Saturday, May 13, 2017

AS+ LTD AC 4, N358R: Fatal accident occurred May 13, 2017 at Blair Municipal Airport (KBTA), Washington County, Nebraska

Dr. Michael Boska 

Hang gliding was his hobby - and a dream come true. In a 2008 interview, Dr. Boska said, "As a child I always wanted to parachute, but when I heard about hang gliding in the early 1970s, I thought, 'that sounds even better.' "   

As a pilot, Dr. Boska had flown hang gliders with and without power for nearly 40 years. He particularly enjoyed soaring alongside eagles and Red Tailed Hawks, saying: "They are very curious and will come right up and fly with you during unpowered flights."


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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Lincoln, Nebraska

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

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


http://registry.faa.gov/N358R


Dr. Boska served as professor in the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Department of Radiology, director of the bioimaging core and vice chairman of radiology research, and worked to develop improved disease detection methods.

Location: Blair, NE
Accident Number: CEN17LA181
Date & Time: 05/13/2017, 1520 CDT
Registration: N358R
Aircraft: AS+ LTD AC 4
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On May 13, 2017, about 1520 central daylight time, an experimental AS+ LTD AC 4 glider, N358R, impacted terrain after the canopy opened during takeoff at Blair Municipal Airport (BTA), Blair, Nebraska. The private pilot received fatal injuries, and the glider sustained substantial damage. The glider was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed. The local flight was originating at the time of the accident.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector who responded to the scene of the accident, the pilot belonged to the Omaha Soaring Club, and the club conducted its glider operations from a 2,000-ft-long grass strip that was parallel to paved runway 13 at BTA. On the day of the accident, the club was launching gliders from the northwest end of the grass strip. Club members positioned the accident glider on the grass strip, and ground crew connected and tested the towline release mechanism, which functioned normally. The towline was reconnected, and the ground crew signaled to the towplane that the glider was ready for takeoff.

The pilot of the club's Piper PA-28-235 towplane stated that he observed the glider pilot perform a portion of the preflight inspection of the glider and that the glider pilot was very thorough with his preflight inspection. The towplane pilot further stated that the glider was just getting airborne when he felt two consecutive big tugs and saw the glider "banked to the left more than normal." He immediately felt a release of tension from the tow rope.

Two witnesses stated that shortly after the glider's liftoff, they saw the glider's canopy rotate open and the pilot's white-colored hat depart the glider. One of these witnesses stated that he saw the glider pilot reach up with one hand to grab the glider canopy, and the glider then underwent "pilot induced oscillations." The witness said that the glider descended from a height of about 20 ft above ground level, impacted the ground, and the tail separated as the glider bounced "relatively high." The glider hit the ground again, the wings separated, and the fuselage rolled over and came to rest. The other witness stated that after the canopy opened, the glider pitched up abruptly and then pitched back down. The witness further stated that the glider hit the ground "flat but hard" and then "flipped over on its top." 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 59, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Center
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Glider
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: None
Last FAA Medical Exam:
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: 80 hours (Total, all aircraft), 55 hours (Total, this make and model)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: AS+ LTD
Registration: N358R
Model/Series: AC 4 NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Glider
Year of Manufacture: 1997
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 025
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tandem
Seats: 1
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 03/25/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 606 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 2 Hours
Engines: 0
Airframe Total Time: 342 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer:
ELT:
Engine Model/Series:
Registered Owner: Pilot
Rated Power:
Operator: Pilot
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: BTA, 1318 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1515 CDT
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 18 knots / 23 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: 170°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.85 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 27°C / 4°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Blair, NE (BTA)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Blair, NE (BTA)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1520 CDT
Type of Airspace:

Airport Information

Airport: Blair Municipal Airport (BTA)
Runway Surface Type: Grass/turf
Airport Elevation: 1318 ft
Runway Surface Condition:
Runway Used: 13
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 2000 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: None 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 41.414722, -96.108889 (est) 

Postaccident examination of the accident site by the FAA inspector revealed a 750-ft-long wreckage path on the grass strip that began with a white hat and ended at the fuselage. The white hat was about 750 ft from the beginning of the grass strip. The initial impact area, the tail section, a secondary impact area, the wings, and the fuselage were about 900 ft, 1,000 ft, 1,110 ft, 1,1,450 ft, and 1,500 ft, respectively, from the beginning of the grass strip.

The glider's side-opening canopy was separated from the fuselage and found along the wreckage path. The canopy and canopy frame had fractured in several pieces due to impact. The canopy latching mechanism was intact, and the forward and rear canopy latching pins were firmly attached to the frame. The mechanism was actuated and functioned normally.

Flight control continuity from the control surfaces to the cockpit controls was confirmed through overload separations of the control system. The towline had broken free of the tow ring that was attached to the safety link, and the safety link remained attached to the glider. The towline release functioned normally during postaccident testing. 

Medical And Pathological Information

An autopsy of the pilot was performed at the Douglas County Morgue, Omaha, Nebraska. The pilot's cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head. No significant natural disease was identified.

