Monday, June 4, 2018

Pulse 10 Meter, N62073: Fatal accident occurred June 02, 2018 in Mountain Home, Elmore County, Idaho

Dan Buchanan

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Boise, Idaho 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Mountain Home, ID
Accident Number: WPR18LA163
Date & Time: 06/02/2018, 1338 MDT
Registration: N62073
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Air Race/Show 

On June 2, 2018, about 1338 mountain daylight time, an experimental amateur-built North Wing (Dan Buchanan) Pulse 10 Meter hang glider, N62073, collided with the ground while participating in an airshow at Mountain Home Air Force Base (KMUO), Mountain Home, Idaho. The commercial pilot sustained fatal injuries and the hang glider sustained substantial damage. The hang glider was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The local flight departed KMUO, about 1332. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The premise of the pilot's airshow routine was a comedy act, in which he would simulate inadvertently flying the hang glider into an active airshow, interrupting another airplane that was performing an aerobatic routine. The plan was for the hang glider, which was equipped with smoke canisters and a series of trailing streamers, to be towed past show-center while the aerobatic airplane made a series of close passes, eventually cutting the streamers. Throughout the routine, the rehearsed radio interactions between the hang glider pilot, aerobatic pilot, and the show announcer were to be transmitted over the public-address system.

During a typical airshow, the hang glider was launched by a moving tow-launch system composed of a winch trailer pulled by a truck. The truck and trailer then travelled back and forth down the runway, simultaneously spinning out the tow cord, while the winch operator maintained cord tension as the hang glider climbed to altitude (usually 1,500 ft). The hang glider pilot typically releases the cord once the truck had turned around after the third pass. The hang glider would then begin to perform a series gliding maneuvers down to the ground, while the cord, which was equipped with a parachute, was rewound back into the winch spool as it slowly descended.

On the day of the accident, the performance began and progressed uneventfully until the end of the third runway pass. After being given the all-clear by the hang glider pilot, the truck and winch trailer turned around as planned, and began to accelerate back along runway 12 in anticipation of the pilot releasing the cord. The winch operator stated that a few seconds after the turn, he looked up and noticed the hang glider was about 500 ft below the altitude he would typically expect to see it. The hang glider then performed an aggressive turning maneuver, and descended another 500 ft. The winch operator then released the winch pressure, in an effort to allow more slack to the hang glider to prevent it from being impeded by cord tension. The hang glider then began to climb, roll left, and strike the ground nose-down.

Multiple witnesses, including the Air Boss, who had seen the routine performed many times before, all recounted similar observations, and all stated that the maneuvers after the third pass were completely unconventional, and not part of the routine.

Post-accident examination revealed that the hang glider sustained substantial damage to the nose junction assembly and downtubes, with the remaining sail structure and support components largely intact. Multiple witnesses reported to news media that the tow cord was cut by the aerobatic airplane during the routine, however, examination revealed that the cord was intact and undamaged. Preliminary review of surveillance and witness videos indicated that the tow cord was still attached to the hang glider at the time of ground impact. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: BUCHANAN DAN
Registration: N62073
Aircraft Category: Weight-Shift
Amateur Built: Yes
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: KMUO, 2996 ft msl
Observation Time: 1949 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 24°C / 0°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 0 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 3 knots, 230°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.25 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Mountain Home, ID (MUO)
Destination: Mountain Home, ID (MUO) 

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: 43.041667, -115.871667

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email 

The second day of a weekend airshow at a U.S. Air Force base in southwestern Idaho has been dedicated to the veteran hang glider pilot who died in Saturday’s crash.

A veteran hang glider died Saturday when he crashed during the Gunfighter Skies Air & Space Celebration at Mountain Home Air Force Base.

The 366th Fighter Wing identified the pilot as Dan Buchanan, 62, and announced that Sunday's second day of the show will continue as scheduled. Gates will open at 8:30 a.m. and the first events start at 10:30 at the base, about 50 miles southeast of Boise.

Sunday's show will be dedicated to Buchanan, a resident of Dayton, Nevada. He died after being taken to a local hospital. Friends said he is survived by a brother and a son.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team to investigate the crash.

Boise photographer Bernie Deyo tweeted that Buchanan hit the ground hard on the west side of the air base. Military personnel responded to provide medical assistance.

"I’m not sure exactly what happened but [the] glider plummeted about 1,000 feet straight down after a show plane clipped its tow cable & impacted the ground hard & violently," Deyo tweeted.

Another witness, who declined to identify himself, told the Idaho Statesman that the tow line was not clipped but intentionally released as part of the act, which took place about 1:30 p.m..

"He did a whole bunch of acrobatics that were intentional and then as he was coming in to land, it looked like he caught a crosswind and it flipped him upside-down and shot the nose into the ground," he said.

He estimated that Buchanan was 40 to 50 feet off the ground when he encountered trouble.

Buchanan suffered a spinal injury in 1981 while landing a hang glider in bad weather. Although he couldn't walk after that, he returned to flying six months later and logged more than 3,000 hours of flight time in hang gliders and sailplanes, according to his website.

He was also licensed as a private and commercial pilot. He made his first appearance at an air show in Medford, Oregon, in 1989. He appeared annually at more than 25 airshows.

The Thunderbirds, an elite U.S. Air Force aerial group performing at Mountain Home, tweeted their condolences.

"The collective hearts of the entire U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds are with Dan Buchanan, his family, his friends and his demonstration team," they wrote.

At a Gunfighter Skies show in September 2003, an F-16C jet from the Thunderbirds crashed and exploded. The crash, in which the pilot ejected safely and no spectators were injured, sent a fireball and smoke into the sky in front of tens of thousands of spectators.

Original article ➤

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