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

Dramatic car crash injures driver

The crash happened at about 10.30am on Saturday at the corner of Redoubt and Murphys Rd's, Totara Park, Manurewa.

A car careened 50m down a bank in Totara Park in south Auckland.

Collapsed rugby player doing ok

All Black and Blues rugby player Rieko Ioane in action.

Steven Ioane, a relative of All Blacks and Blues star Rieko Ioane, fell ill during a World Masters Game match.

Auckland weekend weather watch

The weather in Auckland was already packing in on Saturday morning.

Auckland won't get the worst of the weekend's bad weather, but it will still be wet.

Feeding the streets

Dayne Smith says many people who live on the streets in Avondale take shelter at the Avondale Racecourse.

Getting the homeless involved with meal preparation will give them a sense of self-worth, Dayne Smith said.

Wellington

National Portrait - Kate Camp

Kate Camp, poet and winner of the Katherine Mansfield Fellowship.

A new book and a fellowship on the Riviera - it's a good year for the poet.

Woman hit by car dies

Churchill Dr, Crofton Downs, was closed for a while after the collision on Saturday morning.

Fatality in Gisborne while nasty crash in Wellington closes road.

Perils of duck hunting

Forty-one per cent of injuries associated with game-bird hunting occur during the opening weekend of duck hunting season.

Almost half of game bird hunting injuries happen during the opening weekend of the season.

'Summer days' over video

Mackenzie Country is likely to get snow as low as 800 metres.

First cold snap of the year is expected to bring snow, rain and thunder to parts of NZ.

Canterbury

From Re:Start to finish

Danish tourists are captivated by a Hannah Kidd sculpture in the Re:Start mall.

The Christchurch pop-up mall that offered hope after the 2011 quakes is winding down

Deadly love triangle

Those on the outside described the McLeans as a "role model family".

Invercargill rocked to core after a love triangle turned fatal. Where did it all go wrong?

Neglect upsets quake victim's family

The memorial sign and site today. Tagging shows a lack of respect for the earthquake victims, family say.

Quake victim family say neglect of place where she was killed shows disrespect.

Time to move cows indoors video

Dairy cows enjoy their feed in Aberystwyth Dairies' free stall barn.

To improve water quality, NZ's dairy industry may embrace barns

Waikato

Architectural wonders revealed

The new law and management building at Waikato University was designed by Opus Architecture.

A lot of well known Waikato and Bay of Plenty buildings - and spaces - have earned accolades.

It's our turn to fix this

A medical school backed by Waikato Hospital, pictured, and Waikato University  seeks to train GPs to fill a critical ...

OPINION: The old boys have failed to fix New Zealand's doctor shortage, now it's our turn.

Join the fight for our med school

Waikato University vice-chancellor Professor Neil Quigley and Waikato District Health Board chief executive Dr Nigel Murray.

A proposed medical school in the Waikato has the Government interested.

Ref raids accounts

050711 NEWS. Robert Charles/Taranaki Daily News. Cheque/ cheque book. Money. Bank.

Colleagues blew the whistle on referee who swiped $13K and a video camera.

Taranaki

Perils of duck hunting

Forty-one per cent of injuries associated with game-bird hunting occur during the opening weekend of duck hunting season.

Almost half of game bird hunting injuries happen during the opening weekend of the season.

'Don't send me to jail'

A young man's heartfelt plea to a judge saw him receive home detention instead of jail for a raft of offences.

"I hate being in trouble and looking like a meat head," man tells judge.

Stung by survey scam

Kerry Taylor, 77,  from Waitara was a victim of an email scam which he believed was connected to Countdown.

He thought he'd won a big prize. Then came the string of charges to his credit card.

Volunteer 'always learning'

Puke Ariki volunteer host Adrienne Nightingale has been volunteering at Puke Ariki since 2003.

After 14 years, a dedicated volunteer says she is almost 'one of the artifacts'.

Manawatu

Perils of duck hunting

Forty-one per cent of injuries associated with game-bird hunting occur during the opening weekend of duck hunting season.