Toxicology testing performed by Axis Forensic Toxicology at the request of Douglas County identified gabapentin (3.2 mcg/ml), caffeine, and cotinine in heart blood. Toxicology testing performed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, identified gabapentin in heart blood and urine, metoprolol in heart blood, and naproxen in urine.

Gabapentin is an antiseizure medication that is also used to treat chronic nerve pain; it is often marketed with the name Neurontin. It carries a warning that it "may cause dizziness, somnolence and other symptoms and signs of [central nervous system] depression." Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, and colas. Cotinine is a metabolite of nicotine, which is found in tobacco products. Naproxen is an over-the-counter analgesic; it is not considered impairing. Metoprolol is a blood pressure medication and is not considered impairing.

The glider pilot was not required to and did not hold an airman medical certificate. Records from the pilot's visits to his primary care physician between May 2014 and May 2017 indicated that he had an ongoing history of migraine headaches, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pre-diabetes, and eczema that were controlled with medications. On September 1, 2016, he was seen by his primary care doctor and diagnosed with a pinched nerve in his neck (cervical radiculopathy). At that time, he was started on gabapentin with instructions to increase slowly to 300 mg three times a day and to watch for sleepiness as he did so. The pilot sent the doctor an email, dated November 1, 2016, describing the way he increased the dose and reporting "no notable side effects." He remained on this dose through his last physician visit on April 20, 2017. At that time, he was also documented as using lisinopril and metoprolol for his hypertension and pravastatin for his cholesterol; lisinopril and pravastatin are not considered impairing.

Additional Information

The pilot's logbook contained an entry dated May 30, 2014, which stated that the accident glider's canopy came open, and the takeoff was aborted. The FAA inspector stated that according to the pilot's wife, the pilot consulted with a mechanic who suggested lubricating the canopy latching mechanism. There was no maintenance logbook entry showing that the latching mechanism was lubricated, and lubrication was not part of the glider manufacturer's maintenance and inspection procedures.

The FAA's Glider Flying Handbook (2013), Chapter 8: Abnormal and Emergency Procedures, Glider Canopy Malfunctions, Glider Canopy Opens Unexpectedly, states in part:

"... if the canopy opens unexpectedly during any phase of flight, the first duty is to fly the glider. It is important to maintain adequate airspeed while selecting a suitable landing area.

If the canopy opens while on aerotow, it is vital to maintain a normal flying attitude to avoid jeopardizing the safety of the glider occupants and the safety of the towplane pilot. Only when the glider pilot is certain that glider control can be maintained should any attention be devoted to trying to close the canopy. If flying a two-seat glider with a passenger on board, fly the glider while the other person attempts to close and lock the canopy. If the canopy cannot be closed, the glider may still be controllable." 

NTSB Identification: CEN17LA181
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 13, 2017 in Blair, NE
Aircraft: AS+ LTD AC 4, registration: N358R
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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 May 13, 2017, about 1520 central daylight time, an experimental racing AS+ LTD AC 4 glider, N358R, impacted terrain after the canopy had opened during takeoff at Blair Municipal Airport, Blair, Nebraska. The glider sustained substantial damage. The private pilot received fatal injuries. The glider was registered to and operated by the pilot under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight that was not operating on a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The local flight was originating at the time of the accident.

BLAIR, Neb. — A Saturday glider plane crash took the life of a Glenwood man and respected UNMC scientist.

Blair police say Dr. Michael Boska, 59, died after his personal sailplane crashed during take-off just after 3 p.m.

Members of the Omaha Soaring Club released a statement Monday that indicates the plane's canopy opened unexpectedly during the towed takeoff, causing Boska to somehow lose control.

"The glider subsequently went airborne followed by a rapid descent and crash while still attached by rope to the tow plane," the release said.

Glider planes, or sailplanes, do not have engines, and need assistance to take off. Once they are in the air, they rely on columns of rising air, or thermals, to maintain elevation.

Boska's wife, Margaret Boska, says her husband was somebody who played as hard as he worked. Boska had been employed at UNMC for 17 years as a radiology professor and vice chairman of radiology research, contributing to breakthroughs on Parkinson's disease.

Boska was a loving father to two children, grandfather, brother, and husband. But Margaret says nothing appealed to him more than being in the sky.

"Always wanted to fly, from the time he was a kid," Margaret said.

Margaret says her husband's passion for flying started with hang-gliders years ago, while he was a college student at the University of California, Berkeley.

"He loved the feeling of it, he just loved that freedom," Margaret said.

That love evolved into flying glider planes, which, like hang gliders, rely on Mother Nature rather than engines to soar.

"There's no sound of an engine," Margaret explained, "you just hear the air coming over the wings."

Boska was ready to enjoy that freedom Saturday when something went wrong.

"This is just a very unexpected event that occurred, and everybody's devastated," Robert Craig of the Omaha Soaring Club said.

Craig says Boska was a treasured member of several years, and a skilled pilot.

"Those are the times that I'll remember the most, the enjoyable flying times with him," Craig said.

Margaret says she'll remember his sense of adventure, wit and heart.

He always like to see the world from above, Margaret said, and that hasn't changed.

"He died doing what he absolutely loved the most, and I feel that he's just flying a little higher now," Margaret said.

