Paraponter's canopy collapsed, tangling him in its cords as he plunged to his death: CAA

A screengrab from a video of Letham in the moments before a fatal crash in Queenstown.
SUPPLIED

A screengrab from a video of Letham in the moments before a fatal crash in Queenstown.

It appears a glider's parachute collapsed and tangled him in its cords moments before he plummeted to his death in Queenstown, the Civil Aviation Authority says.

Horrified witnesses watched as the paraponter "folded in half...and fell" on to the roof of a school on Saturday morning - including the dead pilot's flying companion.

Paraponting involves a person gliding with a parachute after running and jumping from a high point.

Letham crashed on Robins Road in Queenstown.
GOOGLE MAPS

Letham crashed on Robins Road in Queenstown.

Were you there? Do you know more? Send your information, photos and videos to newstips@stuff.co.nz

Police confirmed a person had died after crashing on Robins Rd at 10.10am.

The glider was understood to be a recreational pilot, and not a client or staff member of a local extreme sports company.

Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Mike Richards said two investigators were being sent from Wellington to the scene of the accident and they would arrive Sunday.

"There are numerous eye-witnesses including a companion who was undertaking the same activity. Initial reports indicate the canopy collapsed and the pilot (glider) was tangled up with some cords.

Ad Feedback

"He lost control and fell through trees and impacted the roof on a prefabricated school building."

The authority investigators will spend Sunday interviewing witnesses and gathering information, he said.

Paraponters and paragliders often circle over the heavily forested Bob's Peak. The rationale for flying over the reserve is a crash will be cushioned by trees.

Gliders often land in the rugby grounds or a nearby playing field beside Queenstown Primary School.

Eyewitness Mike Dawson said he was unable to see where the paraponter crashed.

"I think he dropped over near where the rugby field is coming off the gondola.

"The flips started off and he just folded up.

"I don't know if he would have made it. Sirens went off about 10 or 15 minutes later."

Witness Mindy Hill said the crash was "a terrible thing to watch".

"He began flipping over and over again, seemingly out of control. Then his parachute just folded and he plummeted to the ground.

"We couldn't see the impact, but all of us on the street were gasping in disbelief."

It's the second flying sport death this week.

Decorated army soldier and paraglider James Peter Maaka, 25, died when he crashed into a road barrier in the Port Hills in Christchurch on Tuesday.

Maaka's friend and fellow paraglider, who had not yet taken off from the hill, watched in horror as it happened.

 - Stuff

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

More HIV diagnoses than ever

New Zealand AIDS Foundation executive director Dr Jason Myers said condoms were "still the best way" to prevent HIV ...

"There's no reason why it won't keep on increasing if we don't improve prevention," researcher says.

Judge: Council wrong over cycle trail

Ken Rintoul says he's happy with a court decision, after a judge found Far North District Council breached its own processes.

In fracas over cycle trail construction, a judge says council could not unilaterally exclude a local contractor.

Poetry event to connect youth

Albany Senior High School students and Upper Harbour Local Board Youth Caucus members, chairperson Amy Irvine and deputy ...

Upper Harbour's Hearing Everyday Youth celebrate Youth Week.

Silverdale cheerleaders victorious video

All Star Infinity Cheerleaders were celebrating victory in Hawaii last week.

After months of intense training, Prodigy and Odyssey surprised the crowd with their energetic performance.

Wellington

When brain tumours glow fluoro video

Brain tumour surgery has become easier for neurosurgeons thanks to a new drug called Gliolan - which highlights the ...

Alice Chambers' life should be longer, thanks to a drug that made her brain tumour glow.

Uni hall booze ban video

Uni

Night of drunken destruction trashes Victoria University hall in The Terrace.

New arena for Wellington

An enthusiastic crowd rocks to The Pixies performing at Vector Arena (now the Spark Arena) in Auckland. Wellington is in ...

A 10,000-seater arena for concerts and events looks set to get the green light.

No ticket to ride

The future of public transport is coming, and it is a future in which you will be able ride a bus with just your bank card.

A bank card may soon be all you need to use public transport across NZ - unless you're in Auckland.

Canterbury

Battle to save historic house

A century-old home burnt down near Little River in Canterbury on Monday morning.

A human chain of firefighters and farm workers dragged furniture out of a beloved Banks Peninsula house before it was engulfed by flames.

Food factory on fire

The cause of a fire at a food dehydration processing factory near Ashburton is not yet known (file photo).

Fire at food factory near Ashburton under control, but cause not yet known.

Refund for dodgy car

Harry and Heather Rae Ngarae have handed back the keys to their Subary Legacy after a dodgy deal at a Christchurch car ...

Elderly couple will get money back after salesman lumped them with a broken car.

From hospital to heart attack

Craig Caddy suffered a heart attack just after visiting Burwood Hospital with chest pains, but he insisted on driving ...

Man collapsed just minutes after complaining of chest pains at a Christchurch hospital. He died days later in intensive care.

Waikato

Bomb claims Kiwi's pen pal video

A triptych of Skye's best friend, Georgina Callander, including the centre shot of Georgina posing with American popstar ...

Best friends spoke that morning but Manchester explosion left 'horrible gut feeling'.

Priest's new victims

Mark Mannix Brown, 74, after appearing in the Hamilton District Court on Tuesday.

Mark Mannix Brown, 74, was jailed in the 1990s for similar offending.

