Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Hypoxia: Arizona State University’s Aviation Program has 1 of the only 3 heavy-duty altitude chambers in the nation that are available to civilians

In a nondescript building on a corner of Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus sit a pair of gray metal boxes that look like souped-up shipping containers.

They’re actually elaborate pieces of equipment belonging to the Aviation Program, but there’s more to it than that: These things go back to the days when men in silver suits skidded across space in cans.

Used by two Mercury Seven astronauts, U-2 spy pilots, the world-record parachutist who jumped from the edge of space and recently the SpaceX program, the heavy-duty altitude chambers simulate extreme conditions and help save lives.

This year is the Aviation Program’s 20th anniversary. It lucked out the day ASU acquired the former Williams Air Force Base, since it came with the chambers that students now have access to each semester. ASU has two altitude chambers: one for training and another for research. The research chamber is one of only three chambers in the country available to civilians. 

“No other aeronautical university — whether it’s the University of North Dakota or Embry-Riddle — can compete with the capabilities that we have here at Arizona State University,” said Ronald Diedrichs, aerospace physiologist and lecturer. Diedrichs operates the training chamber during sessions that could save a pilot’s life. 

Hypoxia is a condition that affects pilots when they fly at high altitudes above 10,000 feet. “Insidious” is the word aviators often use to describe it. Typical symptoms are lightheadedness, euphoria, tingling in the extremities and unconsciousness. Losing cognitive control while flying an airplane ends in crashes.

“It’s amazing how many people lose consciousness ... and don’t live through it,” Diedrichs said. “It’s not advertised very much.”

Over the past 25 years, there have been 46 crashes involving or possibly involving hypoxia, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. Some were clearly caused by hypoxia. In others, there was no evidence beyond a pilot speaking with slurred speech and not obeying air traffic controllers’ commands before crashing.

In traditional aviation education, students learn about hypoxia, but not in a controlled environment where they can learn to recognize their personal symptoms.

“It’s that recognition of those subjective symptoms that can give early warning to a pilot that they need to lower their altitude or get supplemental oxygen,” said Marc O’Brien, aviation program director. “The training that they get here is better than they would get at an airline. The airlines don’t have these kinds of facilities.”

Diedrichs has flown 49 years safely. One memorable day flying over southern Colorado en route from Phoenix to a small city on the Kansas state line, the hypoxia training he received in the military kicked in.

“I’ve used the knowledge myself,” he said. “I looked down at my pulse oximeter that I always wear when I’m flying in an unpressurized airplane, and I saw I was really low on oxygen saturation. I immediately dialed my autopilot down to 11,500 feet — 1,000 feet per minute — hoping I would stay conscious. I did not expect that I would stay conscious. Everything worked, and I got down safely.”

Diedrichs is a professional pilot who is board-certified in aerospace physiology.

“My job No. 1 is to make sure it’s safe,” he said.

The first thing Diedrichs does during a training session is denitrogenate the chamber. About 80 percent of Earth’s atmosphere is nitrogen.

“If I take you to half an atmosphere, which is 18,000 feet, you would fizz, just like a soda would fizz,” he said. “It’s called decompression sickness.”

Subjects breath pure oxygen for at least 30 minutes before going to altitude. Instructors go into detail about how the oxygen equipment in the chamber works.

Once they’re at 25,000 feet, they take half the students off oxygen. The other half watches them while they undergo hypoxia.

“The objective is those that don’t have their masks on nail down in their minds what their symptoms are, because everyone gets different symptoms,” Diedrichs said. “They might not even go through the same symptoms, and that’s why the military has them go through the training every five years.”

They do an explosive decompression at 5,000 feet, like what you’d experience on an airliner if a window or door blew off. It’s an FAA-certified course.

The program charges per seat (at 16 seats) to use the main chamber, plus oxygen, per day. One session with a full crew, including an aerospace physiologist, two crew chiefs, an inside observer, driver and participants, can cost as much as $20,000.

“I’m trying to give them enough knowledge to fly for 50 years uneventfully and enjoy all of it,” Diedrichs said. “I call it life assurance training.”

