NTSB Identification: CEN12LA605
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, September 01, 2012 in El Paso, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/19/2013
Aircraft: BURKHART GROB G 103 TWIN II, registration: N5489X
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 glider club was launching gliders via a mechanical ground winch. On the first launch attempt, the glider overflew the tow cable and it automatically disconnected when the glider was low to the ground. The glider was able to make a safe landing on the runway. The pilot was overheard saying that the first launch failed because he should have initiated the climb sooner. On the second attempt, the glider once again overran the tow cable. Before the tow cable released, the pilot lowered the nose to pick up the slack in the cable and he instructed the winch operator to go faster. These two steps appeared to have corrected the problem, and the pilot initiated a climb. Shortly after, the glider began to overfly the cable again and it disconnected. The glider entered free flight just above stall speed about 75 feet above the runway. A witness saw the glider nose over and thought the pilot was going to land. Instead, the glider descended rapidly and drifted to the left toward a taxiway. The witness saw the wings of the glider rock back and forth before it impacted the ground hard. Examination of the glider and release hook revealed no mechanical anomalies. The ground winch's engine was reportedly running rough and most likely was unable to produce enough speed to launch the glider.

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

The pilot‘s failure to maintain glider control while attempting to take off using a ground winch, which resulted in an inadvertent stall low to the ground. Contributing to the accident was the ground winch, which was unable to produce enough speed for a successful glider launch.

Full narrative available

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