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Summary

Summary

The club was carrying out joy flights in VH-WVQ and earlier in the day another pilot had flown these. A second pilot then took over this task. He flew his first flight with an adult passenger and no operating anomalies were noted. For his second flight a 12 year old boy was carried in the front seat, along with 13.5 kilograms of ballast. On aero tow take off the pilot noted the stick had to be pushed fully forward to lift the tail. He said the handling felt a little "strange" in the air but he elected to continue. Release was at 2800 feet and he commenced circling in the Gap area to try and obtain lift. Positive two stages of flap was set, with a speed of 42 knots and 30 degrees of bank. Lift conditions were poor; they were just maintaining height. At about 300 feet above a ridge the glider stalled with the left wing going down and the tail also dropping slightly. Recovery seemed slow even though the stick was pushed completely forward. It became impossible to avoid trees and on contact these pulled the wings backward. The glider came to rest in the trees with the canopy dislodged and the nose pointing down at the ground some 30 feet below. The pilot was unable to prevent the passenger from undoing his belt and attempting to get out onto a branch. In the process the passenger slipped, then managed to briefly hold on to the branch with a hand before falling to the ground. He was injured but managed to walk to a nearby road where a motorist picked him up. The pilot got out of the aircraft onto a branch but could not get down to the ground which was still some 25 feet below. He remained there until rescued about 1.5 hours later. It was a fine day with virtually no surface wind. Other glider pilots who flew either before or at about the time of the accident said that lift conditions were poor and intermittent. One of those who flew in the Gap area commented that he had to circle close to the mountain to get lift. As his turn took him out from the side of the mountain he lost the lift, with the variometer indicating -1. Post accident calculations indicated that the position of the centre of gravity was at 38.7 per cent Mean Aerodynamic Chord (MAC). The approved range was 22-40.6 per cent MAC. Significant Factors: The following factors were considered relevant to the development of the accident: 1. The conditions were unfavourable for obtaining adequate lift for prolonged flight. 2. The pilot continued the flight in marginal lift conditions. 3. The pilot allowed a severe stall to develop at a low height above the terrain.
 
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