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N130MD accident description

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Crash location 42.635277°N, 71.908056°W
Nearest city Ashburnham, MA
42.650088°N, 71.916188°W
1.1 miles away
Tail number N130MD
Accident date 13 Jul 2003
Aircraft type Rolladen-Schneider LS-4
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On July 13, 2003, about 1600 eastern daylight time, a Rolladen-Schneider LS-4 glider, N130MD, was substantially damaged during an off airport landing in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. The certificated private pilot sustained minor injures. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the flight that departed the Sterling Airport, Sterling, Massachusetts. The local personal flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

In a written statement, the pilot said he departed Sterling, and flew in the vicinity of the Jaffrey Airport, Jaffrey, New Hampshire. He attained an altitude of 4,000 feet msl, near Mount Monadnock, and "spent some altitude while sightseeing." The pilot arrived over the Jaffrey Airport, at an altitude of 2,200 feet msl. The pilot overheard radio communications between other glider pilots in the area who indicated that conditions were "tougher" than they expected. The pilot further stated:

"Since I had little cross-country experience, I was somewhat concerned by this report. Assuming that I'd encounter lift equivalent to that on my outbound flight, I decided to depart for Sterling, rather than land at Jaffrey (field elevation 1,040 msl). Since I was at pattern altitude for Jaffrey, this was clearly my critical error/misjudgment. I flew south, searching for thermals. Those that I encountered were weak and broken, so that I was gradually losing altitude...."

The pilot attempted to divert to the Gardner Municipal Airport, Gardner, Massachusetts; however, the glider continued to descend and the pilot elected to attempt a landing to a gravel pit. While on approach, the glider impacted trees and struck the ground.

The Jaffrey Airport was located about 30 statue miles north-northwest of the Sterling Airport.

The pilot reported about 104 hours of total glider fight experience, which included about 29 hours in make and model.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's improper in-flight decision to over fly a suitable landing area. Factors in this accident were weak thermal lift activity, and lack of suitable terrain at the time of the landing.

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