The glider that crashed in 2018 and killed its pilot and two passengers was overloaded and under-equipped, federal investigators say.
Pilot Don Post, 70, and a couple from Hamden, Connecticut — Frank Moroz, 58, and Suzanne Moroz, 56 — died Aug. 29, 2018 on Sterling Mountain in Morristown during what was supposed to be a 30-minute sightseeing tour.
The plane apparently stalled and spun out of control among low clouds and unpredictable winds, according to a report released this week by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Post, who was killed on impact, had been wearing a regulation restraining harness, the report states, but the passengers shared a single lap belt — a situation that “significantly diminished the rear seat occupants’ survivability.”
Shoulder harnesses for passengers are standard equipment on the 1973 Schweizer SGS 2-32 aircraft, the report states, but had been replaced with simple lap belts on Post’s plane.
Inspectors notified Post of the deficiency in May 2018, the report adds, and Post bought a set of approved shoulder harnesses in June — but didn’t install them.
Investigators found no signs of mechanical failure in other parts of the aircraft.
But, they added, the Schweizer glider likely weighed about 1,480 lbs. for the flight — 50 pounds over its allowable maximum.
The report states that an increase in a glider’s weight measurably increases a tendency to stall.
Post was an experienced pilot, the report adds: “He had accrued 1,214 hours of flight experience in gliders, including 406 hours of which were in the accident glider make and model.”
Shortly after the crash, Post’s fellow pilots described him as an expert and a cautious professional.
Contact Joel Banner Baird at 802-660-1843 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @VTgoingUp.
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