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A man bought a voucher for paragliding and was horribly injured in first flight

The pair met in a car park before undertaking the flight.

Image: Shutterstock/jennyt

A MAN WHO bought a voucher for a paragliding session online found himself injured after turbulence caused him and his pilot to crash.

That was the finding of the Air Accident Investigations Unit, which looked into the crash at 2pm on 18 April 2014 near Lough Bray Lower, Co Wicklow.

The pilot was a man (34) who had a licence for a tandem paraglider pilot, and 284 hours experience.

The AAIU first found out about the accident after a media enquiry. It then contacted the Mountain Rescue and gardaí, and subsequently spoke with the pilot and passenger.

Bought over the internet

The passenger bought a coupon on the internet for a paraglider flight, and contacted the pilot to arrange the flight.

They met in a car park near Lough Bray Lower, and and hiked to a ridge overlooking the lake. Earlier that day, the pilot had completed a 30-minute flight with a different passenger.

The tandem paraglider was launched from the edge of the ridge, and the flight involved “soaring back and forth along the ridge line”, said the AAIU:

The Pilot informed the Investigation that he encountered the most aggressive turbulence that he had experienced in fourteen years of flying and that conditions were beyond his prowess. The Pilot said that the wing collapsed due to the turbulence. He attempted to recover, but due to continuing turbulence and instability the wing collapsed twice more.

The paraglider then hit the ground after losing height because of the wing collapses.

Both the passenger and pilot were seriously injured. Both were airlifted by Coastguard helicopter to hospital.

The pilot sustained a concussion, several pelvic fractures, a dislocated shoulder and a compound fracture of the humerus which required surgery. The passenger suffered two broken ribs, a punctured lung and a fractured bone in his hand.

Visibility was excellent on the day, and there was some gusting wind. Turbulence is liable to occur in mountainous regions but the pilot said it was “quite uncommon” for sustained instability to cause repeated collapsing of the wing.

Training flight?

The pilot said that the flight was a training flight. The passenger said it was an experience flight and that he wasn’t enrolled with a club or training establishment.

The AAIU pointed out that when the paraglider is operated as a ‘private aircraft’ it is exempt from requirements for aircraft registration and related airworthiness standards.

But when it’s used for commercial air transportation or ‘hire and reward’, paragliders don’t enjoy these exemptions and must be registered, and the pilot must have an appropriate licence.

Whilst the Pilot classified the flight as a training flight, no formal IAA flying club approval existed. Therefore the flight could not be considered a private flight under existing legislation.

The AAIU recommended that the Irish Aviation Authority should review paraglider flying in relation to compliance “with the applicable Statutory Instruments”.

It should also:

consider promulgating an advisory memorandum giving suitable guidance to operators of paragliders for other than “private use” and also consider if additional education and enforcement activities are required to ensure awareness of, and compliance with, the relevant statutory provisions

The full report can be read here.

Read: ‘We’ve told the Russians it’s not acceptable to fly in Irish-controlled airspace’>

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