Mid Air Crash on Tandem Paraglider

Mid Air Crash on Tandem Paraglider.

Full Video to follow soon, who is to blame?

You decide.

To Close - Blue Pilot not looking ?
Stalled hand position
I zoomed in here and cropped the best I can. I see pilot not even looking at tandem

METIS with a GoPro camera in flight!

Sit back and enjoy the video and make your own judgement what you would have done to avoid this mid air.

Comments welcome.

P.S Tandem Gradient for sale click here.


22 thoughts on “Mid Air Crash on Tandem Paraglider

  1. Please put your comments up for others to view and express your thoughts.

    At the moment I am on the understanding the Tandem Pilot is actually flying the Tandem Metis Sky glider glider.

    It could be the passenger is flying the tandem, this is unclear to me at this moment in time.

    The incident happen at Couraduque, Aucun, French Pyrenees on a Tandem METIS Sky glider.

    No one was injured this time around.

    I am not looking to attach blame to any pilot but more interested in how these incidents can be avoided in the future.

    1. 1. At beginning of video tandem is with ridge on right, close to the ridge. It looks like everybody is ridge soaring.
      2. Tandem makes slow left turn and points almost directly at solo pilot who has ridge right.
      3. I don’t think the tandem was far enough from the hill to complete a safe 360 so it still appears that everybody is ridge soaring at this point.
      4. At 0:27 you can see the solo pilot take strong action with his left hand to begin a turn out of the path of the tandem.

      If you’re looking for a solution to avoid future conflict I would suggest that when you make a left turn at the end of your ridge run and are now ridge left – you don’t fly directly at the people still coming toward you with their ridge right. Yeah, the tandem is sort of ‘to the right’ of the two converging pilots but that is only because he just turned 180 and put himself on a converging path with the solo.
      Ridge rules take precedence.
      Of course, a general rule of avoid others takes precedence over all other rules but why have ridge rules if you don’t follow them?

  2. Ron

    It’s the old rule. Both are to blame as the rule says it is the duty of ALL pilots to avoid collision. Can’t see the video as I have only dial up speed. Takes too long to see. Solo pilot can be wrong, but so can tandem pilot for not anticipating other gliders in the air. A collision does not happen “just like that” at the snap of a finger. Both pilots must “see and avoid”.

    1. Dave Bailey

      At first I thought what Ron wrote. However there was nowhere the tandem could go. I’m guessing the solo “pilot” had no experience at all as he appeared to take no avoiding action at all, as if he’d either forgotten how to steer or the collision came upon him so quickly he just froze!
      The only option available to the tandem would have been to turn sharply and fly at the hill, but the risk with that (apart from hitting the hill…) would be the solo pilot might have come to his senses and taken the correct avoiding action by turning to pass on the right.
      I’d have probably done what the tandem did… but shouted somewhat more.

  3. Thanks Rob. Interesting debate. The solo pilot not making much effort to look or indeed acknowledge he was about to then had a mid air.

    When you look back at the footage the solo pilot is on a straight collision course from quite early on 0:19 (or even before then) you can see him. He does not change or alter his course at all. The tandem pilot has assumed the solo pilot would take the same course as he did maybe which would have taken the solo pilot to his right and behind the tandem, but then doesn’t.

    However by 0:24 there is no action being taken by the solo pilot so the tandem pilot has to do something before 0:28 to avoid the collision. Technically both must turn right but even one of them doing this may have prevented it. It’s a difficult one to judge as we are talking seconds and maybe the action he took to slow the tandem down saved their lives. It does show how quick the situation develops and trying to pre-empt what everyone is doing whilst staying up is always a challenge when we fly in very close proximity to each other.

    What I find when flying with others is you get to know the pilots and styles which makes life easier. In that case I am more comfortable flying with those others. I tend to avoid busy days now or find my own bit of the hill when I don’t know the pilots concerned or indeed try to go XC. Watching them for a bit and choosing who to avoid is another method but basically waiting until it clears a bit especially if its scratchy.

