‘Pilot error’ blamed for death of hang gliding passenger

A harness was not fastened before the take-off of a tandem hang glider resulting in the tragic death of passenger Lenami Godinez-Avila.

A young woman who fell to her death during her first tandem hang-gliding flight was not hooked into the glider before take-off, according to an investigation by the Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association of Canada.

Lenami Godinez-Avila, 27, fell 1,000 feet to her death on April 28 shortly after take-off from the launch site at Mt. Woodside near Agassiz.

Pilot William (Jon) Orders landed safely, but was charged with obstruction of justice when police learned he swallowed a video chip from a camera onboard the glider that recorded the tragic flight.

Orders is scheduled to return to court for trial on April 15 next year.

Margit Nance, HPAC executive director, told The Progress that the investigator’s report deals only with the pre-flight actions of Orders, and has nothing to do with the post-flight period that is the subject of the obstruction charge.

She said the association will soon release recommendations on “what additional things (pilots) can do to strengthen our pre-flight checks.”

She said new safeguards are already in place, but added that hang-gliding pilots usually follow a checklist and double-check each other before a flight.

“We rely on each other as additional safeguards,” she explained.

One of the findings of HPAC accident investigator Martin Henry was that a second pilot was on the scene, which may have created “distractions” that led to the failure to hook Godinez-Avila into the glider.

“The investigation assumes that pilot distraction resulted in a failure to perform recommended standardized safety procedures,” Henry reported.

However, he added, the “unusual aspect” of a second pilot on the scene “makes if difficult to understand how the multiple phases of the pre-flight (were) missed by both pilots, and how the hang-check was not performed.”

According to witnesses at the time, Godinez-Avila clung desperately to Orders’ legs after she slipped out of the harness on take-off, but finally could hang on no longer and fell to her death.

According to the HPAC report, Shaun Wallace, a certified pilot from Australia, had been hired by Orders to take Godinez-Avila’s boyfriend on a tandem flight following Orders’ take-off.

Wallace took part in several pre-flight actions involving Godinez-Avila, Henry wrote in the report, including bringing her to Orders’ hang-glider, activating the video camera, and “remaining directly behind the glider during the launch process.”

However, Henry added that as command pilot, Orders was “solely responsible for the safety of his passenger.”

Henry wrote that his investigation was “unable to determine the reason for the omission of the critical pre-launch safety checks,” but he concluded that “the dynamics of multiple passengers and instructors may be the key to understanding why the critical pre-launch procedures were not performed.”

Just a few weeks prior to the fatal flight, Orders, 50, had taken a re-certification course that included the pre-launch readiness procedure.

Just Posted

Council approved rezoning for Eddy at the Bridge development

Public hearing on Dec. 3 saw host of speakers both for and against the commercial development

What can $4 million get you in real estate in Chilliwack vs. other places in B.C.?

A 78-acre property with a large house – or you could get a condo in Vancouver or an estate mansion in 100 Mile House

Widespread concerns spur UFV to halt international enrolment growth

New target hopes to limit international students to 20% of all enrolment to give time to ‘catch up’

LETTER: Public safety ‘first and foremost consideration,’ says parole board

Board responding to article about Chilliwack halfway house

Lights Tour 2019 takes everyone on a sparkly ride across Chilliwack

The annual list of addresses compiled by CADREB for the 2019 Tour of Homes is almost ready

VIDEO: Boys help rescue Cariboo bear cub

The cub, weighing just 24lbs, has been taken to wildlife sanctuary in Northwest B.C. for the winter

Owners of hotels on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside fight $1 expropriation in court

Vancouver City Council voted to expropriate the properties for $1 each in November

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Bear raids freezer, gorges on Island family’s Christmas baking

Hungry bruin virtually ignored meat and fish, focused, instead, on the sweets

B.C. pharmaceutical company’s stocks double in value after successful lupus drug trial

More than 40 per cent of patients using voclosporin saw improvements in kidney function

Second warning on romaine lettuce from California region as another E. coli case reported

Two cases of E. coli have been reported in relation to the illness in the U.S.

Braille signs coming to TransLink bus stops in 2020

Transit authority says it’s the first to do so in Canada and the United States

CUPE issues 72-hour strike notice for SkyTrain

Local 7000 release states ‘parties are still bargaining’, union will have job action plan by Saturday

Abbotsford man was ‘unintended victim’ of 2018 fatal shooting, police say

Jagvir Malhi, 19, was gunned down while on his way to university

Most Read