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Dauin / Panglao New Year 2017

Great break in the Philippines with Mike Botti, diving in Dauin / Apo Island and around Panglao.

Pilot death at Saichia

A 47 year old visiting Japanese pilot has died after an accident at Saichia according to Apple News. He’d traveled to Taiwan from Hokkaido in a group of eight. The article says he fell from 20m above the LZ in a spiral that may have resulted from a glider malfunction, namely broken lines. He was observed to have sustained leg fractures but unfortunately had died before the ambulance had reached the scene.

Hsu Pei-Hsiang, the Deputy Director of Pingtung Education Department said the area is under an ordinance forbidding autonomous un-powered flight but that since the site is on private land they have not been able to enforce this. Permission to use the LZ as such has been requested but is still in review and noted that while the site was in legal limbo it is impossible to supervise or control flight training or operations there. The case will be reviewed by the police and county government.

My condolences to the pilot’s family and friends. Very sad.

 

Taiwan blocked from ICAO summit

China has the (rotating) presidency of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and has used this position to pursue it’s political agenda of isolating Taiwan from the international community. China has been intent on preventing Taiwan participating in world bodies such as the WHO for years now. Aviation safety is one of those areas of endeavor that simply has to be above political interference. J Michael Cole here explains the move. China is so determined to isolate Taiwan that delegates to the summit were warned their microphones would be muted if they dared to defy orders not to even mention the country by name. I don’t think I have to explain to other pilots why shunning Taiwan, with two international airlines and a handful of domestic and regional carriers, is short-sighted and dangerous. Ironically, one of ICAO’s current slogans is “No country left behind”.

Diving the north coast’s ‘Secret Garden’

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Pilot death at Puli

From local news reports a 52 year old Taichung pilot died on August 27th at Puli’s larger launch area. Apparently he had encountered turbulence shortly after take-off, had a collapse and not been able to recover before hitting the ground. The reserve parachute was not deployed. He died on the spot from head injuries. Local media report states the pilot had two years experience prior to the accident.

Saipan diving 2015

Back to Saipan for another round of drink and dive shenanigans…

More tandem accidents in Taidong

A tandem operator ended up in tree with his passenger on May 5th after launching into very strong and gusty winds. Those with a sharper eye may recognize the glider as a competition model which is not rated for tandem operation at all and definitely requires expert skills in handling, even in the best of conditions. This error is then compounded when they get to hospital and the pilot doesn’t mention at all that they fell out of the sky, but instead claims they had something like a hiking accident, involving falling down a mountain slope. This is common here because ordinary travel insurance explicitly excludes paragliding from a list of covered activities. Avoiding any mention of paragliding in police reports also protects the pilot population in general from investigation by authorities or result in someone’s semi-legal tandem business being disrupted.
News video of the whole sorry story here.

Wanli site closed

Site closedAKA Feitsuiwan and Green Bay, this long-established site has been blockaded by the land owner. This site was founded by a group of ex-ROCAF pilots who had traveled to Europe to learn the then-new sport of hang-gliding. They were lucky enough to have a spot of land on a hill near Wanli and even had British pilots come scope it out for a suitable flying site. Since then of course hang-gliding has almost disappeared and paragliding (which is much easier and faster to learn) has become much more popular. This has been followed with a spike in the number of tandem operators, many of which have poor safety records and use very inexperienced pilots to run. Has ‘The Colonel’ finally had enough of the cowboy tandem operators up there and closed them down? People forget the launch site is on private property, and the owner is the one taken to task every time there’s an accident (which is often) or when pilots overfly the Patriot battery right behind it.

News video here (in Mandarin)