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On August 12, 2001, approximately 1745 central daylight time, a PDPS PZL-Bielsko SZD-55-1 glider, N55VW, was destroyed after it impacted terrain following a loss of control while on approach to Uvalde Garner Field Airport (UVA) near Uvalde, Texas. The commercial pilot, who was sole occupant of the aircraft, sustained fatal injuries. The glider was registered to and operated by a private individual. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The soaring flight departed from UVA, approximately 1415.
The owner of the aircraft, who was in radio contact with the pilot, reported that the pilot had completed the third leg of a soaring 300 km triangle and was inbound for UVA. Approximately 8 miles from the airport, the pilot stated he had the field in sight. Subsequently, the pilot reported that he was on downwind for runway 15. The owner observed the glider turning base and then the glider "stalled and spun 1 and 1/2 rotations" before impacting the ground.
A witness reported that the glider banked, "appeared to have stalled, and spiraled counter-clockwise" in a nose low attitude into the ground. Another witness, located approximately a block from the accident site, stated that she "looked up and saw the glider spinning counter-clockwise very fast and falling nose first."
The pilot was issued a commercial pilot certificate on May 22, 2001. The pilot held airplane single and multi-engine land, airplane instrument, glider, and glider flight instructor ratings. The pilot was issued a second class medical certificate on June 18, 2001, with no limitations or restrictions. According to the owner, the pilot had accumulated approximately 270 total glider flight hours and 5 flight hours in the same make and model as the accident aircraft. The pilot's logbook was not located.
The 1992-model, single-seat, non-powered glider was issued a special airworthiness certificate on July 9, 1992, and was registered to the owner on April 23, 1998. The glider last received a condition inspection on August 11, 2000, at an aircraft total time of 854.7 hours. At the time of the accident, the glider had accumulated 958.7 hours. A review of the aircraft records did not reveal evidence of any anomalies or uncorrected maintenance defects. The glider flight test record for the accident aircraft indicated that its stalling speed was 37 knots.
According to the owner, at the time of the accident, there was a "light wind approximately down the runway, and the visibility was excellent."
The nearest weather reporting station was located at the Hondo Municipal Airport (HDO), Hondo, Texas, 30 miles northeast of the accident site. At 1751, HDO reported the sky clear, visibility 10 statute miles, wind from 130 degrees at 8 knots, temperature 99 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 61 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 30.02 inches of Mercury.
According to the FAA inspector, who responded to the accident site, the aircraft wreckage came to rest upright on a measured magnetic heading of 165 degrees, approximately 1/4-mile from the approach end of runway 15, in an alley dividing two rows of houses. The recorded GPS coordinates of the accident site were 29 degrees, 13.21 minutes North latitude; 99 degrees, 45.04 minutes West longitude. All of the aircraft components were located within a 20-foot radius of the ground impact point. The cockpit was destroyed, and fiberglass and Plexiglas pieces surrounded the wreckage. The right wing was fractured approximately six feet from the fuselage, and the outer leading edge was fractured. The right aileron fractured into two sections, separated from the right wing, and came to rest adjacent to the right wing. The outboard four feet of the left wing protruded through a wooden fence, and the left aileron was found separated, but attached to the wing via a control tube. The aft fuselage was fractured into two sections. The empennage came to rest inverted, but remained connected to the fuselage via control cables. The elevator control tube was separated at the aft fuselage fracture point. The examination of the wreckage did not reveal any discrepancies that would have precluded normal operation prior to the accident.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy of the pilot was performed by the Bexar County Forensic Science Center of San Antonio, Texas, on August 13, 2001. There was no evidence found of any preexisting disease that could have contributed to the accident. Toxicological tests performed by the FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) Forensic Toxicology and Accident Research Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, were negative for alcohol, drugs, carbon monoxide, and cyanide.
TEST AND RESEARCH
A GPS flight recorder was removed from the accident glider and sent to the manufacturer to recover any available flight data. No information was recovered.
The wreckage was released to the owner's representative on August 30, 2001.