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View Full Version : Paraglider sucked to 32,000 feet by thunderstorm, survives



insure ants
02-17-2007, 12:47
All I can say is, wow.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/02/16/wpara116.xml/

A champion paraglider described today her terror at being flung to a height greater than Mount Everest by a tornado-like thunderstorm in Australia.

Paraglider survives being flung to the height of Mount Everest in a storm
Wisnerska rated her chances of survival as "almost zero."

Ewa Wisnerska, 35, was sucked so high that she blacked out and became encased in ice.

“You can’t imagine the power. You feel like nothing, like a leaf from a tree going up,” she told Australian radio.

Wisnerska, from Germany, was preparing for the 10th World Paragliding Championships above the town of Manilla in New South Wales when the storm struck on Wednesday.

With terrifying speed she was whisked from 2,500 ft to an estimated 32,000 ft in about 15 minutes.

A 42-year-old Chinese paraglider, He Zhongpin, was also caught in the storm and died, apparently from a lack of oxygen and extreme cold.

His body was found nearly 50 miles from where he had taken off. Wisnerska said she encountered hailstones the size of oranges as the temperature dropped to minus 58 degrees fahrenheit.

“I was shaking all the time. The last thing I remember it was dark. I could hear lightning all around me,” she said.

Her ordeal was recorded by global positioning and a radio attached to her equipment.

When her desperate attempts to skirt the powerful thunderstorm failed, she concluded that her chances of survival were “almost zero.” “I said, 'I can’t do anything. It’s raining and hailing and I’m still climbing — I’m lost.”’

The paragliding 2005 World Cup winner lost consciousness for more than 30 minutes while her aircraft flew on uncontrolled, sinking and lifting several times.

“There’s no oxygen. She could have suffered brain damage. But she came to again at a height of 6,900 metres with ice all over her body and slowly descended herself,” said Godfrey Wenness, the event organizer and one of Australia’s most experienced paraglider pilots.

After regaining consciousness, she felt like an astronaut returning from the Moon as the ground loomed beneath her. “I could see the Earth coming — wow, like Apollo 13 — I can see the Earth,” she said.

Wisnerska landed safely 40 miles from her original launch site with ice in her lightweight flying suit and frost bite to her face.

She spent just an hour in a hospital for observation and hopes to compete in biennial championships which begin on February 24.

Earlier this month a British paraglider survived an attack by two large eagles while flying in the same area.

Footslogger
02-17-2007, 12:58
Not sure I'm buying the 32,000 foot part of the story ...

'Slogger

Crazy Larry #1
02-17-2007, 13:05
All I can say is that God must have another plan for her before she goes home................there are so many stories out there of people surviving when they should have not...................

hammock engineer
02-17-2007, 13:07
Didn't the doctor on the Everest beyond the limit show say that if they took someone from sea level and put them on top of Everest without aclimating to the altitude or oxegyen, then they would be dead in 15 minute. Kind of hard to believe this one.

greentick
02-17-2007, 13:31
...Her ordeal was recorded by global positioning and a radio attached to her equipment...


All I can say is that God must have another plan for her before she goes home.....

Halleluah, amen!

Touch of Grey
02-17-2007, 13:54
Ahemmmm....Bu@@$%#^ !!!

First of all who in their right mind knowing a storm is coming, and I do believe that they did do their homework beforehand to check the weather as any good pilot would do, would take off firts of all.

Second, 15 minutes to get that high...a climb rate of 2000 feet per minute... she should have had control of her craft and been able to leave the vortex which precipitated her climb in the first place.

Third as pointed out, there are physiological/physical controls in the human body which would preclude this being possible and still live after the fact. This is obvious by the one who did not live and was found 50 miles away.

I still say Bu@@$%#^ !!!

TOG

Frolicking Dinosaurs
02-17-2007, 13:57
Hard to believe, but she was a competition-level athlete who was somewhat accustomed to rapid changes in altitude. As TOW says, if this actually happened, it wasn't her time to go.

insure ants
02-17-2007, 15:12
... she should have had control of her craft and been able to leave the vortex which precipitated her climb in the first place.

