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N916G accident description

New Mexico map... New Mexico list
Crash location 34.986944°N, 106.015833°W
Nearest city Moriarty, NM
34.990050°N, 106.049189°W
1.9 miles away
Tail number N916G
Accident date 09 Jul 2005
Aircraft type Grob G103
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On July 9, 2005, at 1247 mountain daylight time, a Grob G103, N916G, operated by the Albuquerque Soaring Club and piloted by a private pilot, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain during an emergency landing at Moriarty Airport, Moriarty, New Mexico. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The local personal flight was being conducted under Title 14 CFR Part 91 without a flight plan. The pilot and passenger were not injured. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

The tow plane pilot said that the winds were 5 to 15 knots "from the west or northwest" and that "25 knot gusts were not uncommon." During the takeoff roll, he saw an "extreme dust devil right in front [of the airplane]" and "paper-sized pieces of cardboard spinning sharply." He momentarily lost control of the tow plane, then noticed the glider was no longer in tow. He flew an abbreviated traffic pattern and landed. It was then that he noticed his propeller had sustained a ground strike.

The glider pilot said that after an uneventful aero tow, the tow plane started "pulling up and then touched back down." He said the "left wing [was] low and [the] tail high and right.." He then saw a "puff of smoke" and "couldn't tell if the tow plane had crashed, or was about to crash." He elected to release and perform an emergency landing from an altitude of 75 to 100 feet. After turning 90 degrees to the right, the glider was "close to the ground" so the pilot "leveled the wings and tried to flare." The glider impacted terrain and ground looped. A pilot-rated witness said that the pilot "appeared to be attempting a downwind landing when the right wingtip impacted the ground and broke off the glider." Post-accident examination revealed a severed right wing and a severed fuselage aft of the cockpit.

Both pilots agreed that the "puff of smoke" seen by the glider pilot was actually dust thrown in the air during the tow plane's propeller strike.

NTSB Probable Cause

the glider pilot's intentional tow release at too low an altitude when he erroneously perceived the tow plane was about to crash. A contributing factor was the unsuitable terrain on which to make a landing.

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