NTSB Identification: FTW97FA249.
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Accident occurred Saturday, July 05, 1997 in HOBBS, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/06/1998
Aircraft: Schempp-Hirth VENTUS-2B, registration: N80077
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot had been involved in a week-long Region 9 glider competition. Witnesses reported that approximately halfway to the first check point, a 'low cloud deck moved in from the northeast reducing the available lift.' Witnesses stated that the weather deteriorated to such a degree that 20 of the 38 competing gliders landed-out. As the pilot was flying south towards the approach end of runway 17, approximately 200 feet agl, he turned eastbound. According to witnesses at the destination airport, the pilot radioed that he was going 'to land-out.' A witness near the accident site reported that she 'heard the glider fly overhead and looked up to see it just above her house.' The witness further reported that she saw the glider fly northbound and climb to 'about 2, maybe 3 telephone poles height above the ground.' She said that the glider was 'rocking back and forth like a kite, and then it spun to the left and hit the ground.' The glider fell on some transmission wires as it impacted the ground. The Soaring Society of America's Flight Manual states that in preparation for an off-field landing, the pilot should select a specific field by 1,500 feet agl.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The pilot's failure to select an off-field landing site with sufficient time/altitude to perform the landing which led to his failure to maintain airspeed. A factor was the unfavorable wind.

Full narrative available

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