Saturday, May 15, 2021

Loss of Lift: Let L-33 Solo, N355BA; accident occurred May 11, 2020 near Arlington Municipal Airport (KAWO), Snohomish County, Washington

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Des Moines, Washington 

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Arlington, Washington
Accident Number: WPR20CA151
Date & Time: May 11, 2020, 12:53 Local 
Registration: N355BA
Aircraft: Let L 33 SOLO 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of lift 
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal


The glider pilot reported that while on final approach to land, the ground speed decreased and the glider descended faster than expected. Unable to reach the runway, he diverted to a gravel area to land out. The glider landed hard, and during the landing roll he heard a loud bang that was later identified as a pothole.

The glider sustained substantial damage to the fuselage.

The pilot reported no mechanical malfunctions with the glider that would have precluded normal operation.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The loss of lift while on final approach which resulted in a hard off-airport landing.


Environmental issues Thermal lifting - Effect on operation
Aircraft Altitude - Not attained/maintained

Factual Information

History of Flight

Landing Loss of lift (Defining event)
Landing-flare/touchdown Hard landing
Landing-landing roll Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial; Student 
Age: 58, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land; Multi-engine land
Seat Occupied: Center
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None 
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None 
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: BasicMed Without waivers/limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: May 19, 2017
Occupational Pilot: No 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: (Estimated) 4561 hours (Total, all aircraft), 4 hours (Total, this make and model), 15 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 7 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Let
Registration: N355BA
Model/Series: L 33 SOLO No Series
Aircraft Category: Glider
Year of Manufacture: 1999 
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal 
Serial Number: 990506
Landing Gear Type: Tandem
Seats: 1
Date/Type of Last Inspection: May 8, 2020 Annual 
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection: 
Airframe Total Time: 814.35 Hrs as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer:
Engine Model/Series:
Registered Owner:
Rated Power:
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC) 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KPAE,606 ft msl 
Distance from Accident Site: 16 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 12:53 Local 
Direction from Accident Site: 198°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Visibility:  10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 5 knots / 
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 350° 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.01 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 24°C / 8°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Arlington, WA (AWO)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Arlington, WA (AWO) 
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 12:21 Local 
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Arlington Muni AWO
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 141 ft msl
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 34
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 5332 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Straight-in

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None 
Latitude, Longitude: 48.160831,-122.158889 (est)

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