CHI99LA189
CHI99LA189

On June 19, 1999, at 1600 central daylight time, a Schempp-Hirth Cirrus (glider), N8145, experienced an undershoot to runway 18 at the Hartford Municipal Airport, near Hartford, Wisconsin. The glider sustained substantial damage. The pilot reported no injuries. The personal 14 CFR Part 91 flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions. No flight plan was on file. The local flight departed about 1400.

The pilot said he was approached runway 18 with the wind was from the east. The pilot said that he initiated a high approach with the intention of practicing the deployment of a drogue chute. He said that subsequently, when he attempted to release the chute, it did not release and he was unable to reach the runway where he intended to land. He said that on landing the glider impacted a road embankment. In a second interview, the pilot revealed that the glider had a history of the drogue chute "hanging" up when deployed during a crosswind landing with a rudder deflection. The pilot produced a copy of the "Open Cirrus Newsletter" published in 1996, where the former owner of N8145 (the same glider) experienced a similar instance where the drogue chute failed to release.

A test of the release mechanism after the accident, failed to reveal any problem with releasing the chute; however, due to the unavailability of the maintenance manual for this German built glider, it was not possible to determine if the cable or rigging was correct. The test was conducted prior to receiving the newsletter article indicating a test conducted with one or more revolutions of the drogue chute shroud lines would replicate the failure to release. The drogue chute was not tested in this manner during the most recent examination.

There were 170 Schempp-Hirth Cirrus gliders manufactured circa 1969. Approximately 31 were imported into the United States and Canada, of which about 20 are currently in service. A group of owners and enthusiasts formed the Vintage Sailplane Association. A division within that organization is the "Classic Division." The current chairman of that division is an owner of a Cirrus glider and the writer/publisher of the "Open Cirrus Newsletter." He was interviewed and said that the drogue chute installed on the Cirrus glider is for emergency use and utilized primarily for landing in small fields. He said that to his knowledge all the Cirrus gliders were imported with the drogue chute; however, some of the glider owners had removed the chute. He said that he and other owners/operators of the glider do on occasion use the chute for practice, and for what he described as "photo ops." He said he was aware of the reported problems with the chute not releasing; however, said he had never experienced it himself. He indicated that he would cover the topic in his next issue of the "Open Cirrus Newsletter" to owners. He said that the owners of the Cirrus sailplane are a small group and that they are in contact with one another on a regular basis. He indicated that there are only a few glider manufacturers who employ the drogue chute at all. He noted there was one manufacturer to use it as the sole "high drag device."

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