NTSB Identification: DEN05LA108.
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Accident occurred Saturday, July 09, 2005 in Moriarty, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/20/2005
Aircraft: Grob G103, registration: N916G
Injuries: 2 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 tow plane pilot said that the winds were 5 to 15 knots "from the west or northwest" and that "25 knot gusts were not uncommon." During the takeoff roll, he saw an "extreme dust devil right in front [of the airplane]" and "paper-sized pieces of cardboard spinning sharply." He momentarily lost control of the tow plane, then noticed the glider was no longer in tow. He flew an abbreviated traffic pattern and landed. It was then that he noticed his propeller had sustained a ground strike. The glider pilot said that after an uneventful aero tow, the tow plane started "pulling up and then touched back down." He said the "left wing [was] low and [the] tail high and right.." He then saw a "puff of smoke" and "couldn't tell if the tow plane had crashed, or was about to crash." He elected to release and perform an emergency landing from an altitude of 75 to 100 feet. After turning 90 degrees to the right, the glider was "close to the ground" so the pilot "leveled the wings and tried to flare." The glider impacted terrain and ground looped, causing substantial damage. Both pilots agreed that the "puff of smoke" seen by the glider pilot was actually dust thrown in the air during the tow plane's propeller strike.

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

the glider pilot's intentional tow release at too low an altitude when he erroneously perceived the tow plane was about to crash. A contributing factor was the unsuitable terrain on which to make a landing.

Full narrative available

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