Team Percocet Reports:
Saturday was the last day of the comp, and it was a left turn day - usually that is a good sign for me...
The task was 33k and designed to get us out of the windy Applegate valley and into the wider Medford valley. The task worked well for the conditions and also to get people back early for the awards ceremony.
As usual, Burnt Ridge was the place to tank up anytime the course line was nearby. There was enough lift between Burnt and the Jacksonville turnpoint to make it through that section.
A really nice core was filled with gliders over Poormans, and that climb was the strongest of the day for me. I got high enough that I had the Cemetery turnpoint and goal with one glide.
From Cemetery onward I was on full bar, I had goal made no problem, or so I thought. A few miles from goal I took a big frontal collapse. The wing opened quickly but with a large cravat. With with most of right wing pointing down and stuck in the lines, the left half of the wing was all that was flying and I tried to shift my weight over to that side, but the seat board was tilted down to the right so far that I'm not sure how effective I was.
The wing was turning to the right, and I figured a spiral was soon to follow, so I put on a little left brake, and reached out with my right hand to find the stabilo line, and things got weird as the risers twisted (maybe I stalled the left wing). Then the wing started spiralling fast, so I tossed the reserve before the G's got too big.
I had enough altitude that I could have tried a full stall, but the last full stall I did on purpose was years ago in a SIV clinic, and I just wasn't into it.
The reserve opened quickly and ripped the nipple off my camelback and water was sprinkling down all around me as I reeled in the crumpled wing.
For whatever reason, the reserve ride was not very stable, I was swinging from side to side and spinning around quite a bit. I looked up at the reserve, and the two bridles were twisted together for about 3 feet, which might have explained my alarming rate of descent.
Then I looked down and noticed that I was drifting toward a road with power lines next to it. I flew over the power lines with about 5 feet to spare. I was drifting quickly and spinning around - I had no way of doing a PLF, I was at the mercy of whatever was next.
I hit the asphalt hard and bounced landing on my back about a foot off the pavement. The only good thing about where I stopped was that I was under the shade of the only little bush growing next to the road. I didn't loose consciousness, but I figured I wasn't going to walk away from this landing either.
I could wiggle my toes, so I slowly took off my helmet, gloves and jacket, but when I wiggled my legs I felt a crunching feeling in my left hip - I was pretty sure I broke something. Someone that lived nearby saw me under reserve and called the meat wagon.
A big thanks to the pilots who stopped racing to circle above me, and to Mike, Kris, Pete, for helping me get comfortable and coordinating the ambulance and for gathering my gear up. Heike had goal easily too, but landed next to me to see if I was alright.
X-rays showed 3 fractures in my pelvis that will heal in 4-6 weeks. When I get back in the air, I will have a better reserve and I plan on a couple days in an SIV course learning about how to deal with big cravats. I bet I will use less speed bar for a while too...
I am pretty sure I could have improved a few things, and I plan on discussing the incident with some of the best pilots here in Lakeview right now. There are also things I could have done differently - one would have been to drop the wing and try to unwrap the bridle, but what if the wing would have caught in the power lines?
While I can't say I enjoyed every minute of the comp (my problem), I still really enjoy the challenge of competition flying but I also plan to make a few changes based on this experience.
Results are here