Call for new safety norms after second hang-gliding death in a month

A hang glider

A specialist hang-gliding association has called for tighter safety regulations to be introduced after a second foreign tourist died in the space of just over three weeks while practising the sport on Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands. David Ing reports

The latest victim was fatally injured in the early afternoon on 9 December when he crashed to the ground in a remote area near the popular southwest coast holiday resort of Adeje. A spokesperson for the island’s Emergencies and Security Coordination Centre (CECOES) said a helicopter was immediately sent to the area.

The man was found on the ground suffering from cardiac arrest and attempts were made to resuscitate him while he was being airlifted to the fire service heliport at Adeje. But soon after his arrival there, staff from the regional health emergencies service declared that he had died.

The technical committee for hang-gliding at the Canary Islands’ Aeronautics Federation said new measures needed to be taken to prevent further accidents among foreign tourists.

A recent national hang-gliding competition had been held there without any incidents, said the committee’s chairman, Sergio Castañeda. But, he added: “Not all tourists are capacitated for flying in the islands owing to their lack of knowledge both of the area and its type of winds.”

He suggested they should be restricted to gliding in ‘limited flight areas’ as was already being carried out in the district of Güímar on the nearby south east coast of Tenerife. Previous moves had been made to get tighter regulations approved by the island government but although initially supported they had come to a standstill. “The matter needs to be taken up again,” he added.

In the previous crash, in mid-November, a 60-year-old Frenchman was a victim in the same Adeje district after coming down in a remote ravine known as the Barranco del Colorado. He too had to be airlifted out by helicopter and died in an ambulance while en route from the heliport to a hospital.