Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Papa Whisky written off

I got a shock when a fellow soaring pilot emailed me to tell me that the aircraft that I’d learnt to fly in, Taupo Gliding Club’s PW6, Papa Whisky, had been written off in a crash at Matamata in April 2009. It was the first glider I’d been in, I’d flown about 9 hours in this aircraft and soloed in it, so it held a special place in my gliding memory. It felt strange to think that it was no more.

Coincidentally, the copy of Gliding NZ that had recently arrived at the time I got the email about Papa Whisky had an item about a crash at Matamata and a net search turned up more. Apparently, Papa Whisky was at an Air Cadets camp at Matamata Gliding Club and during a simulated rope break exercise at 300 feet, with a largish instructor in the back seat and a 14 year old boy in the front seat, the glider stalled and spun in. According to the crash report, the student initiated a climbing turn to the right without sufficient airspeed (when I first heard about the crash I had thought the cause may have been due to insufficient ballast in the front seat, given the weight differential between the instructor, whom I know, and the lightweight student) which led to a stall and spin. Accident report here: http://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/wiki.php?id=59652.

Thankfully no-one was killed. The instructor suffered two broken legs, while the air cadet got serious head injuries, but has since recovered and is keen to continue flying. Sobering stuff though and enough to make me go over my rope break knowledge and options more thoroughly.

No comments: