Lightning vs. Glider

Discussion in 'Lessons Learned' started by Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe, Jan 4, 2017.

  1. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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  2. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser!

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  3. brcase

    brcase Cleared for Takeoff

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    About the same time there was another one in the US. it was a single place glider and blew out the canopy and monetarily fused all the rod ends and burnt all the ground wires. The pilot was able to break the controls free and fly back the airport, however the controls were grinding pretty badly as from all the burn marks on the bearings.

    There was an article the SSA magazine by the pilot, I was working for a glider repair shop at the time and saw the glider come up for salvage. It was essentially undamaged except for the canopy, control bearing, and some concern about what it might have done to the carbon fiber main spar.

    Brian
     
  4. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach

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    I suppose gliders are having trouble because they are composite and don't have a lightning protection system?
     
  5. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach

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    Not just gliders, no composite EAB that I know of has any significant lightning protection built in. I know Glasair had a lightning protected variant that NASA tested but that's the only one I know of. I get hit in my Velocity, I could be flying through the air with just a stick in my hand! :D I've heard more than one person say they went with Vans over composite for that reason.

    Even the DA-20 is approved for only VMC because of lack of lightning protection.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
  6. RotorDude

    RotorDude Pattern Altitude

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    Just wondering, wouldn't lightning be more probable outside clouds (hence likely VMC) than inside?
     
  7. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach

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    Oh I don't know about the probability of it outside vs inside. I suppose its just as susceptible outside. I think they were concerned about static buildup within the clouds as well. It's completely equipped IAW Part 91.205, it just doesn't have the lightning / static protection required by Part 23 so it has a big placard for VFR only in the cockpit.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
  8. RotorDude

    RotorDude Pattern Altitude

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    Are you aware of any studies that show more static buildup on airplanes inside rather than outside clouds (given a convective environment)?
     
  9. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach

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    Nope, none that I know of.
     
  10. Jim Case

    Jim Case Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Jeez! Thank god they are alive. That's too bad about his hearing though. Were they aware of possible lighting when it happened? I don't have time to read the whole thing right now.
     
  11. 3393RP

    3393RP Pattern Altitude

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    Am I correct in assuming the writer had no pilot training? It appears that way.

    I think it's pretty amazing he had the presence of mind to unfasten the belts, get clear of the aircraft, and pull the D-ring.

    About fifteen years ago I took a ride in a PT-17 flown by the Red Baron pizza sponsored quartet of Stearmans. We were going to do some mild aerobatics. The pilot briefed the procedure for exiting the aircraft and deploying the chute. It was a seat pack style.

    The people taken up for rides were generally employees of distributors or retailers of the product. I kinda laughed while the pilot was going over the emergency procedures. I was imagining a non pilot Kroger manager taking his first open cockpit airplane ride saying "What the hell do you mean 'leave the aircraft?'" :p:D
     
  12. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I asked one of our most experienced glider club pilots about his parachute, "Ever done a skydiving jump, just once, for practice?"

    "Nope, I figure whether or not I practice, it's either going to open or it isn't."
     
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  13. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner En-Route

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    I always figured if we had to get out, I'd have to crawl out on the wing, unstrap the passenger, lift him out of the cockpit and throw him clear while holding onto his D-ring before I could jump myself...a downright scary percentage couldn't figure out how to unbuckle the seatbelt after the ride.
     
  14. vontresc

    vontresc En-Route

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    I've talked to a few glider pilots that have bailed (usually after midairs in contests). Everyone pretty much had the same story. Big bang followed by a WTF moment, and a realization that the AC was uncontrollable. Then they usually mention not remembering much until under canopy, but that the desire to GTFO became overwhelming.

    If you do wear a chute, it is recommended to pop it before getting it repacked. Remember Canopy, Belts, Butt, and then look reach and pull the handle with both hands
     
  15. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach

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    For some reason that never crossed my mind when looking at Glasairs and other composites. No idea why they would not include lightning protection on those aircraft. I don't think I would want to own an IFR traveling airplane that could have a major structural failure if hit by lightning.
     
  16. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach

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    I've read about some builders modifying their aircraft with an aluminum layer / mesh in the building process but that definitely isn't the norm. That's also based on being able to build the skin by hand. A lot of quick builds have the fuse and wing skins complete with no measures taken at the factory for lightning protection.

