Crash inspection completed

A site inspection was completed yesterday morning at the scene of a glider crash, near Omarama, with the glider later released to its owner and removed from the mountain.

Yesterday, Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Bill Sommer said a CAA investigator had chosen not to speak to injured glider pilot Lemmy Tanner (68), who was in Dunedin Hospital.

While it was understood Mr Tanner was recovering well, he was tiring quickly - "it's not something [where] we have to rush in and talk to him" - and he would probably be contacted later this week, Mr Sommer said.

Mr Tanner was in the rear seat of the Duo Discus two-seater glider, belonging to GlideOmarama, which had just been launched from the Omarama airfield, when it crashed into Mt St Cuthbert on Friday. Japanese pilot Ichiro Murai (54) was killed.

In a community newsletter, GlideOmarama owner Gavin Wills said it appeared the glider was thermalling right, close to the hillside in a normal manner when the right wing-tip appeared to have hit a somewhat obscured rock.

Mr Wills emphasised they were his personal opinions. The crash was being investigated by the police, on behalf of the coroner, and the CAA.

Mr Wills said Mr Tanner recalled that Mr Murai was flying at the time and they were making normal thermalling turns close to the hillside.

On their second last turn, Mr Tanner became concerned they were getting too close to the hill and told Mr Murai not to make another turn.

Unfortunately, he appeared to misunderstand the command and did make a final turn. During that turn, the wing tip appeared to have clipped the rock.

The weather was fine and sunny and there was little or no wind, Mr Wills said.

Mr Murai had about 1000 hours' gliding experience, with international soaring experience in Japan, France, Poland and Australia.

He was flying on the last day of a five-day GlideOmarama mountain-soaring course. He spoke and understood English extremely well, having been educated in the United States at an early age, Mr Wills said.

Mr Wills said rescue services, including the Rescue Co-ordination Centre, police, helicopter pilots, medics and mountain rescue teams, did a "fantastic" job.

Mr Tanner has two broken ribs, a punctured lung and fractures of a lumber vertebra, pelvis, sternum and right heel bone.

Police officers from Oamaru are in Omarama this week, along with Constable Paul Mander, of Omarama, making inquiries for the coroner and assisting the CAA. There were a lot of people to be spoken to, Senior Sergeant Kevin Hooper said.


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