Cat. 2 investigation report: simplified-format report, adapted to the circumstances of the occurrence and the investigation stakes.
Having failed to find any uplift after release, the pilot decided to abort the flight and to return to the aerodrome to land. The actions that he took from this moment on could not be precisely established.
However, it is very likely that when it came to configuring the glider for landing before joining the start of the downwind leg, the pilot inadvertently handled the speed brake control instead of the landing gear control. He then locked the speed brake control on the notch corresponding to the first position, “speed brakes extended”.
When handling the controls, the pilot went through the checklist in the form of a to-do-list. Consequently, he did not visually check the position of the controls after his actions. As a result, he did not realise his mistake.
The pilot then focused his attention on the significant degradation of the glider’s performance supposing that this was due to an aerological phenomenon and not to an erroneous handling of the speed brake control. The glider lost altitude and was too low during the downwind leg, forcing the pilot to make a U-shaped approach to reach the runway. During the manoeuvre, the glider hit a tree.