B2/2002L Hang gliding accident in Loimaa on 16 February 2002

On 16.2.2002 there was a serious hang gliding accident at Köyliönkylä, Loimaa, in which the pilot, 53-year-old male, was fatally injured. The glider, Solarwings Typhoon 1984, was equipped with a Minimum type motor. The Accident Investigation Board, Finland, appointed an investigation commission to investigate the accident. Olli Borg, MSc, was appointed as investigator-in-charge and aircraft mechanic Heikki Pimiä and student Pasi Hynynen as members of the commission.

The glider stalled violently a few minutes after take off, spun around its nose at a height of approximately 20-40 metres and hit the ground at high speed. The people at the scene immediately phoned to the emergency centre which sent a rescue helicopter and ambulance to the scene. The pilot could not be saved despite the revival attempts.

The cause of the accident was the violent stall close to the ground and spinning of the glider around its nose. The stall was probably caused by a strong and turbulent wind and incorrect loading of the glider. It is also possible that the stall was caused by a sudden loss of pilot’s grip. It is also possible that the pilot intentionally stalled the glider to show manoeuvring to the spectators. The thrust vector of the propeller was pointing substantially above the centre of gravity and the glider spun around its nose after stalling as a result of this. A contributing factor was also the bad general condition of the glider, neglecting of several gliding regulations and possibly the fact that the dive levelling bar was in its transport position.

The investigation commission recommends that all glider pilots pay attention prior flying to the wind velocity and turbulence also above tree tops. All glider pilots should also pay attention to the strength of the sail fabric of old gliders particularly. All glider pilots who inspect motored hang gliders should pay attention to the location of the propeller thrust vector in respect to the location of the centre of gravity of the combination. The commission also recommends that the Finnish Civil Aviation Authority and the Finnish Aeronautical Association would clarify the gliding instructions and the division of duties between the gliding commission, office of the Finnish Aeronautical Association and training organisation, so that the gliding regulations and instructions would be up to date, catalogued and known to the glider pilots. The investigation report was sent for comments to the Flight Safety Authority of the Finnish Civil Aviation Authority and to the Finnish Aeronautical Association. The Flight Safety Authority did not comment. The Finnish Aeronautical Association agreed with all recommendations and the comment is appended to the report.

B2/2002L Report (pdf, 1.13 Mt)

Published 16.2.2002