NTSB Identification: WPR09LA318
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, June 29, 2009 in Ephrata, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/22/2010
Aircraft: ALEXANDER SCHLEICHER GMBH & CO ASW 27-18E, registration: N129TD
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 pilot was preparing for a glider competition with other glider pilots. Witnesses were flying their gliders in the area and reported seeing the glider thermalling, then entering a spin to the right. During the spin, the rotation increased into a rapid rotation and then into a graveyard spiral. One witness reported that during the second spiral rotation the outboard wingtip panels arched upward. Following the flexing of the wings, it appeared that they “...disintegrated...The wings looked like they exploded.” The witness did not see a parachute. Examination of the glider revealed no preimpact mechanical anomalies. Toxicological evaluation of tissue samples from the pilot were consistent with the use of marijuana and of diazepam (a prescription anti-anxiety medication also known by the trade name Valium) at some time prior to the accident, but no blood was available for analysis and no estimate could be made of when the substances were last used or whether the pilot may have been impaired by their use.

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

The pilot’s failure to maintain control of the glider during flight and his exceedance of the glider’s design limits during an attempted recovery from a spin.

Full narrative available

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