Date & Time of incident
25th November 2020 11am
Weather Conditions at the Time of the Incident
Wind from North North East – 18mph gusting to 20 mph. Forecast suggested later in the day that gusts would increase to 25 mph.
East end of Fraserburgh beach
Description of Incident
After arriving at Fraserburgh beach, Pilot A estimated the wind speed to be a steady 18 mph whilst standing on the beach.
After conducting pre-flight checks Pilot A clipped in and noticed it was difficult to keep the wing on the ground even while using C’s and brakes together. Deciding it would be safer to launch and get airborne, he pulled the wing above his head. At this time, a strong gust occurred which lifted him off his feet with the wing overhead.
Whilst airborne, Pilot A noticed his groundspeed was reduced to 0 mph and the was slowly being pushed over the back of the sand dunes. After applying speed bar, he managed to penetrate with 1-2mph forward speed. Deciding to land he faced the sea and came down vertically on the beach. After touching down, he grabbed both C risers, but whilst turning around to kill the wing, he tripped up and started to get dragged backwards towards the sand dunes.
Luckily, two other pilots who were on the ground were able to kill the wing before it became airborne once more.
Why Did It Happen?
- Pilot A launched despite the wind speed not being within a ‘safe range’.
- Pilot A underestimated the wind speed at wing height.
- Pilot A had not ground handled in over 4 months and considered himself “rusty” as such was not quick enough to kill his wing once he landed.
- Pilot A did not check the wind speed at dune height prior to deciding to fly.
- Rusty pilots should consider their level of currency when evaluating whether to fly in strong conditions.
- Prior / recent ground handling practise might have ensured quicker reactions when killing the wing in this instance.
- Wind strength should always be assessed at the highest point prior to making decisions to fly, in this case, the top of the sand dunes. If pilot A had assessed conditions here first, he likely would not have launched.