In a report from the BFU we read of a Pik 20D sailplane which took off on aerotow behind a tug aeroplane. According to the report, the glider pilot was unable to prevent his aircraft climbing rapidly, so he realised he had no elevator control. He released the tow rope and used his airbrakes in an attempt to control the aircraft’s pitch attitude and rate of descent, but he was seriously injured in the subsequent uncontrolled landing.
The pilot had rigged the aircraft some 3 hours earlier, but after the wings had been attached he connected the remainder of the parts himself. He recognised that he had forgotten to attach the elevator connection. He did not obtain an independent check of the assembly of the aircraft or its controls.
The safety of aircraft which are designed to be rigged and de-rigged as a matter of routine, such as sailplanes, relies on careful attention being paid to the rigging process. Human factors suggest that even the most conscientious person can make slips and errors. A check, by a qualified person who has not been involved in the rigging process, that the rigging has been carried out completely, is the accepted way to guard against such slips and errors.
Then before take-off, the ‘full and free’ control check should be carried out while another person provides some resistance to movement. If for some reason an independent check is impossible, then the pilot must carry out those checks himself as a totally separate operation from the rigging process.
Qualty,Safety and Training