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Fatal glider crash unusual

Last updated 05:00 22/01/2014
Andy Baker
Andy Baker

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The Civil Aviation Authority has taken over investigations from police after a pilot was killed when his glider crashed near the Auckland Gliding Club at Drury.

The Auckland pilot was found dead after his aircraft went down at about 4pm on Sunday afternoon.

He was one of two victims of plane crashes in the space of four hours. Pilot Martin Lowen, 55, also died when his light aircraft crashed and burst into flames in Springfield, Canterbury.

The name of the Drury crash victim had not been released when the Papakura Courier went to print yesterday. It was expected to be released yesterday afternoon.

Auckland Gliding Club chief flying instructor David Hirst says the pilot was a member of the club.

He had been flying for "sufficient years" and lived in the Auckland area, Mr Hirst says.

Franklin Local Board chairman Andy Baker says the glider went down right next to his driveway.

It was flying in tight circles over his property before it made a low pass near his house, he says.

"I was sitting here watching the cricket and saw a shadow go across the wall in my lounge."

When he went to investigate he saw emergency services at the scene and the glider in "bits and pieces", although the cockpit was intact.

Mr Baker says he can only recall one other glider crash in the area in 10 years.

"Gliders are really safe. We have a huge number of gliders over in the hills trying to get the thermals so it's a bit of a shock."

Gliding New Zealand executive committee member Steve Wallace says many gliders fly out of the club each weekend and problems are rare.

Generally, glider crashes do not cause serious injuries, he says.

"Gliders . . . are a bit lighter than power planes and they tend to fly slower . . . occasionally you get crashes and things, and more often than not the pilot walks away."

The most common issues were from "in-flight incapacitation", for example caused by a medical problem during a flight, or when landing in an unfamiliar paddock, Mr Wallace says.

Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Mike Richards could not be reached for comment.

- additional reporting Fairfax NZ

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- Papakura Courier

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