ATL07LA066
ATL07LA066

On March 31, 2007, at 1530 central daylight time, an amateur-built experimental Szybowcowy Zakland DO, SZD-36A glider, N6SZ, registered to a private individual, was substantially damaged when both wings failed and separated from the glider during a personal flight in Sylacauga, Alabama. The private pilot received fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which departed Merkel Field Sylacauga Municipal Airport (SCD) Sylacauga, Alabama, about 1500. No flight plan was filed for the local flight conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the pilot's brother, they had trucked the glider from Birmingham, Alabama, to Sylacauga, to fly around in the local area. The brother of the pilot stated that he assisted the pilot in assembling the glider prior to the flight. Witnesses stated that the glider had been airborne for about 30 minutes when they observed both wings fold up, and the glider descend out of control until impacting into a rock quarry, about 2 miles south of SCD.

The tow plane pilot stated that he towed the glider to altitude and released it. He added that the last time he saw the glider, it was about 1500 feet above the ground. He said he did not observe the breakup, but did see the wings fluttering through the air towards the quarry. The tow plane pilot circled the area looking for the fuselage but could not find it.

Witnesses working in the quarry stated that they initially heard what sounded like a "rocket," looked up and saw the fuselage descending at a very fast rate. The fuselage impacted in the bottom of the quarry, and the wings "floated" down like leaves from a tree and impacted "several minutes" after the fuselage impacted. The workers located the glider in a small impact area.

Examination of the fuselage by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector found it substantially damaged. Debris from the fuselage was scattered approximately 10 feet forward of the impact crater with the majority of the fuselage remaining in the crater. The wings were located about 1/2 mile north of the impact crater on the upper rim of the quarry.

Examination of the wing attachments found that the lower attachment lugs had disengaged, allowing the wing to move upwards 45degrees, breaking the left upper wing attach lug. The examination revealed that during assembly, the lower attach pin had failed to enter the lower attachment hole on the left wing. The misalignment allowed the pin to rest on the top surface of the left wing attach lug in a clamping action. The upper wing attachment pin was found to be properly installed. Examination of the mechanism that actuates the movement of both pins found that there had been two tabs located above the center pivot, these two tabs were not found.

No autopsy or toxicology was performed on the pilot. A review of the glider's logbooks by an FAA inspector found that the annual condition inspection was performed on June 22, 2006, at a total time of 537 hours. Total glider time was estimated at 556 hours with the pilot's logbook entries. Review of the pilot's logbook revealed that he had an estimated 685 hours of total time in powered aircraft and 36 hours of glider experience.

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