ERA10LA345B
ERA10LA345B

On July 3, 2010, about 1315 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-25-235, N9809P, operated by the Mid-Atlantic Soaring Association, collided with a stationary Schleicher ASW-27 glider, N747GW, while landing at the Mid-Atlantic Soaring Center (W73), Fairfield, Pennsylvania. The airplane sustained substantial damage and the glider, operated by a private individual, also incurred substantial damage. Neither pilot was injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flights.

According to the pilot of the airplane, he had just completed his third glider tow and was returning to land in a northwesterly direction on the grass between runway 15/33 and a service road. After touchdown, he “was unable to achieve braking." There were people and a truck with a trailer at the end of the landing area, so the pilot intentionally ground looped the airplane to prevent running into them. During the ground loop, the airplane turned sharply to the left and impacted the glider, which was awaiting launch on runway 15. The leading edge of the airplane’s right wing and its horizontal stabilizer were both substantially damaged.

The glider pilot stated that the airplane “appeared to be landing long” before turning towards the glider. The airplane impacted the glider from behind the left wing, forcing it off the runway. Several feet of the glider’s left wing were separated on impact by the airplane’s propeller and its rudder was cut in half.

Witnesses to the accident observed that the airplane was “very high and fast” on its approach, and landed “much further down” the grass strip than typical. One witness stated that he “was fully expecting a go-around… (but) it became evident that the tow plane had neither the space to stop, nor the space to safely clear ground support personnel if it tried to go around.”

A post-accident inspection of the airplane performed by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector found no mechanical abnormalities with the airplane’s brake system.

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