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Reverse Flying Rotor Riser Twist

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Published on Sep 24, 2013

A little background information:
We had been sitting on launch for over an hour, with nil wind bar the occasional short soft cycle coming up the face. The forecast was for a switch from light 7-10km NE to N to 15-20km WNW 2 hours after launch time of 12:36. The first strong cycle came through & 7 of us prepared for launching. There was a light breeze up the face, with nothing having mixed down to indicate the situation being blown out. Lifted the wing & at 4-5m off the ground, the 45-48km wind lifting me while still with back to the launch face. In the first minute I still was of the opinion this was a strong gust supported with a thermal & I will be able to punch through over launch & continue forward. This proved incorrect & the 'gust' actually resulted in being a strong wind cycle of roughly 1hr, after which it dropped down to 30km/h max for the rest of the afternoon.
The wind was rough & choppy, I have 100hrs experience & used the brakes to actively fly & stabilise the wing. In hindsight more weight shift, a tad less break & body drag would have also benefited. I'm fixing my radio cause when I was taken off my feet, during the turn, my riser brushed the radio mic from my harness strap & didn't want that caught in anything. The speed bar I wanted to use sparingly as I am very low to ground (using a wide angle camera is deceptive to the actual height), in rough choppy, in hindsight, mixing air. My next intention was to gain height, turn and burn. I reached a maximum of 71m above ground, so didn't execute this move, as have been taught the rule of thumb in these situations is not to go over the back at Borah with less than a 100m in strong conditions.
Realising my plan a/ & b/ were exhausted I turned to c/ and started crabbing, though at this stage I was far too deep and you will see by my ground shadow the line I was being pushed in until eventually the rotor played a part. Here I made a further mistake by still being on half bar, which accentuated the 80% asymmetric from a height of 54m. My foot was stuck on bar & not until I was flung with feet in the air (coming out of the twist), did my foot come out.
The wing did everything to keep opening up, while focusing on keeping my hands up (apart from when I'm flung & rotated). Coming in to the ground with feet in the air, spine first, I knew this situation is now about how to minimise spinal injury. I visualised how I was going to land on my feet & what needed to be done. In the last second yanked my brakes on hard, slid forward out of my harness, wing started inflating, slowing me down & I was in a forward pendulum motion, which with luck was timed perfectly to touch down on the upswing & ran it out. There was no injury, not even light paint, the body impact was similar to a smooth landing.
An important lesson for me is not to get too fixated on the forecast's, though handy to get a general picture. Remembering they are for ground level circumstance, not accounting for the terrain & potential thermic influence. Plus if going backwards (even a few metres) & its safe to do, big ears and land asap.
My intention for this video is to show how easily the conditions can change & raise the opportunity for discussion of what would you do in this situation? At what point would you make the decision to pull big ears and top land near launch, as opposed to believing you will punch through once the gust front passes... Then at what point would you start crabbing or turn & burn in a similar situation, based on your skill set?
Enjoy....

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