Catastrophic Hangpont Failure causes instant Death
Type of Injury:
Highest rating held at the time of the incident:
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Paramotor Frame: Falcon 4 stroke 250 lbs with
June 5, 2019
Location of the incident: ,
Type of Incident:
Narrative by PPG pilot Bob Harrison
61 year old Tony Littell passed away in a PPG accident on the 18th morning of May 2019, in Arcadia, FL.
Tony received initial PPG instruction from a USPPA instructor but decided to essentially self train before he had soloed.
Accident information was collected by PPG pilot Bob Harrison who talked with a local PPG pilot who arrived minutes after the accident. The local PPG pilot also flew that day in the same area without knowledge of Tony’s flight. He knew of but had never flown with Tony. Bob also collected information from a non-PPG pilot who was an eyewitness to the accident and first on scene. Here is a preliminary report and likely the only one we’ll get.
Tony was flying straight and level between 200-300 feet AGL when the left side of the paraglider let go completely. This initiated a high speed vertical descent as noted in the picture showing heavy left side impact damage compared to minimal damage on the right. This supports a rapid descent corroborating the left side of the paraglider released. I believe the power lines were missed. With only a few seconds before ground impact, Tony removed his reserve and started a toss. You can identify in the picture the reserve separate from the paraglider. The PPG pilot that arrived on scene minutes after the accident mentioned the reserve container was about twenty feet away from the paramotor.
I received a comment from a USPPA instructor who flies a similar unit that he mentioned to Tony, over a year ago, that the CG weld was rough and causing excessive wear on the riser. Another USPPA instructor who flies a similar unit says he found no wear after checking four other wings that had been flown extensively with his unit. Therefore we believe the area causing abrasion had been repaired. It was also known that Tony learned to weld and his machine had needed a few repairs since he began flying. We also believe Tony had recently ordered new risers.
The equipment was impounded by the local Sheriff department and the FAA was contacted for inspection. The FAA said they were not sending anyone to inspect. Instead requesting specific photos to be taken. The sheriff department would not let anyone other than family retrieve or view the equipment. The photos were given only to the FAA and NTSB Safety Investigator. We were unable to obtain permission to inspect the equipment or review the accident photos. For this reason the cause cannot be narrowed further. The equipment was impounded and destroyed at the insistence of the family.
I feel confident if the unit is maintained in its purchased configuration it is a safe PPG.
Things we did not get to visually inspect. 1) Paraglider lines A/B/C/D 2) Riser maillons 3) Riser 4) Carabiner or Turnbuckle 5) Carabiner attached point 6) Paraglider connection point 7) Weld point 8) Reserve lines 9) Reserve riser 10) Reserve attach point.
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