No Big Deal?

This report was submitted by Bill Hanson, who flies his Pégase 101 out of Randall Airport, NY. It belongs to those stories that make you think “Oh boy”. Thanks to Bill for sharing his experience and contributing to our mission for more safety in gliding!

“Here is what happened to me last weekend: I use checklists and I feel I am pretty good at trying to be diligent. It was a really hot day, and the day before I really got over-heated working around the house – I felt fine but a little off. No big deal.

Pégase 101A

Pégase 101A

The first thing I did after leaving work early to go play was to take the fuselage out of my trailer wrong and scratched the side. No big deal. Then I assembled and had my crew (my wife) check the pins and control check – got onto the line and did a radio check – the tow pilot said I was static, unusual, but I figured it was... No big deal.

Our field is kind of bumpy and the initial roll sometime loosens a few teeth, but once in the air I was fine, but the glider felt a little different, but I figured it was... No big deal.

Once I got past my 200 ft decision height looking for my plan A target should something go wrong, I noticed I had nothing that was electric working. I have flown many hours with no electric in a glider so I felt it was ... No big deal.

When I got off tow I decided that while I could continue and work on stuff, that I needed to make a decision and be the PIC – not just a passenger letting my flight happen. So I decided best to land and relight after I got everything back to normal. No big deal.

When I landed I took off the cover to see what was up with my battery/connection – and to my surprise there was no battery in the holder. The pin which secures it was in but it was not through all the holes, only the bottom holes – the top flap with the other holes that secure it was open. My battery had jumped out of the holder and was stuck in the tail!!! This could have been a huge BIG DEAL.

A five pound battery being thrown about in the tail with all the controls exposed and a change CG is a really bad thing. I spoke to our lead instructor who asked if a visual check of the battery holder was on my check list? – It is NOW. One of the problems is that where the box is mounted is hard to see. I was doing it by feel. To see it you really have to put your eye into the control hole which I will do for now on. My penance was two hours in 97 degree temps and 99 % humidity getting the battery out of my tail – I could have used another word for tail which would have been more meaningful...

Share Your ExperienceAviation Safety Culture includes discussion of your own experiences and errors which everyone can learn from. Have you experienced or witnessed incidents which could be interesting for our readers?Share your experiences with others! Flight safety in gliding can only be improved when incidents are worked through and the findings distributed.Write to: helge@soaringcafe.com, we will publish any suitable letters received. Please let us know if you prefer to not have your name or other identifying information to be disclosed.

Helge Zembold

Helge Zembold has had a passion for flyting since he was little. His father was also a pilot and took Helge with him several times even as a child, so it’s no surprise that he started gliding at the age of 14. As a junior, he took part in various regional competitions and was a member of the German Sports Soldier Gliding Squad in 2001. He then began professional flight training at Lufthansa German Airlines, so gliding had to step back for a while. Helge currently flies the Airbus 330/340 as First Officer and goes gliding whenever his spare time and family (wife, two kids, dog, cat and horse) allows. His second passion is aviation journalism with a focus on general aviation and gliding. Helge started out doing public relations for his gliding club, which led to a job at the local newspaper—a perfect way to finance gliding while a student. In addition, he started writing for special interest magazines such as Aerokurier and Segelfliegen. Between 2010 and 2013, Helge served as chief editor of Segelfliegen, which is the biggest German gliding magazine, serving more than 5000 readers. He covers the European section of Soaring Café.

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