April 13, 2021 at 12:28 PM #11938
On April 11, approximately 3:30 PM, pilot launched from Crestline and the glider immediately spiralled right and impacted the ground below and to the right of the launch area.
The winds at Crestline at the time of the accident were south and very light, variable from 0 to 5 mph.
Bruises and scratches from impacting the ground in the briars below launch
Broken downtube and scuffs/punctures of the sail were immediately obvious. The glider structure will require a sail off inspection to determine any other damage.
The pilot is a current member of both USHPA and CSS with the appropriate rating for flying at Crestline.
The right wing stalled and the glider did not respond to pilot input before impact
Pilot’s launch was weak for the light conditions and the glider did not reach flying speed
The pilot debriefed with this reporter shortly after the accident. Pilot stated that glider lifted as he expected when the launch was commenced and he followed his typical higher wind technique of immediately going prone and moving his hands to the base bar. With the very light conditions he performed these actions before the glider was flying safely. All of the other pilots that launched at Crestline that day had longer than typical launch runs due to the light conditions.
Pilot also stated that this launch was his first light wind launch with a double surface glider.
This event is indicative of the downside of flying at a site that “usually” has good to excellent conditions. The pilot had not developed skills that could be adapted to the marginal conditions that day at Crestline.
This author suggested that in the future the pilot conduct a preflight briefing silently or with a flying companion before every takeoff to formulate a plan for that specific takeoff considering the current conditions, and to adopt the practice of keeping his hands on the downtubes and maintain a flight path that is straight away from the mountain until a safe altitude is assured, and only then to transition to the base bar.
Additionally, for light wind launches, utilizing the technique of continuing to run even after the glider lifts initially is recommended so if the glider does settle down one is continuing to run and and can safely continue the launch.
The pilot agreed that the suggestions were useful and will work on his launch technique.
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