FTW04LA103
FTW04LA103

On April 4, 2004, approximately 1400 central daylight time, a PDPS PZL-Bielsko SZD-50-3 glider, N18SZ, was substantially damaged upon impact with terrain following a loss of control during a forced landing near the Lawrence Field Gliderport (4AR5), near Cherry Valley, Arkansas. The private pilot, who was the sole occupant, sustained serious injuries. The glider was registered to and operated by the Memphis Soaring Society, Inc., of Memphis, Tennessee. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The local soaring flight departed the Lawrence Field Gliderport approximately 1330.

According to the Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report (NTSB Form 6120.1/2), the pilot was towed by an airplane to approximately 3,000 feet above ground level (agl) and released. After attempting to soar and unable to find lift, the pilot returned to the gliderport. While on downwind to the gliderport, the pilot noticed another glider and tow airplane on the runway. The pilot elected to extend the downwind leg to allow the tow airplane and glider to depart the gliderport. After turning to final approach to runway 7, the glider encountered an unexpected headwind. During the final approach, the pilot noticed a row of trees in front of the glider that he thought he would not be able to clear. The pilot turned the glider to the right and initiated a landing to an adjacent field. During the attempted landing, "[The pilot] allowed the airspeed to get too slow. At an altitude of about 30 feet agl, the glider stalled, spun to the right, and crashed into the field..."

Examination of glider by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed the nose structure was destroyed, the left wing spar was fractured, and the empennage was buckled.

At 1353, the Jonesboro Municipal Airport, Jonesboro, Arkansas, automated surface observing system, located approximately 25 miles north of the accident site, report the wind from 010 degrees at 5 knots, gusting to 17 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, temperature 61 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 31 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 30.16 inches of Mercury.

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