TG-6 TAYLORCRAFT GLIDER CRASH, Central Arizona:
The TG-6 was a training glider developed from the ubiquitous Taylorcraft L-2 Grasshopper. The engine was removed, the fuselage lengthened, and a third seat installed. 250 were built. They flew out of Echeverria Field, Arizona in the early 40s training glider pilots to fly larger, combat troop gliders such as the Waco CG-4A of Normandy fame.
This particular TG-6 crashed 13 ½ miles north of Echeverria Field (near Wickenburg, Arizona) on November 3, 1942.
While conducting a dual-towing mission a BT-13 glider tow aircraft released two TG-6 gliders at an altitude of about 1000 feet over “unsuitable landing terrain” (sagebrush and 15-to-20 foot saguaro cactuses) when he became alarmed after his ship lost about 200 feet of altitude in a down draft. Thinking he was about to lose control, he cut both gliders loose. They were tied together by the tow rope, and the glider pilots were unable to release the tow cable due to an improperly designed release hook (since the cable was dragging aft it would not release off the front of the hook).
The gliders had to land in formation as they were connected together by the tow line. The dragging tow rope on the second glider caught on a small tree causing the glider to skew 180 degrees and make a crash landing, injuring the student pilot’s pelvis. The cable tore off the first glider allowing that plane to land safely with no injuries.
The following damage occurred to glider number 42-58634:
1.) Longerons, formers, and stringers of entire fuselage assembly bent and twisted beyond economical repair.
2.) Inter-cockpit push-pull torque tubes bent: both elevator and aileron.
3.) Left and right axles bent.
4.) Cockpit cover formers bent.
5.) Right horizontal stabilizer bent.
6.) Front canopy frame bent and glass broken.
7.) Tail gear broken off.
8.) Front cockpit step broken.
The tow pilot was blamed 100% for using poor judgment in prematurely releasing the gliders and leaving them to their own demise. Although he appears to have been very inexperienced (a civilian pilot of Arizona Gliding Academy) – he had just 64 hours in the BT-13.
As you can see from the photos, this particular crash was not worth “chasing”, but the history it lends to Echeverria and to Arizona during WWII is very important.
Thanks very much to Craig Fuller at AAIR for this accident report and information.
See Pima Air Museum’s preserved TG-6 here: http://www.pimaair.org/Acftdatapics/Taylorcraft%20TG-6.htm