Comps and Events, News

Paragliding World Championships 2011: Statement and update

Thursday 7 July, 2011

The organisers of the Paragliding World Championships 2011 in Piedrahita released a second statement at 4.45pm local time (Spain).

It reads in full:

Follow up on incidents at Piedrahita

Following the tragic events of yesterday with two fatal accidents involving Argentinian pilot, Francisco Vargas and Chilean pilot Eitel von Muhlenbrock, the championship organisers are continuing to gather information and to keep Team Leaders informed.

The organisers do not intend to speculate on the causes of either of the accidents, but can provide some additional facts.

Flying conditions were mild yesterday, with light winds, blue thermals and relatively low thermal tops.

In the first incident, the pilot was flying low along the ridge. The glider was seen to suffer a frontal collapse, horseshoe and fall in a stable parachutal stall. Close to the ground, the wing spun and the pilot impacted the ground. No reserve parachute was deployed.

In the second incident, the pilot was flying towards goal at altitude. The glider was seen to suffer a frontal collapse, immediately followed by a large cravat and high velocity spin. The reserve parachute was not deployed before the pilot impacted the ground.

The organisers reported yesterday that there were three further minor incidents involving the deployment of reserve parachutes. The organisers would like to clarify that they do not consider reserve deployments to be minor incidents; the meaning was that the outcomes of these incidents were minor. In fact, there were four confirmed reserve deployments and rumours of a fifth, but no supporting evidence. Apart from the two fatalities, we can confirm that all other competition pilots landed safely and were uninjured. The confirmed pilots who deployed their reserves were: Valter Paduano, Luxemburg, Ronny Helgesen, Norway, Steban Novoa Smith, Colombia and Marina Olexina, Russia.

There was a reserve deployment in Task 1, about 3km west of launch, after which Chinese pilot Xiangping Hou landed in a tree. She was extracted unhurt, by the mountain rescue team, but her glider was damaged. During the practice task, Marko Hrgetic, Croatia deployed his reserve parachute and landed safely.

Two further deployments were reported on registration day. One was Etienne Coupez from Luxemburg, the other is unknown, but understood to be a competition pilot. No injuries were reported.

We would like to thank the local medical teams, police and staff of the town hall for their considerate and efficient work in expediting the investigations and necessary paperwork as swiftly as possible, in order to allow the deceased pilots to be flown home.

Once again, the organisers, the attending FAI Officials and the FAI president wish to express their deepest sympathies to the families and friends of both Francisco Vargas and Eitel von Muhlenbrock.

Jose Luis Diaz Iraeta – Event Director
Steve Ham – Competition Director

News report, 6/7/2011: Tragedy hits the World Championships

Mads Syndergaard Blog, 7/7/2011: Our darkest day

Mads Syndergaard Blog, 7/7/2011: Mads leaves

All XCmag posts on the Paragliding World Championships

Piedrahita 2011 Twitter feed

• Official website: www.piedrahita2011.com

• Got news? Send it to us at news@xccontent.local


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