Garner Gliderport Airport
Aircraft Accident/Incident Report

Windsor, Virginia 23430
Friday, July 30, 2010 14:50 EDT

NTSB Narrative Summary Released at Completion of Accident

On the morning of the accident, the pilot arrived at the gliderport to practice for a check ride he was scheduled to take later that afternoon. The pilot, who was not a mechanic, selected and installed a "Gel-cell" battery behind the forward pilot seat during the preflight inspection of the glider. The battery was used to power the radio in the instrument panel. The pilot completed a low-level, traffic pattern flight and was then towed to 3,000 feet msl for a second flight. The glider climbed to 3,400 feet, about 5 miles from the gliderport, where the pilot smelled an unusual odor. The odor got stronger, he felt heat, and observed fire in the back seat. The pilot then deployed the spoilers and initiated an emergency descent. During the descent, the cockpit filled with smoke, and the pilot opened the canopy to clear the smoke. The smoke cleared, but the increased airflow exacerbated the fire. The pilot completed a forced landing to trees short of the gliderport, during which the glider sustained substantial damage in the ensuing post-crash fire. Examination of the glider by an NTSB fire and explosion expert could not determine the exact source of ignition in the battery or its associated wiring. Examination of the maintenance logbooks revealed that there were no entries for the work performed to install the electrical system, and neither was there any approval paperwork from the FAA pertaining to the modification.

NTSB Probable Cause Narrative

The unauthorized installation of a battery and associated wiring and electrical components, which resulted in an in-flight electrical fire of undetermined origin.

Event Information

Type of Event Accident
Event Date 7/30/2010
Event Day of the Week Friday
Time of Event 1450
Event Time Zone Eastern Daylight Time
Event City Windsor
Event State VIRGINIA
Event Country --
Zipcode of the event site 23430
Event Date Year 2010
Event Date Month 7
MidAir Collision Indicator No
On Ground Collision occurred ? No
Event Location Latitude 365113N
Event Location Longitude 0764033W
Event Location Airport Garner Gliderport
Event Location Nearest Airport ID 3VA8
Indicates whether the acc/inc occurred off or on an airport Off Airport/Airstrip
Distance from airport in statute miles 0
Degrees magnetic from airport --
Airport Elevation 80
Weather Briefing Completeness --
Investigator's weather source Weather Observation Facility
Time of the weather observation 1440 Eastern Daylight Time
Direction of event from weather observation facility (degrees) 180
Weather Observation Facility ID SFQ
Elevation of weather observation facility 72
Distance of event from weather observation facility (units?) 12
Time Zone of the weather observation EDT
Lighting Conditions Day
Lowest Ceiling Height --
Lowest Non-Ceiling Height --
Sky/Lowest/Cloud Conditions Clear
Sky Condition for Lowest Ceiling None
Visibility Runway Visual Range (Feet) --
Visibility Runway Visual Value (Statute Miles) --
Visibility (Statute Miles) 10
Air Temperature at event time (in degrees celsius) 30
Dew Point at event time (in degress fahrenheit) 19
Wind Direction (degrees magnetic) 40
Variable Wind Indicator Wind direction could be determined
Wind Speed (knots) 9
Wind Velocity Indicator --
Wind Gust Indicator Not Gusting
Wind Gust (knots) --
Altimeter Setting at event time (in. Hg) 29.91
Density Altitude (feet) --
Intensity of Precipitation --
METAR weather report METAR KSFQ 301840Z AUTO 04009KT 10SM CLR 30/19 A29
Event Highest Injury Minor
On Ground, Fatal Injuries --
On Ground, Minor Injuries --
On Ground, Serious Injuries --
Injury Total Fatal --
Injury Total Minor 1
Injury Total None --
Injury Total Serious --
Injury Total All 1
Investigating Agency NTSB
NTSB Docket Number (internal use) 28484
NTSB Notification Source FAA Eastern ROC
NTSB Notification Date --
NTSB Notification Time --
Fiche Number and/or location -used to find docket information --
Date of most recent change to record Jul 19 2011 11:49AM
User who most recently changed record rows
Basic weather conditions Visual Meteorological Cond
FAA District Office --

Aircraft Involved

Aircraft #1

Aircraft Registration Number N17965
NTSB Number ERA10LA387
Missing Aircraft Indicator --
Federal Aviation Reg. Part Part 91: General Aviation
Type of Flight Plan filed None
Flight plan Was Activated? No
Damage Substantial
Aircraft Fire In-flight
Aircraft Explosion None
Aircraft Manufacturer's Full Name SCHWEIZER
Aircraft Model SGS 2-33AK
Aircraft Series Identifier --
Aircraft Serial Number 265
Certified Max Gross Weight 1040
Aircraft Category Glider
Aircraft Registration Class --
Aircraft is a homebuilt? No
Flight Crew Seats --
Cabin Crew Seats --
Passenger Seats --
Total number of seats on the aircraft 3
Number of Engines 0
Fixed gear or retractable gear Fixed
Aircraft, Type of Last Inspection Annual
Date of Last Inspection Dec 2 2009 12:00AM
Airframe hours since last inspection --
Airframe Hours 1545
ELT Installed No
ELT Activated No
ELT Aided Location of Event Site No
ELT Type --
Aircraft Owner Street Address --
Aircraft Owner City WINDSOR
Aircraft Owner State VA
Aircraft Owner Country USA
Aircraft Owner Zipcode 23487
Operator is an individual? No
Operator Same as Owner? Yes
Operator Is Doing Business As --
Operator Address Same as Owner? Yes
Operator Street Address --
Operator City WINDSOR
Operator State VA
Operator Country USA
Operator Zip code 23487
Operator Code --
Owner has at least one certificate None
Other Operator of large aircraft? No
Certified for Part 133 or 137 Operation --
Operator Certificate Number --
Indicates whether an air carrier operation was scheduled or not --
Indicates Domestic or International Flight --
Operator carrying Pax/Cargo/Mail --
Type of Flying (Per_Bus / Primary) Instructional
Second Pilot on Board No
Departure Point Same as Event Yes
Departure Airport Code 3VA8
Departure City Windsor
Departure State VA
Departure Country USA
Departure Time 1435
Departure Time Zone EDT
Destination Same as Local Flt dest & departure same, accident can occur anywhere
Destination Airport Code 3VA8
Destination City Windsor
Destination State VA
Destination Country USA
Specific Phase of Flight --
Report sent to ICAO? --
Evacuation occurred --
Date of most recent change to record Jun 1 2011 2:44PM
User who most recently changed record kenj
Since inspection or accident Last Inspection
Event Location Runway Number and Location 36
Runway Length 2600
Runway Width 75
Sight Seeing flight No
Air Medical Flight No
Medical Flight --