The chamber has other applications besides flight, O’Brien pointed out. It’s a great research facility and resource for the private sector.

“We’ve had different clients come in; most recently, SpaceX has been in testing their space suits,” O’Brien said.

“We’ve had military come in for different things. We’ve had pharmaceutical companies to test things like insulin-delivery devices in a controlled environment. We can replicate the cabin-pressure altitudes of airliners, and also in situations with rapid or explosive decompression, so that these companies can test their devices and make sure they’re functional in all kinds of circumstances.”

Story and video:   https://asunow.asu.edu

ABC7 exclusive: Error sends jet from Los Angeles International Airport into flight path of other plane

ALTADENA, Calif. (KABC) --

An air traffic controller error sent a jet from LAX into the flight path of another plane and flying low over the mountains above the San Gabriel Valley, Eyewitness News has exclusively learned.

As a big rainstorm pounded Southern California early Friday, an EVA Air Boeing 777 that left LAX around 1:20 a.m. heading to Taipei was given an incorrect instruction by a controller based in San Diego to turn left instead of right.

That sent the airliner toward the mountains above Altadena, as well as toward the flight path of an Air Canada plane that had just taken off.

Audio traffic indicates the same controller realizing the problem and telling the airliner to "Stop your climb" and several times to head southbound.

"EVA 015 Heavy, what are you doing? Turn southbound now, southbound now. Stop your climb," the frustrated controller says after the plane apparently does not heed her initial instruction.

Several times the controller tells the pilot to head south. More than a minute later, she is still trying to get him to change direction.

The EVA crew eventually pulled up and got onto the right flight path.

The ordeal played out in the skies above the San Gabriel Valley in the rainstorm while countless people slept below.

But some residents say they were startled late at night by the ominous sound of a large jet that seemed to be flying too close to the ground. They said they don't get low-flying planes in their area because of the nearby mountains.

"It sounds like it's getting lower and lower and really loud, really big," said Altadena resident Kate Sullivan. "Like a really big fricking jet is going right over the house really slowly."

Her main concern is Mt. Wilson nearby, which rises 5,700 feet above the ground.

"We never have jets coming in, in this neighborhood, because we have Mt. Wilson right here. The mountains are right here!"

The FAA has launched an investigation.

Federal regulations require planes to be at least three miles away from another object laterally or 2,000 feet above mountains. FAA officials said the EVA never lost the required distance to the other jetliner to be in danger of a plane-to-plane collision, but the agency is investigating whether it did come too close to the mountains.

Story, video and comments:  http://abc7.com

Report: Woman dragged off plane refused bag check, ID

When a 40-year-old Metro Detroit woman was pulled off a San Diego-bound plane this month at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, and the incident was caught on video and shared online, it made national news.

A police report on the incident sheds more light on what happened on Dec. 12.

The passenger was aboard Delta flight 2083 from Metro Airport to San Diego. The plane was at gate A7, set to depart at 8:32 a.m. The passenger was assigned seat 24D.

A gate agent with Delta told responding officers that the passenger would need to have her bag checked, according to the police report from the incident, obtained by The Detroit News by way of a Freedom of Information Act request.

Police say she refused to do so and boarded the plane “without swiping her boarding pass,” prompting the gate agent to call security and have the passenger removed.

In a statement to Wayne Metro Airport Police Department, the gate agent wrote that the passenger “told me that she was not checking her bag, and went on board the aircraft,” adding later in the statement that the passenger “did not scan boarding pass, and we had no idea who she was.”

Two officers with Airport Police, Ronald Boyce and Gregory Henry, arrived on scene, and the gate agent pointed out the passenger on the plane.

According to the report, Henry asked the passenger to grab her things and come with him, as there was a problem. Police say the passenger said she would neither come along nor check her bag. After the passenger was told that Delta had revoked her flight privileges, the passenger said “(expletive) you” and continued, multiple times, to refuse to leave the aircraft, according to the report.

Henry told Boyce to have the airline stop boarding passengers, and requested to supervisor to join them at the scene. A sergeant soon arrived, along with a manager with Delta.

