An advanced hang glider pilot who fell 30m and nearly crashed into power lines said a silly mistake nearly cost him his life.
Christchurch labourer Reece Fisher, 25, broke his femur, collarbone and two rear ribs after the hang glider he was flying hit the ground and slid along a paddock at 35km/h.
Mr Fisher was one of seven advanced hang glider pilots who launched off a hill above the Living Springs Camp and Conference Centre on Bamfords Rd, Allandale, on Friday afternoon.
The group was making the most of the "exceptional weather conditions'' before finishing in their main landing paddock on Gebbies Pass Rd, Teddington.
But before the flight, Mr Fisher said he noticed that the variable geometry cord, which allows the pilot to adjust wing performance and handling while flying, was tangled around the wheel.
"It had happened before but it had sorted itself out. I should've checked it thoroughly before I had taken off. It was a silly mistake that could've killed me. It was scary. I am lucky to be alive,'' he said from his Christchurch Hospital bed yesterday.
Mr Fisher said he was in the air for more than an hour before he struck trouble - five minutes before he crash landed.
"It was a really nice, smooth flight. I decided to pull on the cord to try and untangle it. It got harder and harder to turn the hang glider into the wind. I couldn't untangle the rope so I gave up.
"I made my last turn and tried to steer away from power lines but a gust of wind changed my direction and I was heading straight for them. I was focused on trying to land safely.
"I don't remember a lot when I hit the ground. I was told afterwards I was going in and out of consciousness.
"It will take at least six weeks before I am mobile again. I won't be flying again for a while.
"Surfing is definitely on the cards as soon as I have recovered,'' he said.
Canterbury Hang Gliding and Paragliding Club advanced pilot and instructor Dan Campbell saw Mr Fisher crash.
"He was so low to the ground. He got turned to the right by a gust of wind then he corrected. His left wing dropped and he spun into the ground. He didn't have time to recover. I thought he was dead,'' he said.
Mr Campbell said Mr Fisher had lost his helmet during the accident which was found several metres away from where he had crashed.
"We weren't sure if he had sustained a head injury. We thought that given the impact of the accident he might of so we called the Westpac Rescue Helicopter which took him to Christchurch Hospital,'' he said.
Mr Campbell said the close-knit hang gliding community was shocked.
"When one of our hang gliders has an accident, it impacts on all of us. It is an incredibly safe sport. This was a purely unfortunate accident. '' he said.
Hang gliding safety officer Cris Lawry said the accident was unusual and quite rare.
"You usually have a few hard landings but nothing this serious. An internal investigation will be conducted into the cause of the accident,'' he said.