A man flying a paraglider in Marlborough was lucky he didn't end up in Cook Strait after strong winds lifted him 1000 metres into the air and pushed him off course, says a rescue helicopter pilot.
The Nelson Marlborough rescue helicopter was called about 6.50pm on Sunday after being alerted that the 49-year-old Picton man was three hours overdue.
It was only his second solo flight.
Pilot Duncan Gourley said the man had left Collins Hill, behind Picton, about 1.15pm, intending to land at Koromiko. He had a radio with him and told his wife at 3pm he would be landing shortly, but he never turned up.
The helicopter crew used the radio to make contact with the man and find out his location, Mr Gourley said.
"He didn't know where he was," he said.
A man told him he was at Robin Hood Bay, in Port Underwood in the Marlborough Sounds.
The chopper flew to Robin Hood Bay where the man was assessed by an onboard paramedic.
He had landed heavily in a paddock but he hadn't been injured, Mr Gourley said.
"It was pretty windy.
"He's lucky he didn't end up in Cook Strait," he said.
The man was flown back to Picton about 8.30pm.
Marlborough area commander Inspector Simon Feltham said the man had a lucky escape.
He was unable to land his craft and was blown off course before landing heavily on farmland near Cook Strait. He suffered air sickness during the flight and fell asleep after landing.
The man was extremely lucky to have come away with just minor injuries, Mr Feltham said.
"This incident underlines the importance of ensuring you have checked the weather conditions and have the skills and experience to match them."
- The Marlborough Express
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