On November 3, 2001, at 1430 eastern standard time, a Schleicher ASW-19, N19KH, was substantially damaged during a collision with trees while maneuvering near Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania. The certificated private pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight that originated at Ridge Soaring Gliderport, Unionville, Pennsylvania, at 1300. No flight plan was filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

In a written statement, the pilot said:

"Departed 79N on aerotow, released 1,800 msl, climbed in thermal and ridge lift to 4,400 [feet] before departing NE for cross country soaring flight [and] proceeded NE along Bald Eagle Ridge to 2 miles east of P96. Reversed course to attempt return. On return, while circling in thermal lift upwind of ridge, contacted downdraft in portion of circle headed toward ridge. Lost altitude, bringing glider down to treetop level at top of ridge. [Was] unable to maintain bank angle due to wing tip proximity to treetops. Leveled wings and 'landed' on tree canopy and descended through treetops still level on 20-30 [feet] descent to ground."

The pilot stated that he did not get a weather briefing from Flight Service. He said that the normal routine for glider pilots is to gather weather information at the gliderport. This information is taken from several weather sources, and discussed in a group.

In addition, the pilot stated that under normal circumstances he could have "easily" made it to the Jersey Shore Airport, but when he encountered the downdraft, he lost altitude, and did not have enough airspeed or altitude to overcome it.

The pilot held a private pilot's certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land and glider. He reported 208 hours of total flight experience, of which 101 hours were in gliders, and 51 hours were in make and model.

The pilot reported that an annual inspection of the glider was completed on the day of the accident, and that there were no mechanical deficiencies.

Examination of the glider, after the accident, revealed damage to both wings, tail, and canopy.

At 1454, the weather reported at Williamsport, Pennsylvania, about 20 miles east of the accident site, included clear skies with the wind from 270 degrees at 8 knots, gusting to 15 knots.

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