Omaha Soaring members say this is the first time in 30 years that the club has seen an accident this serious.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

Omaha Soaring Club's full statement:

The members of the Omaha Soaring Club are deeply saddened at the tragic loss of a fellow member in a glider accident that occurred at the Blair Municipal Airport on the afternoon of Saturday, May 13th. Our prayers and support go out to his family. His loss is of great concern to each of us as fellow Club members and glider pilots.

As previously reported by witnesses to the accident, it occurred during a takeoff sequence when the glider’s canopy unexpectedly opened during the takeoff roll. The glider subsequently went airborne followed by a rapid descent and crash while still attached by rope to the tow plane. The resulting impact caused immediate fatal injuries to the pilot.

The Club owns two gliders and some members own their own gliders. The accident glider was one of those personally owned by the pilot. By FAA rules, he was current and qualified to fly this glider. The designated glider operations area on the field, maintained by the Airport Authority, was in excellent condition.

We want the community to know that the Omaha Soaring Club has operated for over 30 years without an accident of this magnitude. It has continually fostered and encouraged a culture of safety that has included recurring FAA safety seminars and consultations with local FAA Air Traffic Control operations to enhance safety in all respects possible. The Club has also worked closely with the City of Blair’s Airport Authority’s leadership to ensure the safest possible operations at the Blair Municipal Airport. This support is respected and valued by all Club members. In this situation, no conflict with airport operations contributed to this accident and future operations should remain unaffected.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will conduct an investigation to determine the cause of this accident. All members of the Omaha Soaring Club stand ready to support this effort in any manner requested.


Story and video:  http://www.ketv.com









BLAIR, Neb. — We have learned the name of the man killed after a glider crashed at the Blair Airport Saturday. Authorities said the victim is Michael Boska, 59, of Glenwood, Iowa. He was a member of an area glider club.

One witness said it appeared windy conditions may have contributed to the crash during take-off.

Authorities have not released any additional information. The cause of the crash is currently under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration.

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

BLAIR, Neb. — A Glenwood man who died in a glider accident Saturday has been identified by authorities as Michael Boska.

Boska, 59, was a member of the Omaha Soaring Club according to Bob Craig, club president.

In a statement, Craig said Boska crashed about 3:30 p.m. He was the only occupant inside the glider, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

“The members of the Omaha Soaring Club are deeply saddened at the tragic loss of a fellow member in a glider accident that occurred at the Blair Municipal Airport,” Craig said. “Our prayers and support go out to his family. His loss is of great concern to each of us as fellow Club members and glider pilots.”

Craig said witnesses saw the crash occur during a takeoff sequence when the glider’s canopy unexpectedly opened during a takeoff roll.

The glider went airborne, then descended rapidly and crashed while still attached by the rope of the tow plane, Craig said.

“In the process of the gentleman reaching for the canopy, he lost control of the plane and crashed,” according to accounts provided to Craig.

The glider was Boska’s personal craft, Craig said. Boska was currently qualified to fly a glider.

“The designated glider operations area on the field, maintained by the Airport Authority, was in excellent condition,” Craig elaborated.

It is the first accident of this magnitude in 30 years of history with the club, Craig said.

“In this situation, no conflict with airport operations contributed to this accident and future operations should remain unaffected,” he said.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.

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

One person is confirmed dead in a glider accident at the Blair Airport just before 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board arrived at the scene at approximately 6:30 p.m. The agencies will be investigating the cause of the crash and reporting their findings in an accident report.

The victim, a 59-year-old male, is from Glenwood, Iowa. The man's name has not yet been released to the public.

"As far as the mechanics of the crash, it was in the process of taking off at the time," Lt. Aaron Barrow of the Blair Police Department said. "It's still in the process of being investigated."

Both Blair police and the Washington County Sheriff's Office both responded to the call. Bob Craig, the Omaha Soaring Club's president, confirmed that the deceased was a member of the club.

"I wasn't there, but it was a takeoff accident," Craig said. "His canopy opened up, and in the process of reaching for the canopy to shut it, he lost control of the plane, essentially. He was on tow, just got off the ground, and lost control of the plane, which came back down and hit hard. That's what happened."

The victim was the sole occupant of the glider, which Barrow said is in numerous pieces near the accident location. Police vehicles parked in a row to block the view of the crash site. It is unclear whether the wind was a factor in the crash.

County Attorney Scott Vander Schaaf has ordered an autopsy to be performed on the deceased to determine the exact cause of death. It was reported that he was already dead at the police's initial arrival.

Barrow said there is not a clear timeframe of when the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will report their findings.


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

BLAIR, Neb. (WOWT)-- The Washington County Sheriff's Department has identified the man from Glenwood, Iowa who died after a small aircraft crashed near the Blair Airport.

That person is Michael Boska, His family has been notified of the crash.

The Blair Police Department is handling the investigation. They tell us only one person was on board at the time of the crash. They also said the plane was taking off when it crashed.

Officials tell WOWT 6 News the FAA and the NTSB are on location to help in the investigation.

Story and video:  http://www.wowt.com

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