Monday, July 23, 2012

Beginner's (bad) luck: Paraglider breaks both legs as he plunges down 50ft cliff on first ever flight - near Pebble Beach, Barton on Sea, Hampshire

A paraglider's first ever flight turned to disaster on Sunday as he plunged 50 feet down a cliff, breaking both his legs and sustaining serious injuries. 

 These dramatic pictures show emergency services scrambling to assist the stricken pilot in a tricky cliff side operation.

The unnamed man in his 40s remained conscious as he waited for rescuers to reach him on the ledge that broke his fall.

He had performed a daring loop the loop manoeuvre and landed before rolling over the edge of the cliff, near Pebble Beach, Barton on Sea, Hampshire.

Specialists from the ambulance service's Hazardous Area Response team lowered the man to the ground by 7.20pm in a painstaking 90 minute effort before a helicopter from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight air ambulance flew him for treatment at Southampton General Hospital.

Photographer Matt Hardy, who lives nearby and witnessed the dramatic fall and rescue operation, said the man had landed in a difficult position for rescuers.

Mr Hardy, 24, said: 'He took off and did a loop the loop round and when he came in to land somehow rolled down the cliff.

'He stopped about three-quarters of the way down.

'The emergency services took about an hour to an hour and a half to bring him up, probably because of his broken leg.

'There were people everywhere.'

A Lymington coastguard member was first at the scene before being joined by rapid response teams from the South Central Ambulance Service and crews from the coastguard and Maritime Agency from nearby Southbourne.

The British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association website says that trainee paragliders undergo ten days of flying and sit an exam covering flight theory, meteorology and basic air law  to get their pilot's rating, which allows them to fly in their clubs around the UK.


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