NTSB Identification: CEN12LA490
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, July 29, 2012 in Gregory, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/30/2014
Aircraft: SMITH APPLEBAY ZUNI II, registration: N1ZV
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 reported that the takeoff and tow to 3,000 feet above ground level (agl) was normal. The pilot released the glider from the tow airplane about 2 miles northwest of the airport. He was unable to achieve the necessary lift, and, as the glider lost altitude, he started flying back toward the airport and proceeded toward the initial point for landing on the runway. As the pilot flew the glider on the downwind pattern leg, he realized that he was not going to be able to complete the traffic pattern. He attempted to clear the tree line that crossed the downwind leg, but the glider hit the trees and subsequently impacted terrain. A witness reported that the glider’s altitude was about 125 to 150 feet agl when it was on the downwind leg and that its airspeed was too low. The witness added that the glider continued to slow as it turned to the base leg, at which point, the left wing stalled, and then the glider pitched down nearly vertical and completed about 1/2 spin before it disappeared behind the trees. A postaccident examination of the airframe revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

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

The glider pilot’s failure to maintain sufficient altitude and airspeed while turning to the base leg of the traffic pattern, which resulted in a stall/spin and impact with trees and terrain.

Full narrative available

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