NTSB Identification: LAX03LA114.
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14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, March 16, 2003 in San Diego, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/28/2004
Aircraft: Schleicher ASW-20, registration: N31AP
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

The right wing tip contacted the ground during an aborted takeoff. Gliders are launched from this airport with the assistance of a winch launch system. The winch launch system requires the pilot of the glider to obtain a steep climb attitude to prevent slack in the tow cable, and to establish an adequate airspeed and altitude prior to releasing from the cable. Witnesses who are glider pilots said the launch operation started normally and the glider rolled forward with good apparent speed. At the normal point of rotation, the typical rapid transition to a high angle of attack did not occur. The glider climbed to 20 to 30 feet above ground level, then leveled off. The glider appeared to overshoot the cable and the tow cable became slack. The glider appeared to be flying near stall speed when the pilot attempted to land on the emergency-intersecting runway. The right wing drug on the ground and the glider ground looped prior to stopping. The pilot stated that during launch, the glider did not gain enough altitude or airspeed to continue the flight. The pilot elected to abort the take off and tried to turn to land on a short intersecting runway. During the landing sequence the right wing tip contacted the ground. The glider ground looped, and came to rest on the north side of runway 27. The pilot said there were no mechanical discrepancies with the glider.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

the pilot's use of an inadequate climb attitude during takeoff resulting in the proper climb rate not being established.

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