Contract skydiver falls to his death in Wanaka

Last updated 09:57 16/11/2012

SCENE OF A TRAGEDY: Police and members of the public inspect an area across State Highway 6 from Wanaka Airport, where a skydiver died.

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Police have named the Italian man who died in a skydiving incident near Wanaka yesterday.

He was Antonino Arillotta.

The 38-year-old was filming a commercial tandem skydive when he crashed onto the golf driving range of the Have A Shot business, across State Highway 6 from Wanaka Airport, at about 4pm.

It appeared Mr Arillotta had trouble with both his main and reserve parachutes and died when he hit the ground.

Senior constable Bruce McLean, of Wanaka, said Mr Arillotta had worked as a contractor to Skydive Lake Wanaka for less than two months and had been in New Zealand for "some months."

The Italian Embassy had contacted his family.

Mr McLean said he was not an expert on ideal conditions for skydiving but believed the weather appeared to be fine at the time with a light south-easterly breeze.

Police will use independent skydiving experts to help with their investigation.

The accident will also be investigated by the Civil Aviation Authority and Mr Arillotta's death has been referred to the coroner.

Skydive Lake Wanaka chief executive Dave Hall confirmed the man who died worked for the company as a contractor.

He declined to comment further, saying he could not do so until investigations had been completed.

Adventure Aviation Operator Certification, which stipulates all adventure tourism flight activities such as parachuting, paragliding and hang-gliding must have safe-operation plans and undergo safety audits, came into effect in November last year.

"Proving flights", in which the authority's safety auditors undertake observation flights with new or unproven operators, documentation of qualifications and experience of senior people, personnel competency evidence, and evidence of continued airworthiness and maintenance of aircraft and equipment were also introduced under the certification.

Also introduced were flight and ground crew training programmes, and documentation systems to avoid flight crew fatigue.

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- The Southland Times

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