SEDGEFIELD NEWS - A Norwegian student's paragliding flight in Sedgefield took a turn for the worse last week Wednesday 27 November when she had the misfortune of being caught in a tall tree for nearly seven hours.
Paragliding is undoubtedly one of the most popular activities one will find in Sedgefield, with it not being a normal day out in the Garden Route's Slow Town if you don't spot a paraglider in the sky above you.
With all of the trees scattered about the town's landscape, there is always the risk of a pilot getting stuck in a tree, something that isn't as rare as many would have you believe, according to Lucille Weyers, a paragliding instructor in Sedgefield.
"This kind of thing happens a lot more than people realise," she said, adding that this is because of the nature of the area and the number of people who fly that are still learning, but that they generally fly into smaller, lower trees that are easier to be rescued from. The Norwegian student, who declined to be named, wasn't quite so lucky.
The student, who is still in training and currently just past halfway to obtaining her paragliding licence, took off on her flight from Cloud 9 last week, with her instructor on the other end of the radio. Everything was going swimmingly until the woman started getting too close to the ridge, which is where trouble usually comes in for pilots.
"When you're flying you tend to become fixated on the very object you're trying to avoid, and actually end up flying right into it," Weyers explained.
Unfortunately for the pilot, she wasn't lucky enough to fly into a shorter, accessible tree, which made the rescue a lot harder. "Because the tree she got caught in was so high, it was really dangerous to get her out, even the helicopter couldn't."
The woman was stuck up in the tree for nearly seven hours before she was rescued by a tree climber that was able to get to the top and bring her down. According to Weyers, all the woman wanted to do was get back out in the skies again. "She was a bit rattled the next day, but all she wanted to do was fly again." Weyers confirmed that this is exactly what she has since been doing, steering clear of trees.
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