Sunday, July 21, 2019

Bölkow Phoebus B-1, N112AJ: Fatal accident occurred July 17, 2019 on the Alvord Desert, Harney County, Oregon

David M. Kibby

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel 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: Alvord Desert, OR
Accident Number: WPR19LA191
Date & Time: 07/17/2019, 1225 PDT
Registration: N112AJ
Aircraft: Bolkow PHOEBUS
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Glider Tow 

On July 17, 2019, about 1225 Pacific daylight time, a Bolkow Phoebus B-1 glider, N112AJ, was destroyed following impact with terrain in Alvord Desert, Oregon. The pilot was fatally injured. The glider was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight and no flight plan was filed. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

The flight was a part of Willamette Valley Soaring Clubs annual Alvord Safari. The glider was launched using the "auto-tow" method which utilized a vehicle that pulled the glider to achieve lift. Numerous witnesses reported that the glider took off in an unusually steep rate of climb to about 60 ft above ground level before the left wing dropped and the glider rolled to the left and impacted the desert floor. The wreckage was recovered to a secure location for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Bolkow
Registration: N112AJ
Model/Series: PHOEBUS B1
Aircraft Category: Glider
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation:
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point:
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction:
Lowest Ceiling:
Altimeter Setting:
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point:

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:

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 Harney County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to a single glider plane crash on the Alvord Desert.

On July 17th, at approximately 12:30 p.m., the Harney County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to a glider plane crash on the Alvord Desert in Southern Harney County.

Based on eyewitness statements and the investigation performed by Harney County deputies, it was determined that the glider plane, operated by David Kibby, 71, of Damascus, contacted the ground with the wing while being towed during takeoff, causing the plane to nose into the ground. Kibby was ejected from the plane at impact and pronounced deceased at the scene.

Other agencies assisting in the call were law enforcement from the Bureau of Land Management. 

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were also notified.

The case remains under investigation.

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