A Hororata farmer and keen recreational gliding pilot has
been named as the man killed when his glider crashed near
Omarama on Wednesday.
Michael John "Joe" McKellow (60) was flying his fixed-wing
glider when it appeared to lose height rapidly before
crashing into a gentle slope on the western side of Snowy Top
mountain on Ribbonwood Station about 6.20pm on Wednesday,
Acting Inspector Jason McCoy, of Oamaru, said yesterday.
Mr McKellow was the sole occupant of the glider and was on a
private flight with a friend, who was flying another glider
in the same locality.
The friend saw the crash and notified emergency services, he
Mr McKellow was a member of the Canterbury Gliding Club,
based at Hororata. Members of the club are flying out of
Omarama until next week.
Club president Kevin Bethwaite said Mr McKellow was "a strong
personal friend". The two often flew together and had been on
gliding trips, including to Australia.
Mr Bethwaite said Mr McKellow did not often fly in
competitions but was a recreational pilot who enjoyed
gliding. He enjoyed "just flying for two or three or four or
five hours on a nice day - as far as food and water allows".
He was an experienced and competent pilot who had flown
Mr McKellow, a father of three adult sons, lived with his
partner at Hororata.
Two Civil Aviation Authority safety investigators landed at
the crash site yesterday to start investigating the crash.
They also spoke to witnesses.
Mr McKellow, who had launched from the Omarama airfield, was
not taking part in the competitions being staged in the area.
Emergency services from Omarama and Twizel and the Omarama
and Wanaka Search and Rescue crews were called out when the
crash was reported on Wednesday. A team of rescuers,
including a trauma doctor, was flown by rescue helicopter
from Wanaka to the crash site about 10.5km northwest of
Omarama. When they arrived about 7.30pm, they found the pilot
His body was flown by helicopter to Omarama, before being
taken to Oamaru.
Conditions on Wednesday were good for gliding, with light
winds, a clear sky and little turbulence.