Tuesday Tip: Avoiding power lines on landing

This tip is from Dennis Pagen’s classic book, Performance Flying

Paraglider in power lines

Hung up in Argentina in 2009. Photo: www.m24digital.com

Too many pilots have had power line tangles.

Examples include:

  • An expert pilot in the USA who was electrocuted when his glider blew up onto a wire
  • A pilot who survived the pyrotechnics of a power line landing only to drop two storeys onto a raging brush fire ignited by his sparks
  • And a pilot who was focused on making goal at dusk and hit a high tension line carrying enough power to light Las Vegas. His light bulb imitation flashed the whole valley. He cut himself free with a hook knife and landed in a molten pile of glider pieces. He staggered away alive but it went down as a bad day.

The problem with power lines is they are difficult to see. Because of this, adopt a general outlook:

  1. Expect power lines along every road and leading to every building
  2. Look for power lines anytime you see a cut in the trees or even the suggestion of a trace
  3. Look for tell-tale shadows of power line poles
  4. View the field from different angles to detect power line poles
  5. Follow a logical route from any pole you see to trace the power line route
  6. Be aware that small, more invisible lines are often placed above or below larger lines.

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