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Hang glider crash deemed an accident

An Ontario hang glider pilot who died as a result of a crash into a Lumby field had an uneventful flight going until his attempts to land.

Provincial coroner Allen Hossie released his findings in a three-page report into the death of Michael Richard Wood, 38, of North Bay, Ont. on June 15, 2012.

According to witnesses, Wood stalled on his landing and struck the ground with his head – which was covered by a helmet – taking most of the impact.

Emergency crews were called to a field on Mabel Lake Road 10 kilometres from Lumby shortly after 1:30 p.m. on June 11. Wood was transported by helicopter to Kelowna General Hospital. His injuries were determined to be non-survivable.

Wood was flown to Vancouver where a decision was made to remove him from life support. He died on June 15.

Wood had been in the area to attend a hang gliding competition. He held a novice rating from the Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association of Canada which has various requirements, including a minimum of 35 hours of hang gliding experience.

Organizers of the competition excluded novice hang gliders from participation and Wood did not compete.

After the event, Wood decided to stay at the facility and spend some time hang gliding. He used an Altair Predator hang glider which he had recently purchased.

“This was his second flight with that particular hang glider, and was believed to be his second flight of the season,” wrote Hossie. “This was his first flight at that particular location.”

While Wood had a number of hours in the air as a hang glider, the Altair Predator was a high-performance hang glider, which Hossie reported would react to pilot input differently than the hang gliders that Wood was used to flying.

On June 11, 2011, the weather was warm and sunny with very little wind. Wood took off from a site known as Cooper’s Launch.

There was a large flat landing area available, but Wood was attempting to land in a particular spot.

“An experienced hang glider pilot who witnessed the flight reported it was uneventful until the approach to the landing area,” wrote Hossie.

The witness said Wood’s first turn was slightly high and in an effort to smooth his approach he over-corrected. This caused his body to swing and as the aircraft turned into the wind, the instability created by this motion caused the wing to stall.

The hang glider struck the ground wing first, which cartwheeled Wood into the ground.

A post-examination of the hang glider showed no apparent defect that would have contributed to the incident.

A toxicology exam showed no relevant findings.

 

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