Pilot involved in death of Irish coach conducted unsafe wing-over manoeuvres in paragliding fatality

NSRI rescue swimmers retrieved Greig Oliver’s, inset, body out of the ocean along the Sea Point Promenade.

NSRI rescue swimmers retrieved Greig Oliver’s, inset, body out of the ocean along the Sea Point Promenade.

Published Mar 28, 2024


Cape Town - Reckless and unsafe manoeuvres during a tandem paragliding collision in Sea Point likely caused the death of an Irish tourist last year. This was according to a report by the South African Civil Aviation Authority’s Accident and Incident Investigations Division (AIID).

Greig Oliver, 58, a former Scotland rugby player, died on July 3 last year in a tandem paragliding accident along the Sea Point Promenade.

CAPE TOWN 4/7/2023 Munster Elite Player Development Officer Greig Oliver Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ben Brady

At the time of his death, the Irish tourist was Munster Rugby’s elite performance officer and was visiting Cape Town to support his son’s participation in the World Rugby Under-20 Championship for Ireland.

The South African Hang-Gliding and Paragliding Association (Sahpa) requested the assistance of the AIID to conduct an investigation, which commenced on July 10 last year.

According to the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) at the time, it appeared that two tandem paragliders may have collided in the air above the Sea Point Promenade.

One tandem paraglider reportedly deployed a reserve parachute and was believed to have landed in the surf approximately 200 to 300m off-shore of Sea Point Promenade.

An inquest docket was opened by the police following the incident.

The flight instructor and Oliver, described as the student pilot in the report, took off from Signal Hill with the intention of landing at the Sea Point Promenade grass area in front of the Winchester Mansions Hotel.

According to the report, the probable cause of the accident was that the paraglider conducted manoeuvres which resulted in a collision with another paraglider. The flight instructor lost control of the paraglider and crashed into the ocean.

The paraglider flight instructor released himself from the paraglider seat harness and swam to the shoreline, sustaining minor injuries only.

Oliver, however, was trapped beneath the paraglider wing underwater and still harnessed to his seat, trapped between the rocks and unconscious.

The flight instructor had a 360 portable Go-Pro digital camera secured to a stick which had captured the take-off and events leading up to the accident.

The camera and memory card were confiscated by the police and made available to the investigator in charge for analysis.

Oliver was declared dead at the scene. In the video, the flight instructor was heard telling Oliver that he was going to perform some turns and that things were going to get quite crazy.

The paraglider was then observed performing “wing-over manoeuvres”.

The Duet Pro paraglider was also not designed to perform the acrobatic/ aerobatic manoeuvre.

Oliver appeared uncomfortable and screamed, “Jesus”.

The report stated that there was no evidence of Oliver being willing to undertake the acrobatic/aerobatic manoeuvres.

“There is no logical explanation as to why Paraglider 1 flight instructor switched from a normal flight and opted to perform aerobatic manoeuvres during an introduction flight.

Another concern was whether Oliver was a student pilot or if he was just taking a joy ride. The report stated that it should not be read as apportioning blame or liability to any organisations or an individual.

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