Risk management plan for Southwest Airsports
Updated June 21, 2019
Student preparation and requirements
We have every student sign the all applicable waivers before they can receive instruction from us. Our waiver has a health questionnaire section which requires all students to declare that they are fit for the sport and have no medical or mental conditions that could interfere with their piloting a paraglider. If they indicate that they might have such a condition, they are requested to not sign the waiver and ask for a full refund of any tuition paid.
Students are monitored during all activities for signs of problems. Students are encouraged to bring water and wear breathable clothing as well as shoes that provide ankle support. We also bring bottled water and encourage pilots to drink water often. A complete first aid kit is kept inside our truck at all times and is quickly accessible. (see Emergency Action Plan)
Students are not allowed to attach to the glider without having a helmet on. This is standard operating procedure. Students must do a verbal pre-flight check before launching and if they detach from any of their equipment and wish to launch again. Students must land before other students can fly. Only one PG student at a time is allowed in the air. Multiple PPG students (with paramotors) may be allowed to fly at the same time. We do not use emergency parachutes at our primary training site (the turf farms) since we do not train when the air is thermic nor is the altitude generally sufficient to safely deploy.
Radios are used to maintain contact with students at all times when they are in the air.
Acceptable flying conditions
This is the desert and wind direction and speed can vary dramatically, especially 3+ hours after sunrise and 2- hours from sunset. Therefore, we do not train from +3 hours after sunrise to -2 hours from sunset during the spring, summer, and fall. However, this can change if there is extensive cloud cover that suppresses thermal development or it is during the winter months. Morning training is generally the best. If winds are less than 12 mph from any direction we will train. With new pilots, the winds must be less than 5 mph. There must not be any significant gusting as this usually indicates mixing of the surface air with higher speed winds aloft. The turf farms facilitate training with winds from any direction. Most mornings, the winds are still or under 4 mph. Such conditions help students improve their launch and landing skills. Often enough, the winds in the early AM can quickly switch direction, a characteristic of the light winds we find in the high altitude desert.
Task saturation is a serious, deadly hazard for all pilots, new or experienced. Managing risk means minimizing this hazard. A way to help minimize the risk from task saturation is for the instructor to wear a BRIGHT ORANGE shirt. If the instructor senses that the pilot is having trouble focusing on a task, he can say, "LOOK AT ME!" It is a simple command and will help calm the pilot and he will automatically (usually) start flying towards what he is looking at – the instructor. At that point, the instructor can more effectively help the pilot. A bright orange shirt is visible for miles in clear air. With this method, the pilot will not mistakenly identify the instructor with someone or something else.
The following sites are used by Southwest Airsports for training purposes: