Monday, August 6, 2012

PZL-Bielsko SZD-9bis Bocian 1E, G-DCND: Pluckerston Farm, near Kirriemuir, Angus, Scotland - United Kingdom

 
Air accident investigators have begun their formal probe into a weekend Angus glider crash which claimed the life of a popular pilot.

The experts from Farnborough's Air Accidents Investigation Branch were at the scene of Saturday afternoon's tragedy near Kirriemuir in which the 59-year-old male flyer died after his aircraft plunged into a field within sight of the Angus Gliding Club base from which he had been launched shortly before. 

 A member of the public, understood to have been in the car park at the Drumshade club site, raised the alarm when they saw the single-seat DG 100 German-made glider plummet to the ground at around 12.45pm.

The fibreglass glider came down in a cereal field between Pluckerston and Auchindorie farms, south of Kirrie and around a kilometre north of the club site.

Emergency services, including an ambulance team and fire crews from Kirriemuir, Forfar and Dundee rushed to the scene, which was quickly cordoned off by police and remained so for a lengthy part of Saturday.

The aircraft was located a few hundred metres north of the road from the A928 Glamis-Kirriemuir road to Meigle, the tail of the glider just visible within the barley crop.

The pilot was pronounced dead at the scene as a result of the heavy impact of the crash, which occurred in what were described as excellent flying conditions.

There were several people working in the area at the time of the accident but no-one The Courier spoke to witnessed the impact.

The victim's identity has yet to be officially released, but he is understood to be Mr Ken Smith from the Perthshire village of Spittalfield. Family members were too distressed to speak to The Courier about the tragedy yesterday afternoon.

As with all such aviation incidents, the crash saw AAIB investigators sent to Angus and they were on scene yesterday to undertake initial inquiries.

It is understood that the wreckage of the glider will now be transported to Farnborough for detailed analysis in an effort to determine the cause of the crash.

Part of the probe may also centre around a flight data recorder which is understood to have been fitted to the glider and may provide clues in relation to height and position prior to the catastrophic crash.

Angus Gliding Club has operated successfully from Drumshade for many years, flying mainly at weekends, and has an excellent safety record, with this being the first recorded serious accident.

The glider involved was one of the first to be mechanically launched on Saturday morning into easterly winds.

As the official release of the victim's identity was awaited, devastated gliding club members said their thoughts were with the man's family.

''These are tragic circumstances and club members are deeply saddened by what has happened.

''The pilot was a popular and experience member of the club,'' said Colin Wight, a past official and former instructor.

''Winds were relatively light, visibility was excellent and soaring conditions were good.

''The AAIB investigators have been at the scene today and the club will provide whatever assistance it can in relation to the inquiry,'' he added.

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