AN Edinburgh director who died when his parachute failed to open may have been forced to jump from a lower height than normal because of thick cloud.
Former banking executive David Ball plunged to the ground at Strathallan Airfield, near Auchterarder in Perth and Kinross on Saturday.
It’s believed his main parachute failed to open and he may not have had time to deploy his reserve as he jumped from around 4000ft due to the plane being unable to climb higher due to poor visibility. In better conditions aircraft can climb to heights of up to 13,000ft.
The 56-year-old licensed pilot, who lived in Barnton with his hairdresser wife, had jumped from a Cessna aircraft operated by Strathallan Skydiving when it is believed his parachute malfunctioned. Tributes were today paid to “adrenaline junkie” Mr Ball, who drove a Porsche 911 sports car and had a passion for “helicopters, aviation and skydiving” and was described as “one of the nicest guys around”.
Living an “envious lifestyle”, he travelled around Europe to skydive at different locations and was said to have “lived every day as if it was his last”.
Described as “utterly brilliant” in his professional life, the former Stewart’s Melville College pupil, who later gained an MA in economics and accounting from the University of Edinburgh, worked for a range of financial institutions during his career including Bank of Scotland and Tesco Bank.
He was an experienced skydiver and is understood to have completed between 50 and 100 jumps. Further jumps at Strathallan have been suspended pending an inquiry into his death. Tayside Police are now investigating his death with the aid of officials from the British Parachute Association.
One friend of the tragic skydiver – who did not wish to be named – said that Mr Ball’s death had come as a “devastating blow”.
He said: “I’ve been stunned since hearing it was David. He was just one of the nicest guys around and a great friend to so many people. He was an adrenaline junkie and he loved his boy toys. But he wasn’t a risk-taker. He was very careful.
“He could fly fixed wing planes and helicopters and safety is key with pastimes like these. He would have carried his fastidious aircraft training over to his skydiving. There’s no way he would have left anything to chance. None of us can really figure out what’s happened. For his chute not to open at all, well, something has clearly gone seriously wrong.”
The friend said David was a respected high-flier who “worked hard and played hard”. He added: “In his work he was formidable and considered utterly brilliant. He worked his socks off for Bank of Scotland and was considered one of their shining lights, so much so that Tesco head-hunted him about five or six years ago to be one of their main people.
“His success afforded him an envious lifestyle. He drove a Porsche 911 sports car and made sure his family wanted for nothing. But helicopters, aviation and skydiving are what he loved most. They were real passions of his.
“The fact he lived his life to the full is the only positive I can take from this terrible tragedy. He lived every day as if it was his last and will be sorely missed.”
Mr Ball was currently a director of his own business, DCB Consulting Ltd, as well as IT integration director for The Co-operative Banking Group. He previously worked as an IT director at Tesco and Tesco Bank, as well as head of corporate banking at Bank of Scotland, and was last year appointed as a non-executive director of online “digital passport” business Miicard.
Mr Ball’s grieving family asked for privacy in the wake of his sudden death at the weekend.
Kieran Brady, chairman of Skydiving Strathallan, said he did not want to comment on Mr Ball’s death.