Larry Hockensmith—a licensed power pilot for over 40 years, but still a student glider pilot—was flying over the Cleveland National Forest, a few miles southwest of Lake Elsinore, California, when he executed a rather dramatic and unfavourable outlanding, effectively "totaling" his Schweizer 1-26 sailplane, valued at £5,500.
The entire event was captured in eery, HD silence—the GoPro video providing an invaluable after-the-fact learning aid, from which Hockensmith and fellow pilots can watch and determine what went wrong and how better to handle a similar such situation in future, should that ever become necessary.
The admirably eloquent write-up accompanying his YouTube post appears in full below:
Complacency has no place in soaring. I was trained better than to have lingered on the lee-side of a ridge over rough terrain. The dramatic outlanding was due to my actions exclusively.
While tight turns over roofs, brushing treetops and dodging street signs are not desired flight maneuvers, they do make for interesting viewing. An almost perfect (for a power pilot and plane but not a sailplane) landing until an unnoticed mailbox catches the right wing of the sailplane about 8 inches from the tip.
The original is 16 minutes of Full High Definition Video and shows every second of the events leading to this out-landing/ crash. It has been closely reviewed and much learning has taken place. My instructor, safety officer, FAA and NTSB were all outstanding professionals in helping grow skills from this experience.
More videos on this are coming. See if you can spot how the differences between a power pilot's training and a glider pilot's training could have contributed to this outcome.