Federico Baratto, an Italian hang gliding champion and professional tandem hang glider pilot has died in a tragic accident in the Italian Alps.
Federico, 51, died on Saturday 8 May after falling from his tandem hang glider shortly after launching in Borso del Grappa, Italy. He had not clipped in.
According to local news reports, Baratto launched with a 28-year-old non-pilot female passenger shortly before 2.30pm.
Within seconds he slipped from the prone position to hanging from the base bar by his arms. Seconds after that he dropped, leaving the pilotless hang glider and its passenger to crash into the forested hillside moments later.
Emergency crews were called to the scene at about 2.30pm, and a mountain rescue helicopter was despatched from Treviso. A mountain rescue technician was lowered into the forest canopy by winch and secured the woman passenger, later lowering her to the ground where a medical team was waiting. She was later admitted to hospital but it is reported she did not suffer any serious injuries.
Baratto’s body was found at about 5.30pm. He had fallen from “several hundred metres” according to La Notizia, a local news website, and had died on impact.
Baratto had been a hang gliding instructor since 1994 and a qualified tandem pilot for 22 years.
His friend and colleague Daniele Matteazzi was shocked at what had happened, and speculated on how it could have happened.
“We are all asking ourselves [how he forgot to clip in]. The only answer I can give is that something abnormal has happened and the only anomaly I see is the camera. He will have ensured he and his passenger were clipped in, then realised the camera was off. He unhooked to turn it back on and forgot to hook back on.”
Baratto was an experienced and current rigid pilot, logging flights on his Atos VQ Race on XContest. He had flown several triangles in Bassano this season, from 79km to 132km. He was Italian rigid champion in 2018 and had placed second in 2016. He operated his tandem company at volaremozione.com.
There are several Italian TV news reports online, including scenes from the rescue at Retevenata.
And, with edited footage showing the accident itself that some pilots might find distressing, Italia News.
We offer our sincere condolences to Federico’s family, colleagues and flying friends.