability to run out this launch?

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By once&future
#397851
Jack,

You talk about insurance. At 71 doesn't Medicare cover most of it? If not what additional insurance do you need? Those of us nearing Medicare age need to know what to plan for.
By blindrodie
#397856
Thanks for the write up Jack. All the best to you. You gave it your all and survived. We should all be so lucky...

8)
User avatar
By RobertKesselring
#397858
dbotos wrote:Thanks for telling your story and glad you‘re here to tell it. Hopefully it will help others stay safe.
:ditto:

If I can fly for 38 years, It'll be 2053 and I'll be 73 years old.
I'm happy for you that you got to enjoy it for so long. I hope to do the same.

Have you thought about moving to a trike, a 3-axis aircraft, or some other form of aviation that's less physical or are you retiring from aviation altogether?
User avatar
By Eteamjack
#397871
once&future wrote:Jack,

You talk about insurance. At 71 doesn't Medicare cover most of it? If not what additional insurance do you need? Those of us nearing Medicare age need to know what to plan for.
Yes medicare will cover most. Prior to that I had employer
Supplied insurance. Supplemental ins by blue shield big help. I just cant imagine
No insurance at all.

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