SAFETY rules for towing hang gliders are to be reviewed in the wake of a report into the death of a teenager at Darley Moor.
Darley Moor Hang Glider CrashLois Preston, 16, from Warrington, died in October last year while attempting her first solo flight in a hang-glider after two years of training in the sport.
The British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, is now set to revise guidelines for aerotowing following an investigation into the crash and a report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch released this month.
According to the report, Lois had attempted a solo flight, but after being towed into the air by a Pegasus Quantum aircraft; her hang glider started to tip to one side. Lois was able to release the tow line and make a safe landing.
On the second attempt, the hang glider again spun to the left, before turning into a steep diving spiral before crashing on a disused runway.
The report into the accident noted that no defects were found with the tug aircraft or with the hang glider, but that Lois’ weight was under the recommended pilot weight for a Falcon (3) 195 hang glider.
And, the length of the tow rope was below the minimum length recommended by the BHPA Technical Manual.
It is thought that, as Lois attempted to correct the leftward oscillation of the hang glider by moving her hand, the glider itself may have pitched upwards, and rolled left even more, causing it to spiral and crash.
The maximum speeds for the hang glider and the tug aircraft were also incompatible and, while the BHPA advises an average of 15 to 20 tandem flights are advisable before attempting a solo flight, Lois had completed just 13 dual flights.
The report adds: “Aerotowing is widely considered to be the most demanding of the hang gliding launch procedures.” The weather was good on October 28 and Lois, who had two years’ experience, was wearing the appropriate safety gear had been deemed capable of attempting a solo flight.
The report concludes: “A number of factors were identified that could have made it more difficult for the student pilot to maintain the correct towed position.
“The BHPA has initiated an indepth review of aerotowing procedures and is also reviewing its audit and inspection processes.”