Paraglider Sucked Into Sky By 'Dust Tornado' And Survives
“Get the f**k away from the mountain, just get the f**k away from the mountain!"
That was all Leanne Vibe was thinking as she watched in horror as her husband Rick Brezina got sucked up into the air by a freak 'dust devil' that raced through a launch area where numerous paragliders were preparing to take off.
Dust and debris is whipped up as the other paragliders rush to secure their parachutes, but Brezina's was sucked up by the wind and he was carried high into the sky.
“All I kept thinking was I didn’t want to lose him, and of course I was very scared,” Vibe said.
Video of the terrifying ordeal, filmed at Manilla near Tamworth in NSW, has gone viral. As her experienced paraglider husband is flung around uncontrollably in the air, Vibe can be heard screaming "I’ll never fly again".
However, she told 10 News First she and her husband -- an adventure couple from Canada who are holidaying in Australia -- just had to get “straight back on to the horse" and get back to the sport they love.
"It’s part of our life," Vibe said.
In fact, Brezina kept flying for almost 200km from that frightening launch at
Manilla, on to Moree. His feat brought high praise and admiration from fellow pilots around the country.
“It was totally amazing that Rick was not only able to show such composure during the takeoff, but then to fly for another 200 kilometres, he’s a freak,” said paraglider pilot James Mills.
“If it were any other pilot, the outcome might have been tragic. He did an incredible job just to keep his cool and fly out of it” said Godfrey Wenness, chief flying instructor for Manilla Paragliding.
The Canadian adventure couple were back in the air on Friday, and admitted valuable lessons were learned from their very close call.
“I was a bit embarrassed to get caught with my pants down on the launch like that,” Brezina said.
“Mistakes were made and I’ll be definitely putting in some safety measures so it can’t happen again."
"I hope other pilots can also learn from my mistakes."