The manager, the sergeant and the two officers re-entered the plane. Continued talks proved fruitless, according to the report, and Henry told the woman that “if she had to be physically removed from the aircraft she could be placed under arrest.”

The response? “I don’t give a (expletive),” according to the report.

In a statement to Airport Police, the Delta manager wrote: “I approached passenger and asked her to please give me her boarding pass to mark her on board. Passenger refused. ... I asked her what happened and she said she scanned herself on board. Agent stated she did not. I asked (the) passenger to please exit the aircraft, which she didn’t comply.”

After the sergeant told the passenger that she “would just need to leave the aircraft to swipe her boarding pass,” police say the passenger stood up, but sat back down when she noticed officers grabbing her bags. Henry wrote that he “pleaded with (the passenger) many times to exit the aircraft because she will not be flying on this flight,” but police say the woman refused.

Henry and the sergeant grabbed the woman “by her upper arms and lifted her from the seat.” The woman, who weighs 330 pounds according to the report, “resisted by falling to the floor and refused to get up.” She would not walk herself, so Boyce grabbed her by her wrists. At one point he stopped and asked her if she’d prefer to walk, and she refused, so he continued to pull her until they made it to the front of the plane, where she was pulled off the plane and “onto the jet bridge,” according to the report.

Again, Henry asked if the woman wanted to get off the floor, and again he was told no, according to the report. Another officer arrived to make the arrest. The men had called for backup, but this time when they asked the woman if she wanted to walk, she said yes. Backup was canceled, the woman was searched and handcuffed, and Henry went back to get witness statements.

Back at the lock-up facility Airport Police use, the passenger was cited for disorderly conduct, failure to obey the police, and failure to leave an aircraft, and told to contact 34th District Court, where her case would be handled.

The passenger, who is not being named because she has not yet been arraigned, is due in court for an arraignment and pre-trial hearing on Jan. 18 at 9 a.m., a court staffer said.

Story, video and comments: http://www.detroitnews.com

British Airways Parent Joins Race for Low-Fare Trans-Atlantic Flights: Major carriers are launching budget offerings to fight back against no-frills startups

Galley of Pan Am Clipper America. 1948.

The Wall Street Journal
Updated Dec. 23, 2016 12:56 p.m. ET

LONDON—The race to offer supercheap flights across the Atlantic is heating up, as the parent company of British Airways became the latest full-service airline to launch its own low-price offering to fight back against the budget carriers that have invaded the lucrative market.

International Consolidated Airlines Group SA announced Friday that it is creating a Barcelona-based budget carrier aiming to fly between Europe and the U.S. West Coast.

Air Canada, Germany’s Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Air France-KLM SA have also recently launched no-frills subsidiaries to ferry passengers on long-haul flights at budget prices.

Budget carriers offering cheap tickets—sometimes half the fare of traditional carriers—have ushered in one of the biggest shake-ups of the U.S.-Europe aviation market in decades. The competition promises to eventually drive down ticket prices on those routes, and it has already increased the number of second-tier airports served by European links. Full-service airlines, slow to respond when budget carriers lured away flyers on short -haul routes within the U.S. and Europe, are trying to avoid the same mistake with their long-haul operations, a key driver of profit.

Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, which helped pioneer the market, is offering fares next year as low as $69, one way, for New York-to-London flights. Norwegian said this month it was setting up a new U.S. base at Stewart International Airport, about 60 miles north of New York City. It is also planning a second new base, either in Portsmouth International Airport in New Hampshire, or T.F. Green Airport near Providence, R.I.

Canada’s WestJet Airlines Ltd. and Iceland’s WOW air are also offering low-fare trans-Atlantic tickets.

Budget carriers generally offer lower ticket prices by charging extra for perks. Norwegian, for example, charges $31.50 for two hot meals, including a beer or glass of wine, during its seven-hour London-to-New York flight.

IAG Chief Executive Willie Walsh has been closely watching Norwegian’s progress. “They have actually demonstrated that consumers will accept some things that people questioned whether they would work on long-haul,” Mr. Walsh told analysts last month.

