Friday, April 13, 2018

PZL-Bielsko SZD-55-1, N551DR, owned and operated by the pilot: Fatal accident occurred August 06, 2016 at Chicago Glider Club Gliderport (IL59), Channahon, Illinois

James M. Patton with his eldest granddaughter, Molly.

James Patton, age 69, was fatally injured on August 6, 2016. US Air Force Veteran. Jim was a Mason with Masonic Lodge #270 and an avid aviation enthusiast. Patton's wife, Gwen Patton, said her husband has held a pilot's license for his Cessna plane for at least 25 years. He began flying the glider plane about 10 years ago. "He flew as often as he could," Gwen Patton said, adding he would go out on weekends to fly if the weather was nice. "I think (he liked) the freedom and the challenge of being up there and being free like that," she said of his interest in gliders. Patton's love for flying also included taking his 9-year-old granddaughter to the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. The two would sleep in a tent under the wing of the plane, family members said fondly, adding that 9-year-old Molly Ouradnik was considered Patton's co-pilot.
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The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:  
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Des Plaines, Illinois 

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/N551DR 

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Location: Channahon, IL
Accident Number: CEN16FA308
Date & Time: 08/06/2016, 1533 CDT
Registration: N551DR
Aircraft: PZL-BIELSKO SZD 55-1
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On August 6, 2016, about 1533 central daylight time, an experimental PZL Bielsko SZD 55-1 glider, N551DR, collided with terrain shortly after takeoff from Chicago Glider Club Gliderport (IL59), Channahon, Illinois. The pilot was fatally injured, and the glider was substantially damaged. The glider was owned 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 for the flight, which was not on a flight plan. The local flight was departing at the time of the accident.

The pilot of the tow airplane reported that he initiated the takeoff from runway 27, a 2,000-ft-long grass runway, and that the takeoff ground run was normal. The tow airplane lifted-off about halfway down the runway and began climbing. He stated that, when the tow airplane was about 20 ft above ground level (agl), he began to feel a "heavy increasing drag from the glider and shortly thereafter, felt the glider release from the tow." The tow airplane subsequently landed uneventfully with the towline still attached to its tail clasp mechanism.

Three witnesses reported that, during the takeoff roll, the glider's right wing dropped and contacted the ground after the wing-runner let go of the right wing. The wings leveled momentarily, and then the left wing contacted the ground while the glider was veering slightly to the left. The witnesses stated that the glider pilot then leveled the wings briefly before the glider pitched-up about 30° to 40°. The tow airplane was still on its takeoff ground run when the glider pitched-up. The glider continued to climb in a 30°- to 40°-pitch attitude until the towline released from the glider, which was then on a southwest heading. The glider's pitch attitude subsequently leveled out, and it appeared that the glider briefly began a right turn before it entered an aerodynamic stall/spin to the left. The witnesses stated that the glider had reached 100 to 200 ft agl when it entered the aerodynamic stall/spin.

Data downloaded from an LX 7007 Pro Image flight recorder that was recovered from the glider indicated that, at 1533:03, the glider achieved its highest recorded altitude of 152 ft agl at a ground speed of 45.5 mph and a climb rate of 1,650 feet per minute (fpm). About 7 seconds later, the glider impacted the terrain while descending at 870 fpm. For further details about the data recorded by the LX7007 during the accident flight, see the Tests and Research section later in this report.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The 69-year-old glider pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for single-engine land airplanes, single-engine sea airplanes, and gliders. He also held an airplane instrument rating. His most recent second-class airman medical certificate was issued on November 3, 2015, with the restriction to have glasses available for near vision. During his medical examination, the pilot reported a total flight time of 1,810 hours. The pilot had an estimated 112 hours of flight time in gliders.

The pilot purchased the glider in April 2016. The pilot's logbook indicated that he flew the glider 5.7 hours between May 3, 2016, and May 18, 2016. There were no additional flights logged in the accident glider between May 18, 2016, and the day of the accident; however, the logbook indicated that the pilot flew other gliders for 2.1 hours between July 7, 2016, and July 11, 2016. According to the on-board LX 7007 Pro Image flight recorder, the pilot flew the accident glider for 50 minutes earlier on the day of the accident.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The single-seat glider, serial number 551192039, was manufactured in 1992. The glider's maximum gross weight was 1,102 pounds. The last condition inspection was conducted on April 1, 2016, when the glider had a total time of 930 hours. The glider's flight logbook indicated that the glider had a total time of 937.1 hours when the previous owner sold it to the accident pilot in April 2016.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATON

At 1535, about 2 minutes after the accident, the surface weather observation at the Joliet Regional Airport, Joliet, Illinois, located about 6 miles northeast of the accident site, reported the surface wind 330° at 6 knots, a clear sky, 10 miles surface visibility, temperature 29°C, dew point 16°C, and altimeter 29.97 inches of mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The glider impacted a field with tall grass about 200 ft south and 1,600 ft from the approach end of runway 27. The impact damage was consistent with the glider impacting in a left-wing-low, steep nose-down attitude. The entire aircraft was located at the point of impact. The entire span of the left wing remained attached to the fuselage, and the outboard section of the wing exhibited crushing and impact damage along the leading edge. The nose and cockpit remained attached to the fuselage; however, they were crushed, broken, and displaced to the right. The pilot's seatback was displaced during the impact. It was not possible to determine where the seatback was positioned before impact. The pilot's parachute was in the cockpit and had not been deployed.

The outboard section of the right wing was separated at the aileron bellcrank and was lying forward of the inboard section of the wing in the direction of travel. The tail was broken aft of the fuselage, and the tail boom and empennage were displaced to the right of the fuselage. The empennage remained intact and exhibited no damage. The wing and horizontal stabilizer attach points were attached properly and were secure.

