Pilot hurt after
unapproved flight

Winds force a landing of the rented glider
at Mokuleia Beach Park

By Rosemarie Bernardo

A man was treated and released at Wahiawa General Hospital yesterday after he landed a rented glider at Mokuleia Beach Park and suffered a gash to the head.

The pilot, identified only as Norman, had flown the glider without authorization, said Mike Griffin, owner of Sailplane Ride Adventures at Dillingham Airfield.

Griffin said he grounded all four pilots who were scheduled to fly yesterday because of wind gusts and downdraft.

But the pilot of a tow plane allowed Norman to fly the rented glider with a passenger, Griffin said.

About 12:57 p.m., Norman was piloting a GROB-103 two-seat glider at 7,200 feet and attempted to land at Dillingham Airfield after flying for more than an hour.

Griffin said Norman could not land at Dillingham because of the wind and because he was too low. Norman was able to land at the beach park.

It is unclear whether the glider landed on the beach or in the water. Bystanders said the glider landed about 10 yards offshore, while Griffin said the plane landed on the sand. The waves were pushing on the glider's tail, he added.

Police believe the glider landed on the water and was pushed up on the sand.

Norman, who was not available for comment, cut his head on the canopy as he tried to get out of the glider, Griffin said. The male passenger was not injured, Griffin added.

Alila Dela Pena, who was camping at Mokuleia Beach Park with her family, said "there was no sound" when the glider landed. She said bystanders helped Norman out of the water.

The glider landed behind Owen's Retreat at 68-945 Farrington Highway. Manager Jimmy Rael-Kenela said it was the first time a glider had landed on the beach since he lived in the area for the past 20 years.

"I was taken completely by surprise," he said. "I didn't hear anything."

Griffin said that while was in another glider with a passenger, he saw a glider take off but did not realize it was one of his.

Later, one of Griffin's salesmen contacted him via radio and said there was a downed glider at the beach.

"When I looked down, I didn't know it was mine," he said. "I thought it was somebody else's glider."

Griffin said the 22-year-old company, which he purchased in 1996, has never had any accidents.

The glider sustained two broken canopies, a broken rudder and a broken aileron. Damage is estimated at $10,000.

Griffin described Norman as an experienced pilot who has previously rented gliders with Sailplane Ride Adventures.

Representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration could not be reached for comment.

The Federal Aviation Administration

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