DFW05CA096
DFW05CA096

On March 25, 2005, approximately 1600 central daylight time, a Glaser-Dirks DG 600 glider, N787T, sustained substantial damage during an off-airport landing to a field near Kent, Texas. The commercial glider pilot, sole occupant, was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The cross-country flight originated from the Marfa Municipal Airport (MRF), near Marfa, Texas, approximately 1300, for a round robin cross-country flight to Culberson County Airport (VHN), near Van Horn, Texas.

According to the 3,460-hour pilot, while soaring east of VHN on his return flight to MRF, he encountered poor thermal conditions and the glider began to lose altitude. The pilot observed a field by a ranch house and elected to land there. As the pilot approached the field, he observed high power lines at the approach end and a fence and shed at the far end of the field. When the glider was approximately 300 feet above ground level (agl), the pilot decided that the field would be an unsuitable place to land and turned approximately 270 degrees and executed a precautionary landing in the "best part of a bad area." When the glider was two to three feet agl, the left wingtip impacted a cactus. The glider then pivoted approximately 70 degrees, slid, and the right wing then impacted another cactus.

When asked how this accident could have been prevented, the pilot stated that he "could have turned back to Van Horn Airport upon encountering heavy sink."

According to the pilot, structural damage included a crack to the right front section of the fuselage, a crack in the fuselage behind the wings, a crack in the fuselage at the vertical stabilizer attachment point, and damage to the leading edge of the left wing. The canopy was also broken, and the main landing gear was bent approximately 30 degrees to the left.

At 1555, the automated weather observing system at MRF, located approximately 40 nautical miles south of the accident site, reported wind from 250 degrees at 12 knots, gusting to 21 knots, 8 statute miles visibility, a clear sky, temperature 72 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and a barometric pressure setting of 29.90 inches of Mercury.

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