Feature Story Tuesday April 26, 2016
Where Eagles Dare
Kent Harrison Search and Rescue bring in tree climber to pluck paraglider to safety
A couple of times a year, a paraglider is left clinging to trees 100 feet up, like this 70-year-old man who waits to be rescued last Tuesday. Below, the red parachute is a small red speck, in the upper right, above the Mobile Command.
magine you're soaring like a bird hundreds of feet up in the air in your paraglider. Sunshine, warm breeze, mountains. Then suddenly, a "slider" outflow hits, sucking the air out from under you and wham, you sink into a sea of green.
That's what happened around 5 P.M., last Tuesday, when a spry 70-year-old, who was flying as part of a group that regularly takes off and lands in a field near the golf course at Bridal Falls, lost air pressure to keep his paraglider aloft and wound up clinging to some tree branches 100 feet up.
The paraglider landed in a remote area. His chute, a mere speck, high on a ridge, got hung up in the trees and he was left to dangle instead of drop. He fumbled around for his phone and began calling for help.
Help soon came. In a matter of minutes, Kent Harrison Search and Rescue (KHSAR) were on the way along with a Certified Tree Climber whom they hired with all the arborists gear.
RCMP and KHSAR were pinging the man's phone to pinpoint his location on the ridge. The Mobile Command Centre truck was set up.
While a crew on the ATV went up as far as they could but it was still a good deal away from where the man was.
"The Forestry road ended partway so the team had to hike for another hour to locate the subject," Marvin Anderson, KHSAR, explained in an email to The Voice last week.
When the man was located, the tree climber went up and installed an "anchor system" above the man.
Next, the climber helped the man into a harness attached to ropes, and then lowered him down.
"Once he is in our harness and removed from the Paraglider harness, we have a team of rope technicians at the bottom of the tree that have rigged up a system of ropes, pulleys and brake systems, so they can safely lower the subject down to the ground," said Anderson.
The entire operation took around five hours to complete, going on well into darkness. Because the man wasn't injured, he was able to be walked out on foot, and then checked by BC Ambulance Services paramedics.
The paraglider's son (third from left) waits for his dad to be brought down.
Anderson says, on average, they get 1-2 paraglider rescue calls each year.
"Fortunately, there are seldom any injuries, they usually just get tangled in the forest canopy and then call for assistance," he said.
For more information about the Kent Harrison Search and Rescue Team Society, visit www.khsar.com
See more photos below.
Thanks for looking. Fly safely. Have a great summer!
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