NTSB Identification: NYC01LA121.
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Accident occurred Saturday, May 12, 2001 in New Milford, CT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/26/2001
Aircraft: Schweizer SGS 1-26E, registration: N33907
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators may have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The student pilot departed in a glider from an airport with an elevation of 675 feet, and was aero-towed to 3,000 feet msl, over the airport, where he released. Initially he stayed north of the airport and climbed to 4,000 feet. He then headed to the northeast, while the winds were from the southwest. Over a period of several minutes the glider lost 1,900 feet while the pilot was searching for thermals. The pilot then elected to return to his departure airport. En route to the airport, he encountered a rain shower, and was sinking 500 to 600 fpm. He had insufficient altitude to reach the airport with the existing headwinds of 5 to 10 knots, and settled into trees about 1/4 of a miles from the approach end of the runway. The glider club field safety manager reported that he had cautioned the pilot to remain upwind of the airport prior to his departure. The pilot reported that he had focused his attention to finding lift and did not maintain his awareness of his proximity to the airport.

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

the student pilot's improper decision to fly northeast of the airport with winds from the southwest, and his subsequent diverted attention to the glider's proximity to the airport while he searched for thermals, which resulted in an off airport landing.

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