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Emma Martin

Peter Holloway writes:

I am just writing a few words to try to help people reconcile and
explain what happened to Emma last Saturday evening.

There have been reports in the press that suggest that that Emma was having a
problem with her glider or was in distress some time prior to her accident. In
other words that she knew she was in peril minutes prior.

Let me be very clear, this is totally and utterly false and has caused extreme
distress to Emma’s family and friends.

I am not suggesting that there was deliberate misrepresentation or falsification
of the facts, simply that the press articles were poorly written and poorly fact
checked. I would have hoped for better.

Here is what we know so far from the expert accident investigation.

Emma was competing in the Annual Forbes Flatlands International Hang Gliding
competition. This competition runs for 8 days and involves more that 60 world
class pilots from Australia and overseas. Emma was an advanced pilot and was
equal to this task.

The day in question was not a practice day but the second official competition
day. The competitor’s in Emma’s group were racing from Forbes airfield, 70 kms
north to Peak Hill airfield. Competitors launched by being towed aloft to 2000
feet by a fleet of special tug aircraft and then they used the invisible rising
warm air thermal currents to gain as much height as they could before gliding
towards their goal looking for another rising lift source on the way as they
slowly glided downwards.

In order to get to Peak Hill they would have been expecting to repeat this
climbing and gliding process several times over a period of 2-3 hours. All
competitors carry special parachutes and have sophisticated electronic equipment
with them to help them know when they find rising air and to navigate. They also
have radios to communicate with each other and people on the ground. The gliders
they fly are well tested and strong.

Emma was nearing the goal at Peak hill but probably needed one or two more good
thermals to get there. Unfortunately she was unable to locate the needed
thermals and correctly had chosen to land quite routinely in a farmers paddock.
The paddock she had selected was ideal, being large, relatively flat and with no
obstructions. She would have been aiming her glider into the prevailing breeze
(to give as low a landing speed as possible) as she had been taught. Emma was
meticulous in her landing approaches and always followed correct procedures.

She had radioed her intention to land just prior to another pilot high above and
had indicated that everything was fine. There was absolutely no indication that
she was in any difficulty (if she had been, she was trained to use and would
have used her special emergency parachute). There was no suggestion that she was
expecting anything other that a routine landing.

It would seem that Emma got into difficulty within the last few seconds of her
landing approach and within only a very few meters of the ground. It is presumed
that a strong random swirly gust of wind temporarily turned her glider away from
pointing into the prevailing wind and before she could turn it back into the
wind her glider impacted the ground facing down wind at a shallow angle but
unfortunately at a high speed. This has been determined from expert analysis of
Emma’s glider and examination of the crash site. Emma would have been
immediately rendered unconscious and would have felt no pain.

We are hoping the GPS data logger she was carrying will give some useful data
and allow us to see her speed and position over the last 3-6 seconds.

There are no known witnesses to the accident on the ground and no one on the
ground called emergency serviced prior to the accident.

The fellow pilot high above did not see the actual landing but within seconds of
the landing became concerned when he could not raise Emma on the radio and could
see the glider laying in an odd position. He immediately spiraled down, landed,
rushed to Emma and began first aid. He had been trained in emergency
resuscitation techniques. The emergency services were called immediately by this
same pilot with Emma. They were called a second time by an experienced ambulance
officer standing next to me at Forbes airport. Her location was known exactly as
she was carrying a “SPOT” (GPS) tracker and we could see her location on my

The accident investigation is on-going and will take a fair amount of time but
we would be very surprised if any of the basic details described above change.

If any of Emma’s family or friends want to talk further please FB message me and
I can give you my phone number.
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