Home Forums Safety Incident Report: HG Crash at AJX, August 14, 2020

  • Author
  • #9988
    David Webb
    General Member

    Incident Summary

    On August 14 @ approximately 18:00, student HG pilot set up for final approach into AJX. Pilot determined that they were going to overshoot the LZ, so attempted to land in the PG kiting area. Pilot was still too high/fast to land in the kiting area but could not clear the LZ. Control bar contacted the ground, causing the pilot to impact.


    Weather was hot and winds were moderate to light. At 18:00, AJX weather station reported SW winds @ 8mph.

    Emergency or Medical Response

    Emergency response was not called, but pilot was driven to the hospital for treatment.


    Multiple breaks in one arm reported.

    Pilots Involved

    Student HG pilot.

    Root Cause

    Pilot’s approach was too high to safely land in the LZ.

    Proximate Cause

    Pilot chose not to overshoot the LZ and land in the bailout.

    Corrective Action

    Pilot to review appropriate DBF approach and approach altitudes with instructor. Pilot to review AJX layout with instructor to determine safe landing alternatives if an overshoot is necessary.

    Gary Anderson
    General Member
    • What does student pilot mean?
    • What was the pilot’s rating? (H1 or H2 or something else?)
    • What kind of glider was being flown?
    • What launch was used?
    • How long was the pilot in the air?
    • How many high-altitude solo flights did the student pilot have before this flight that ended in a crash?
    • Why was the pilot too high to land at the LZ?
      • Was the setup too high?
      • Should the pilot have noticed they were too high while on base leg or early in the final approach?
      • Did the pilot experience lift during base leg or final approach?
        • If so, when did that lift occur?
        • How and when could the pilot have corrected for for that lift?
      • How high was the pilot on their base leg?
      • What was the pilots altitude and position relative to the training hill when the pilot turned on final approach?

    We must probe deeper into these accidents if we expect to learn something.


    David Webb
    General Member

    Some of these incidents – it’s been really hard to get solid details. If anyone has anything to add, please email safety@crestlinesoaring.org and I’d be happy to update the report.

    Gary Anderson
    General Member

    David, I really appreciate your efforts and I am sorry to hear that no one is speaking up.

    This is pure speculation but maybe it will remind some of us how to avoid getting into desperate situations that cause mistakes and crashes. It is possible that this pilot’s approach was high from the very beginning. We should all have visual cues that tell us if we are coming in high or low and we should have worked out options for correcting altitude problems before we get to the final leg of an approach. If you use consistently use the training hill to truly assess approach altitude and glide it will not take long before you learn to recognize altitude issues really early in your approach. Early recognition changes a potential accident into a slightly modified approach pattern.

    Jonathan Dietch
    General Member

    I was there and watched the pilot approach high on a pizza run. Falcon 3 195 and H2 after his first flight from Crestline late in the day. The air in the LZ was calm with no thermic activity. The pilot told me he feared he was going to fly into the two PG pilots who were standing near the W/SW corner of the LZ. I missed his high flare that resulted in the injury to his arm. The glider was fine. I broke it down and stored it. Only a wheel was damaged.
    My opinion is that the pilot panicked and became fixated on the PG pilots rather than training his eyes on where he wanted his glider to go. In this case that should have been off the LZ and into an overshoot area. In other words–his glider followed his eyes. This is an extremely common cause of bicycle crashes as well as aviation crashes. Bicycles and gliders tend to go where we are looking , especially if we are fixated on an object. That’s a guarantee that we will hit the object. Train your eyes where you want to go and NOT where you want to avoid or you will hit the very object your are trying to avoid. This is well-established dogma in numerous sports and includes hitting a good drive with a golf club.

  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.