IAD99LA061
IAD99LA061

On August 29, 1999, at 1428 eastern daylight time, a Schleicher ASW-19 glider, N19DQ, was substantially damaged during collision with trees and terrain at the Somerset County Airport (SMQ), Bedminster, New Jersey. The certificated commercial pilot received minor injuries during the collision, but died shortly thereafter. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight that originated at SMQ approximately 1400. No flight plan was filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

In a written statement, a witness said he helped the pilot assemble the glider for flight. Later, while flying, the witness observed the accident glider on tow. He said:

"When I next saw the glider, we were both at approximately 2,000 feet agl at the west side of the airport. His flight path indicated that he was just wandering around. He wasn't stopping to thermal even when he clearly flew into lift; and I couldn't figure out why he was already down to that altitude. I spiraled down to 1,000 feet agl and started my landing pattern. I then saw [the glider] again at the east side of the airport. I was at 600 feet agl and he was about 1,000 feet agl. I completed my landing and came to a stop about 1/2 way down runway 26. I then saw [the pilot] make a final approach for landing.

"He looked like he was in the right position but at no time did he deploy his spoilers. He passed over me at treetop height (70 to 80 feet agl) still moving at approximately approach speed. I saw a minor oscillation upward and then he seemed to go nose down, as if to put the ship down to the runway. He then disappeared from my view below a rise in the runway and I thought he made it till I heard the crash.

"There was [a medical doctor] on scene when I got there. His evaluation was a CVA (Cerebral Vascular Accident) before the crash while he was still flying. As a former EMT Instructor, I did notice that there was right side facial droop and no movement on his right side. [The pilot] was able to wink at me at one point and to squeeze my hand. Both with his left side."

The doctor who witnessed the accident and responded to the crash site provided an interview by telephone. He said:

"I was finishing my checkride and coming in with my instructor. We were taxiing back after landing. The glider came over, swerved to the left, swerved to the right, then struck trees. He was about half a mile from where he should have landed. It looked like he lost control. I then took off out of the plane.

"When I got there, the only thing in one piece was the cockpit. I talked to him. He was disoriented. I noticed he didn't move his right side at all. He presented to me a receptive aphasia. He kept trying to undo his seatbelt. He couldn't move his right side at all.

"Somebody handed me a stethoscope. His heart sounded good and his lungs were clear. He appeared to have had a CVA. The clincher was the right side of his face drooped."

The pilot was transported to the Morristown Hospital in Morristown, New Jersey, where he died.

In a telephone interview, a New Jersey State Medical examiner said that examination of the pilot revealed only minor cuts and contusions and no internal injuries. He said the pilot sustained "...a massive stroke in the left side of the brain."

The Federal Aviation Administration Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma performed toxicological testing on November 17, 1999.

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