Almost half of game bird hunting injuries happen during the opening weekend of the season.

GP won't grow - Quinn

A crash during the grand prix race at Manfeild Circuit: Chris Amon this year.

Hampton Downs track owner says New Zealand Grand Prix should have gone to his venue.

Taking care of business

Suzie Johnson will make her boxing debut in the Battle of the Belts on May 5.

Manawatu's Suzie Johnson will step into the ring for the Battle of the Belts.

'Summer days' over video

Mackenzie Country is likely to get snow as low as 800 metres.

The first cold snap of the year is expected to bring snow to some areas.

Nelson

Not a house, it's a croquet shelter

Athol Turner has a few home comforts at the Hinemoa Croquet Club shelter, including coffee and a biography of Alec Guiness.

As the Nelson City Council looks to implement a new law banning sleeping in the city we meet a man who has made a croquet club his home.

Housing crisis help?

David Barnes, right, with his son Samuel Barnes who needs medical care, pictured with the dwelling David built for him ...

A Nelson man built a home on his property for his mentally-ill son. Could this solve our housing issues?

Guilty of murder

Philip Quayle died after being attacked on a street in Cairns, Australia, about 100 metres from home.

A man who choked a Nelson man to death during a random street attack in Cairns has been found guilty of murder.

Taking a leaf out of the future video

Nelson Mail Journalist Tim O'Connell with the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle(EV) that the Nelson Mail has had on loan from ...

Tim O'Connell shares the thrills, trials and tribulations of driving an electric vehicle.

Marlborough

Ophthalmology waiting list halved

The ophthalmology service at Nelson Marlborough Health has been remodelled which has cut the waiting list for those ...

The health board has remodelled its ophthalmology service and cut the waiting list for those needing follow-up.

Pokies accused 'collateral damage'

The Department of Internal Affairs said Mike O'Brien was "unsuitable" to be involved in the pokie gambling business.

Inquiry into who was behind pokie machine operations was flawed, says lawyer.

Old dog with new tricks

Vincent the retired guide dog plays Sandy in the new production of Annie.

A retired guide dog is treading the boards as the furry star of Marlborough's newest musical.

It's the climb

Blenheim cyclist Andrew Bidwell, 16, is aiming for a podium finish at the upcoming Age Group Road National Championships ...

When another cyclist said he was going to make Andrew's race hell, he laughed it off and smashed the pack by five minutes.

South Canterbury

Parents remember 'talented' son

Rowan Yeager died following a crash near Lake Ohau on Anzac Day. This photo, supplied by friend Andrew Weatherall, shows ...

Man killed in crash near Lake Ohau was just a week off moving into house he built by hand.

Cleverley 'exonerated'

Former South Canterbury District Health Board chair Murray Cleverley has spoken out for the first time about his ...

Former SCDHB chair Murray Cleverley says decision to resign as chair was tough.

'We have got a lot of work to do'

SCDHB chief executive Nigel Trainor says the DHB is going try and improve low rates of HPV vaccination by providing more ...

SC has a 'poor' HPV vaccination rate, prompting the DHB to turn to social media.

Strong winds lash SC

Police were called to the scene of a camper van crash on Friday afternoon, thought to be caused by the wind.

Tourists escape with minor injuries after two campers blown off road south of Tekapo.

Southland

'They thought it was a dolphin' video

The French tourist arrives at Dunedin Hospital by helicopter after she was attacked by a shark while bodyboarding in ...

A French tourist who survived a shark attack wrenched its jaws from her legs, a local surfer says.

Deadly love triangle

Those on the outside described the McLeans as a "role model family".

A city's been rocked after a broken marriage ended in death. Where'd it all go wrong?

Ocean swimming 'sharks' territory'

Lydia Ward holds her wetsuit with tooth holes and the boogie board she used to fend off a 1.5m shark that bit her on the ...

A former shark attack victim has urged a tourist bitten by a shark to stay true to her passions - including ocean swimming.

Rugby's presidential change

Outgoing Rugby Southland president Donald Hay.

One Eastern Southland rugby stalwart goes, another one replaces him.

Ad Feedback