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On July 4, 2010, about 1350 central daylight time, an experimental exhibition/air racing Schleicher ASW-20 glider, N82BK, operated by a private pilot, was substantially damaged upon impact with high vegetation and terrain near Pocahontas, Illinois. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The pilot was fatally injured. The local flight originated from the Highland-Winet Airport, near Highland, Illinois, about 1300.
According to a tow pilot, the glider was towed to an altitude of between 1,300 and 1,800 feet above ground level about 1300. The pilot radioed “thanks for the tow” upon release. Radio communications with the glider was attempted about 1400 and it was not reestablished. Around 1730, three airplanes went to look for the glider and it was found about 2000, in a field of high vegetation.
The 62-year-old pilot held a private pilot certificate with a glider rating. Records obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) showed that pilot's most recent application for a third-class medical was dated April 2, 2003. The pilot reported that he had accumulated 354 hours of total flight time on that application.
The pilot's family provided a copy of excerpts from the pilot's flight logbook. Based on the logbook excerpts, the pilot recorded 659 flights with a total flight time of 865:51 hours. An endorsement showed that the pilot completed a flight review on June 28, 2009.
N82BK, was a Schleicher ASW-20 glider constructed from glass-reinforced plastic. The last condition inspection was completed October 24, 2009, at a total airframe time of 1,784 hours.
At 1355, the Scott Air Force Base/MidAmerica Airport (BLV), near Belleville, Illinois, recorded weather was: Wind 180 degrees at 10 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition few clouds 19,000 feet; temperature 33 degrees C; dew point 22 degrees C; altimeter 29.98 inches of mercury.
At 1455, the BLV recorded weather was: Wind 180 degrees at 13 knots gusting to 19 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition clear; temperature 34 degrees C; dew point 22 degrees C; altimeter 29.96 inches of mercury.
The glider was equipped with a Cambridge Aero Instruments Model 302 Direct Digital Variometer. The unit is a flight instrument and datalogger containing sensors that detected and recorded parameters including date, time, longitude, latitude, pressure altitude, global positioning system (GPS) altitude, fix validity, fix accuracy, and number of satellites. The unit included an integral GPS receiver that generates International Gliding Commission (IGC)-approved secure flight logs, which are stored in non-volatile flash memory.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
A Federal Aviation Administration inspector examined the glider wreckage on-scene. The left wing's leading edge was torn about midspan. Vegetation consistent with corn tassels was present in that tear. The cockpit was found separated from the fuselage and the cockpit exhibited rearward crushing. The landing gear was extended. The examination of the wreckage revealed no pre-impact anomalies that would have precluded normal operations.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Bond County Coroner's Office. The medical examiner ruled the manner of death as a result of craniocerebral and thoracic blunt trauma. The autopsy noted that the stomach contained “a large amount of food” and an unidentified pill.
Information from a family member and a physician treating the pilot indicated that the pilot was under treatment with glyburide 500 mg 2 tabs twice per day and exenatide injections for diabetes, mixed amphetamine salts 20 mg once per day for attention deficit disorder, and clonazepam 0.5 mg twice a day for anxiety. He was also reported to have been prescribed a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. The pilot was reported to have been using the CPAP device nightly and to have used it the night before the accident. He was reported to have taken his medications, including the exenatide, the morning of the accident.
The FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute prepared a Final Forensic Toxicology Accident Report. The report, in part, stated:
28 (mg/dL, mg/hg) ETHANOL detected in Blood (Cavity)
12 (mg/dL, mg/hg) ETHANOL detected in Muscle
NO ETHANOL detected in Brain
2 (mg/dL, mg/hg) METHANOL detected in Muscle
2 (mg/dL, mg/hg) METHANOL detected in Brain
1 (mg/dL, mg/hg) N-PROPANOL detected in Muscle
3.947 (ug/ml, ug/g) Acetaminophen detected in Blood (Cavity)
0.424 (ug/ml, ug/g) Amphetamine detected in Liver
0.287 (ug/ml, ug/g) Amphetamine detected in Blood (Cavity)
TESTS AND RESEARCH
The accident Cambridge Aero Instruments Model 302 unit had sustained damage from impact forces. Due to the damage to the unit, the FLASH chip containing the logged data was removed from the unit’s main PC board. The FLASH chip was then reinstalled into a surrogate Model 302 and recorded track data was successfully downloaded.
Recovered tracklog data dated July 4, 2010 was stored in filename 074C4L11.IGC. Tabular data derived from the records within the file were overlaid on charts of the area revealing the unit’s tracklog history.
The unit’s data showed that the glider reached its highest point about 1313 where it's recorded peak pressure altitude was about 3,881 feet. The data showed that the glider subsequently did not gain altitude while it circled consistent with maneuvers to climb in areas of lift. The final recorded portion of the unit’s data showed that the glider was in a left bank turn ending with the last recorded time of 1349:41. The accident site was about 250 feet north of that last recorded data point.