On March 4, 2000, at 1352 Eastern Standard Time, a I.C.A. Brasov IS-28B2, a glider, N97VT, was destroyed after colliding with trees during an off airport landing near Blairstown, New Jersey. The certificated commercial pilot was seriously injured and the passenger sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local pleasure flight that originated at the Blairstown Airport (1N7), at 1300. No flight plan was filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR part 91.

According to the pilot's written statement, he stated:

"We departed 1N7 at about 1300 and was towed to 3,000 feet msl over the ridge. We were released from the tow and thermaled to 3,500 feet msl. We lost this thermal, then descended down the ridge to see if it was working. The ridge was not working, so at 2,000 feet msl, we left the ridge and headed back to the airport. We encountered a very heavy sink on the way back, and became too low to continue to the airport. The only place to land was in a field to our right. We turned towards the field and attempted to make it. But, we hit trees in front of the field about five feet from the top. The glider then fell into the field from about 30 feet up, hitting on the left wing and cockpit. The nose was substantially damaged."

The glider landed on private property approximately 3 miles southwest of the Blairstown Airport.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspectors examined the glider on-site. The FAA Inspectors reported that the glider hit the tops of the trees, dropped approximately 70 feet to the ground, and hit flat on it's belly. The cockpit was destroyed, both wings were bent upwards, and the base of the vertical stabilizer was wrinkled. There were dents along the leading edge of the right and left wings.

The aircraft was owned and operated by Aero Club Albatross. According to the club's President, the glider was launched around 1300, for a local pleasure flight. In a telephone interview, the club president reported there may have been a wind shift during the flight.

Blairstown Airport did not have weather reporting capability. At 1254, at Andover Airport (12N), Andover, New Jersey, approximately 12 miles east of 1N7, winds were variable at 6 knots. At 1354, winds were at 360 degrees, variable to 040 degrees, at 10 knots gusting to 16 knots.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and gliders. He was also a certificated flight instructor in gliders. The pilot reported a total flight time of approximately 1,250 hours, of which 380 hours were in gliders and 10 hours in make and model.

The pilot reported there were no mechanical deficiencies with the glider.

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