SEA97LA142
SEA97LA142

On June 14, 1997, approximately 1520 Pacific daylight time, a Glaser-Dirks DG-400 powered glider, N321V, impacted the terrain during an off-airport forced landing near Weston, Oregon. The commercial pilot, who was the sole occupant, was not injured, but the aircraft, which was owned and operated by the pilot, sustained substantial damage. The local 14 CFR Part 91 personal pleasure flight, which departed Vista Field, Kennewick, Washington about 30 minutes earlier, was being operated in visual meteorological conditions at the time of the accident. No flight plan had been filed, and there was no report of an ELT activation.

According to the pilot, who reported that he had recently purchased the aircraft, he used the aircraft's engine to take off and fly to the area where he was going to soar. Upon reaching that area, he shut down the engine and retracted it into the fuselage. When he finished soaring, the pilot extended the engine and attempted to get it started in order to fly back to the airport of departure. Because it would not start after several attempts, and because he did not have enough altitude to reach an airport, he elected to make a forced landing in a open field. Although he wanted to retract the engine into the fuselage before landing, the aircraft was so low by the time the pilot gave up on getting the engine started that he did not have time to retract it. Just prior to touchdown, the pilot lowered the landing gear, but he forgot to lower the flaps to landing position, and they remained fully retracted during the landing. Because the pilot was attempting to land with the engine extended and the flaps retracted, the aircraft contacted the terrain at an excessive rate of descent. According to the pilot, "The force of the impact drove the cockpit area of the fuselage into the soft dirt and both wings flexed down, striking the soil." The left wing of the glider caught the dirt, and as it was spun around, its structure sustained substantial damage.

The pilot further stated that after the accident he realized that because he was new to the aircraft, he had forgotten to move the ignition switch to the "ON" position before trying to get the engine started. He said that there appeared to be no other problem with the engine. He also said that he did not use a restart or before landing checklist, and that the gliders he was accustomed to flying did not have wing flaps.

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