A third suffered a broken leg; his aircraft was
A fourth was unharmed but left dangling
above the ground in the harness of his Eagle
ultralight. This was Rob Kells, whose story I
told a couple of years ago, titled “There Is No
Such Thing as Luck,” in EAA’s Sport Pilot magazine. Rob, the president of Wills Wing Hang
Gliders at the time, had not flown into the lines
but had drifted into them under the canopy of a
BRS parachute he had just deployed experimentally. He cut his way through the harness
and dropped lightly to the ground, to a smattering of applause from fellow pilots who had
gathered to watch the BRS deployment. The
aircraft was totally destroyed.
The fact is that wires are
invisible most of the time.
There is something creepy
about the way they can hide
against almost any backdrop,
waiting to snare you.
The fifth pilot was killed outright when the
ultralight he was flying crossed a set of power
lines too low and he took one across the chest. He
had been flying parallel with a much higher and
more noticeable set of power lines, and may have
thought he was safe because he had them in sight.
We’ll never know, of course. Predictably, because
the pilot was over 50, another pilot from our hangar assumed that the victim must have had a heart
attack an instant before the wire strike. “He was
dead before he hit the wires,” he said. Predictable
because many people have a hard time imagining
that pilots who flew into wires did so for any reason other than just plain not seeing them. It
stretches credulity to think that those 20 or so
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TS- 83 module.