Inadequate experience doomed glider pilot in 2005 crash
Pilot error, lack of flight experience, inadequate flight training and unfavorable winds are the probable causes of a fatal glider tour plane crash in Mokuleia in April 2005, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
Pilot Tyler Nelson, 22, died in the crash. Passengers John Streich and his daughter, Ashley, of Gig Harbor Wash., walked away with scrapes, bruises and sore muscles. The flight was an early 13th-birthday present for Ashley.
The report, released last month, said Nelson failed to maintain adequate airspeed during a maneuver, which caused his aircraft to stall, then pitch up and down, and spin first in one direction, then the other, before crashing. The oscillations and spins after a stall are predictable, and recovery is possible in half a turn or less, the report said. But it questions whether Nelson had enough training and experience to do so.
Nelson had 48.4 hours of flight time, of which 31.2 hours were as pilot-in-command. He received his commercial pilot certificate less than three months after beginning flight training, the report said.
According to Federal Aviation Regulations, it takes just 25 hours of flight time and 100 flights as pilot-in-command to obtain a commercial glider certificate. But the Soaring Society of America and the Soaring Safety Foundation say it usually takes six months to a year to get the required experience for a commercial pilot certificate, according to the report.
The Schweizer SGS 2-32 crashed upside down into a ridge above Dillingham Airfield. The aircraft was owned by Sailplane Ride Adventures Inc., which does business as Soar Hawaii Sailplanes.
Local glider pilots call the area of the crash the "toilet bowl" because of the unpredictable winds that flush up and down the mountainsides.
On the day of the crash, a pilot who witnessed the crash from her glider told investigators the winds were shifting and gusting and did not produce the usual updraft along the ridgeline.
In a more recent incident, the NTSB said an Island Air pilot catching a ride aboard a company aircraft to Kahului from Honolulu on Jan. 31 this year suffered a fractured vertebra when the airplane experienced severe turbulence.