Gliders crash over Yerong Creek

A mid-air crash between two racing gliders near Wagga has resulted in two men being taken to hospital with minor injuries on Saturday afternoon.

The men, a 34-year-old German and a 54-year-old from Tanby in Queensland, were taking part in a World Glider Championships event when they crashed at an altitude of 5000 feet.

Both men jumped out of their gliders and parachuted to the ground near Yerong Creek.

The German man fractured his ankle on landing and the Australian sustained minor back injuries.

Both men were flown to Canberra Hospital by the Snowy Hydro Southcare helicopter and were expected to be released on Sunday.

Sean Young, from the Gliding Club of Victoria, said glider crashes were a “rare occurrence”.

“(They’re rare) considering the thousands of launches and landings we have – and the safety procedures in place,” Mr Young said.

“This is why they wear parachutes though, just in case.”

Yerong Creek man Justin Willis was running late to meet a friend in town when he came across the Australian pilot staggering along the road.

"He'd pulled the German bloke into the shade and was going to find help," Mr Willis said.

"I called Triple-0 and everyone arrived - cops, ambos and firies.

"Any earlier and I'd have nearly seen them land."

The two gliders came down in a paddock, leaving debris all around them. The Australian's left wing was sheared off completely and the tail was snapped off.

"He didn't land far from where the glider landed - maybe 200-300 metres," Mr Willis said.

"The German was about a kilometre away as the crow flies.

"He was pretty battered and bruised, the (pilot's) family and a couple of mates are pretty shocked and relieved and they're cleaning up, gathering bits and pieces and trying to pinpoint what happened."

The championships, which are based at Benalla in Victoria this year, are held every two years and are akin to yacht races, Mr Young said. A triangular course is laid out and the pilots race from point to point. Courses can be between 300 and 700 kilometres long and the two gliders were on their way to Narromine when they crashed.

The matter will now be investigated by the Air Safety Bureau.


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