Martin Henry's Failed Launch
On May 27th, 12:30, with light and variable conditions, I was
attempting to launch my rigid wing hang glider (ATOS VQ-Race) off Mount Woodside
in the Fraser Valley.
The conditions on launch were warm with clear sky, slightly thermic, with an
inconsistent, variable breeze coming into the launch ( 0 5mph, generally up
the hill). Hooked in and on launch getting ready to go, it took several minutes
for conditions to yield a favorable cycle.
I picked up my glider and started my run. Within the first few steps I
immediately noticed that something felt wrong. The glider felt heavy and I
recall a not quite right sensation (which may have caused me to hesitate my
One or two more strides further into the launch run, I felt the glider was
getting ahead of me and not lifting. Now totally committed to the takeoff, I was
trying to keep up with the wing. In a desperate effort (too little too late), I
went prone in my harness, grabbed the base and pushed out to try and save the
takeoff. Too little too late, with obviously not enough airspeed, I was starting
to settle back onto the slope. The control bar base tube began catching some low
brush and the rock covered terrain. Very quickly, the control bar failed and
crumpled at the weak links (more on this later).
With the control bar collapsed and me dragging across the terrain like an
anchor, the glider pitched/flew forward, nosed over and rolled itself upside
down and ended up inverted and pointed back up the hill. I distinctly remember
hearing the awful noises of what sounded like my Carbon wing grinding to a halt.
As the glider and I nested onto the hill, I ended up on my back, laying on top
of the inverted undersurface of the wing. My very first thought was
cant be good for my glider! (Seriously).