10 Mar 2009

Pair killed in hang glider crash near Queenstown

6:08 pm on 10 March 2009

A Northland firefighter and his pilot have died following a hang glider crash at The Remarkables mountain range near Queenstown.

Volunteer firefighter Andrew Michael Scotland, 34, of Waipu, and pilot Gerado Bean, 27, from Argentina, were killed after their tandem hang glider nose-dived into the ground on Tuesday.

Mr Scotland was in Queenstown for the United Fire Brigades Association conference and had gone flying with three other firefighters.

The group had all made one successful flight. However, on his second attempt, Mr Scotland's glider was seen to plunge into a paddock at the base of The Remarkables.

Mr Bean worked for commercial hang gliding company Skytrek.

Northland Fire Service commander Trevor Andrews paid tribute to Mr Scotland, saying the thoughts of everyone in the Fire Service are with his wife, family and Waipu brigade members.

Mr Andrews says more than 300 delegates held a minute's silence after hearing the news but took solace in the fact Mr Scotland was doing what he loved.

Skytrek owner Ian Clark says he is devastated by the accident and sends his sympathies to the family and friends of the men who died.

Witnesses to the crash are helping police with inquiries. An investigation by the Civil Aviation Authority is also under way.