NTSB Identification: LAX05LA224.
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Accident occurred Sunday, July 03, 2005 in Big Pine, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/28/2006
Aircraft: Schleicher ASW-20, registration: N31AP
Injuries: 1 Fatal.
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 collided with mountainous terrain at an elevation of 11,600 feet mean sea level (msl) and was destroyed upon impact. The pilot intended to transition the area along the mountain range prior to returning to his departure point. A flight recording device was recovered from the wreckage and showed that the pilot flew 24 thermals and attempted an additional 9, and the thermaling included turns in both left and right directions. The last recording on the device showed that the glider was established in straight flight at 12,221 feet msl and then began a left turn toward higher terrain. As the left turn began, the device recorded an altitude of 12,129 feet msl and a groundspeed of 66 knots. As the turn continued, the altitude increased to 12,171 feet msl and the airspeed decayed to 56 knots. The last recording showed at altitude of 12,152 feet msl and no groundspeed was recorded. The terrain to the right of the pilot's flight path decreased in altitude and opened up to a substantial valley. The Glider Flying Handbook advises glider pilots to make all turns away from the ridge when slope soaring because a turn toward the ridge is dangerous, even if gliding seemingly well away from the ridge. Examination of the glider revealed no evidence of a preimpact malfunction of the control system.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: the pilot's failure to maintain an adequate terrain clearance altitude and his decision to turn toward higher terrain. Full narrative available
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