1 Mar 2009

Data box found of glider in fatal crash

9:57 pm on 1 March 2009

The Civil Aviation Authority has found the data box of a glider which crashed killing a Japanese man in North Otago.

Ichiro Murai, 54, was killed when the glider he was flying crashed into the side of Mt St Cuthbert near Omarama on Friday afternoon.

Gavin Wills, the director of Glide Omarama, which owns the glider that crashed, says members of Mr Murai's family are expected to arrive in Christchurch in the next few days.

He says Mr Murai was an experienced glider pilot with almost a thousand hours of flying in Japan, Europe and Australia. He was in New Zealand to gain more experience of gliding among mountains.

Lemuel Edward Norman Tanner, 68, survived the crash and is in a serious but stable condition in Dunedin Hospital.

The Civil Aviation Authority was at the crash site on Sunday and its spokesperson Bill Sommers says the data box could provide some clues as to what went wrong.

He says the information will be downloaded and closely examined.

Mr Sommers says weather permitting the investigation team will be back on site on Monday.

Conditions were good for flying

Glider pilot Chris Rudge was flying over the area when he saw the wreckage and alerted emergency services. He said the cockpit was badly damaged and the tail broken off.

Mr Wills says the aircraft had been released from tow about 15 minutes before it crashed, in good conditions for flying.