The British Paragliding Championships 2018 ended in tragedy yesterday when two paraglider pilots died following a mid-air collision.
British competitor Innes Powell, 54, and Ukranian free-flyer Igor Volov, 56, collided above take-off during the task window before the start of the race.
Igor Volov died at the scene from his injuries. Innes Powell died later in hospital.
Families of both pilots have been informed.
A British pilot at the scene, speaking on behalf of the British Competitions Panel said: “There was a mid-air collision above take off during the task window before race start.
“The collision was between a free flying Ukrainian pilot, Igor Volov, and a competitor in the competition UK pilot Innes Powell. The two pilots collided whilst thermalling together.
“They separated but then swung back into each other much harder … Igor threw his reserve …[and] landed in trees next to launch. Innes did not throw his reserve parachute and landed on an accessible track immediately below launch.
“Igor was dead when rescuers got to him a few minutes after he landed in trees.
“Innes was conscious and talking to rescuers when they first arrived on the scene.”
The pilot added: “Innes was taken to local hospital in Prilep by land ambulance. He was in a critical but stable condition with a broken shoulder, pelvis and ribs. He was placed on life support, we were informed as a precautionary measure.
“However, his internal injuries were obviously more serious than first assumed and we understand he died due to the severity of his injuries.
“A full crash investigation was undertaken yesterday including inspection of the crash site by local authorities and inspection of gliders.
“Igor’s glider was not significantly damaged. Innes’s glider was severely damaged including several ripped out cells and several broken upper and lower lines.
“Igor’s family were on launch when the incident happened. Innes’s family were contacted yesterday.”
The competition was on its last day and had seen three tasks. The final task was stopped.
A statement published on the British Paragliding Competition website on Saturday 18 August 2018 said: “It is with great sadness that The British Paragliding Competitions Panel have to announce the death of Innes Powell and Igor Volov in the final task of the British Open in Krushevo on Friday 17th August 2018. Our deep condolences go to the families and friends of the two pilots. The pilots’ families have been informed. We will release more details in due course.”
The Associated Press reported on Saturday that the prosecutor’s office in Macedonia has ordered for video and data from the pilots’ tracking systems to be downloaded and autopsies to be performed.
The British Embassy in Skopje, Macedonia said in a statement on Monday 20 August: “Our consular colleagues are in contact with the family and friend of a British man following a fatal paragliding accident in Macedonia.”
The Embassy of Ukraine in Macedonia also confirmed that they were aware of the fatalities: “Ukrainian pilot (Mr. Igor Volov, 56 y.o.) has died due to the collision with another paraglider pilot in Krushevo.”
Cross Country extends its sincere condolences to the family and friends of both pilots.
A fund-raising campaign has been started to help with funeral and other costs.
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