On August 28, 1997, about 1538 eastern daylight time, a Schleicher ASW-19B, N19LK, was substantially damaged as it impacted the ground while attempting an off airport landing near Troy, Pennsylvania. The certificated private pilot received minor injuries. The glider was owned and operated by the Harris Hills Soaring Corporation, Beaver Dams, New York. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the competitive cross-country flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot stated that he was towed airborne, about 1400, to participate in Region 3 Championship Soaring Competition, which was to begin at 1415. The competition started with a radio call, and the pilot headed southwest towards the first turn point, 26 miles away. Once there, he turned east, towards the second turn point. About halfway to the second turn point, the pilot stated that he lost "lifting action".
The pilot reported that he flew for about a mile searching for lift, got low in altitude, and decided to make an off field landing. He recalled that the wind was picking up from the north, so he chose a big field facing into the wind. The pilot entered the pattern for a off-field landing. During the turn to base leg, he spotted a creek that ran diagonally across the field and noticed the up grade to the field was steeper than he expected. With these distractions, the pilot stated that he lost track of the airspeed and as he turned from base leg to final, the glider stalled. The glider entered a left turning stall, and the pilot stated that he attempted to level the wings and raise the nose prior to ground impact. The glider impacted on the left wing and nose, bounced, and came to rest in the creek in an upright attitude.
The Director of the Region 3 Championships reported that all rules and precautions were utilized the day of the contest. He wrote that due to the unpredictability of weather, off field landings were common in sailplane competitions. He worked with the weatherman and utilized "sniffers" (gliders sent aloft to judge lift and altitude) for the contest. He stated that the weather for the contest period was poor for soaring. They had remained on the ground for the previous 3 days, and flew on only one contest day. He reported that "our rules state that the choice of flying or not flying on any contest day is solely the choice of the pilot in command of his own sailplane."
Federal Aviation Administration Inspectors examined the wreckage and the debris field. The Inspectors reported that the wreckage came to a stop facing south, and the distance from the Initial Impact Point (IIP) to the wreckage was 75 feet. A straight line connecting the IIP and the wreckage was oriented south to north. Pieces of the left wing tip and the empennage were found on the east side of the IIP, and fragments of the fuselage and clumps of dirt from the ground impact were located on the west side of the IIP. The Inspectors verified flight control continuity.