IAG said its new low-fare business will begin flying overseas from Barcelona starting in June. Barcelona is already home to IAG’s European low-cost carrier, Vueling, allowing some passengers to connect to the new long-haul operation.

Possible routes for the IAG long-haul discounter include Los Angeles, San Francisco, Buenos Aires, Havana, Tokyo and Santiago, Chile. The service will commence with two Airbus Group SE A330 long-haul planes.

Ireland’s Aer Lingus, meanwhile, is considering buying a long-range version of an Airbus jet to connect secondary U.S. cities from the carrier’s Dublin hub.

Decades ago, network carriers were slow to respond to the emerging ranks of short-haul budget airlines such as Southwest Airlines Co. in the U.S. and Ryanair Holdings PLC in Europe. They ended up losing business and retrenching.

The push to offer lower ticket prices on long-haul routes comes as airlines have already had to sharply slash fares amid an oversupply of seats and softening demand for international travel because of terrorist attacks and weak global economic growth. The International Air Transport Association this month said airline profits would decline in 2017 for the first time in years.

Prices on trans-Atlantic routes have softened, but it is hard to attribute that to the budget carriers, yet. There are still relatively few budget flights on offer, and legacy carriers have long struggled with a bigger headache: “There is general overcapacity in the market,” said John Strickland, an airline consultant.

Earlier this month, Delta Air Lines Inc. President Glen Hauenstein said the arrival of discount carriers on trans-Atlantic routes was “probably the least impactful” of a number of headwinds in that market, in the short term. “Maybe in the long run, it could be the most impactful.”

So far, none of the big U.S. carriers that dominate the trans-Atlantic market, American Airlines Group Inc., Delta and United Continental Holdings Inc., have joined the fray, although Delta last year began offering its “Basic Economy” fares on some international flights. While trans-Atlantic routes are important to them, as well, their domestic market is generally much more so.

IAG had already started to move more discreetly toward lower-fare tickets between Europe and the U.S.

British Airways last month said it would add seats on some of its Boeing 777 long-haul planes that operate from London Gatwick, an airport that typically serves leisure destinations. The additional seats give British Airways the flexibility to drop prices on U.S. routes from Gatwick and better compete with the budget carriers.

“That will give us a unit cost advantage over Norwegian out of Gatwick, which is absolutely key to competing there,” British Airways Chief Financial Officer Steve Gunning said last month.

—Susan Carey contributed to this article.

Original article can be found here:  http://www.wsj.com

Beech F33A Bonanza, N44GN: Incident occurred December 17, 2016 in Las Vegas, Clark County, Nevada


FAA Flight Standards District Office: LAS VEGAS, NEVADA 


Date: 17-DEC-16
Time: 00:15:00Z
Regis#: N44GN
Aircraft Make: BEECH
Aircraft Model: 33
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: STANDING (STD)
Operation: 91

Beech E55 Baron, N13HM: Incident occurred December 19, 2016 in Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee


FAA Flight Standards District Office: NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE 


Date: 19-DEC-16
Time: 18:00:00Z
Regis#: N13HM
Aircraft Make: BEECH
Aircraft Model: 55
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: TAXI (TXI)
Operation: 91

Cessna 152, Suburban Air Corp, N757JD: Incident occurred December 19, 2016 in Oakland, Alameda County, California

SUBURBAN AIR CORP:   http://registry.faa.gov/N757JD

FAA Flight Standards District Office: OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA 


Date: 19-DEC-16
Time: 19:43:00Z
Regis#: N757JD
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 172
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: APPROACH (APR)
Operation: 91

Rich Henry: ‘Man For All Seasons’ Honored

Rich Henry lived in a trailer at the Payson Municipal Airport to help pilots in all types of weather. He kept the Payson Municipal Airport open in the winter by plowing the runway with a tractor. Last week, the Payson Town Council linked his name permanently to the airport.

Rich Henry lived in a trailer at the airport to help pilots in all types of weather. He kept the airport open in the winter by plowing the runway with a tractor. Last week, the Payson Town Council linked his name permanently to the airport.

