LAX02LA277
LAX02LA277

On September 7, 2002, at 1615 mountain standard time, a Schempp-Hirth Ventus-B non-powered glider, N114RP, was destroyed when it impacted Lake Pleasant while maneuvering near Peoria, Arizona. The glider was registered to and operated by the pilot. The private pilot, sole occupant of the glider, sustained fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The local flight originated from the Pleasant Valley Airport, Peoria, Arizona, at 1400.

The glider pilot radioed the Turf Soaring School, located at the Pleasant Valley Airport, and stated that he would be attempting a landing to a boat ramp area along Lake Pleasant. Witnesses at the lake reported that they initially observed the glider flying west, "very low" over the lake. Witnesses, who were in boats and heading west toward the boat ramps, reported that the glider passed directly overhead and was between 100 and 300 feet above the water. The glider made a left turn to the south, out over the water, pitched-up, and "stalled." One witness reported that the left turn occurred "suddenly". Subsequently, the glider entered a descent and impacted the surface of the lake. Examination of the glider by an FAA inspector did not reveal any preexisting anomalies.

The pilot was issued a private pilot certificate, with a glider rating, on December 10, 1995. According to the pilot's logbook, between January 20th, 2002, and the time of the accident, he had accumulated a total of 237.1 hours in gliders.

On April 9, 1982, the 1981-model glider was issued a special airworthiness certificate in the experimental category. On March 24, 1998, the glider was registered to the current owner/pilot. On February 16, 2002, the glider underwent its most recent condition inspection, at which time it had accumulated a total of 2,035.6 hours. A review of the glider's logbook did not reveal any uncorrected maintenance items.

At 1553, the weather observation facility at the Deer Valley Airport (DVT), Phoenix, Arizona, (located 14 miles southeast of the accident site) reported a few clouds at 12,000 feet, visibility 10 miles, wind from 150 degrees at 10 knots, temperature 88 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 66 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 29.77 inches of Mercury. At 1634, a special weather observation was issued from DVT, and the following weather conditions were reported: scattered clouds at 2,500 feet, broken clouds at 6,000 feet, and overcast clouds at 8,500 feet. The visibility was reported as 2.5 miles in heavy rain and mist, wind from 230 degrees at 14 knots gusting to 26 knots, temperature 77 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 73 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 29.81 inches of Mercury. The remarks section of the observation reported that the peak wind occurred at 1626 from 210 degrees at 26 knots, the wind shifted to 230 degrees at 17 knots, rain began 5 minutes after the hour, rain showers with unknown intensities to the southeast and southwest, and lightning observed in the distant southwest.

An autopsy, performed by the Office of Medical Examiner of Phoenix, Arizona, did not reveal any preexisting disease or medical condition that contributed to the accident. The medical examiner classified the cause of death as accidental. Toxicological testing was performed by the FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The tests were negative for ethanol and drugs.

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