An unlicensed paramotor operator said he did not know he needed a flight permit to operate the device after it collided with electric transmission cables near Camp last May, leaving 1,000 homes without electricity.
hat’s according to an Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) report into the crash, after which the 59-year-old pilot was hospitalised with cuts to his face.
On May 27 last, the pilot departed Maharees, using a 2018 paramotor, to carry out a short leisure flight on what was a largely clear day.
At around midday, the pilot flew over a caravan park near Camp village and turned for home. After making the turn, however, he did not adjust the wing trims and subsequently lost altitude. The device became entangled in cables over the caravan park, the cables snapped, and the paramotor and pilot fell to the ground.
The grass below was scorched when the cable ends hit the ground. A resultant power outage affected 1,000 households. The paramotor’s wing was destroyed.
It subsequently emerged that the pilot – who had 700 hours’ flying experience, mostly accrued on paramotors – did not have a licence to fly, and the paramotor was unregistered. The pilot claimed he did not know of these requirements. He also did not have a relevant medical cert.
He had been a member of the British Handgliding and Paragliding Association (BHPA) until his membership lapsed in 2009. He held a BHPA Paragliding ‘Club Pilot’ rating, with ‘Power’, meaning he had completed theory and practical training at a BHPA-registered school.
Gardaí attended the accident scene, and two Inspectors of Air Accidents were deployed to west Kerry before an investigation began. Two witnesses were interviewed.
The pilot said he was unable to halt his descent, and by the time he noticed the cables, it was too late to avoid them.
In its final comments, the AAIU said wind on the day was light and unlikely to have been a major factor.
The Unit added that wire and cable strikes have caused numerous aviation accidents, often with fatal consequences. The pilot in this case only sustained minor injuries.
“Many of the rules, regulations and safety information which apply to aircraft also apply to foot-launched powered aircraft,” the report stated.
The Unit did not outline any safety recommendations.