When no one had a helicopter to airlift sick and injured people to the Valley hospitals, he took them there in his airplane.

When the Payson airport had no fuel for pilots, he brought 55-gallon drums up in his truck.

When snow covered the runway, he used his tractor to clear the fields so pilots could safely land.

When a plane needed fixing, he was right there with his toolbox.

When a lost pilot low on fuel tried to land, he would radio to them — day or night.

Rich Henry all but fathered the Payson Municipal Airport. If you don’t fly, you probably don’t know his name. But he left his imprint on every corner of the Payson airport.

For everything he did, Payson honored Henry Thursday night by adding the tag line Rich Henry Field to the airport sign.

To a standing ovation from the huge crowd, Henry, 88, shakily stood with his family by his side. Through tears, he thanked the council and town for the honor.

The council and several pilots agreed the moment was long overdue.

Henry became a fixture at the airport starting in 1977, just after the airport was paved. He and his wife Doris lived in a trailer at the airport for 15 years so they could help pilots at any time, day or night.

Henry would keep a radio by his bed to talk to pilots lost or having difficulty, according to information collected by Marie Fasano, a pilot and friend of Henry.

He was known as the “The Man for All Seasons,” responsible for keeping the airport open year-round, no matter the weather.

He would clear the landing strip of snow and when pilots needed mechanical help, Henry was the man who could fix just about anything. An old green school bus and shed held his mechanic shop. In all, he worked on more than 3,000 airplanes.

He helped get runway lights installed and added painted numbers and tie downs.

For fuel, Henry would haul 10, 55-gallon drums of airplane fuel to the airport. He later repaired a used gasoline tanker from Yuma.

Before the region had a medical helicopter, Henry would fly injured people to the Valley.

In 1983, Henry and several others founded the Payson Pilots Association, which continues today.

In 1988, he started a flight school and through the years, taught 100 people how to fly. He inspired dozens more children to become pilots through the Young Eagles program.

“For many years, he was the first in line to give free flights to youngsters through the EAA Young Eagles,” Fasano wrote.

His greatest contribution, to the delight of many hungry pilots, was the Crosswinds Restaurant, which Henry and his wife opened in 1978.

They opened the restaurant in an old town trailer. Pilots would call in their order and when they landed, their breakfast would be waiting.

To this day, pilots come to the restaurant after a flight for a cup of coffee and slice of pie.

As the airport grew, so did the number of takeoffs and landings, going from 4,000 to 25,000 by 1989.

In 1990, the town officially hired Henry to manage the airport. Before that, he made his living providing airplane maintenance, instruction, fuel and running the restaurant.

Bob Pearson, a pilot who headed up the committee that worked on adding the tag line to the airport, said Henry contributed so much to the airport.

While the airport sign will now read Payson Municipal Airport, Rich Henry Field, the airport name won’t change. Pearson said pilots will still use the same call sign when they radio to land at the airport. The only thing that will change is the airport sign and the tag line on marketing material.

Barbara Underwood, who was sworn in as a new councilor at the beginning of Thursday’s council meeting, made the motion to add the Rich Henry Field tag line. Underwood said she had known Henry for 40 years and she was proud her first motion as a councilor was to honor him.

Source:   http://www.paysonroundup.com

Aboard the last flight to an airplane ‘boneyard’

Would you fly on a passenger plane that was going to be “retired” after your ride? And where DO they go when no longer needed?

So it was with a mixture of nostalgia, curiosity and a little uneasiness that we flew across the country on an American Airlines MD-80 series aircraft as it made its way to a final resting place in the desert in Roswell, New Mexico.

Our American Airlines plane was being taken out of service at age 29, young by human standards but old in an industry with technological improvements and a hunger to sell off valuable parts of an aging jetliner.

The flight was from Chicago to Roswell, and we were the only passengers on what American Airlines called a “ferry flight.” Yes, read that fantasy again. The only passengers with rows and rows of empty seats around us. Nobody was going to lean on your armrest or kick your seatback.

