June 4, 2020 at 11:34 AM #8917
On June 3rd @ 18:00, student pilot, conducting first high flight (launched from Marshall Peak) with instructor on radio, began final approach into AJX. Pilot began to drift east over the hang glider training hill and was instructed to correct course back to the west side of the field. Pilot induced oscillations and was then instructed to ease up on brake inputs, use weight shift, and let the wing fly. Shortly after, the pilot’s right wing tip contacted a tree above the hang glider training hill and pilot impacted the ground as a result. Instructor had other students on radio which were responding to commands, but instructor was not informed of the crash.
Weather was clear and mild and overall calm conditions. At 18:00, AJX weather station reported W winds @ approximately 5 mph. Light thermal activity, as other pilots were in the air.
Emergency or Medical Response
Witness (pilot in the air) flew over crashed pilot and shouted to see if pilot was OK; pilot said they were not, so AJX was radioed to help. Emergency services were called, helicopter was deployed, and pilot was air-lifted to nearby hospital for treatment.
Reported broken lower vertebrae, but has use of legs and overall condition otherwise OK.
New Paraglider Pilot.
Pilot did not have clear enough understanding of the AJX approach pattern and appropriate amount of terrain clearance as it was their first high flight.
Pilot may have panicked when close to terrain, leading to pilot induced oscillation of paraglider and subsequent collision with tree and terrain.
Pilot to review terrain clearance safety margins, AJX approach patterns, and pilot induced oscillation with instructor; suggest that a spotter on radio be present in the LZ for first high flights; for any student incidents, suggest that all best efforts are made to contact instructor by radio or phone if they are not present.
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