Helmet removal could be added to hang-glider and paraglider
pilot first aid training, following the release of formal
written findings into the death of a Wanaka speed wing flier
Sean Nicholas Kerridge (40), an electrical inspector, of
Wanaka, was killed after he crashed at high speed while
manoeuvring his speed wing close to the ground on the Treble
Cone skifield access road on February 17, 2012.
At his inquest in Queenstown in August, three people who
provided first aid at the scene raised concerns about the
difficulty they had in removing Mr Kerridge's full-face
helmet - described as fitting ''extremely snugly'',
exacerbated by swelling.
While Mr Crerar found the helmet was not a contributing
factor in his death and there was ''insufficient evidence''
on which to base a recommendation full-face helmets were
''less satisfactory'', he hoped publicity would prompt a
review of the types of helmets recommended for speed wing
New Zealand Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association
(NZH-GPA) president Evan Lamberton, of Auckland, told the
Otago Daily Times yesterday full-face helmets were
''very common'' for speed wing fliers and it was unlikely the
association would ever ''go away from those''.
''Any helmet, to work properly, has to be snug. The more
protective a helmet is, the more likely it's going to be
difficult to remove.''
If a helmet was not removed quickly, swelling aggravated the
problem, Mr Lamberton said.
''Once a person's head starts to swell ... the helmet removal
is always going to be difficult [but] certainly, as part of
the first aid training all our pilots go through, helmet
removal might be a worthwhile part of that.''
Mr Lamberton said the NZHGPA was conducting a review into
speed wing flying, which would be carried out in conjunction
with the Civil Aviation Authority.
While the association's rules ''weren't really brought into
question'' by Mr Crerar's findings, ''we always like to see
if we can do better''.
''We've been working on some [proposals] for speed wing
flying probably for six months ... they are at a stage where
we can take them to the CAA but whether ...
the CAA would accept them or not is a different matter.''
In his decision, Mr Crerar found although Mr Kerridge had
been flying the speed wing, a Spitfire 11, in breach of its
specifications and operating instructions, he could not find
that contributed to his death.
Manufacturer's instructions for the Spitfire 11 stated it was
designed for flying on skis and was ''not suitable for foot
launch'' - Mr Kerridge had foot-launched.
Mr Crerar said his attention had been drawn to ''other
possible breaches of the regulatory environment or gaps in a
regulatory environment'', but was ''unable to connect any of
these such perceived failures to the circumstances of the
death ... and make no further comment or recommendation ...
He found Mr Kerridge died after crashing into the ground at
high speed while manoeuvring his speed wing close to the
terrain, having launched from ''Pub Corner'', about
three-quarters of the way up the Treble Cone skifield access
It was ''probable'' weather was a contributing factor, with
the speed wing entering an area of descending air at a low
level, giving little opportunity for Mr Kerridge to recover.
He died from a rupture of the thoracic aorta and a
Mr Crerar paid particular tribute to paraglider Kat West,
hang glider and paraglider Bryan Moore and paraglider Mal
Haskins for assistance provided to Mr Kerridge at the scene.