JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report on a glider crash last month near the Herlong Recreational Airport that killed the pilot.
The report suggests that the ASW-19B glider crashed because the pilot didn’t assemble it correctly.
The crash was reported around 1:15 p.m. April 16 in the thick underbrush next to the woodline surrounding the airport on Normandy Boulevard.
According to the NTSB preliminary report, the glider pilot, identified by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office as a 66-year-old man, brought the glider components to Herlong that day and assembled it himself. When he was in the air being towed, the glider was seen to be climbing and then descending. The glider pilot was heard on the radio telling the tow pilot to “take it easy ... something is not right,” and seconds later, the glider pilot was heard telling the tow pilot to release.
The report states the tow pilot didn’t see what happened -- he only saw the glider in the trees near the runway.
But another pilot told NTSB that he saw the entire sequence. That pilot said, once released, the glider “stalled and nosed over” and then went into a secondary stall and crashed, hitting the ground with its left wing first, according to the report. The tail section separated on impact, the report shows.
According to investigators, the glider pilot was an experienced pilot.
NTSB says it found that the glider’s “elevator control, which includes a fixed ball joint on the base of the elevator and the elevator control tube that extended the length of the vertical stabilizer, was not connected as required by preflight flight assembly procedures” and that “no evidence of a spring clip of other securing device was observed.”
News4JAX aviation expert Ed Booth said a preflight check would have alerted the pilot that the glider was not ready for flight.
“It is one of the final items you check, and it’s very simple,” Booth said.
Booth showed News4JAX how he checks his flight controls to make sure the ailerons attached to the wings and elevator move up and down.
“You turn the controls to the right and look out the window to make sure the right aileron moves in the up position and the left aileron moves in the down position,” he explained. “You are looking for correct movement and you looking for full movement.”
The Federal Aviation Administration requires all pilots to go through a preflight check before launching their aircraft, and some checks are a lot more extensive depending on the type of aircraft.