Is there any consensus when it comes to this question? If it depends then it depends on what exactly? I'm interested in the decision making in this kind of situation.

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    $\begingroup$ Do you have a parachute? Most glider pilots do not... $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    May 5, 2017 at 19:58
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, I'm assuming having a parachute in this question - in my country chute is obligatory. $\endgroup$ May 5, 2017 at 20:01
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    $\begingroup$ What exactly is the emergency? Are you making a controlled approach to the trees or uncontrolled? $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    May 5, 2017 at 20:04
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    $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer: Modern glider seats are designed for parachutes. Certification regulations require that the seat design must allow the accommodation of a parachute worn by an occupant (JAR 22.785). If you don't wear a parachute, you will need a thick cushion to sit properly. $\endgroup$ May 5, 2017 at 20:08
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    $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer: The seats are designed for parachutes. Even if they are not required it makes sense to wear them (and repack them regularly). $\endgroup$ May 5, 2017 at 20:24

1 Answer 1


Thankfully, I never had to make this choice. In my training I learned to stay in the plane and flare at the height of the treetops, then let the plane sink into the branches and have them stop and suspend the aircraft. The fuselage is quite effective as a protective shell, and up on top the branches are thin and flexible.

Use the parachute only to hoist yourself down from the stricken plane, if necessary.

Two-seater after landing in trees at Boberg glider port

Two-seater after landing in trees at Boberg glider port (picture source)

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    $\begingroup$ Nice picture! Were they able to use the glider again? Totally agree with that conclusion; from the numbers of paratroopers I've talked with (having dropped quite a few), it's clear that a tree landing in a parachute can be pretty rough on the parachutist, especially one wearing typical glider flying shorts & t-shirt, rather than a soldier's protective gear. Tree landings were nobody's idea of a good time, even among those who had training & equipment to deal with them. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    May 5, 2017 at 22:40
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    $\begingroup$ @RalphJ: I found the picture via Google, so I do not know much about that specific incidence. It was in a newspaper and it was mentioned that both instructor and trainee were distracted by the low sun and did not see the trees soon enough. From the picture I would guess the glider needed only minor repairs. However, with wingtip contacts there is always the risk that the spar root was damaged - this would be more serious. $\endgroup$ May 6, 2017 at 11:13
  • $\begingroup$ The most common reasons for having a parachute on a glider is that the flight will involve aerobatics and / or extreme weather which could result in structural failure. For the vast majority of tows I have provided, aerobatics are the primary reason for wearing a chute. $\endgroup$
    – mongo
    May 6, 2017 at 12:59
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    $\begingroup$ @mongo: I know too many cases of mid-airs in a thermal to agree. Wearing one doesn't hurt. $\endgroup$ May 6, 2017 at 13:07
  • $\begingroup$ Sadly, that does happen. Amend my comments that chute wearing increases during competitions as well. $\endgroup$
    – mongo
    May 6, 2017 at 13:18

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