WHAT'S YOUR LEFT HAND DOING?
Every year we hear of gliders taking off on tow either with the spoiler out on takeoff or the spoiler coming out after takeoff and the pilot doesn't know. This is so common that we now have an SSA approved signal to tell a pilot that his/her spoilers are open on tow. There is absolutely no excuse for this to happen! Sure, it's possible to forget some of the check list. Every pilot who flies either has or will forget to do part of his checklist. However, that is still not an excuse to have them open on tow. At Bermuda High we try to make things idiot proof.
On takeoff your left hand has nothing to do except be somewhat close to the release handle (or knob) just in case you need to use it. So, make a fist with your left hand and place it just behind the spoiler handle before takeoff. First this insures that they are closed on takeoff (but maybe not locked). Now the spoilers cannot open without bumping into your fist. No way. Then even if you didn't exactly get them locked they cannot open without you knowing it. This method is simple and full proof. If we all used this method there would never again be a case of spoilers coming open on tow and the pilot not being aware of it.
It is important to note that I did not say put your hand on the spoiler handle nor around the spoiler handle. That would be another mistake. A big bump or a lot of turbulence and your own left hand if around or on the spoiler handle could possibly pull the spoilers open. Remember, make a fist and put it BEHIND THE SPOILER HANDLE.
If you follow the above advise for your left hand on each and every takeoff you will never have the spoilers sneak open on tow.
SSA Region V Director
Jefferson, SC 29718