Soaring involves a significant degree of risk, and keeping that firmly in mind is one of the best insurance policies. Conversely, neglecting the risk leads to complacency, generally recognized as one of our greatest enemies. Following are links to four articles on soaring safety:
We usually do not recognize complacency until after an accident or scare -- when it is too late. At the 2007 PASCO Soaring Safety Seminar I gave a talk "Complacency: What Me Worry?" on some early warning signs of complacency. This talk is also available in a German translation, courtesy of Dr. Hans. L. Trautenberg. As explained in "Soaring, Cryptography and Nuclear Weapons," it also led me to a new, less threatening approach to an otherwise heavy topic.
In a famous 1993 banquet speech, Bruno Gantenbrink, the 2000 European Open Class Champion, debunks the myth that "The most dangerous part of soaring is the drive to the air field," calling it "the dumbest, most ignorant thing that has been said about our sport."
Ridge soaring, flying almost at tree top level, is one of the great thrills of soaring and, because there is no stopping to circle in thermals, allows doing cross country soaring at high speed . It is also risky and anyone who engages in it should be aware of the danger. A classic paper presents a possible explanation for why even pilots with extensive ridge soaring experience occasionally crash into the ridge: Henry Combs, "That Beautiful Mountain and Her Sinister Trap: A Possible Explanation for Some Unexplained Ridge-Soaring Crashes," Soaring Magazine, September 1984, pages 20-23. (Copyright Soaring Society of America. Reprinted by permission.)
Another article with additional thoughts on the danger associated with ridge soaring: J. J. Sinclair, "Safety Feature: Don't Smack the Mountain 101," Windsock (The Valley Soaring Association Journal), September 30, 2007, pages 9-11.
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