Dave lives on a houseboat in Seattle.
He's an avid paraglider pilot and has flown among
mountains all over the world.
Kruglinski died in April, 1997 in a paragliding accident. Search news archives for message ID <email@example.com> for an account.
That account follows ...
Date: Tue, 22 Apr 1997 04:35:21 -0400 (EDT)
UNOFFICIAL ACCOUNT OF WHAT HAPPENED - my own story, my own interpretations.
David Kruglinski was an advanced paragliding pilot. He was self-taught, in
the days when that was the only alternative to video tapes and buddies with
one more successful flight attempt than you. His ground handling skills were
only good enough to get him into the air, where he truly turned from
wallowing penguin to graceful swan. On recent attempts, I did see
improvement. I was amazed at his ability to pull off clean launches the first
time. He was truly dialed into his current wing. At the U.S. Nationals at
Chelan Butte in 96, he got off three days in a row on his first attempt, an
amazing feat for Dave.
On his last flight, the true Downwind Dave did not let us down. After two
launch attempts in strong thermal gusts, he put his trimmers out a bit, and
got off launch. Of course he almost hit a tree.....
Dave rocketed to well over Bowen Mts. launch altitude of 3000', getting to
about 9600' with a collapse or two in short time, radioing his vario was
pegged. Dave Verbois was next into the air approximately 20 minutes after
Downwind Daves' launch. Verbois was unable to keep contact with Downwind,
realizing his battery was dead. Bruce Tracy had a dead vario, and decided to
wait until the conditions stabilized. Bruce took off about 20 minutes after
At about this time, Downwind Dave's last transmission was to Bruce, wanting
to know when he was going to come up and join him. He was approximately 3
miles South of launch, with the base wind of about 8 MPH helping him drift
down the valley. He was last seen by trained observers on the ground at an
altitude higher than the 9600' he reported earlier. Contact was lost at this
point when he disappeared from view of the people on launch. Not hearing from
Dave on the radio was not an unusual occurrence, as he was very cryptic with
its use. Losing sight of Dave was also a common occurrence as his fellow
pilots were used to his going solo cross country. His friends landed and made
their way to home, expecting to see Dave walk in the door any minute. No
phone call, no Dave. That night, the local Sheriff was notified, and a ground
and air search was formulated for first light the next morning. Dave was
found by a local rancher on horseback, and a helicopter from the nearby
smoke-jumping base brought Dave Verbois and authorities to identify the body.
He was at the 2700' level of a 3200' hill, Cap-Wright, on the shallow sloping
lee side, in a v-shaped canyon about4000' wide and a mile and a half long.
Daves' wing was rolled and bunched by the wind, above him. His reserve,
freshly re packed after a dunking the month before in Mexico, was out and had
dragged him 450' from his initial impact site, down the hill with the
apparent wind. His reserve diaper was found 50 feet down the hill from the
Dave died within seconds at most of the impact. According to the Coroners'
report, he was alive and conscious when he hit the ground at least 50 miles
per hour. Among numerous broken bones, he had a ruptured Aorta and two valves
of his heart.
His Uvex full face helmet had cracks on the left side of the chin guard, but
his head injuries were surprisingly minor according to the coroner. His older
style Edel harness had minimal back protection with a motorcycle-style
construction, had two displaced sections, but as with his helmet did not
contribute to mitigating injuries sustained. About one third of the cells of
the Flight Design B-4 vt 30 meter wing had sustained internal damage,
consistent with a fully inflated wing impacting the ground on its leading
edge at a high rate of speed. The one line broken most likely broke on
impact. L-shaped small tears on a wing tip were consistent with being dragged
over barb wire buried in the ground along the drag site. There were previous
small repairs that had been effected.
Thermal gusts were recorded from 5 to 18 mph on launch. It picked up later in
the afternoon. Lift was well over 1000 feet per minute. As well as sink at
over 1000' per minute down. While Dave was found only about a mile from his
last sighting, the conditions at the time could have caused him to sink out
and look for a suitable landing area. From the air, the site chosen would
look flatter than it was, with the bowl effect of the site not readily
apparent. Two days later we had gust cycles swirling from all directions, of
varying intensity at the site of his crash.
From the impact indentations, the condition of the wing and perfectly
functioning reserve, and the injuries sustained, I feel that the most likely
scenario is that he was at low altitude coming in for a landing, when he was
caught in the gusting, swirling conditions close to the ground and had a
deflation of the wing. It re inflated and down planed in front of him, and
swung him into the ground, causing the tremendous speed which caused his
fatal injuries. His reserve may have been thrown at the last instant, but did
not have time to inflate in the air. The bridle attachment to the reserve
riser could be loosened by hand. It may not have come out of its outer bag
until impact, when it could have been forced out. In the hours before the
discovery of his body, it could have worked its way into the inflated state
that caused it move Dave down the hill.
Enough dispassionate account.
Dave was special to all of us in some way. I started this to only do my part
of the official account, but my demeanor forces me to wait. I am no longer
the safety director for paragliding for the U.S., but the lousy inaccurate
reports by AP reporters forced my hand Friday night, and snowballed to all
waking hours since.
I will miss picking up a ringing phone and hearing "Downwind Dave Here!"
I will miss his gawking laugh, his ability to be upbeat and down playing of
his accounts, his amazing feats in the air in contrast to the entertainment
value on the ground.
I miss the sight of him coming back to the condo during the 95 Nats, both
legs in casts. We left him to walk back up to launch carrying his wing that
day, when we abandoned him to rush to Ed Pittmans' aid. (Who walked out of
the emergency room with a wrist injury.)
I will miss the parties with his friends to watch the decorated Christmas
boats glide past his houseboat in Lake Union.
I won't miss him in my heart, he has not left.
On Sunday, those of us at the site of his final landing placed a marker with
a very small wind sock I had been saving for years. We each placed a message
on the streamers in marking pen. I placed the word "DOWNWIND" with an arrow
in the appropriate direction. Other words followed, but are my message to
When we concluded the inspection of Downwinds' equipment, the Deputy Sheriff
pulled me aside to thank me, and relate an event that happened when he and
other officials walked down to where Dave lay. He was somewhat embarrassed,
afraid that I would not appreciate or believe what actually happened. As they
walked to the body, a Kestrel, a small hawk, looked at them where it was
resting next to Downwind. It took to wing, but left a large feather behind
next to Dave.
Dave, your logbook is not complete! Your last flight was a graceful takeoff,
but the landing will have to wait. Wait for me, before you go cross country.
I will be up to join you. As soon as my vision clears.