Glider pilot dies in crash on takeoff at Scottish club airfield
A GLIDER pilot in his forties was killed yesterday when his aircraft crashed as it took off from the airfield at Scotland’s largest gliding club.
The man, who has still to be named, was pronounced dead at the scene after the emergency services were called to Portmoak airfield on the shores of Loch Leven near Kinross, the home of the Scottish Gliding Centre.
The single seat glider, a Schempp-Hirth Nimbus-3 aircraft, was only a matter of feet off the ground when the plane crashed early yesterday afternoon as it was being winched into the air, The pilot was found inside the cockpit of the overturned carbon fibre fuselage.
A spokesman for Tayside Police said the emergency services had been called to Portmoak Airport, Scotlandwell, Kinross, shortly after 1:30pm following reports of a serious crash involving a glider at the centre.
He said: “One person – a man in his late forties – was found within the upside-down Nimbus 3 aircraft and despite the efforts of paramedics, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
“It is understood the aircraft was in the process of taking off and had only been a matter of feet off the ground when the incident happened. No-one else was injured.”
The spokesman continued: “Details of the deceased will not be released until next of kin have been full informed and formal identification has taken place.
“An investigation, involving Tayside Police, the Air Accident Investigation Bureau and the Civil Aviation Authority, is being carried out to establish the full set of circumstances surrounding the incident. As with all sudden deaths, a report will be submitted to the procurator-fiscal.”
The Scottish Gliding Centre is operated by the Scottish Gliding Union, the largest gliding club in Scotland, and provides year-round flying to both members and many visitors.
The club’s website states: “Although gliding is generally a solo sport, it is far from a solo activity, and lots of co-operation is required to get the gliders into the air.
“The SGC employs professional winch-drivers to ensure this essential facility is always available, but all other airside jobs, such as inspecting the gliders, driving the tow-out and retrieve vehicles, and signalling the launch, are done by club members with training as required.”
A spokeswoman at the Scottish Gliding Centre declined to comment on the tragedy.
A spokesman for the British Gliding Association said: “This is a terrible tragedy. It happened within the airfield grounds during the launch phase.
“The glider was being winch-launched. From the start of the glider moving to being airborne is just a matter of seconds. The alarm would have been raised straight away. I’ve been involved with the British Gliding Association and cannot recall another accident there.”
The Nimbus-3 first took to the air in 1981. The aircraft is 25ft long with a wingspan of 80ft, and can reach a top speed in flight of 170mph.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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