Helicopters Otago pilot praised for paraglider rescue

by Peter Newport - Dec 26, 2023

The Helicopters Otago chopper pilot who rescued a commercial paraglider pilot and his injured passenger from trees above Fernhill yesterday has been credited with "great flying."

The praise came from the local Alpine Cliff Rescue Team who, with fire and police emergency services, initially attempted to recover the crashed pair after they experienced technical problems after taking off from the top of the Skyline gondola.

The rescue operation started mid-morning yesterday (December 25th) in dense pine forest above Scott Place in the Queenstown suburb of Fernhill.

In a statement, G Force Paragliding said the pilot and passenger had taken off from the Skyline Gondola but were forced to land in trees about 10.20am.

"They landed safely in a tree behind the residential suburb after the pilot looked for an alternative landing site.

"Police and search and rescue personnel attended and the passenger was airlifted by helicopter, due to terrain accessibility issues, to the nearby Lakes District Hospital for assessment and observation.

"The pilot was uninjured."

The Civil Aviation Authority has been notified. The company said it would carry out its own internal investigation into the incident.

G Force Paragliding co-director Gavin Taylor said the company was fully supporting the passenger and other family members, and would continue collaborating with authorities.

A G Force commercial paraglider pilot Ben Latham, was killed in 2017 when he crashed into the Queenstown primary school site at the foot of the Skyline gondola.

Main Image: The crashed G Force pilot and passenger being rescued by the Helicopters Otago aircraft - Queenstown Alpine Cliff Rescue team.

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