Return to the incident list: Incident List

Drag after landing in high winds

PPG Type: Foot Launch
Type of Injury: No Injury

Pilot Details

Age: 42
Weight: 150
Gender: Male
Highest rating held at the time of the incident: None
Pilot experience level: 50+ hours

Gear Details

Wing Brand: Ozone
Model: Sirocco 3
Size: 22
Paramotor Frame: Skymax Star with Vittorazi Atom 80

Incident Details

February 4, 2022 8:30 AM
Location of the incident:
Salton Sea, California
Type of Incident
: Fall or Trip (While on the ground), Ground Drag

At the 2022 Salton Sea fly-in a group of 4 pilots including myself planned to do a circumnavigation of the Salton Sea counterclockwise south to north.  We planned to land at about the 3/4 point to refuel if needed.  With favorable winds, I calculated I may not need to refuel.  The wind at the LZ at sunrise was very light and the forecast on all Windy models was for it to remain that way until the afternoon.  This forecast included the area on the other side (East) of the Salton Sea.  After about 1/3 the way around the sea, I noticed the turbulence increasing (about 45min after sunrise) to moderate.  As I made my turn around the southern tip of the Salton Sea, the turbulence increased and I suffered several small tip collapses.   At the 1/2 way point (directly East of the LZ across the sea) in the vicinity of Bombay Beach, the turbulence became severe.  I tried several altitudes I settled on about 300AGL for the “best” air.  The wind had increased significantly from the East and my ground speed was now reduced to approx 10mph. I roughly calculated the wind speed to be about 15-18mph form the East.  I figured the turbulence was coming from the mountain ridge to the east which was creating rotor.  I considered climbing to get above the ridge,  but given my 80cc motor, I figured it would take several long turbulent minutes to get above the ridge.  My nerves got the best of me and I decided to stay where I was.   When I got to the Bombay Beach area, I decided to land and wait for the wind to die off.  I picked this area since it was a little more populated in the event something went wrong on landing….I’m glad I did.   As I touched down, my ground speed was almost 0.  This meant the wind was approx 20mph sustained with gusts.  I didn’t have a solid plan once I touched down.  This was my biggest mistake.  About a second after touchdown, I was lifted off the beach about 1-2FT and twisted.  I then fell to the ground and was being dragged towards the water.  Pulling and wrapping brakes did nothing.  I was able to get one riser unclipped but the wing did not deflate….I was confused until I realized I had speed bar connected.  With gloves on, there was no way I was going to be able to get the S clips undone under pressure.  I reached for my hook knife, but it wasn’t there.  I had forgotten to put it back on my harness after cleaning a few weeks back.   At this point I started to panic as I was still being pulled towards the water.   Then, out of nowhere, a man in a truck came speeding down the beach.  He jumped out and collapsed the glider.  I was about 20ft from the water at this point.  In the end, this guy really saved my butt.  I suffered no injuries, one hoop section was slightly bent.  My glider suffered the most damage with several medium length tears and many small holes with an internal rib torn as well.  Shout out to Cloud 9 for the fix on the glider!  Major lessons learned:  In areas with few weather sensors (east side of the Salton Sea, predictions may be wrong. 2. Have a plan for high wind landings.  I should have grabbed the Cs or Bs.  3. Fly with a hook knife.  I was very lucky. Before the accident, I had been flying 3 years with over 400hrs of flight time.

Flight Window: Morning
Wind Speed: Strong Wind (10-15 mph)
Type: Gusty / Thermal Activity / Dust Devil
Phase of Flight: After Landing
Type of Injury: No Injury
Collateral Damage: None
Analysis of the incident (additional input by the incident investigation team):

Photos (if available): https://usppa.org/wp-content/uploads/formidable/13/ss3-150×150.jpg, https://usppa.org/wp-content/uploads/formidable/13/ss2-150×150.jpg, https://usppa.org/wp-content/uploads/formidable/13/ss1-150×150.jpg
Video (if available):

Return to the incident list: Incident List

TOP