Really? Try reading the article.

“You can’t imagine the power. You feel like nothing, like a leaf from a tree going up,” she told Australian radio.

When her desperate attempts to skirt the powerful thunderstorm failed, she concluded that her chances of survival were “almost zero.” “I said, 'I can’t do anything. It’s raining and hailing and I’m still climbing — I’m lost.”’

4eyedbuzzard
02-17-2007, 15:33
Sounds pretty wild but believable.

Onset of hypoxia-induced unconsciousness varies depending on the altitude:
Altitude (feet)Moderate ActivitySitting quietly22,0005 minutes10 minutes25,0002 minutes3 minutes30,00045 seconds75 seconds40,00018 seconds30 seconds


http://www.answers.com/topic/cabin-pressurization

4eyedbuzzard
02-17-2007, 15:37
(Table didn't post properly)
Hypoxia based upon altitude

Altitude (feet) - Moderate Activity - Sitting quietly

22,000 feet 5 minutes 10 minutes
25,000 feet 2 minutes 3 minutes
30,000 feet 45 seconds 75 seconds
40,000 feet 18 seconds 30 seconds

generoll
02-17-2007, 16:26
I'm not sure of your sources for that table, but hypoxia and passing out are two separate events. I used to fly sailplanes back before child rearing took away all my toys and I flew to 20,000 feet without oxygen over Mt Mitchell and never passed out. I was at altitude for quite awhile and tried to check myself for hypoxia by doing simple arithmetic problems. I'm not sure how unconciousness would manifest itself, but I never felt the slightest bit woozy.

The power of a thunderstorm has to be experienced to be appreciated and although I never flew hang-gliders I have found myself on the edge of thunderstorms ( I got away as quickly as possible even when it meant landing in a farmers field) and her story rings true to me. Wasn't her altitude recorded by GPS? I suspect that she was very fortunate, not untruthful. The fatality mentioned would seem to indicate that the circumstances were as described.

insure ants
02-17-2007, 20:00
Apparently the thunderstorm developed suddenly. Here's an article with more detail about the weather conditions at the time.

http://www.aero-news.net/index.cfm?ContentBlockID=0692c68d-556a-44d9-9ea2-628241ee04df&

dperry
02-18-2007, 23:21
Didn't the doctor on the Everest beyond the limit show say that if they took someone from sea level and put them on top of Everest without aclimating to the altitude or oxegyen, then they would be dead in 15 minute. Kind of hard to believe this one.

Couple of possibilities (I'm not an expert, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night!;))

a. The article notes that the glider rose and fell several times. Therefore, she may not have been at high altitude the entire time she was unconscious.
b. Being so cold may have slowed her metabolism and reduced her body's oxygen needs.

Still, she is very fortunate. Similar things have happened to pilots who have had to eject into the middle of storms. Few survive the experience.

Rain Man
02-19-2007, 00:40
And WHY is this garbage posted on an Appalachian Trail web site in the first place?

If we're all gonna posted extraneous stuff, then WhiteBlaze is gonna go downhill FAST.

Rain Man

.

Fannypack
02-19-2007, 07:55
Apparently the thunderstorm developed suddenly. Here's an article with more detail about the weather conditions at the time.

http://www.aero-news.net/index.cfm?ContentBlockID=0692c68d-556a-44d9-9ea2-628241ee04df&
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/02/17/wparag17.xml

ed bell
02-19-2007, 09:56
And WHY is this garbage posted on an Appalachian Trail web site in the first place?

If we're all gonna posted extraneous stuff, then WhiteBlaze is gonna go downhill FAST.

Rain Man

.It's just been submitted to the wrong forum. Why get so worked up about it? I thought it was an incredible story.

hpowers
02-19-2007, 13:16
I am just as amazed by the guy who survived the attack by the eagles.