Hang-gliding safety to be reviewed after fatal crash
HANG-GLIDING safety is to be reviewed following the death of a 16-year-old girl at a Derbyshire airfield.
Lois Preston's hang glider rolled to the left as she was being towed by a light aircraft at Darley Moor Airfield, near Ashbourne, a report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said.
The tow line was released but Lois, from Great Sankey, Warrington, Cheshire, could not recover from the loss of control and crashed into the ground nose-first.
She was taken to hospital but died from her injuries.
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The AAIB said: "From shortly after take-off the hang glider did not maintain the correct position behind the towing aircraft and entered an increasing roll to the left.
"It rapidly deviated from the desired flight path and, despite the tow line being released, resulted in a loss of control from which the student pilot did not recover."
The AAIB report today said the length of the tow line being used on the day of the crash – on October 28 last year – was just below the minimum length specified and that "this reduced the pilot's margin for error and meant any angular deviations would develop more quickly".
The report said it had been intended that the hang glider would be towed to a height of 1,500ft before release.
Lois's first solo attempt on October 28 had resulted in the hang glider oscillating a little from side to side and then banking left.
The teenager had released herself from the tow and made a safe landing.
The report said the towing pilot was also a hang gliding instructor and had flown several tandem flights with Lois earlier in the day.
The AAIB went on: "The towing pilot, in her capacity as an instructor, had considered the student to be very capable and ready for solo flight."
No defects were found with the tug aircraft or the hang glider that could have contributed to the accident, the report said.
The AAIB said Ms Preston had completed a structured training programme at a school approved by the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association.
The report added that following the crash the BHPA had "initiated an in-depth review of aerotowing procedures and is also reviewing its audit and inspection processes".