On September 11, 2004, about 1210 Pacific daylight time, a WSK-PZL PZL-104 Wilga 80, N10RN, registered to Northwest Skysport and flown by the pilot as a 14 CFR Part 91 glider tow/sightseeing operation, collided with the terrain following an aborted takeoff from The Dalles Municipal, The Dalles, Oregon. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the local flight. The aircraft was substantially damaged and the commercial pilot and his passenger received minor injuries. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
During a telephone interview and subsequent written statement, the pilot reported that the beginning of the tow operation was normal. During the takeoff roll, the pilot stated that "the glider began an aggressive climb to the left raising my tail and pulling to the left." The pilot stated that he pulled back on the control stick to try and lower the tail as the airplane lifted off, however, he did not have elevator control and knowing that he was in trouble, tried to release the glider, however he did not think that the glider released. The aircraft began to decrease altitude and "skip" over the rough terrain off the side of the runway when he reduced power. The aircraft subsequently nosed over.
The glider pilot in tow reported that the takeoff roll was normal and he held the glider on the ground longer than normal before lifting off. The glider pilot reported that just as the tow aircraft lifted off, a gust of wind from the left pushed the left wing of the tow plane up as the right main landing gear touched the runway. The glider pilot believed that the tow pilot was in trouble and fighting the controls as it went off the side of the runway. The glider pilot released the tow rope from the glider and aborted the takeoff, landing straight ahead on the runway.
One witness reported both aircraft drifted to the right as a result of the 20 mph wind from 300 degrees, and that both were climbing slowly. The Wilga was not climbing and appeared to be fighting the crosswind. It lost flying speed and settled back to the right side of the runway.
Another witness reported that in "crosswind conditions less than favorable..." the glider became airborne first and gained altitude rapidly and appeared to raise the tail of the tow plane. The glider released and landed without further incident, while the tow plane’s right wing contacted the ground and subsequently flipped over.
The takeoff was from runway 2. At the time of the accident, the weather reporting facility at The Dalles was reporting at 1153, a wind from 310 degrees at 19 knots, gusting to 26 knots.