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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: CEN17LA305
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 05, 2017 in Marion, OH
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/18/2019
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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

The pilot of the glider stated that he made a mistake during his before takeoff checks and forgot to latch the canopy. During takeoff and climb, he heard air noise in the cabin and attempted to check the canopy handle while still under tow. He stated that, after climbing a “few hundred feet,” the canopy came open. While he was trying to close the canopy, he lost sight of the tow airplane, so he released the tow line and made a turn to the right. A witness reported that the glider’s left and right wing spoilers were extended during the flight and were visible from the ground. The glider pilot released from the tow airplane around 150 to 200 ft above ground level (agl) and tried to make a 180° turn back to the runway with the spoilers still extended. The glider’s wing clipped a tree and crashed in a bean field.
The examination of the glider at the accident site revealed that the spoilers were found in the open, or deployed, position. With the spoilers deployed, the glider and tow airplane would be unable to climb normally. The canopy attachment pins and the surrounding composite material were torn from the fuselage at impact. The canopy attachment handle and bayonet pins showed proper operation. The damage to the canopy was consistent with it being in the latched position at impact. The pilot stated that the glider had no mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The pilot’s failure to follow the before takeoff checklist, which resulted in an improper takeoff configuration and subsequent uncontrolled descent into terrain during a departure climb.