How to hold brake handles and survive

Hairy Dave's picture

I've found the organisers initial statement regarding Dillip's death in Bulgaria (below). Apart from slow rescue services, the main issue is that he was found with a half deployed parachute and the brakes still in his hands. They suggest that holding the brakes and trying to deploy would influence glider behaviour. It would certainly impede throwing of the reserve.

I seem to remember that Dillip was in the habit of passing his hands through the brake handles so that they were around his wrist. This has resulted in similar incidents in the past where the pilot has been found it difficult or impossible to release the brakes quickly enough in order to throw the reserve properly.

However we choose to hold the brakes, it is essential that we are able to release them and and deploy without hesitation. Putting the handles over the wrists is a dangerous practice.

Official statement for accident 15 July 2012

Yesterday, Sunday 15 July, the indian pilot Dilip Kotecha falled at the upper part of Ravnets massif, north of Karlovo and Vasil Levski. Later he died from from internal bleeding and injuries.

He flew above the mountain, 120 m above the terrain, when according to witnesses he had collapses, spiral dive, rescue parachute deployment and hard impact into the ground. 5-10 minutes later 3 pilots landed next to him: Jan Minnaar, Ivelin Kalushkov and Daniel Dimov. They reported promptly the condition of Dilip - unconscious with irregular breathing and bleeding from the mouth. Mountain rescue helicopter was called and it arrived within 1 hour and 40 minutes. Unfortunately around 15:30 he stopped breathing. The helping pilots continued with CPR until the coming of rescue helicopter, when the doctor announced him dead.

It is difficult to find the reason of the accident because the weather conditions were normal and because Dilip was relatively experienced pilot, flying from 1995 and he attended SIV courses. He knew the terrain as he flew 5 competitions in Sopot area. He's been flying his glider - Ozone Mantra 4 for one year, had 100 hours on it and flew it in the crowded Czech Open and Skynomad Open in Sopot 2011.
The area of the accident is in the lee of a strong thermal trigger, which probably caused the initial turbulence and collapse. He was found with brake handles in his hands, which might slowed the deploying the rescue with them (the harness velcro for the rescue riser was not opened entirely and rescue container was 10 meters away from him). Trowing rescue with brake handle might influenced the glider behavior.

As far as the accident was not caused by organization failure, the competition will continue. Monday 16 July is a rest and respect day. Shambhala club will donate all entry fee money to Dilip's family and will support his son until his 18th birth day.

From the organization.

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Neville Styke's picture

Too Low.

Maybe this pilot could have deployed his reserve a little quicker if he'd not had his hands through the brake handles?

https://www.facebook.com/video/embed?video_id=10201489432389805

" It's got to be rough to be good!"

Steve Purdie's picture

More to the point

If he'd had some SIV training he should not have needed the reserve in the first place!

But, yes, even without gloves, it slows your ability to throw. Also he should attend a zip slide event or ten to practice actually throwing it. That was probably the messiest deployment I have seen.

I can tell you that even if the reserve opens very quickly, it always seems to take a heck of a long time to do it's business. Certainly long enough for him to have stood up and got into PLF position, rather than just piling in on his backside! A good PLF and that arrival should have been without injury. As it is, it sounds like he got away quite lightly.

TTFN
Steve Purdie
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Neville Styke's picture

Toggles.

When I did freefall parachuting there were always toggles fitted to the steering lines so that you could not easily get your hands stuck. Do paragliders come with toggles fitted as standard, or loops?

" It's got to be rough to be good!"

Steve Purdie's picture

loops

Generally loops, though a few come with combination handles.
Simple toggles are available after market, but few like them.

TTFN
SteveP

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AIRWORKS PARAGLIDING & HANG GLIDING
The Old Station
Glynde
BN8 6SS

info@airworks.co.uk
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Sounds like a lovely club to

Sounds like a lovely club to give support this way!

matt pepper's picture

Twists are another reason to

Twists are another reason to not put your hands through your brakes.

It would be very easy to be wound up with twists and trapping your hands, making it impossible to throw your reserve... pulling the brakes down to release your hands will trap the brake lines and it can all go pretty bad from there.. The twists gripping the brake lines...

Very tragic..

Steve Purdie's picture

Hands through brakes handles

Never ever fly with your hands through the handles unless you have no reserve.

If you feel the need to 'shorten' the brakes you should either take a wrap, which brings its own problems or better still hold outside the handles.

Toggles can be very good in this situation.

TTFN
SteveP

----------------------------------
AIRWORKS PARAGLIDING & HANG GLIDING
The Old Station
Glynde
BN8 6SS

info@airworks.co.uk
www.airworks.co.uk

Steve Purdie's picture

Dillip

Dillip's death is yet another tragic loss to the sport and I offer my sincerest condolences to his family.

TTFN
SteveP

----------------------------------
AIRWORKS PARAGLIDING & HANG GLIDING
The Old Station
Glynde
BN8 6SS

info@airworks.co.uk
www.airworks.co.uk

Lauren_martins's picture

The problem with getting

The problem with getting stuck with your hand inside the brake handles when you most need your hands to be free can be worse in the winter when we are all using even thicker gloves.

For me flying with half hand inside the brakes handles give me more security to fly in turbulent days, I don't want the brake handles sleeping out of my fingers when I need to avoid a frontal in a sudden dive. Saying that I fly XS gliders which have the smallest brake handles, I always ask for bigger brake handles exactly to avoid this problem, I have tiny hands, but I still prefer it big handles to avoid any hazard.

Ive seen videos on youtube of pilots flying with extremely thick gloves that for them to get their hands out of the brake handle they need to use their other hand, now imagine in a desperate moment to reach the reserve with the hands tied like that...

Sadly more people will die like that until someone look into it and make it widely advised.

Lauren

Crispin Rose-Innes's picture

Dilip Kotecha

Very sorry to hear this very sad news.

Sub Divo's picture

Noted

Dave, this was something I picked up on from the Paragliding Forum thread...

http://www.paraglidingforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=49346

Until recently I'd been flying with my wrists through the handles and my index finger on the line. Although I find this very comfortable (whilst giving good feedback) I always wondered if I'd be able to get my hands out in time if I needed to deploy the reserve. I practised once or twice and could, but that was in a controlled situation.

Recently I tried an alternate method of wrapping the handle between the thumb and little finger, whilst still keeping my index finger in the line. It's almost as comfortable, but feels a lot safer.

For those that are familiar with the videos of guillermo on the Paragliding Forum, he has a technique that looks much safer (with probably the best feedback) although not as comfortable.

Really interested in hearing other peoples handle holding techniques...

Best wishes, David

holding handle techniques

I also hold the knot on top of the handle but as you get older it does start to get harder on the fingers. i might go for the paul watts technique of the squash ball in the same spot which also gives you something to squeeze when the flying gets kung fu style. Holding the handles reminds me of driving old cars with bloody great steering wheels and very indirect handling.I find holding the knot more precise when flying on the edge of stall whilst thermalling.

Ghandi

Carlo Borsattino's picture

Me too, but pilots should be

Me too, but pilots should be aware of the risk of having their hands through the toggles.

I practice letting go and grabbing my reserve handle every now and again.

Pretend you're having a shoot-out in the wild west.

Just don't throw the reserve - unless you need to!

Carlo