07 December 2012

Improving Your Competition Flying

I am running a weekend event on 2nd -3rd February to help pilots to prepare for and do well in competitions. Whether you are completely new to comps or already experienced, I aim for you to get much more out of competitions and improve your performance. I will be structuring the event to cover all the important aspects to give you the strongest possible foundation for your competition flying. Experienced comp pilots will focus particularly on improving performance and enjoyment. Some of the strategies, tricks and techniques used by the top pilots are truly eye-opening and I’ll be weaving these into the 2 days. New comp pilots will be able to take a huge step to ensuring that they can take most of the unknowns out of their early competitions and have knowledge that they will be able to draw on for years to come. 

06 December 2012

Should Competition and XC Pilots Have 2 Reserves?

Two emergency parachutes are de rigour for acro pilots. Now there is a proposal from CIVL that all entrants to Category 1 competitions follow suit. Coming from the review into competition safety, it sits alongside a range of other proposals.
There appears to be suspicion rather than evidence that lives would have been saved by a second parachute. There have been a number of tragic incidents where pilots have failed to deploy, but the reasons aren't clear. Could the pilot's hand have been trapped in riser twists? Possibly the pilot could not reach the handle for some other reason? Maybe excessive G-force caused the pilot to black out? Can we be sure that the disorientated pilot was able to make the decision to deploy? There are documented cases of parachutes failing to open properly, for example when they get caught in the lines of the glider.
If past history is an indicator, it is fair to assume that a rule change in Category 1 events will also be taken on in Category 2 events, so lots of pilots could be affected. If a second parachute would be a genuine step forward in safety in competitions then isn't it also a good idea for general XC flying?
Opinions are split and personally I am unconvinced by the proposal. I would prefer it be left as a strong recommendation for the time being. I can understand that pilots are very wary of the additional weight, expense and complexity. Thankfully it won't require a change of harness for too many: in addition to the reserve installed as normal in the harness, a front mounted second parachute would do the job. It would have the added benefit of being deployable by either hand.
Perhaps this is a proposal we should not resist. There is strength in the argument that if a second parachute saves just one life then it it worth it.