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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: DEN08LA127
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, July 23, 2008 in Midlothian, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/03/2008
Aircraft: Schempp-Hirth Ventus A, registration: N47JD
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Witnesses to the accident said the glider appeared to be flying normally when it suddenly pitched up and down, then flew into the ground. This was substantiated by flight data from an onboard recorder. The pilot was fatally injured and portions of the glider's wings and empennage were seperated from the fuselage. The pilot was an 11 time national soaring champion with approximately 50 years experience flying gliders and airplanes. The pilot had very recent symptoms, recent test results, and autopsy findings consistent with serious coronary artery disease. He also had abnormal rhythms on ECG monitoring that would have likely increased his risk of sudden death. The pilot was in the process of scheduling a cardiac catheterization and possible angioplasty. He may have been impaired or incapacitated by pain, an abnormal heart rhythm, or sudden cardiac death. The circumstances of the accident are consistent with an abrupt physical inability to continue controlling the aircraft.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The pilot's inability to maintain aircraft control due to an incapacitating cardiac event. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's poor decision to fly with known serious medical issues.