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N513WK accident description

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Crash location 20.000833°N, 155.667500°W
Nearest city Kamuela, HI
20.001800°N, 155.749700°W
5.3 miles away
Tail number N513WK
Accident date 07 Oct 2012
Aircraft type Schleicher ASH25M
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On October 7, 2012, about 1030 Hawaiian standard time, a Schleicher ASH-25M glider, N513WK, landed approximately 1 mile short of the runway at the Waimea-Kohala airport (PHMU), Kamuela, Hawaii. The private pilot sustained serious injuries; the glider sustained substantial damage to both wings. The glider was registered to, and operated by, the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight that departed PHMU at approximately 1000.

The pilot reported that on the day of the accident the weather was marginal with low clouds. The wind was shifting between a trade wind and a westerly wind. He took off from runway 22, and shortly thereafter stowed the engine. About 1 mile northwest of the airport about 500 feet above the ground, the wind had not changed back to a trade wind and the glider was not getting adequate lift. The pilot turned back towards the airport, and raised the engine pylon to restart the engine, however, the engine would not start. He entered the traffic pattern, and while on the downwind leg, he noted that the glider would not make it to the runway. Given a lack of adequate emergency landing sites around the airport, he elected to still attempt to land on the runway. The pilot lowered the landing gear and turned to base when he felt the left wing stall. The wing subsequently contacted the ground damaging an approximate 4 foot section of the left wing’s outboard leading edge. The glider cartwheeled before coming to a rest in a field.

During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board Investigator-In-Charge, the pilot reported that there were no mechanical anomalies with the engine as it was running about 5-10 minutes prior to the accident. He mentioned that he believes it was an operational error because everything was happening so fast he was unable to use a checklist.

According to the “ASH 25 Mi flight manual”, it states that it is possible to land the glider with the engine/propeller extended; but to expect a higher than normal sink rate. The manual also states that in the event of an engine failure, if a crash landing is imminent that it is best to retract the powerplant to at least the halfway point to increase the glide distance, which will potentially allow for a better emergency landing site.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot’s failure to maintain control of the glider after it encountered atmospheric conditions while maneuvering where the lift was not sufficient to maintain flight, which resulted in a stall and impact with terrain during the subsequent approach to land.

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