Photo Credit; Susumu Morita
I hope everyone is well at this time. As the Safety Meeting is remotely attended by each member at their home, I would like to contribute the following.
Most aviation publications that I read regularly have articles written about accidents and near accidents. For the purposes of this meeting I wanted to highlight a near miss that happened to me last fall. My near miss happened with my aircraft and one of ASC’s club gliders.
One member and myself were returning to ADG from Ohio in my Cessna 150 (23 Tango) on a Saturday in October. It was sunny and pleasant. In October the sun is a little lower on the horizon adding to the glare on the day we were flying. The Luscombe based at ADG was also flying nearby. The events as I recall them occurred in this order.
There was a pattern tow (Pawnee and K13) taking place on RWY 11. Luscombe 12 Charlie announced they would stay over the Adrian city while the pattern took place. Cessna 23 Tango announced that we would stay over the city east of 12 Charlie (we had the pattern aircraft and 12 Charlie in sight).
When the pattern tow was mostly complete (pattern aircraft were established on base and final for RWY 11), Luscombe 12 Charlie announced they would enter downwind for RWY 5. Cessna 23 Tango completed another 360 degree turn over the city, then announced entering downwind for RWY 5 with 12 Charlie in sight. Luscombe 12 Charlie was about one mile ahead of us and we had radio contact between the two aircraft.
When on midfield downwind for RWY 5, my passenger shouted “whoa!!!!!” Not seeing anything, I asked what startled him. We had a glider in close proximity, just above our right wing. I did a gentle s-turn to look over my shoulder and sure enough, the K7 was gently flying away from us at similar altitude.
Focusing on the rest of the pattern, the Luscombe landed ahead of us without incident on RWY 5 turf. We landed without incident on RWY 5 pavement. In follow up conversations with the K7 pilot and my passenger several “links” in the accident chain were identified. The K7 never saw or heard the Luscombe which passed by just a minute or two before we did. There is no way to know if they were in close proximity or not. The K7 only saw us just moments before we passed by underneath. Although the two single engine aircraft could hear each other on the radio, it seems that the glider did not hear the radio communications from the other two aircraft. I am pretty sure the Luscombe did not see the K7 flying nearby. The Cessna pilot (me) and my glider-rated passenger did not see the K7 flying nearby. The time of year did not help either. As we were on downwind for RWY 5 the afternoon sun is lower on the horizon almost directly in front of us. The mostly white glider becomes hard to see with the bright sun and white clouds in front of us.
I had originally intended to present this story orally at a face to face Safety Meeting. Current events affecting the nation’s health and well being are forcing us to conduct this meeting remotely. My goal with this presentation and discussion is to try to prevent it from happening to any of our members in the upcoming seasons. What can be done to avoid this situation in the future?
To keep things simple, future discussions can take place at the ops tent between flights. One common thread in many mid-air accidents around the country is they happen on pleasant VFR days. There is a higher volume of recreational VFR traffic because of pleasant weather and good visibility. Aircraft that are predominately white are hard to spot when against a white (cloud) background. Sometimes the glider needs to adjust radio volume when flying. Volume on the ground before launch is sometimes not loud enough once in the air. My inability to spot the glider may have been one of the largest failures. Operating a single engine aircraft over ADG and was unable to spot one of our popular club gliders. At the very least I replay this event each time I now enter the pattern at ADG, it is an event that I would rather not experience again in the future.
Thank you for taking the time to read this Safety Meeting submission. Our goal in the coming seasons is to fly safely and enjoy all that soaring has to offer. Thank you and see you at ADG soon!