Couple claim $27m Lotto prize

The winning lotto was brought from Thames Four Square owned by Sukhpal Singh.

A Thames couple have come forward with the golden Lotto ticket.

Ham East rejuvenation starts

The new playground in Steele Park, as shown in the concept design for the Hamilton East Neighbourhood Plan.

But one councillor says Hamilton East is already thriving and will continue to do so if council keeps its sticky fingers out of it.

Taranaki

'Business as usual' at Coastal

Principal of Coastal Taranaki school in Okato, Janelle McKenzie, has resigned after just over a year in the job.

Board of trustee members had a catch-up with staff in the wake of principal's departure but it was "business as usual".

Woken by stalker

Hanz  Browne was jailed for two years when he appeared in the Hawera District Court on Tuesday. (file photo)

She screamed after waking up to find a stalker staring at her from the foot of her bed.

'High risk' pregnancy appeal

Virginia Rose James, 33, had earlier pleaded guilty to two charges of forgery and one representative charge of obtaining ...

She was jailed for stealing $705,000 but wants out, saying her pregnancy is "high risk".

TV games show needs families

Family Feud auditions are being held in New Plymouth on June 24.

Family feud fans rejoice, the game show needs more Taranaki families to feud.

Manawatu

Euthanasia a 'good death'

Professor Jan Bernheim founded palliative care group Not Necessarily Terminal.

Professor Jan Bernheim says that if euthanasia is to be made legal in NZ, it should not be made too complicated.

Liquor shop opposed

Palmerston North's first Black Bull is soon to open unopposed in Rangitikei St. A second in the new Milson shopping ...

A church and a retirement village sit next to the proposed Black Bull branch.

Typhoid tests carried out

Palmerston North Hospital has tested 11 children for typhoid.

28 people have been tested for typhoid, including 11 children under 5.

No guarantees for democracy

Gerald Ford didn't need any votes to become Unites States President.

OPINION: Some things are more important than the right to vote.

Nelson

Quit smoking incentive to help unborn children

Stacey Russell, second from right is on the Pepi First programme which is run and supported by Sonia Hepi-Treanor, left, ...

An incentivised programme has helped Motueka woman Stacey Russell to quit smoking. 

Drunk driver in dock

A photo of the crash scene on Whakatu Dr taken from a passing vehicle and posted on Facebook.

A drink driver in Nelson damaged four vehicles and seriously injured a woman.

Iwi challenges water bottling

Te Waikoropupu Springs is considered sacred to local iwi.

A plan to bottle thousands of cubic metres of water from a Tasman spring has been dealt a blow after a local iwi appeal.

Poverty hitting region's youngest

Kay Guyton runs Angel in My Street and works to support Stoke families and children in poverty.

The report has found more than 1400 children in Nelson and Tasman live below the poverty line. 

Marlborough

Hundreds farewell Bevan Moody video

Waitohi rugby player Bevan Moody collapsed on the field earlier this month.

Street closed for emotional haka after funeral of rugby player who died on the field.

Tatts, shoes for drugs

Tinnies of cannabis normally sell for about $20, a police summary of facts says. (File photo)

A cannabis dealer caught with a wallet full of $20 notes wasn't all about the money.

School track causes bike boom video

The new cycle track at Mayfield School has been a huge hit with pupils, from left, Vee-jay Koroheke, Payton ...

Cycle track around the school has pupils clocking up the kilometres without realising.

Beer burglar jailed

Walter Narayan was told about the outdoor fridge as a place where he could get beer, his lawyer said. (File photo)

He went back to the well one too many times. The well being someone else's outdoor fridge.

South Canterbury

'It's not an easy subject' video

Ryan Weaver-Cogger's mother Michelle Cogger hopes mental health educator Mike King will encourage young people and the ...

Bereaved mothers bringing mental health educator Mike King to South Canterbury to help lift the taboo around suicide.

$700,000 upgrade

Smithfield Plant manager Nigel Cuthill has sent out a letter to residents informing them of the $700,000 to the plant- ...

Alliance will spend $700k to upgrade plant following odour complaints.

Brekkie for a good cause

Pink Ribbon Breakfast at the Arowhenua Marae in Temuka. Pictured are Wendy Moore (left) and Shirley McPherson (right).

The Arowhenua Marae was transformed into a sea of pink to support a good cause.

Ara concerns voiced

Ara Institute of Canterbury's Timaru campus.

Ara criticised for a lack of communication with South Canterbury stakeholders.

Southland

Bluff oyster numbers decline

Bluff Oyster Festival Chairman John Edminstin in front of the crowd at the Bluff Oyster Festival.

The results of a recent NIWA survey has shown replenishment rates in the Foveaux strait Oyster fishery have lowered since 2012.

Aurora on show

Te Anau resident Chris Watson captured this stunning panorama from the Ivon Wilson Park on the outskirts of the town.

Photographers were out in force on Sunday capturing the dazzling Southern Lights.

Barclay supporting centre

Lumsden Maternity's contract with the Southern District Health Board expires on July 31.

Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay says he will not let the Lumsden Maternity Centre close.

Sea lions could scupper fishery

A juvenile sea lion in Port Pegasus in January 2016. In New Zealand sea lions are ranked as "nationally critical" on the ...

Would a new aquaculture project on Stewart Island affect the sea lion colony?

Ad Feedback