Dave Kruglinski

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 <335ef3da.1077650@eskinews.eskimo.com> for an account.


That account follows ...

 Date: Tue, 22 Apr 1997 04:35:21 -0400 (EDT)
 From: PARASKR@aol.com
 To: hang-gliding@lists.utah.edu

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 Verbois.

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 impact site.

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.

WHAT HAPPENED?

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 him.

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.


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