The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.
Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: http://app.ntsb.gov/pdf
NTSB Identification: ERA17LA048
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, November 17, 2016 in Moscow, TN
Aircraft: SCHWEIZER SGS126, registration: N65968
Injuries: 1 Serious.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
On November 17, 2016, about 1430 central standard time, a Schweizer SGS-1-26E glider, N65968, was substantially damaged when it struck trees during landing at Hawks Nest Airport (4TN3), Moscow, Tennessee. The airline transport pilot was seriously injured. No flight plan was filed for the local flight and visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.
After an aerial tow to 3,000 feet above ground level (agl) the glider was disconnected and the pilot flew for approximately 20 minutes between an altitude of 2,500 and 3,000 feet agl. The pilot then elected to return to the departure airport. When the glider was established on the left base leg of the approach to runway 18, a witness observed the glider make a 360 degree left turn at about 300 feet. After the turn, the glider spun into the trees from about 100 feet. The pilot stated that he did not recall the left turn while the glider was on the base leg of the traffic pattern and he had no recollection of the accident.
Winds at the time of the accident were from 170 degrees true at 7 knots with gusts of 14 knots.
Postaccident examination of the wreckage by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed that the glider impacted trees before coming to rest on the ground in a nearly flat orientation, which resulted in extensive damage to the wings, and fuselage. The glider was retained for further examination.