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N8216Q accident description

New Jersey map... New Jersey list
Crash location 41.016667°N, 75.033333°W
Nearest city Blairstown, NJ
40.966764°N, 74.982951°W
4.3 miles away
Tail number N8216Q
Accident date 12 Sep 2002
Aircraft type I.C.A. Brasov IS-28-B2
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On September 12, 2002, about 1500 eastern daylight time, an I.C.A. Brasov IS-28-B2 glider, N8216Q, was substantially damaged when it struck trees during an off airport landing, after it encountered descending air near Blairstown, New Jersey. The certificated private pilot who was the pilot-in-command was not injured. The certificated commercial pilot was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight that departed Blairstown Airport (1N7). No flight plan had been filed for the personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to an inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the pilot-in-command (PIC) occupied the rear seat and was a member of the local glider club. The second pilot was an associate member of the club and occupied the front seat. The second pilot was trying to obtain full club membership, and needed to fly with additional members prior to being voted into the club. The flight departed with the agreement that the PIC would handle the controls during the tow to altitude, and then perform the landing upon return to Blairstown. The second pilot would handle the flight controls during free flight over the ridges.

The second pilot stated:

:"...It was [a] local glider training fight using ridge at Blairstown airport. Tow plane took us to this ridge at 14:40. On the upside of the ridge after entering the updraft,...[the PIC] called for release. Altitude 2,500 [feet] msl. However, after release, there was no lift. The ridge was not working. Since the altitude was safe to get us back to the Blairstown Airport, we started to go there. While overlying the flat part of the ridge, we entered strong downdraft which reduced abruptly our altitude and forced us to land on the trees."

In the diagram that accompanied the second pilot's statement, he depicted the release at 2,500 feet on the northwest side of a ridge that was 1.600 feet high, and was orientated northeast/southwest. The wind was from the northwest, blowing southeast. The accident site was depicted to be on the southeast side of the ridge line.

The PIC reported that he preflighted the glider and told the second pilot that they would take a tow to 3,000 feet agl, (3,372 msl).

The PIC further stated:

"We departed Runway 25 at Blairstown at approximately 1450 local. Upon leaving the airport traffic area, the tow plane made a right turn to a west-north-west heading towards the Kittatinny Ridge. We crossed the eastern slope of the ridge and proceeded between the Upper Yards Creek Reservoir and Sunfish Pond. It was at this position, and without any warning whatsoever that...[the second pilot] released us from the tow plane. Because...[the second pilot] was leaning to the right during the tow, I also had a clear view of the tow release handle, and the altimeter, both of which were located on the left side of the panel in the front cockpit. I saw...[the second pilot] release, and noted that the altimeter read 2,000 ft. msl (approximately 500 feet agl in this position). [the second pilot]...took forcible command of the aircraft and made a right turn to a northerly heading. We then encountered sink of 500 fpm down. I told him to turn left to the upwind northwesterly side of the ridge because of its close proximity to us, and the possibility of finding a thermal, or good air. (No sink). If we did not find a thermal or good air the Delaware River Valley terrain is approximately 1,000 ft below ridge height, and contains open field suitable to affect a safe landing...[the second pilot] said no. He insisted that we return to the airport, and that he could make it. He continued his right turn to an easterly heading during which we encountered heavy sink. The variometer pegged full down. The time from tow release to impact was less than two minutes, to the best of my recollection...."

The 1454 weather observation from Aeroflex-Andover Airport (12N), Andover, New Jersey, which was located 12 nm east of Blairstown, included winds from 020 degrees, at 12 knots, with gusts to 16 knots. The wind were variable from 340 degrees to 100 degrees.

According to records from the FAA, both pilots held airline transport pilot ratings, and flight instructor ratings for airplanes. Neither pilot held a glider flight instructor rating.

NTSB Probable Cause

The second pilot's improper in-flight decision to perform a release from the towplane, which did not allow for successful completion of the flight. A factor was the downdrafts.

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