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Moving Water Landing

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Incident Details

May 28, 2013
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Landed in the Saco River. I decided my designated motor-out LZ was “too hard to describe for extraction” so I picked a beach that was lined up with the wind (South). When I turned into the wind, I found I had little penetration (wind had picked up to ~20mph), and I was over the breakwaters of the Saco River. I quickly picked another, closer beach, but on approach, I hit extreme rotor from the houses upwind, and extreme sink. I missed the shore by 15 feet. gas tank floated, then agama inflated. I flipped over to my back and kicked with my legs, trying to reach shallow water by the shore. river current was creating wakes on the buoys, water was fast-moving. beachgoers helped pull the wing on shore once I could stand. MAP: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ll=43.460542,-70.378755&spn=0.000584,0.001032&t=h&z=21
I had 1000 ft of altitude, I was expecting my fuel to run out, and I had a safe LZ picked out from flying by the area an hour before. While drifting down I decided to favor politeness of extraction over a safe landing. There were many roads to the beach, but few roads to the field in which I had originally intended to land. Up to the final turbulent 100 feet, I was thinking about what an uproar landing in the piping plovers would be. I picked a spot on the beach to land that was far away from people. Spot landing is no trouble for me ordinarily, but in the rotor of the upwind buildings, the spot drifted unpredictably. I should have aimed farther inland. gear is mostly undamaged, although I’m sure the wing and the reserve are worse for wear. My biggest loss was about $1200 in electronics– radio, vario and smartphone.

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