MIA04CA090
MIA04CA090

On May 28, 2004, about 0653 central daylight time, a Caproni Vizzola A-21, N40171, registered to and operated by Mississippi State University, made an off airport landing incurring substantial damage near Starkville, Mississippi, while on a Title 14 CFR Part 91 public-use flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight. The commercial-rated pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured. The glider had been towed aloft from George M. Bryan Field, Starkville, Mississippi at about 0609 earlier that day.

The pilot stated when he first checked the weather at 0515 that morning, the visibility was reported as greater than 10 miles with scattered cloud layers at 6,500 feet and 7,500 feet and an overcast cloud layer at 8,500 feet. The pilot checked the weather again at 0545, at which time scattered layers were reported at 6,500 feet and 8,000 feet. The pilot stated that prior to the flight he was concerned with the possibility of a low cloud deck forming, but due to the four to five degree Fahrenheit temperature/dew point spread and a gentle wind he decided to go ahead with the flight, while monitoring the improving weather conditions. The tow to 12,000 feet pressure altitude was normal with improving weather conditions. He stated that his tow plane pilot remarked that there was a scattered layer forming to the east and north of the airport. The pilot continued the flight until he noticed the scattered layer was getting thicker and elected to return to the airport and land. When he realized the scattered layer was beginning to form over the airport, he began a maximum rate descent. During his descent he made two radio calls to the test engineer monitoring the flight from the airport control tower to get an AWOS readout. The test engineer reported to the pilot that the scattered layer forming over the airport had a base of 1,100 feet. The pilot reported the cloud tops to be at 3,000 feet. Upon reaching 3,000 feet he could still see the airport but had to circle to the left to lose altitude. As he approached the top of the scattered layer, the glider's canopy fogged completely over almost instantly. The pilot's only view outside the glider was through a two inch by two inch vent window. After descending through the scattered layer, at an altitude of 1,100 feet, he saw that the airport was one mile north and set the GPS for "Direct To" the airport. At 700 feet AGL he realized he was not going to make the airport and began looking for a place to land. He saw an open field which he began to circle in order to keep it in sight. He lined up for the field, slowed to just above stall speed, and maintained approximately 42 knots until touchdown. The glider touched down wings level and rolled out about 40 feet before hitting several tree stumps. The pilot did not report any mechanical failures or malfunctions to the glider or any of its systems prior to the accident.

At the time of departure the weather from a weather reporting station approximately 13 miles from the departure airport was reported to be winds from 230 at 3 knots, visibility 10 miles, scattered clouds at 1,700 feet, broken clouds at 2,900 feet, broken clouds at 4,800 feet, temperature 23 degrees Celsius and dew point 21 degrees Celsius. A weather observation taken at the time of the accident from the same weather reporting station was reported to be winds calm, visibility 10 miles, a broken cloud layer at 1,500 feet, a temperature of 23 degrees Celsius and a dew point of 21 degrees Celsius.

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