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fright flight Pilot behind Swiss hang gliding ‘mishap’ further sentenced

hang glider with mountains

Beautiful scenery, if you're well strapped-in.

(Keystone / Stefan Meyer)

The hang-gliding pilot who forgot to secure the harness of his tandem partner on a harrowing flight near Interlaken last year has been fined by the Swiss Attorney General’s office.

The October 2018 flight of an American tourist in Central Switzerland turned sour just after take-off when it turned out his harness was not properly fastened.

Following a two-minute white-knuckle ride during which he hung on at speeds of over 60km/h, the emergency landing resulted in ‘merely’ a fractured wrist and a torn bicep ligament. 

The whole thing was captured on a video that went viral, clocking up some 10 million YouTube views.

Almost a year later, the pilot, who described the event as “the shock of his life”, has been sentenced by the Swiss Attorney General’s Office to a fine of CHF1,000 ($1,028) and 120 suspended day-fines for having “disrupted public traffic through negligence”.

Aptitude not in doubt

The sentence comes after an earlier fine of CHF800 handed down by the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) and the suspension of the pilot’s license for two months. FOCA stopped short of a permanent ban, saying that the pilot’s aptitude was not in question.

During the Attorney General’s hearings, which took place in June but only this weekend emerged in the media, an accident report noted that the flight took place at an average speed of some 59.3km/h and at a height between 30 and 50 metres above ground; should the man have fallen, the report estimated, he would have hit the earth at a speed of 113km/h.

Le Matin Dimanche reports that the American is unperturbed by the event and is planning to return to Switzerland to try hang-gliding once again.

The pilot still operates tandem flights and has attached an extra security cord to ensure the mishap doesn’t reoccur.

paraglider

paraglider not strapped in

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SWI swissinfo.ch on Instagram

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