    Great debate.

  4. Dean

    Ron is right in saying that it is the responsibility of all pilots to avoid a collision but I would direct more of the blame towards the tandem pilot for not making provisions for the solo to pass safely. The position of the solo pilots arms aren’t really relevant as he would have had plenty of forward vision to see what was approaching plus it seems that ‘he’ would have side vision as well if the head was turned. Bit of an arse for not initiating any amount of break left though. Both in the wrong and both not willing to concede the tight lift band.

  5. I don’t think that you can put the blame squarely on either pilot imo. The tandem pilot looked like he was starting to thermal and didn’t show any sign of relaxing the left turn until after the pilot on the ridge started to turn left to avoid him. The solo pilot obviously wasn’t expecting the tandem to straighten up, he was expecting him to continue the left turn (thermal?) and that is why he left the ridge to give space for the tandem. He should have seen that the tandem was straightening up and increased his turn rate to take avoiding action. The tandem was almost too cool, didn’t look like he tried to do much in the way of avoiding action, but I have never flown a tandem so maybe that is as fast as they can turn.


  6. Carole Sherrington

    This is difficult to call. Firstly it was a bit of a melée with gliders flying along the ridge and at right angles to it. It looked to me as though the tandem turned left to avoid a conflict with the orange glider seen at 0:11. Throughout the turn, the tandem was to the right of the solo blue glider so, if a conflict were to develop, the blue solo glider would have to give way. I think the solo glider showed a lack of appreciation that this could happen, so that when it did, he had maybe 6 seconds to react. Maybe the blue solo was concentrating on another glider, perhaps the orange solo that was a more obvious conflict.

    Carole Sherrington

  7. Andrew Craig

    From 0.22 the solo should be turning right (as far as possible withoug hitting the ridge) and the tandem should also be turning right, to avoid any possibility of conflict. It would be polite of the solo to let the tandem go on thermalling in a left-handed turn — but the tandem should not assume that that would happen.

    1. James

      I don’t think the tandem is trying to thermal. And if he is an %%!%!%! trying to do that right in the lift band when several other pilots are soaring. It may be annoxing but if there is too much traffic on a ridge then 360s are not allowed in the lift band.

  8. Andy Eeles

    1. The solo pilot was on the right and in this case right hand rule applies-he really has right of way- the tandem also had the ridge to its left
    2. The solo pilot was n’t looking and was unaware of his spatial postion -massive error
    3. Tandem pilot left it too late to break right and probably could only shout, slow down and/or take avoiding action.
    4. Tandem pilot failed to think ahead and effectively limited his/her escape options by continuing to close in

    Finally, is n’t it always surprising and sobering how quickly these dangerous situations can arise-then translate it back to our flying on busy southern sites!

  9. There is another solo pilot flying parallel but a bit higher than the tandem (in the same direction). The crashing solo pilot was in a bad situation. By avoiding hitting the other solo he had to cross the flight path of the tandem. A close encounter. He could have steered a little bit more to the right, closer to the ridge, but I know many pilots who would feel that’s pretty close already.
    I think the other solo pilot should have flown right behind the tandem to give the solo pilot at the ridge his right of way.

  10. OK it’s starts with both pilots having the ridge on the right, but it’s a shame we can’t see the tandem pilots head to see if he actually looked before turning left. As a lot of people have said it is the responsiblity of both pilots to avoid a collision, if I’d been piloting the tandem, which isn’t as agile in the air, I think I might have waited and watched before turning in front of the the solo. OK the solo didn’t seem to do a lot to avoid a collision, but a wrong decision could have made it far worse. In a head on situation both pilots should turn right, tricky when that means flying into the hill for the tandem. Both pilots could have done better IMHO. I was surprised at their high closing speed.

