NTSB Identification: CEN11LA239
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, March 20, 2011 in Wellington, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/26/2012
Aircraft: GLASFLUGEL STANDARD LIBELLE, registration: N99AE
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 performing a local glider flight when the accident occurred. A witness saw the glider release from the towplane and saw the glider maneuver in steep bank turns as it descended during those turns. At one point, the glider was observed to enter a rapid "zoom" climb followed by a brief period of inverted flight before descending, wings level, about 60-degrees pitch down, into the ground. The glider was subsequently found in a ravine; the glider’s right wing had impacted an embankment and sustained substantial damage, and its dive brake was found extended. The left wing’s dive brake was found retracted.

A postaccident examination of the wreckage revealed no preimpact anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. The pilot did not have a current medical certificate, but he was not required to have a medical certificate for glider operations.

An autopsy indicated that the pilot's cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries and that cardiac disease may have been contributory. The pilot had a documented history of cardiac disease and had a pacemaker implant. The pacemaker was last checked about one month prior to the accident and it was operating normally at that time. A readout of the pilot’s pacemaker indicated that about the time of the accident the pilot experienced a ventricular tachycardia. The degree of the pilot’s injuries made it highly unlikely that he experienced the ventricular tachycardia as a result of the injuries, but that he experienced the condition prior to impact. The symptoms the pilot would have experienced as a result of the ventricular tachycardia likely impaired or incapacitated the pilot, and resulted in his loss of control of the glider.

The toxicology results support the pilot’s use of prescription pain medications the evening before as indicated by his personal physician. None of these was in the therapeutic range at the time of the crash and were therefore unlikely to have contributed to the etiology of the event.

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

The pilot's loss of glider control due to impairment or incapacitation caused by an episode of ventricular tachycardia.

Full narrative available

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