By IAN SKOTTE
A glider pilot apparently escaped injury Friday afternoon when his motorized glider aircraft crashed into a tree on the Beechcraft Heritage Museum’s property just south of the Tullahoma Regional Airport.
The man, identified as Jeff Long by Tullahoma Airport Authority manager Jon Glass, walked away from the crash unharmed despite having to remove himself from the aircraft from a height of more than 20 feet off the ground.
There were apparently no witnesses who saw the ASH26E glider smash into the tree; however, two other pilots who came to the scene said they saw the glider take off.
The ASH26E is a self-launching glider built of modern fiber reinforced composites, according to flight experts, and can cost anywhere from $70,000 – $150,000. The wings have pneumatic turbulators measuring nearly 60 feet long.
According to a spokesman with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) will investigate the crash since it involved a motorized aircraft. The FAA will then report its findings back to the NTSB.
Neither Tullahoma nor Moore County emergency personnel responded to the scene, because, according to authorities, it was uncertain at the time which law enforcement agency had jurisdiction.
NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss said emergency personnel’s failure to respond is not unusual since the pilot was apparently unhurt.
Two other pilots who were at the scene asked not to be quoted in the newspaper, citing a “fraternal order.”
“We don’t want to get anybody upset,” one of the pilots said. “It’s just very sad. Trees are very unforgiving.”