    What happens when you fly a composite without a Faraday cage designed into it:

    http://v2.ez.org/cp53-p10.htm
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2017
  17. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach

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  18. GlennAB1

    GlennAB1 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Used to maintain a fleet of Gulfstream 1 (G159) aircraft. Had one aircraft with a lengthy history of static in radios, reported as radios unusable in clouds, precipitation, and freezing precip. Ended up being the radome bonding points insulated by RTV.
     
  19. RotorDude

    RotorDude Pattern Altitude

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    That could easily have been the overall convective environment, i.e. the regions inbetween clouds, where I would definitely expect static buildup, could have caused those problems (as they do in most aircraft without proper anti-static protection).
    The specific question I asked was whether there were studies showing static buildup inside the cloud, as opposed to on the edges and inbetween clouds.
     
  20. GlennAB1

    GlennAB1 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    RIF
     
  21. GlennAB1

    GlennAB1 Ejection Handle Pulled

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  22. GlennAB1

    GlennAB1 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    And fyi, lightning has been wreaking havoc on airliners lately. We're in the process of changing a badly damaged rudder on an almost brand new 767.
     
  23. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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  24. Hi I am the passenger that was in the glider mentioned earlier that was destroyed by lightning back in April 1999. Amazed to see it still being talked about. There were a few reconstructions of the accident which are on Youtube. See:-
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3AF92A275FBC3BDD
    or search these three words on Youtube: glider lightning parachute. Be careful up there!
    Regards Graeme
     
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  25. Stan Cooper

    Stan Cooper Line Up and Wait

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    Wow! What a coincidence you dropped by, Graeme. That was quite an experience and it's great that you survived to tell the tale with only minor injuries.
     
  26. Thanks Stan, and what a great surname you have!
    My ear drums soon healed as did Peter's ankle. The day turned out to be a memorable 30th birthday present, With a glider flight and parachute jump in one day.
    I flew again with Peter 10 years later as he owed me a landing. I also did a tandem skydive earlier this year. Thinking of something less memorable for my 50th.
    Kind regards Graeme
     
  27. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Hey, Graeme!

    We have a number of very seasoned glider pilots on this board, hang around a while.
     
  28. StevieTimes

    StevieTimes Line Up and Wait

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    You should have flown it home.



    I kid, I kid, holy carp what a scary experience. I've never worn a parachute in my life, what an ordeal to go through!

    Thanks for posting, was wondering about the ears healing.
     
  29. Wow their are some amazing stories of survival out there. Bit more difficult to fly with no engine and both wings missing though. Like trying to fly a kayak

    Peter the pilot and his club mate/air accident investigator Peyer Claiden give a good account of the accident from 23min in on this doccumentry and talk of the power of the positive strike which was found to be up to SIX times stronger than passenger planes are designed to withstand. SIX TIMES!
     
  30. GlennAB1

    GlennAB1 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Currently working a 7X7 with 68 areas of varying damage from lightning. Fun, fun.
     
  31. Arbiter419

    Arbiter419 Cleared for Takeoff

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    First I've read anything of this story, thanks for joining us!
     
  32. Paulie

    Paulie Line Up and Wait

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    When I get a repack I always deploy the reserve (skydiving rig) at the riggers so that if it doesn't deploy I can kick his ass.
     
  33. FormerHangie

    FormerHangie Pattern Altitude

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    "Just because no one complains doesn't mean all parachutes are perfect."
    - Benny Hill
     
  34. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That's always been the thing I found odd about people wearing chutes but only knowing ground knowledge on them.

    It'll likley deploy, but if you arnt stable, or your on your back spinning, the nylon might just end up gift wrapping you.

    Silly to bother with the expense and everything with wearing a rig, but not spend a little time and money on a little bit of skydiving training.
     
  35. skier

    skier Pre-takeoff checklist

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    For what it's worth, I got a chance to do some lightning strike testing up at LTI in Pittsfield, MA. They had photos there of some testing they had done on a Glasair. I didn't hear any of the details on the test while I was there, but I did find this NASA document afterwards: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20020080124.pdf

    It says that a modified Glasair III sucessfully completed lightning strike testing to the same degree as certified aircraft.
     
