A Bend man escaped serious injury Friday afternoon when he tried to land his glider plane on a forest road near Tumalo Falls and its wings clipped a small tree, causing it to crash, Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies said.
Deputies were dispatched around 2:20 p.m. to a report of a plane crash near the falls, west of Bend, said special services Deputy Liam Klatt.
Responding deputies found the glider and its pilot, John Bentley, 52, on Forest Service Road 4603, which runs from Skyliners Road to Tumalo Falls, Klatt said.
Bentley told deputies he’d started his flight from the Bend Airport and was in the air for almost an hour when the glider experienced what he described as an irrevocable loss of lift west of Bend.
Klatt said the Schempp-Hirth Nimbus-2, an open-class glider, has a wingspan of more than 66 feet, and it clipped a small tree as it neared the ground, causing it to crash onto the forest road.
Bentley suffered only minor injuries, Klatt said, and declined any medical attention.
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board were notified of the crash, and officials with both agencies spoke with the pilot before allowing him to remove the plane from the crash scene.
Klatt said Bentley is an experienced pilot, with about 30 years of experience in both gliders and powered aircraft. He also said alcohol is not believed to have been a contributing factor in the crash.