On August 7, 2001, approximately 1330 Pacific daylight time, a Schweizer SGS 1-26B glider, N5768S, operated by Cascade Soaring Society Inc. of East Wenatchee, Washington, and being flown by a student pilot, was substantially damaged in an off-airport landing near Rock Island, Washington. The pilot of the single-seat glider was not injured in the accident. The 14 CFR 91 instructional flight had departed approximately 1300 from Pangborn Memorial Airport, Wenatchee, Washington, on an intended cross-country flight to Ephrata, Washington. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the flight.

The student pilot's certificate was issued on June 29, 2001. The student pilot's flight instructor, who towed the student to altitude on the accident flight and who completed an NTSB accident report form on behalf of the student, reported that the student had 30 hours total pilot time, including 8 hours in the accident make and model. The flight instructor stated:

...[The student] had been instructed to climb to at least 6,000 [feet] MSL
prior to leaving the local area. He may have left too low. When he failed
to find lift and [too] low to return to Pangborn without finding lift he delayed
selecting a safe landing site until only one option remained. His approach
was high and a tail wind spoiled his [judgment]. His landing was 150 feet
from a cherry orchard (with 400 feet of open field behind). He aimed
between trees and received no injuries.

The off-airport landing site was approximately 2 miles east of the airport. The flight instructor reported that no mechanical malfunction or failure was involved in the accident.

According to the 1997 Soaring Sailplane Directory, published by the Soaring Society of America, the SGS 1-26B has a maximum lift/drag ratio (L/D max) of 23 at 43 knots. Pangborn Memorial's elevation is 1,249 feet above sea level, and Ephrata Municipal Airport (approximately 29 nautical miles east-southeast of Pangborn Memorial) is 1,276 feet above sea level. The flight instructor reported that winds at the time were from 250 degrees at 7 to 8 knots.

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