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N633S accident description

Nevada map... Nevada list
Crash location 34.805556°N, 115.408611°W
Reported location is a long distance from the NTSB's reported nearest city. This often means that the location has a typo, or is incorrect.
Nearest city Jean, NV
35.778868°N, 115.323883°W
67.4 miles away
Tail number N633S
Accident date 14 May 2005
Aircraft type Schweizer SGS 1-26E
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On May 14, 2005, at 1435 Pacific daylight time, a Schweizer SGS 1-26E glider, N633S, experienced a loss of lift and made a forced landing in rocky, uneven terrain 6 miles west of Jean Airport (0L7), Jean, Nevada. The commercial glider pilot/owner operated the glider under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The glider sustained substantial damage. The pilot, the sole occupant, sustained serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local area flight that departed Jean at 1413. No flight plan had been filed.

The pilot submitted a Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report (NTSB Form 6120.1/2), where he indicated that the glider was released from an aero tow about 5,200 feet mean sea level (msl), about 2,400 feet above the airport elevation. After release, he felt that he should return to the airport; however, because other gliders were "finding good lift to the west of Jean...," he decided instead to head out towards the west. During his flight he was unsuccessful in finding any thermals. He noted that he never gained more than 200 feet above his initial release altitude.

The pilot reported that he realized that he was not going to be able to make it back to the airport, and would have to make an off airport landing in the area of the Goodsprings Pumping Station. The pilot stated that he had not realized that the glider had lost over 1,000 feet during the flight. When he committed to the forced landing, he was "too low to pick a good spot or to set up a proper approach." The pilot aligned the glider near the pipeline as it looked to have been "smoother" than the surrounding terrain. He stated that the glider landed on a mound and bounced back into the air and came down on its nose at an estimated 30-degree angle.

In the section entitled "RECOMMENDATION (HOW COULD THIS ACCIDENT HAVE BEEN PREVENTED)," the pilot wrote that a decision to land sooner would have allowed more time to chose a better landing site. He also noted that it was desert terrain, which consisted of small mounds and hills, and rocks and sparse brush, and there wasn't really a suitable landing area due to the terrain.

According to Las Vegas Valley Soaring Association personnel who traveled to the accident site, the nose was crushed aft towards the cockpit, and a wing partially separated from the fuselage attachment point.

NTSB Probable Cause

the pilot's in-flight decision to continue a flight with weak thermal lift activity, and his delayed recognition of a loss of altitude while attempting to find a thermal in which to soar. A factor in the accident was the lack of suitable terrain for the forced landing.

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