  36. FormerHangie

    FormerHangie Pattern Altitude

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    Is an emergency parachute used in the same way as a skydiver's rig is? A skydiver opens his parachute at 5000 feet while in a stable arch while descending around 10000 fpm. It opens gradually so as to not injure the skydiver. I would think that an emergency parachute would be designed to open quickly and should be deployed as soon as the wearer was clear of the airplane,
     
  37. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It's the whole flying your body into stability thing

    And flying the canopy, no way on earth I'd jump anything that wasn't ram air
     
  38. I pretty much pulled the ripcord as I "stepped out" So there wasn't much of a jolt as the chute opened. Luckily it didn't catch on the remains of the glider as it opened.
    I wasn't given any training on what to do with the parachute other than (when I asked) "that's the rip cord, oh and if you need to get out you'll first need to unbuckle yourself from the seat and pull the red handle at the front of the cockpit to break the canopy hinge otherwise the canopy will keep blowing shut on you!" Luckily the pressure wave inside the cockpit blew the canopy clean of it's seating, so I didn't need to worry about that.
    I assume that if I had counted "one thousand, two thousand, three thousand" as you see on the films after stepping out before opening the chute it may have been too late as we probably weren't that high.
    The parachutes we both had were round not rammed air and I don't think they were steerable. There was no reserve chute.
    A friend of mine had a trial glider flight at the same club a year before me and wasn't given a chute. So I'm glad they started using them. I still have the rip cord.
     
  39. FormerHangie

    FormerHangie Pattern Altitude

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    I don't have any experience with pilot emergency parachutes, but from what I've read the recommended usage is to pull the ripcord as soon as you are out of the aircraft. The only exception is if what you just stepped out of was traveling at 150 + knots, you should count to three to allow time for deceleration in the X axis, without gaining too much velocity in the Y axis.

    Hang glider and paraglider pilots also carry an emergency parachute. It's a very quick opening round canopy that was derived from a skydiver's tertiary reserve, which was once used by skydivers who did a lot of canopy relative work. If you need to deploy your emergency parachute (we call it a reserve, don't know why, it's the only one we have) while flying a hang glider, you open the container and throw it clear of the glider, you don't cut away. The 'chute is designed to open at low speed. High performance hang gliders have a failure mode known as a "tumble", where the glider starts rotating front to back. This is very uncommon, it occurs maybe once or twice a year globally, and it most commonly caused by someone doing a loop incorrectly. It also can happen if the glider enters a very strong and sharp edged thermal at a low airspeed, the nose gets lifted quickly and the glider tumbles. This happened to an Australian pilot a number of years ago, and the glider was so badly damaged by the tumble that it broke the keel, which separated the pilot (and reserve chute) from the glider, and he began to free fall. It took him a few seconds to get his wits about him and deploy, during which time he developed a high rate of descent. He was badly injured by the deployment because it opened so quickly he was subject to a lot of Gs. From what I can tell, pilot emergency parachutes are similarly designed for quick opening, hence the recommendation to open the chute immediately

    From what I've read, it appears that all currently produced pilot emergency chutes are round, but are steerable. (EDIT: There is a ram air type parachute available, available to those who have training in its use. The majority of emergency parachutes are still round canopies.) If you do the type of flying that requires a chute, I think you'd want to learn how to do a parachute landing fall. That's easy to do, all you need is something to jump off of and a patch of grass.

    Thanks so much for coming on here and giving us the benefit of your experience. From what I've read, you did the correct thing. James is thinking of a skydiving rig which is deployed at a much higher rate of descent.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2017
  40. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I never wore one, but a number of the other guys in the glider club did. I think the brand of preference was Softie.

    http://www.softieparachutes.com/choosing-a-parachute.html

    >>>
    A general rule of thumb is: if you have pack opening above 1000 ft. AGL, you will have a fully deployed parachute before hitting the ground.

    ...

    Once you have exited the aircraft, you will most likely be tumbling. The most important thing to do is pull the ripcord immediately. It takes approximately 2-3 seconds for the parachute to fully deploy. Altitude used for complete deployment at terminal velocity is approximately 300-500 ft. That is not the altitude to initiate emergency procedures.
    <<<

    I don't have my old issues of SSA magazine, but I'm sure there was at least one article about bail-out procedures.