You could lean back your seat as far as it went and reflect on the life of the plane. Four and half million passengers had boarded. Potentially 50 million miles in the air. How many families headed West on this plane for a vacation? Perhaps a man flying to meet a new love at a faraway airport for the first time? How many anxiety tablets swallowed by nervous fliers in these very rows? Who stared out the window and vowed to change their life?

How odd that such a large, wonderful piece of machinery was not needed anymore. And to add insult to injury, the parts of the discarded plane and all the others like it are worth more than the aircraft kept whole.

Flying the last ferry of the MD-80 to the New Mexico boneyard was Capt. Kevin Dingman, a former F-16 pilot and Air Force veteran. His appearance on the flight did not just come up on a captain’s schedule.

“Its something I had to do,” Dingman told us as we sat across each other on the aisle. “I saw this (flight) was open and I couldn’t resist taking it.”

Recently, Dingman was told by an American Airlines computer that he was being “banished from the flock” (the MD-80s) to fly more modern Boeing 737s. Dingman and the other American Airlines pilots we chatted with raved about the MD-80. They called it a pilots plane. The jet requires more manual work by the pilots; less automation is packed into the cockpit controls. The nickname for the aircraft is Mad Dog.

You would normally get a little concerned if you saw your pilot before the flight and heard him say he was emotional before takeoff.

But it was very moving to see Dingman explain, “Its a very big deal. I’m very emotional. I loved this plane a lot.”

There’s man and his machine and then there’s a pilot and his plane.

We started descending. Dingman made the customary “we’re going to be landing soon” announcement. We were arriving to the place I heard so much about, the place where planes go to die, the boneyard.

Reluctantly I pulled up my seat from the recline position. The landing was perfect in the desert sun. I was surprised when American Airlines ground personnel rushed on before I could even unbuckle. They would now be in charge of the plane.

We descended by the back stairs. It was a big day for American Airlines. A record number of similar MD 80s, 20 in all, were coming here to Roswell, landing with precision. For the last time. From Pittsburgh to Tampa, precision timed landings only minutes apart.

The MD 80 fleet was dwindling every day, as more energy efficient jets are produced loaded with modern amenities for passengers. American now has the youngest fleet in the skies.

Does a plane know its the end of the line? They all hit the tarmac, turned and were bunched together in a section of the sprawling boneyard. Roswell is a good place to park unwanted aircraft because of the dry climate, thus avoiding corrosion. People here don’t call it a boneyard, but prefer “aircraft storage facility” or “regeneration.”

There is also a mystery of Roswell looming with every step taken in the boneyard. If you believe the conspiracy theories, the wreckage of the famous Roswell incident, “1947 UFO” crash was brought to a hanger for examination at the same airport we flew into.

While our plane was taken away and parked to await its fate, we got an amazing ride by car with Martin Testorff, one of American’s storage managers here. We zoomed around, under and past hundreds of parked aircraft.

Many have their engines cut off, cockpits sliced open and windows missing. From American, Scoot Air to Saudi Arabia Airlines, the massive field was packed with veterans of the skies.

I love air travel and the jet age, so there was sadness seeing planes in various states of disrepair. Some looked as if they could fly again, others had their noses and tails chopped off. “Its like an airplane enthusiasts playground,” said Testorff as he drove us about the rows and rows of large powerless planes.

We were escorted into a former flying 777. As I boarded this plane I felt I could crash through the cabin floor at any time. The plane was in the process of being dismantled. Cables, wood and spare parts littered what had to be a plush first class cabin.

“I finally got my window seat!” I yelled as I grabbed a window and wall that were still connected. Martin laughed. It was no laughing matter when I learned the next stop for this plane was to be crushed and melted down.

Our next stop was a long stretch of airplane parts neatly organized. We walked through a maze of tires, engines, doors and wings that had been shrink-wrapped and set aside to sell. Martin called the process of dismantling a plane “parting out.”

These parts are valuable and have been taken apart with the precision of a surgeon. Another airline could pay up to $2,200 for a tire, or $167,000 for a flap of a wing.