The flight controls, including the spoilers, were checked for continuity from the flight controls to their respective surfaces. Flight control cables and control tubes were traced, and all breaks were consistent with overstress separations. No preimpact flight control continuity anomalies were detected. The ballast tanks did not contain any water. The towline release mechanism was found in the spring-loaded closed position. The release lever was operated by hand, and it moved to the tow release position. The complete span of towline and the tow ring remained attached to the tow airplane and appeared undamaged.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Will County Coroner's Office, Crest Hill, Illinois, conducted an autopsy of the pilot. The cause of death was multiple injuries.

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing on the pilot. No carbon monoxide was detected in the blood. The test for cyanide was not performed. No ethanol was detected in the vitreous. Quinine was detected in the blood and urine. Rosuvastatin was detected in the urine but not in the blood.

Rosuvastatin is a medication used to treat high cholesterol. Quinine is used to treat malaria and is found in tonic water. Neither of these drugs is impairing.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

The SZD-55-1 Flight Manual in Section 4.9.1, "Stalling and characteristic airspeed IAS," indicated that the stall speed for a light pilot without water ballast is 39.1 mph in straight flight and 46.5 mph when circling with a 45° bank angle.

The LX 7007 Pro Image flight recorder captured data at a rate of once every 4 seconds while in flight. The flight track data provided the following information about the glider's performance: 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The glider flight instructor who provided flight training to the pilot in 2002 when the pilot was new to flying gliders aided the NTSB during the on-site investigation. He knew the pilot personally and was familiar with the pilot's glider experience. He reported that the pilot was about 6 ft 1 inches tall and had a sleeve length of about 41 inches. He stated that the pilot likely had the seatback set at an aft location due to his height and the fact that he was wearing a parachute during the flight. He stated that, if the seatback had accidently fallen rearward, the back would have traveled only about 2 inches aft; this would not have restricted the pilot's full access to the cockpit flight controls. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 69, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied: Single
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Glider
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 11/03/2015
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 1810 hours (Total, all aircraft), 112 hours (Total, this make and model) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: PZL-BIELSKO
Registration: N551DR
Model/Series: SZD 55-1
Aircraft Category: Glider
Year of Manufacture: 1992
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 551192039
Landing Gear Type: Hull
Seats: 1
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 04/01/2016, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1102 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines:
Airframe Total Time:  926.5 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer:
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series:
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power:
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held:  None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: JOT, 582 ft msl
Observation Time: 1535 CDT
Distance from Accident Site:  6 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 32°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 29°C / 16°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots, 330°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 29.97 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Precipitation
Departure Point: Channahon, IL (IL59)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Channahon, IL (IL59)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1532 CDT
Type of Airspace:

Airport Information

Airport: Chicago Glider Club Gliderport (IL59)
Runway Surface Type: Grass/turf
Airport Elevation: 590 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 27
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 2000 ft / 250 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: 41.430833, -88.249444

NTSB Identification: CEN16FA308
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 06, 2016 in Channahon, IL
Aircraft: PZL-BIELSKO SZD 55-1, registration: N551DR
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 either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On August 6, 2016, about 1533 central daylight time, an experimental PZL Bielsko SZD 55-1, a single-seat glider, sustained substantial damage when it impacted terrain during takeoff from the Chicago Glider Club Gliderport (IL59), Channahon, Illinois. The pilot was fatally injured. The glider was owned and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was not on a flight plan. The glider departed from IL59 about 1532 on a local flight. 

The pilot of the tow airplane reported that he initiated the takeoff from runway 27 (2,000 ft by 250 ft, grass/turf) and that the takeoff was normal. The tow airplane lifted off about halfway down the runway and began climbing. He stated that when the tow airplane was about 20 ft above ground level (agl), he began to feel a "heavy increasing drag from the glider and shortly thereafter, felt the glider release from the tow." 

Witnesses reported that during the takeoff roll, the glider's right wing dropped and hit the ground after the "wing runner" let go of the right wing. The wings leveled momentarily and then the left wing hit the ground while the glider was veering slightly to the left. The witnesses stated that the pilot leveled the wings briefly before the glider pitched up approximately 30 to 40 degrees. The tow airplane was still on its takeoff roll as the glider pitched up. The glider continued to climb at a 30 to 40-degree pitch attitude until the tow rope was released from the glider, which was on a southwest heading. The glider's pitch attitude leveled out, and it appeared that the glider started a right turn, but then the glider entered a stall/spin to the left. The witnesses stated that the glider had reached 100 to 200 ft agl when it entered the stall/spin.

The glider impacted a field with tall grass in a left wing low, steep nose-down attitude about 200 ft south and 1,600 ft from the approach end of runway 27. The entire aircraft was located at the point of impact. The entire span of the left wing remained attached to the fuselage and it exhibited crushing and impact damage along the leading edge of the outboard section of the wing. The nose and cockpit remained attached to the fuselage; however, it was crushed and broken, and displaced to the right. The outboard section of the right wing was separated from the rest of the wing at the aileron bellcrank and was lying forward of the right wing in the direction of travel. The tail was broken aft of the fuselage and the tail boom and empennage were displaced to the right of the fuselage. The empennage remained intact and exhibited no damage. The wing and horizontal stabilizer attach points were attached properly and were secure. The flight controls, including the spoilers, were checked for continuity from the flight controls to their respective surfaces. Flight control cables and control tubes were traced and all breaks were consistent with overload. No preimpact flight control continuity anomalies were detected. There was no water found in the ballast tanks. The chin tow cable release was found in the spring-loaded closed position. The chin release lever was operated by hand and it moved to the tow release position. 

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