HKPA report number 20

Site: Ma On Shan

(***Click here for site guide***)

Date of Event: Sunday 18th of December 2011

This Accident report was filed on Friday 15th of March 2013 and the last change to the report was made on Friday 15th of March 2013 by Trevor Gribble

Injury Index = 2
( 0 =No Injuries or Minor - brief visit to Doctor)
( 1 =Significant - hospitalized or work time loss less than 48 hours)
( 2 =Temporary Disabling Injuries)
( 3 =Permanent Partial Disabling Injuries)
( 4 =Permanent Total Disability)
( 5 =Fatal injuries)


A pilot holding a Club Pilot (PG2) Licence with 5-10 years of experience whist flying at Ma On Shan at approximately 12-1400hrs on Sunday 18th of December 2011.

The conditions at the time were reported to be Smooth with a NE wind blowing approximately 10-15kph. The temperature was 15-19deg C with A Little Cloud and Slight Haze Visibility.

There were reported to be 2-5 pilots at the site.

Factors in this Accident:
Hard Landing
Impact with Obstacle

Event Description:

Pilot arrived at hill to find the wind light and northeast. Pilot launched at about 1500 hrs without difficultly, although he assessed the wind to be light, he believed it possible to sustain ridge soaring height given that other pilots were flying. At the time of launch two gliders were in the air – one was scratching the ridge and other just above the ridgeline. The pilot had observed these gliders in flight, noting that lift was not abundant although both wings were sustaining altitude.

On launch pilot experienced very little lift, finding he had to tuck in close to the ridge to maintain his height. He flew for about 15 minutes. Conditions were such that the pilot never went much above the ridgeline and for most of the flight he was just managing to sustain altitude. During this time one of the other wings had opted to land out at the bottom landing. Whilst in the air the pilot assessed the wind as turning north.

The pilot made two attempts to side land, just in front of the take off. These attempts he abandoned as conditions for a touch down proved unfavorable due to excessive ground speed. At this point it was evident that the wind speed was dropping.

At about 1515 hrs the pilot experienced sink and opted to attempt a side landing at the south end of the ridge next to the path coming up from Sai Kung. This is a location were he has done numerous top landings without incident.

As he set up for the top landing, the pilot believed he was too high and therefore he swung South a little, before turning back East to line up for landing. At this point he was likely in the wind shadow having gone a little around the corner of the hillside. As he turned back he experienced a collapse on the left side of the wing and swung into the hillside. At the same time he descended rapidly falling about 15 to 10 feet.

The pilot landed feet down facing the hill on a sloping rocky surface. He instinctively put out his left arm as he fell forward with some force. His head whip-lashed forward impacting on a large rock. The glider came to rest up the slope from the pilot, indicating it still had momentum at the time of impact.

The pilot immediately sensed he was injured. His helmet was cracked at the forehead position, whilst his left wrist was swollen and painful. He was winded. In addition, the pilot initially had difficulty standing up, as it was apparent he had sustained some form of back injury.

Passing hill walkers, who provided him with water and offered to call a rescue, assisted the pilot. The pilot, who was dazed and a little confused, declined the offer of a rescue. After a couple of minutes another pilot, who was still flying, contacted the pilot and asked for a report. The pilot was able to report he was standing, but had a suspected broken wrist.

The other pilot managed to top land and proceeded to the scene of the incident. On arrival he fitted the pilot with a sling for his left arm, which was clearly broken and arranged a car pick up to convey the injured pilot to hospital. There was a discussion about calling a helicopter to lift the injured pilot, but he insisted on walking down the hill.

Injuries The pilot was kept in hospital for four days having sustained the following injuries:
(a) Multiple fractures to the left wrist at the distal radius that required a three hour operation to fit a titanium plate and 10 pins;
(b) Torn left wrist ligament;
(c) Two fractures to the spine at L2 and L3. These fractures appear to have been caused either by the initial impact with energy transferred up the spine or as the pilot whip-lashed forward on impact;
(d) Torn lower back muscles; and,
(e) Contusion on the forehead.
Pilot is expected to make a full recovery after further operations on his wrist.

Committee Response: (if any )

The pilot attributes the incident to the following: -

(a) An incorrect appreciation of the wind direction. It is apparent that the wind switched to a more northerly direction as the pilot sought to land. His positioning placed the glider on the lee side of the hill. He may have been in rotor or descending air;
(b) The application of brake to turn the glider and line-up the landing induced a stall on the left side of the wing and its collapse;
(c) With insufficient height to recover the pilot impacted the hillside; and
(d) Not considering other options such as a bottom landing.

The pilot makes the following observations: -

(a) His helmet was cracked at the forehead position and his head sustained a contusion at the same position, although a scan revealed no head trauma. It is evident that he took a significant blow to the forehead, which without the helmet may have proven fatal. The importance of wearing a good quality helmet cannot be over emphasized;
(b) Over familiarity with the top landing site made the pilot less cautious and he overlooked clear signals that the wind was turning north;
(c) The pilot was able to communicate with other pilots by radio. Without a radio an injured pilot may be alone and helpless;
(d) The pilot was wearing good quality paragliding boots. These prevented any ankle injuries during a very hard landing; and,
(e) The pilot should have probably opted to seek rescue by helicopter. Whilst on this occasion his back injury proved stable, he did not know that at the time and his judgment to walk down over a steep, uneven, path was hardly sensible.
The pilot expresses his sincere thanks to the other pilotfor the rescue and kit recovery. Also, a big thanks to Steve Yancey for the hospital run.

Committee Action: (if any )

NIL Action Yet