    1. James

      I think the high closing speed is due to the wide angle lens. The solo wing really is closer than it looks initially. And the ridge seems to be on the left side for the tandem when the collision occurs.

  11. James

    The video is quite a bit distorted from the wide angle, which is also why the solo gliders seems to appear so fast! But it looks to me like the tandem pilot flew a left turn on the ridge. And started heading towards the solo glider, which was already quite close.
    The solo glider flies a bit far off the ridge indeed, but still he has the ridge on his right and likely assumes the tandem will avoid him, thus he flies on straight. And the tandem has the problem of beeing close to the ridge, so is seems he wants to squeeze through instead turning right (and more into the path of the solo glider).

    But the main mistake here is that the tandem pilot completes a turn to the left when another glider is in close pursuit and then does not keep to the right of the solo but tries to pass closer to the ridge, which is not good, as he creates this ambiguous situation by that. He should pass the solo glider at the outside, even when that means loosing the ridge lift because the solo if flying a bit too far away from the ridge.

    Conclusion: When making the left turn the tandem should have seen and avoided the approaching solo and kept flying away from the ridge till he is further out than the solo and then pass the solo on the outside.

    And yes, BOTH the tandem and the solo show no real evasion maneuver. If any one of them would have made a decisive move, the other pilot could have just turned away from that. But as both do nothing it happens then.
    And whether the solo looks away or not I cannot see on the low quality video. Technically it was the tandems turn to avoid and make the evasive maneuver. But relying on that is stupid as well of course.


    The pilot who was flying the tandem just didn’t look before he turned . If there is a crosswind situation and the solo glider is having the wind in back, he is approching with much more(ground) speed then the tandem is suspecting . This is a visual effect witch occures when you fly close near a landscape witch is standing stil like a rige .When you turn from wind in the back to slow wind in the front view , the aproaching pilot is comming verry fast with wind in the back,Speeddifference between the gliders (cross or not crosswind).about 75 km/h..Happens al the time at our dunes.

  13. Enders

    There’s a good chance the tandem passenger is in control, my french is no good but the reaction of the tandem pilot seems to be dishing out instructions?

  14. *disclaimer* I don’t have a particular high regard for tandem pilots. Why? Because of this kind of stuff. The solo pilot is flying with the ridge to his/her right. So has the right of way. It could very well be it was an inexperienced pilot who panicked with the little space left and decided to bail out. In any case the tandem pilot, who has the added responsibility of the life of his passenger, does little if anything to avoid the collision. Having flown in traffic I can attest that as a solo pilot you’re somehow expected to make way for (commercial) tandem pilots who see the place as theirs. I don’t care for their attitude.

  15. woates

    Neither person on the tandem shows much of a head check before the turn.

    Even if it is the passenger in control, this close to the ground and other wings the pilot should have his hands on/near the brake handles or lines.

    My ‘possible conflicting flight paths’ alarm goes off at loudly at 0:24 (and, as mentioned, objects do look further away due to the wide angle), yet by 0:26 the tandem has rolled out of the turn into the path of the solo.

    From 0:27-0:29 the pilot appears to either initiate a small left turn or start ‘flapping’ the wing with small brake-release motions (I don’t believe the brakes area anywhere near the stall position, and from the video it doesn’t look like that’s what he’s trying to do either – you can see the brake lines going up and down).

    I believe the collision was primarily due to the actions of the tandem pilot – and would have been merely a close call if he had either:
    – held the turn for another second or 15 degrees (wide-angle notwithstanding, I think there is room for that), or
    – used brakes to slow the glider down (instead of ‘flapping’). Just the pitch-back from a good strong brake action might have been enough to avoid the other wing.
    – turned right much earlier on.

    Like Dave, I also would have shouted more 🙂

    As has been mentioned, if the other pilot had turned left it all would have been easier BUT as a presumably experienced pilot AND a tandem pilot you have a double responsibility: not only to fly your passenger safely, but also to maintain adequate safety margins when flying with less experienced pilots.

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