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Miscommunication Cited in Glider Crash Report
Hollywood, MD - 7/17/2012
By Marty Madden
Sunday, July 15 marked the one-year anniversary of a glider crash in St. Mary’s County. The accident, which occurred at approximately 3:35 p.m. near St. Mary’s County Regional Airport in Hollywood, claimed the life of the craft’s co-pilot, James Michael Dayton, 55 of Mechanicsville.
The aircraft, a Slingsby T-49B glider, sustained heavy damage when it collided with trees while maneuvering for a landing. A preliminary report issued last year by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), indicated Dayton, and the glider’s pilot, Nicholas John Mirales, 53 of Prince Frederick, were attempting to make an emergency landing in the median of Route 235 but missed the mark. The glider had just been released from the plane that was towing it prior to the ill-fated flight.
On June 28, the NTSB adopted a “brief of accident” regarding the incident. It concluded, “The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows: the glider pilot’s improper response to the “check spoilers” signal from the tow pilot. Contributing to the accident was the glider pilot’s failure to confirm that the spoilers were closed and locked before takeoff, and the glider pilot’s improper crew coordination response to the ‘check spoilers’ signal from the tow pilot.”
According to the brief, NTSB investigators spoke with the tow plane pilot. “He explained that, before the flight, the proper signals for ‘too fast’ or ‘too slow’ were discussed but no others,” the brief stated. “He added that he had discussed signaling with the glider’s copilot many times previously but that he had not recently discussed the rudder-wag signal, which means ‘check spoilers.’ After takeoff, he noted that the tow plane’s performance was as expected, but the climb rate was not.He checked the glider in his rearview mirror and noted that the spoilers were deployed. The tow plane pilot provided the internationally recognized (in the glider community) rudder-wag signal, and, instead of stowing the spoilers, the glider released from the tow.”
The entire brief is available on the NTSB web site.
Contact Marty Madden at email@example.com
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