NTSB Identification: DEN91FA083.
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 45580.
Accident occurred Thursday, June 13, 1991 in DURANGO, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/27/1993
Aircraft: SCHEMPP-HIRTH VENTUS C, registration: N418CH
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 TOLD WITNESSES HE WAS UNFAMILIAR WITH THE AREA, HAD LIMITED MOUNTAIN FLYING EXPEREINCE, WAS STILL UNCOMFORTABLE FLYING HIS 3-YEAR OLD HIGH-PERFORMANCE SAILPLANE, AND NEEDED TO BE MORE AGGRESSIVE IN HIS FLYING TECHNIQUE. ON THE DAY OF THE ACCIDENT, THE PILOT APPEARED NEVOUS AND APPREHENSIVE. HE INSTRUCTED THE TOW PILOT TO FLY NORTH TOWARDS MOUNTAINOUS TERRAIN AND A DISTANT THUNDERSTORM. THE PILOT RELEASED HIMSELF AT 8800 FT MSL, ABOUT 200-300 FT BELOW THE CREST OF THE RIDGE. THE TOW PILOT SAID SOARING CONDITIONS IN THAT AREA WERE 'POOR WITH LITTLE LIFT.' WHEN THE SAILPLANE FAILED TO RETURN. A SEARCH WAS INITIATED. THE SAILPLANE HAD STRUCK ASPEN TREES AND CRASHED WITHIN 1.5 MILES OF THE RELASE POINT.

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

THE ABSENCE OF THERMAL LIFT, THE PILOT'S APPREHENSION, AND HIS LACK OF FAMILIARITY WITH THE GEOGRAPHIC AREA.

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