NTSB Identification: ERA12CA352
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, May 18, 2012 in Duncansville, PA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/15/2012
Aircraft: SCHEMPP-HIRTH VENTUS 2CT, registration: N900BM
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot reported that the glider was towed to an altitude of 2,000 feet above ground level, released, and then flown for more than 2 hours without incident. He was subsequently looking for lift and performing "S" turns, while flying away from a ridgeline. During one of the "S" turns, he encountered a 200- to 300 foot-per-minute increase in lift and elected to continue the left turn. However, when the glider turned back toward the ridgeline, it encountered a large downdraft and loss of airspeed. The glider stalled, spun to the left, and struck trees. The glider's tail boom separated and both wings were substantially damaged. The pilot reported that there were no mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. He further stated that he should not have continued the left turn and that standard training techniques called for continuing to perform "S" turns when close to a ridge or mountain until the glider reaches an altitude of at least 200 to 300 feet above the highest point to provide adequate altitude to recover from possible stalls caused by downdrafts.

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

The glider’s encounter with atmospheric lift conditions not sufficient to clear terrain, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's decision to continue turning toward a ridgeline.

Full narrative available

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