Glider crash in Wallis claims lives of three members of Blair family

What should have been a pleasurable Father’s Day afternoon leisure flight turned tragic for three family members this weekend.  Fred Blair (68), Matilda Blair (32) and 3-year old Andrew Blair perished in a glider crash at Highway 36 and Cougar Road near the Austin-Fort Bend County line. According to investigators the glider was being towed by another plane shortly before the crash. When the towing plane released the glider around 5:00pm, the glider nosedived and crashed into a planted field. Glen Longlion with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told reporters that witness accounts had the glider pitch up the right and to the left, indicating the glider may have been out of control. Fred Blair was a gliding instructor and certified as a commercial pilot according to the Greater Houston Gliding Association. Matilda Blair was Fred’s daughter-in-law and Andrew Blair was Fred’s grandson. To compound the tragedy, family members were nearby and watching at the time the glider crashed. The cause of the crash remains under investigation. Channel 11’s report is here. Channel 13’s report, available here, states that the glider involved in the crash is a ICA Brasov type glider, constructed in a tandem formation, meaning one seat is behind the other (as opposed to two seats next to one another). This article quotes Tom Latson with the National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB) as saying the glider was at approximately 75 feet off the ground when the tow rope broke, something that is not mentioned in Channel 11’s report. Channel 13 says that records show the glider is registered to the Greater Houston Soaring Association, whose web site http://www.houstonsoaring.org/ is currently down for maintenance. FOX News story is available here. The Houston Chronicle’s story is available here. Channel 2’s story is available here.

The crashed ICA-Brasov glider is removed to be inspected by the NTSB.

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