7 Apr 2010

Pressure to compete a factor in glider crash - inquiry

8:15 pm on 7 April 2010

An investigation into the death of a glider at the national championships two years ago has found the pilot may have felt pressured by the competition.

Trevor Atkins was taking part in the competition at the Waharoa airfield, near Matamata, when he crashed in February 2008.

A report released on Wednesday by the Civil Aviation Authority found Mr Atkins was killed when he lost control of the glider during a low-level steep downward turn.

Mr Atkins was described by police at the time as a very experienced pilot with more than 1000 flying hours.

As well as the championships, Mr Atkins was also competing for the trans-Tasman trophy with one other pilot with both competitions based on a points system.

The report says that, though fatigue and dehydration may have been contributing factors, it was most likely the drive to gain competition points led to the crash.

The authority's safety investigator, Alan Moselen, says environmental and mechanical factors are considered when determining the cause of crashes.

"We believe that (Mr Atkins) could have landed earlier and believe that he was pushing on to the destination to further the competition."

Mr Moselen says the investigation ruled out any issues with Mr Atkins' glider.