SAFA ACCIDENT & INCIDENT REPORT

Initial reports are listed below.
Upon finalisation of an investigation, findings and recommendations will be published here and in the SAFA Sky Sailor magazine.
Please note: In the event of a fatality, SAFA findings will not be released until the Coroner has completed investigations and release their findings.

Date No. / Discipline State Description Recomendation
15-08-2021 1536 / PG Southeast Qld Incident Mt Tamborine
A low-hours PG2 pilot was flying under supervision at Mt. Tamborine (Qld/S). They have been thermaling for only the second time, for approximately 35 minutes. They have drifted downwind in the thermal and away from the LZ. They have then lost the thermal and encountered heavy sink (~ 5 m/s). This, in combination with the headwind on a low-performance wing, made reaching the LZ extremely difficult. They have elected to make a safe landing in the nearest, safe area.
Low-hours pilots should bear in mind the following points: 1. Always keep track of where you are in relation to the LZ. You will be surprised how quickly you can be pushed downwind when in a thermal. 2. Low-performance wings these days really only have one weak area, and that is flying into wind - the glide ratio really plummets. When flying in sink or into wind, apply speedbar to improve penetration and forward movement. But never use this as a substitute to landing in the LZ before getting into difficulties Supervising pilots should bear these factors in mind when monitoring supervised pilots' progress.
30-07-2021 1528 / PG Southeast Qld Incident CRYSTAL WATERS Niviuk Artik 6
The PIC has launched from Gerrards lookout near Montville (Qld/S) and has flown towards Conondale Valley. In the Conondale Valley, PIC is trying to gain height to fly over a ridge to carry on their XC flight. They have not managed to find a thermal and was losing height. They were flying above trees on the ridge and had a landing option in sight. Whilst flying they felt a surge in the glider indicating a thermal and lift and have turned sharply to try to stay in the small core. They have dropped out of the core and the deep brake travel and change in pressure on the wing have caused the glider to spin. This in turn has caused rapid height loss and the pilot has crashed through the canopy of the trees below. The glider has caught in the top canopy of the trees, leaving the PIC suspended below the glider approximately 20 metres above the ground. PIC assessed the situation and due to the tree being dead and brittle with the fear that branches may break, PIC has exited the harness and managed to secure themself to a large branch close to the tree main trunk. PIC has then called emergency services, and the Fire department has come out and rescued the pilot from the tree safely. The PIC did not suffer any injuries. The Pilot went back the next day with an Arborist to retrieve their glider and harness and has sent it to be repaired.
When flying low, scratching for lift it is always tempting to try anything to remain airborne. Always be height aware and remember that there is not much time for the wing to recover from a stall, spin, etc. and be cautious with your control inputs. In this case, a crash landing in a tree may have saved the pilot serious injury; if the pilot had hit the ground with wing parachutal, the pilot could have been seriously injured. Every incident has to be evaluated as it happens. We are told to stay in the harness and wait for rescue, as many pilots have died freeing themselves from their harness and falling to their death. But in this incident, the dead tree may have not been strong enough to hold the pilot. So, exiting the harness if you can do so safely, to find a safer place to secure yourself is correct.
04-07-2021 1524 / PG TAS Incident Gaffs Hill Ozone Atom
PIC has set up to launch their paraglider at Gaffs Hill (Tas.). Winds were approximately 12-14 knots with stronger gusts and there were already three other pilots in the air. PIC has inflated their wing which has veered to the left. While attempting to manage this, PIC has been lifted from the ground at 45 degrees then come back down hard, narrowly missing large rocks. They have been lifted and dropped again, then been dragged with their face impacting rocks resulting in a small cut or abrasion to the chin. Other pilots have assisted in controlling and deflating the wing, checked the pilot and advised rest. PIC has instead walked 50 m further down the hill and launched unassisted.
This site can be pretty unforgiving with large rocks in abundance waiting to cause injury. The main launch is also subject to compression and in stronger wind conditions moving down the slope is definitely recommended. Pilots are advised to practice their strong wind ground handling skills for this situation. Ensure in these conditions that the wing is oriented correctly for the wind direction.
07-07-2021 1521 / PG Southeast Qld Accident Widgee Mountain launch Niviuk Hook 5
The PIC has set up their wing on Launch at Mt Widgee (Qld/S), in conditions deemed appropriate (perfect) for a PG2 pilot at this site. On inflation, the wing has pulled to the left and the pilot has started to turn the incorrect way. The wing has come overhead, but due to the pilot slightly twisted the opposite direction, the PIC does not have sufficient wing control. They have tried to kill the wing by applying brakes, but with the wing overhead and starting to lift PIC off the ground, PIC has been dragged forward down the slope slightly off the ground, still facing the wing in the reverse inflation position. The PIC has impacted a small tree and the terrain. They have crashed into the ground and the wing has flown forward over the pilot. The pilot was sore and felt pain from some ribs and lower back. Witnesses helped the pilot to their car and transported them downhill to meet with an Ambulance where they were taken to Gympie Hospital. Whilst in hospital it was found PIC sustained broken ribs and also a punctured lung. PIC was released from the hospital a few days later.
Ground handling is a key skill and should be practised. Some launches, like Mt. Widgee, are not friendly to poor ground handling due to the steep slope of launch and the launch being in the lift band of wind. Often pilots are lifted off their feet immediately on wing inflation and need to respond quickly to avoid injury.
20-06-2021 02:00 PM 1516 / PG VIC Incident Mt Broughton Nova Ion 5
The PIC walked up Mt Broughton (Vic) to fly in winter conditions suited to a PG2 (0-3Kn SW-SSW). They had a 30-minute break to rehydrate and rest. To be polite, the PIC set up to the left (east) of the more experienced pilots, who were positioned ready to launch. One of these pilots filmed the launch attempt. The film shows that the PIC initiated a strong forward launch. The right wing rose first. While running about 10 meters, the PIC changed direction about 30 degrees leftwards. At this point, both brakes appear to be engaged about waist height and the wing seems about overhead. The right brake was then released, while the left brake was engaged. The PIC reported that around this point, they stepped on/over a log. The wing rolled leftward and turned leftward. Some left lines caught in a large dead tree, collapsing the wing. There were no injuries or equipment damage, and the wing was retrieved by the pilots present.
Launching is a high-risk event: launch from an optimal position. Don't let politeness or other interpersonal factors interfere with decisions affecting your safety. Abort launch if wing inflates asymmetrically. Avoid stepping on/over large objects when launching. When launching, actively pilot to the desired direction: don't 'follow the wing'. Maintain situational awareness: anticipate unexpected hazards.