Happy New Year Pennini! So, what did you get away with last year? I’m not thinking about massive issues like a mid-air collision or a reserve ride, I’m wondering about the little ‘incidents’ that we just laugh off, or maybe don’t even notice. Things like turning the wrong way on launching – even the 1000-hour pilots can get this wrong, often after slope landing and dashing back to launch to grab that thermal that’s just taken your mates to ‘base. Most times the worst that happens is a stumble, an aborted launch and a furtive look round hoping that no-one noticed. But it could mean a serious dragging into the boulders, or a totally uncontrolled launch and cascade into the ground followed by a helimed ride.
Or: been going backwards lately (lots of that going on this winter)? Visited the white room? Run out of landing options? I read a book recently called ‘Deep Survival’ about what separates victims from survivors; one sentence that stood out was about how having a lot of experience might just mean you’ve got away with making the same mistakes more often. Then there’s the unknown unknowns, the take-offs where you didn’t check for clear air, but there was no-one there anyway; or the failure to check the reserve, but it was OK; or skipped a stage of your pre-flight check, your daily inspection your . . . you get the picture – aviation is a serious business and it doesn’t take much to spoil your day; relying on luck won’t work for ever.
A good resolution might be to try to minimise the ‘got away with it’ moments this year. Starting the season by getting your wing serviced and reserve repacked (and practise throwing it). Then when it comes to flying, checking the night before the forecast winds at all levels, not just the ground; equipment all sorted; head in the right place. Then on the day having a check list and using it; paying attention to everything that’s going on around on launch and in the air. Safety isn’t an accident, and if you think safety is a pain, try having an accident . . . Let’s not be at home to Mr Cockup when he calls.
On another note, why is it that we in the Pennines seem uniquely reluctant to broadcast our presence in the air? Turn on the excellent xcrt.aero app and you’ll see little groups of PG icons (and the odd HG) all over the south, Derbyshire, Dales. Lakes etc, but a peculiar blank spot on our hills. Apart from being useful info (i.e. it is/isn’t flyable) there are good safety reasons for others being able to see where you are. Android phone users can simply download the excellent AirWhere app to transmit to the AirWhere page while SPOT/InReach users already know this. Best bet is to sign up to Livetrack24 so your position and track are visible.