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In recent years, Premature Terminations of the Tow (PT3) have been a leading cause of glider accidents and pilot fatalities, second only to stall / spin related events. In spite of accident prevention efforts devoted to preventing this type of occurrence, the accident rate for launches of all types, aero-tow, ground, and self-launch remains exceptionally high.

Over the years, the term rope-break seems to have become synonymous of the wide range of occurrences that contribute to PT3 accidents. However, broken towlines are not the most common causal factor in PT3 accidents. In fact, a PT3 will more commonly occur as a result of some other event - an event that involves a significant level of distraction for the pilot. The most common factors that contribute to PT3 accidents include inadvertent extension of the spoilers / dive brakes during takeoff or climb, and improperly closed or locked canopy, mechanical related occurrences, and the failure of the pilot to maintain a proper tow position.

The most troubling aspect of PT3 related accidents is that many of these events are preventable through the application of basic accident prevention procedures. The Soaring Safety Foundation strongly encourages all pilots to adopt the following accident prevention strategies to help prevent PT3 accidents.

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