Paraglider above weight range before fatal crash at Canterbury skifield

The accident happened near the Mt Cheeseman ski area near Castle Hill. Photo: Mark Mitchell / NZH
The accident happened near the Mt Cheeseman ski area near Castle Hill. Photo: Mark Mitchell / NZH
A paraglider pilot was found to be above the weight range in an investigation into his death after a crash at a Canterbury skifield.

The experienced overseas pilot was conscious after the accident at Mt Cheeseman near Castle Hill, but later died of injuries on January 14 last year.

The Civil Aviation Authority report found turbulence was the most probable cause of the wing collapsing twice and that the pilot was flying above the maximum weight range for the equipment.

Deputy CEO for aviation safety Dean Winter said it shows the importance of pilots keeping an eye on their equipment.

He said they are unsure if the accident could've been avoided if the pilot was in the weight limits, but they should be followed to prevent accidents in the future.

"Our investigation highlighted the importance of paraglider pilots keeping an eye on their equipment and making sure they remained in the weight range."

NZHGPA chief executive Nick Taber said the hang gliding and paragliding flying community was saddened by this event, and their thoughts are with the pilot's family at this time.

"We thank the CAA for thoroughly investigating this accident. It is important that all pilots learn from tragic events such as this, which highlights the importance of flying to the conditions and staying in the weight range of your glider.

"Immediately after this accident the local hang gliding and paragliding club took the opportunity to review the site guide and update it, and this has been reflected in the CAA's report."

He said New Zealand has tricky conditions, which can vary from valley to valley, so they are hoping it will help pilots to better understand the unique flying and weather conditions.

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