NTSB Identification: IAD02LA036.
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Accident occurred Sunday, March 10, 2002 in Strausburg, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/13/2003
Aircraft: Schweizer SGS 1-26A, registration: N3878A
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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 glider was towed to altitude by a tow plane, and once released, the pilot flew towards the northeast portion of a mountain ridge to take advantage of "booming ridge lift." As the glider approached the ridge, it encountered insufficient thermal lift to maintain altitude, and the pilot performed a forced landing to a field. The pilot flew a traffic pattern approach, and during the downwind leg, the glider continued to lose altitude. As the pilot made a right turn onto the base leg of the traffic pattern, the glider's right wing struck a tree and the glider impacted the ground in a 70-degree nose down attitude. The pilot received an "outlook" weather briefing about 24 hours before his flight, which forecasted the winds to be from 290 degrees at 20 knots, with higher gusts. He did not receive an additional weather briefing; however, his visual observation of two wind socks at the airport indicated the winds were in agreement with the forecast. Examination of the glider revealed no mechanical deficiencies.

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

The pilot's inadequate evaluation of weather resulted in a loss of thermal lift, which resulted in an impact with trees.

Full narrative available

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