NTSB Identification: LAX92LA275.
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 46868.
Accident occurred Thursday, July 02, 1992 in OLANCHA, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/28/1993
Aircraft: BURKHART GROB G103, registration: N173SS
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

THE PILOT SAID THAT WHILE EN ROUTE ON A CROSS COUNTRY FLIGHT HE BEGAN LOOSING LIFT AND ELECTED TO MAKE A PRECAUTIONARY LANDING AT AN ABANDONED AIRSTRIP. AFTER LANDING, THE PILOT TELEPHONED COMPANY REPRESENTATIVES AND ARRANGED TO HAVE A TOW PLANE FLY DOWN TO GET HIM AIRBORNE AGAIN. THE TOW PLANE ARRIVED AND BOTH PILOTS SURVEYED THE 2,400 FOOT LONG DIRT AIRSTRIP, DECIDING THAT IT WAS ADEQUATE FOR THE TOW OPERATION. DURING THE ATTEMPTED TAKEOFF, THE TOW PLANE PILOT FELT THAT THE ACCELERATION DOWN THE RUNWAY WAS INSUFFICIENT TO TAKEOFF AND HE RELEASED THE GLIDER. UNKNOWN TO THE TOW PLANE PILOT, THE GLIDER WAS ALREADY AIRBORNE OFF THE RUNWAY WHEN HE RELEASED THE TOW CABLE. THE GLIDER HAD INSUFFICIENT REMAINING RUNWAY TO LAND AND THE PILOT WAS FORCED TO ATTEMPT A RETURN TO RUNWAY MANEUVER FROM LOW ALTITUDE. ONE WING TIP COLLIDED WITH A SMALL TREE DURING THE TURN BACK TO THE RUNWAY.

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

1) THE TOW PILOT'S INTENTIONAL PREMATURE RELEASE OF THE GLIDER, WHICH HAD BECOME AIRBORNE, WHEN THE TOW PLANE FAILED TO ACHIEVE SUFFICIENT AIRSPEED DURING ITS TAKEOFF GROUND ROLL, AND, 2) THE GLIDER HAVING INSUFFICIENT ALTITUDE AT THE TIME OF RELEASE TO NEGOTIATE A SUCCESSFUL RETURN TO RUNWAY MANEUVER. A FACTOR IN THE ACCIDENT WAS THE SOFT NATURE OF THE DIRT RUNWAY.

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