Glider pilot unhurt in incident |

Glider pilot unhurt in incident

by Nancy Hamlett

A glider fell short of the Minden-Tahoe Airport runway on Monday, resulting in what the pilot classified as a “land out.”

“It wasn’t a crash,” insisted Charles Petersen of Toronto, Canada, the pilot of the craft. “I ran out of lift before I reached the runway. That’s all.”

Petersen, who has been flying gliders since 1998, took off from the Minden airport at 1 p.m. Monday. After a flight to Carson City, he was returning to the airport when he had to set down in the sagebrush east of Heybourne Road and about 1/4-mile north of Johnson Lane.

“It got a little bumpy when I got to the sagebrush,” said Petersen, who escaped the land out with no injuries. The Soar Minden sailplane received minor damage, and a front gear flap cover might be lost.

According to Petersen, all glider pilots are trained in low energy landings that are necessary when there is insufficient airlift to maintain flight.

“Sink happens,” said Petersen, quoting a popular soaring bumper sticker. “You keep the nose up and stay in the air as long as possible to prolong the landing. That way, when you land, you have minimized that amount of speed and the energy in the landing.”

Petersen said that he landed the glider at a speed of 45 knots after descending from an altitude of 10,000 feet, almost 5,300 above the Valley floor. The low energy landing lasted no more than 100 feet.

“It was a beautiful flight. Just a little bit of a rough landing,” said Petersen, who has been soaring every day since arriving in the Carson Valley the previous Wednesday.

According to Fire Chief Jim Reinhardt, who was at the scene of the land out, every year, two or three gliders don’t make the runway.

“It all depends on the lift, and this guy didn’t quite make it,” said Reinhardt. “We’re just standing by to make sure everything is all right.”

Petersen said that he contacted the tower and advised that he was in control of the landing, but that he understood that a resident called in the land out as an emergency.

Rescue equipment and a fire truck from Station 6, the Johnson Lane Volunteer Fire Department, a rescue vehicle from Station 14 and the airport authority responded to the land out. CareFlight was on alert.

“Luckily, the worst part of the incident is the limited access where the glider went down,” said Reinhardt. “It will take a little work to get it out of there.”