19 Jan 2012

Glider crash victim an experienced pilot, say police

4:18 pm on 19 January 2012

A glider pilot who crashed and died in Otago was experienced and competent and had recently returned from flying in the United States, police say.

Michael John McKellow (known as Joe), 60, of Hororata, was the sole occupant and participating in a private flight with a friend who was piloting another glider in the same area.

The crash happened on a mountain called Snowy Top, 10km northwest of Omarama airfield at 6.20pm on Wednesday.

Acting Inspector Jason McCoy says the glider appeared to lose altitude rapidly before crashing on a gentle slope on the western side of the peak.

The friend witnessed the crash and called emergency services.

Civil Aviation Authority investigators are due to arrive at the scene to investigate the crash on Thursday.

Weather permitting, the team will view the wreckage initially from the air, assess the site and speak with witnesses and others.

Police have referred the matter to the coroner.