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The Soaring Incident Database is now available to help pilots, safety officers, clubs, and commercial operators develop new programs that can help prevent incidents from becoming major accidents. See more incidents by searching the database or register a new incident.

Region Pilot Certificate Pilot Injuries Passenger Injuries Type of Flight Launch Method Type of Aircraft
Midwest CFI Minor None Local Auto Tow Piper Pawnee
Incident Activity Damage to Aircraft Damage to Canopy Incident Date Incident Time Weather SSA Member
GroundHandling Minor 2020-05-09 1400-1600 Not a Factor Yes
Incident Description After landing from a tow I taxied back to the staging area and parked the tow plane. I saw the grass mower approaching my position and knew the towrope was still partially on the grass runway. I got out of the tow plane to retrieve the rope off of the runway because the mower was out on the runway doing some mowing. I wasn't quite quick enough and the mower picked up the rope. As it pulled on the rope it whipped the tow plane around backwards and began pulling it toward the mower. I was in the way and the tow plane fuselage hit me and knocked me down. That was a good thing as the wing of the tow plane then was pulled over me but I was not injured further. Eventually the mower was stopped by others waving him down. I had some bruises and a few scrapes but was otherwise OK. The tow plane had some minor damage from hitting me which was easily repaired.
Other Comments I've had some time to think about this incident and have the following advise. If you see a situation developing like this, (i.e. the rope on the runway and the mower heading toward it), RELEASE THE ROPE FROM THE TOW PLANE before you get out to try and clear the rope from the runway. If I had done that then the only damage would have been to the rope, which was destroyed anyway, and not to any other piece of equipment or person. It could have turned out worse that it did. Hind sight is 20/20 and we should all learn from this event. The rope lying in the grass is almost impossible to see from the tractor, so the person on the mower should not be blamed. It was my intention to clear the rope from the grass after getting out of the tow plane but I was not quick enough. As a further thought I think that anytime the tow plane is left unattended after a tow, that the towrope should be disconnected.

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