24.9°C 03:00 pm

Paraglider dies in Outback

Monday, 10th December, 2018

Pierre Naville Pierre Naville

By Michael Murphy

A French paraglider attempting to break a world distance record was found dead near Ivanhoe yesterday after being reported missing the night before.

A group of about 11 people, mostly from France, travelled to Emmdale Roadhouse about 100km east of Wilcannia on Friday, gearing up for their air excursion to Booligal, about 300 kilometres south of Emmdale.

“They were all lovely,” said roadhouse owner Virginia Beard. “I didn’t expect them to come back for dinner, and then they stayed the night as they wanted to lie in their swags under the stars.”

They rose on Saturday morning, had breakfast at the popular outback diner, and then travelled about 10 kilometres up the road in two support vehicles to get ready for their world record distance attempt, she said.

“They were lovely guys ... I don’t know if they would be used to our heat,” Virginia said.

She believed among the team was a woman, who was a world champion in the competitive adventure sport. Paragliders are lightweight, free-flying, foot-launched glider aircraft with no rigid primary structure. The pilot sits in a harness suspended below a fabric wing.

Alarm was raised about 10.30pm on Saturday after Peirre Naville, aged 67, did not arrive at his destination.

The rest of the group lost communication with Mr Naville a few hours earlier. His GPS tracker also went dead.

It was believed that Mr Naville had two to three litres of water with him for the trip.

Police set up a command post in Ivanhoe overnight, and conducted a small search of the area.

Early yesterday morning as the temperature rose, three aircraft arrived on site: a search helicopter from Melbourne, and two planes, one from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, the other from the NSW Police Air Wing in Sydney.

They searched a radius of about 60 kilometres around Ivanhoe, around the last reading from Mr Naville’s GPS.

They spotted the crash site yesterday afternoon - 20 kilometres North of Ivanhoe - but police had to deploy a land crew to investigate because of the rugged terrain in the area.

Mr Naville’s body was located just before 3pm.

A report will be prepared for the coroner.

The group had only arrived in Australia early last week. Mr Naville’s next of kin was notified yesterday.

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