Glider Just Missed Tornado
The UK Airprox (aircraft proximity) Board has called for the development of a lightweight (presumably battery-powered) transponder that can be installed on gliders after one came within a whisker of being obliterated by a Tornado fighter jet flying at 450 knots. The Tornado and the glider passed within 50 feet of one another at 9,000 feet above the Scottish Highlands last October. Glider pilot David Smith told the board inquiry he felt a "terrific thump from the slipstream and could smell the kerosene fumes" after the jet, one of 10 involved in an exercise, passed overhead. And while the world waits for an electronic solution, a British Air Force spokesman suggests that, in the meantime, adding a splash of color to gliders' paint scheme would help. Michael Mulford told the Scotsman newspaper that gliders "are white against a white sky, which can make them very difficult to see." Smith, the secretary of the Deeside Gliding Club, said he saw the Tornado coming at him and was just able to duck underneath it to avoid a collision. The pilot of the Tornado later reported he didn't see the glider until he was 200 yards away. The Airprox Board determined it was a category A incident (risk of collision) and noted that there had been four other close calls involving gliders in the past three years. It recommended that if some enterprising chap develops a glider-friendly transponder, that the Civil Aviation Authority make it compulsory equipment.