Dramatic rescue for paraglider

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 14:28 17/08/2014
WESTPAC RESCUE HELICOPTER/Supplied

Westpac Rescue Helicopter paramedics winch a 40-year-old paraglider to safety after he crashed into a rock-face on Christchurch's Port Hills.

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A Christchurch paraglider suffered fractures to his back and leg when he crashed into a rock-face on the Port Hills. 

The 40-year-old had to be winched to safety by Westpac Rescue Helicopter paramedics after crashing near the Christchurch Gondola about 1.30pm yesterday. 

Intensive care paramedic Mike McLintock said passengers on the Gondola called emergency services after witnessing the man crash into the rock-face.

It appeared the paraglider's wing had failed soon after take-off.

The incident sent the man crashing into the hillside and caused his canopy to become stuck on rocks, leaving him hanging. 

McLintock said there had been a risk the paraglider would come off the rocks and fall onto the Summit Rd below.

''It was quite dramatic. Obviously everyone up there was having a good old look.''

About 10 paragliders had been in the area when the incident happened, but it was not known if the injured man was part of a paragliding club.

McLintock said the Westpac Rescue Helicopter had to hover above the spot where the man was stuck and winch a paramedic down to help him.

The man was moved onto a stretcher and winched up into the helicopter before being transported to Christchurch Hospital.

McLintock said the man suffered fractures to his lower back and an open fracture to his lower leg. 

A Christchurch Hospital spokesman said he could not provide an update on the man's condition today as he had requested full privacy.  

A Christchurch paraglider said the incident was a ''timely reminder'' about the importance of carrying a two-way radio.

Cliff Swailes wrote on the Canterbury Hang Gliding and Paragliding Club website that it was important for the seriously injured paraglider to be able to talk to emergency services while being rescued.  

''Yesterday's incident where a pilot made an untimely and unplanned acquaintance with the rock-face below the Gondola launch site, should be taken as a timely reminder about the importance of carrying and using a two-way radio,'' he said.  

''The radio does not have to be expensive but is equally as useful and important while flying to share information regarding flight conditions."

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