WPR10LA377
WPR10LA377

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On July 31, 2010, about 1450 mountain daylight time, a Glaser Dirks DG-300 experimental racing glider, N30AS, was substantially damaged after impacting terrain while maneuvering near Morgan, Utah. The private pilot, the registered owner and sole occupant, was killed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and a flight plan was not filed. The personal flight was being conducted in accordance with Title 14 Code of Federal Regulation Part 91. The local flight departed the Morgan County Airport (42U), about 1407.

In a statement submitted to the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC), a flight instructor reported that he was flying in the same area as the accident pilot at about 7,400 feet mean sea level (msl), and was in air-to-air communications with him. The instructor pilot stated that the accident pilot informed him that he had arrived in the area at [between] 7,600 feet msl to 7,800 feet msl, and that he was climbing between 300 to 500 feet per minute (fpm). The instructor pilot further stated that he continued to circle and climb up to 11,500 feet msl, that he could see that the accident pilot was flying well in front of the terrain, and that the accident pilot reported that he was also "climbing nicely." The flight instructor stated that this was the last radio contact he had with the accident pilot. He reported that he then flew around for about another hour, and that while returning to 42U he learned from another pilot who had just landed, that the accident pilot had not yet returned to the airport. The flight instructor stated that he had enough altitude to circle around the local area, and while circling he observed what looked like a wreckage in a canyon. The wreckage was later confirmed to be the accident pilot’s glider, which was located in a remote canyon about 6.6 nautical miles (nm) southeast of 42U, and about two miles north of Morgan, Utah, at an elevation of about 6,500 feet msl.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 55, held a private pilot certificate for gliders, which was issued on December 11, 2007. No personal pilot logbooks were obtained during the course of the investigation.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The Glaser Dirks DG-300 is a Standard Class single-seat high performance glider built of glass-reinforced plastic. The accident glider, N30AS, serial number 3E14, was classified as experimental, and listed in the exhibition racing category. The glider was manufactured in 1984, and was certified as airworthy on April 25, 1984. There were no maintenance logbooks obtained during the course of the investigation.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 1450, the weather reporting facility located at the Ogden-Hinckley Airport (OGD), Ogden, Utah, about 17 nm northwest of the accident site, reported wind variable at 5 knots, visibility 10 miles, sky clear, temperature 34 degrees Celsius, dew point 9 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter reading of 29.92 inches of Mercury.

FLIGHT RECORDER INFORMATION

The accident glider was equipped with a Cambridge Aero Instruments (CAI) Model 302 Direct Digital Variometer (DDV), which is a flight instrument and data-logger that contains sensors for measuring pressure altitude, airspeed, acceleration, engine noise level, and temperature. The 302 DDV also includes an integral GPS receiver that generates IGC3-approved Secure Flight Logs which are stored in non-volatile Flash memory. The component was sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory in Washington, D.C., where a Vehicle Recorder Specialist conducted an examination of the unit in an effort to recover any available non-volatile recorded data.

The specialist reported that an exterior examination of the unit revealed that it had sustained major damage due to impact forces. The specialist further reported that the PC board was removed from the accident unit and placed in a surrogate CAI Model 302 data-logger, and when power was applied to the accident unit main PC board after making all practicable repairs, track data was successfully downloaded from the unit. The specialist revealed that the most recently recorded track data, which corresponded to the accident flight, indicated that the track began at 1407:20 MDT, with a position fix corresponding to the Morgan County Airport (42U). The final GPS position location fix was recorded at 1450:02 MDT, and the last computed groundspeed was 40 knots. About seven minutes prior to the last recorded groundspeed, the data revealed a groundspeed of about 75 knots. During the last 2 minutes of the flight, the ground speed fluctuated twice over a 15-knot range and was at 40 just before the altitude dropped abruptly vertically to the ground elevation in the last 12 seconds.

This track-log indicated that the glider took-off from a point approximately 8 nm northwest of Morgan, Utah. The glider circled up just southwest of the takeoff point, then proceeded to a spine approximately 4 nm northeast of the takeoff point. The glider thermalled up over the spine while drifting to the northeast before topping out at about 9,100 feet msl at 1415 and proceeding to the south. The glider then flew just southwest of a ridgeline oriented perpendicular to the winds aloft (based on apparent drift observed while thermalling) and appeared to execute several S-turns just upwind of the ridgeline prior to the end of the recording. Data indicated that at about 1435 until the last recorded fix at 1450, the glider was in a relatively constant descent until impact with terrain. The recording ended with the glider at an altitude corresponding to the local ground elevation.

Also located at the accident site was a Hewlett Packard iPAQ h5555 Pocket PC, which accompanied the DDV for examination by the Vehicle Recorders Specialist. The specialist reported that an exterior examination of the unit revealed that the iPAQ had sustained major damage due to impact forces and was not repairable. The specialist further reported that the unit stores data on volatile memory and that as power was interrupted to the memory components as a result of the accident, no accident related data was retained by the unit.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The glider came to rest in a remote canyon area at coordinates 41 degrees 04.350 minutes north latitude, and 111 degrees 39.720 minutes west longitude, at measured elevation of about 6,500 feet mean sea level (msl). The area is predominately covered with what was characterized as “high scrub brush.”

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety inspector responded to the accident site and reported that the entire glider was located in the general area where the impact occurred, and that no linear distribution path was identified. The inspector stated that both wings, the empennage and the forward and aft sections of the fuselage were observed at the wreckage site, and that there was no indication that any airplane parts had separated prior to impact. The inspector added that the glider had impacted terrain in a steep angle, which was consistent with a stall/spin. The inspector also added that there were no disturbances or damage to trees or shrubs which surrounded the accident site. The inspector revealed that the nose of the glider was buried about two feet into the ground, with the wreckage coming to rest on a southeast heading. The inspector reported no anomalies with the glider that would have precluded normal operation.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Office of the Medical Examiner, Department of Health, State of Utah, on August 1, 2010. The results of the examination revealed that the immediate cause of death was due to “Blunt force injuries.”

The FAA Forensic Toxicology Research Team, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing of specimens of the pilot. Analysis of the specimens contained no findings for carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and tested drugs.

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