Bend paraglider pilot killed in Pine Mtn. crash

DCSO says he became separated from wing

Bend paraglider pilot dies at Pine Mountain

MILLICAN, Ore. - (Update: Adding video, paraglider pilot comments)

A Bend man described as an experienced paraglider pilot was killed Thursday evening when he became separated from his paraglider wing in mid-air and fell about 200 feet on the northwest side of Pine Mountain, officials said.

Deschutes County 911 got a call shortly before 7 p.m. reporting the accident, sheriff's Sgt. Kent Vander Kamp said early Friday.

Deputies, U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement, Bend Fire Department paramedics, an AirLink ambulance and Sheriff's Search and Rescue volunteers went to the scene, located in the Millican area of eastern Deschutes County, about 25 miles east of Bend, Vander Kamp said.

First responders arrived to find citizen bystanders and fellow paraglider pilots trying to resuscitate the injured pilot on the slope of the mountain, about 250 meters from the peak, the official said.

But the paraglider pilot, later identified as Matthew Hans-Joachim Richter of Bend, died of his injuries at the crash scene.

"Richter was described as an experienced paraglider (pilot), with many years of flying experience," Vander Kamp said in a news release.

The sergeant described the paraglider wing, or canopy, Richter was flying as a lightweight, motor-less and free-flying craft, launched on foot, with no rigid frame or structure.

"According to witness accounts, Mr. Richter was only airborne for 10-15 seconds before separating from the wing and falling to the ground," Vander Kamp said.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, with the assistance of the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

News Channel 21 spoke Friday with Steven Carter, a paragliding pilot from the Rogue Valley Paragliding Association in Medford, about the steps people should take before paragliding. 

"The preflight checklist begins with looking at the weather conditions and what they'll likely be a launch time and during your flight, especially when you're landing," Carter said.

"Oftentimes, there are conditions that are safe to launch in," he said. "But by the time you land, or at the site where you intend to land, they might not be safe for a pilot with your skill set and experience. Once you've decided to fly and have gotten to the land site, you assess to make sure the predictions are indeed what seems to be developing." 

The preflight checklist ensures that weather conditions, the pilot and the equipment and gear are all conducive and safe to fly, Carter said. 

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