Testorff says he used to think it was sad to see these aircraft torn up, but now that it’s been his livelihood for a decade, he likes to see the planes pass on. “This is the end for these aircraft,” he said. “Others are beginning their lives… its part of the cycle.”

Story and video:  http://wtkr.com

Schweizer SGS 1-26E, N65968: Accident occurred November 17, 2016 at Hawks Nest Airport (4TN3), Moscow, Fayette County, Tennessee

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Memphis, Tennessee

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms



A tow plane pilot on the ground reported that he watched the glider fly for about 20 minutes after it was released from the tow plane. After the glider turned onto the left downwind approach to land and while about 300 ft above ground level (agl), he saw the glider enter a right 360° turn while on the base leg, followed shortly after by a 180° right turn. The glider then entered an aerodynamic stall/spin from about 100 ft agl and descended into trees. Although the glider pilot stated that he was unable to recall the sequence of events that occurred after entering the traffic pattern, he did not believe that there were any mechanical anomalies with the glider that would have precluded normal operation. It is likely that the pilot did not maintain adequate airspeed and exceeded the glider's critical angle of attack, which resulted in the aerodynamic stall/spin. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: 
The pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed and his exceedance of the glider's critical angle of attack while maneuvering at low altitude, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall/spin. 


Airspeed - Not attained/maintained (Cause)
Angle of attack - Capability exceeded (Cause)

Personnel issues
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues

Tree(s) - Contributed to outcome

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.

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 Schweitzer SGS 1-26E glider, N65968, was substantially damaged when it impact trees and terrain while maneuvering in the airport traffic pattern at Hawks Nest Airport (4TN3), Moscow, Tennessee. The airline transport pilot sustained serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight, which was operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

After an aerial tow to 3,000 feet above ground level (agl) the glider disconnected from the tow plane and the pilot flew for approximately 20 minutes between an altitude of 2,500 and 3,000 feet agl. A tow plane pilot, who witnessed the accident from the ground, observed the glider flight for approximately 20 minutes. He observed the glider enter a normal left downwind approach to runway 18. He further stated that he observed the glider execute a 360-degree right turn while on the base leg at about 300 feet agl. He reported that after the 360-degree turn, the glider made another 180-degree right turn which appeared to "develop into a slow spin" from about 100 feet agl; the glider descended into the trees. The pilot stated he could not recall the left base turn and had no recollection of the accident, but offered the possibility of wind shear as a cause. In addition, he indicated that he possibly made the turn to lose altitude. He further stated there were no mechanical irregularities or anomalies with the glider.

Post-accident examination by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed the glider was upright and level on flat ground with both left and right wing leading edges pushed up against trees in an area approximately one quarter of a mile northeast of runway 18. Both wings were partially detached from the fuselage and 4 feet of the left outboard wing was crumpled. The right wing was crumpled and nearly severed mid-span. The empennage and rudder remained attached to the airframe and the cockpit sustained minor damage.

The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land, multi engine land, and glider. His most recent FAA first-class medical certificate was issued on September 6, 2016. At the time of the accident, he reported a total flight experience of 8,500 hours total time with 17.4 hours in a glider and 1.6 hours in this make and model.

The single-seat, mid-wing, glider, serial number 608, was manufactured in 1974. Its most recent annual inspection was completed on December 15, 2015. At that time, the airframe had accumulated approximately 2,709 total hours of operation. The glider's flight manual detailed that its stalling speed in level flight was 28 mph. At a 20-degree bank, it was 29 mph, and at 30 and 45 degrees, it was 30 and 33.4 mph respectively.

The William L Whitehurst Field Airport (M08) Bolivar, Tennessee was located about 17 miles south of the accident site. The recorded weather at MJX, at 1425, was wind from 170 degrees at 7 knots, gusting to 14 knots, and a clear sky. The temperature was 27 degrees C; dew point 06 degrees C, and the altimeter setting was 29.97 inches Hg. An hour before the accident through an hour after, the winds remained steady from 170 degrees at 7 knots with gusts up to 15 knots.

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.