AN Edinburgh pilot involved in a horror glider crash is recovering well in a South African hospital after undergoing surgery to correct an arm fracture, according to reports.
Ian Paterson, 60, was one of two passengers to receive emergency medical treatment when the aircraft smashed through a fence before crash-landing on a farm outside the city of Bloemfontein. Paramedics and staff from the Provincial EMS College Unit and Life Healthcare dashed to the accident after receiving emergency calls from onlookers.
However his co-pilot, 55-year-old Shaun Lapworth from Basingstoke in Hampshire, remains in intensive care at the Life Rosepark Hospital after being transported via air ambulance.
A spokeswoman for Mediclinic Bloemfontein told South African news outlet Netwerk24 Mr Paterson was awake and “in a stable condition in the hospital’s high-care unit”.
Mr Paterson, a board member at Kinross-based Scottish Gliding Union, reportedly underwent surgery on Saturday, January 5.
A hospital spokesperson told Bloemfontein-based radio station OFM that a friend of Mr Paterson had accompanied him to the medical facility.
Scottish Gliding Union chairman Alistair Mutch told the Evening News: “Ian is a long-term, popular member of the club and an experienced flier.”
“It is good to hear that he is on the mend.”
Gliders are popular with tourists embarking on “aerial safaris” around the Free State capital, with dozens of companies offering visitors the chance to see some of the region’s best known wildlife.
The aircraft do not have engines and are kept in the sky by naturally occurring currents of rising air in the atmosphere.
It is not yet known if the plane had fallen from the air or crashed while landing or during the towing process before take off.
A spokeswoman for Life Rosepark Hospital told Netwerk24 Mr Lapworth “is still anesthetised in the intensive care unit” after undergoing several surgeries for facial injuries.
The news website reported Mr Lapworth’s wife has travelled to South Africa. She told the news service both men are “enthusiastic gliders and frequent visitors to the Free State”.
The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) have since launched an investigation into the cause of the crash, though it is understood the pair took off from the nearby Tempe Airport.
SACAA spokesman Kabelo Ledwaba told Bloemfontein’s Eyewitness News: “Details regarding this particular incident are still sketchy.”
He added: “But what we can say is just after 2pm, on Friday, we received a notification indicating there was an accident involving a glider, which happened near New Tempe Airport.”
A spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We are providing consular assistance to two British men, following a glider crash.”
She added: “We are in touch with the families and local South African authorities”.