A glider, a Schleicher ASH 25 E (G-CFST) launched behind an aerotow tug from Aston Down Airfield with the intention of soaring along the Cotswold Ridge between Dursley and Broadway. The soaring conditions proved challenging and the glider became too low as it followed the ridge to the east of Cheltenham, an area with few options for a successful field landing. The glider collided with the top of a line of trees while the pilot was attempting to start the glider’s sustainer engine and trying to find a suitable place to land. After colliding with the trees, the glider struck the ground nose-first fatally injuring the pilot. The rear seat passenger received minor injuries.
The investigation found that the accident occurred because the glider was flown over an area where the combination of the terrain and the glider’s altitude meant a successful field landing could not be assured. While the pilot had been flying under an informal age-related ‘dual-only’ limitation imposed by his gliding club, the investigation was not able to determine to what degree age was a factor in the pilot’s decision making on the accident flight.
Following this accident, the British Gliding Association (BGA) began a consultation process with their member clubs to develop policy and guidance for the management of pilots who, for any reason, might benefit from flying with a safety pilot.