On 15 December 2013, the pilot of a Rolladen Schneider Flugzeugbau LS7-WL glider, registered VH-XJJ, attended the daily pilots’ briefing at Benalla aerodrome, Victoria. He initially planned to head to the north of Benalla but was advised that there would be better lift to the southeast of the airfield as indicated by the presence of cumulus (Cu) clouds.

The pilot then amended his planned flight to follow the Cu clouds and lift to the south-east of Benalla. At about 1320, the glider was launched and climbed to about 4,500 ft above mean sea level, overhead the airfield. The pilot tracked towards a quarry and a series of small hills and then followed the Cu clouds to the south-east.

Once over the hills, the pilot reported that at about 1430, the wind changed from a south-easterly to a south-westerly direction and the Cu clouds dissipated and the lift disappeared. The pilot observed that the glider was not within range of a return to Benalla and commenced looking for a suitable field for an outlanding. The pilot identified a field about 1-2 NM ahead in a valley. When at about 500 ft above ground level, the pilot observed that the surface had rocks and holes and quickly chose an alternative field.

The alternative field was perpendicular to the planned landing area and there was a row of trees on the approach end of the field and a ditch at the far end. The pilot conducted an approach to the field and the glider passed over the trees at about 50 ft AGL. The glider landed heavily in the north-eastern corner of the field. The pilot sustained a serious injury due to the hard landing and the glider was substantially damaged.


Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin Issue - 27