Deesiders parachute to safety after gliders collide

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A father has told how he and his 12-year-old son cheated death after two gliders collided at 4000 feet above Deeside.

Robert Tait (44), chairman of the Highland Gliding Club, had taken to the air in a two-man craft on Monday of last week, September 1, as part of the Deeside Gliding Club’s UK Mountain Soaring Championship.

His glider crashed into another club member’s aircraft and both were sent tumbling towards the earth.

Robert and his son had to deploy their parachutes before the glider smashed into farmland about five miles from the airstrip in Aboyne.

The other pilot managed to guide his stricken aircraft back to the clubhouse.

Robert, who was hospitalised after suffering minor injuries on the parachute fall, said the pair were “extremely lucky.”

He said: “It was a close call but luckily all the training we do has paid off.

‘‘Once we realised we were going down and had to get out there was nothing more to it.’’

A probe has now been launched by the British Gliding Association to determine how the engine-free aircraft came so close.

Robert added: “When incidents like these occur it can give the sport a bad name, but I’d like to say that gliding isn’t risky.

“In the 30 odd years I’ve been doing it, I’ve never met anyone who has had to use their parachute.

A spokesman for the Deeside Gliding Club said: “Investiagtions are under way and the Deeside Gliding Club will co-operate fully with these.”

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Two gliders were involved in a mid-air collision on September 1 at approximately 1.15pm.

“As a result of this, one person was taken to hospital with minor injuries.’’