TWO pilots were lucky to escape with their lives after their motorised glider nose-dived into a creek at Tyagarah over the weekend.
It is understood the glider was approaching Tyagarah Airstrip from the ocean about 11am on Saturday when it clipped trees or dunes, spun in the air, and pitched towards the ground, landing hard on the bank of a creek.
The glider was snapped in two by the impact, the front end of the aircraft coming to rest precariously on the creek bank.
Police said one of the pilots, a 54-year-old Cudgera man, managed to free himself from the aircraft and alert emergency services, but his 58-year-old Ocean Shores co-pilot was trapped for more than an hour while Westpac Rescue Helicopter paramedics, Byron Bay ambulance paramedics and members of the Brunswick Valley Volunteer Rescue Association worked to free him.
The trapped man was airlifted to Lismore Base Hospital with suspected spinal, chest and leg injuries, and then transferred to Brisbane's Princess Alexandra Hospital. The other man was taken to the Tweed Hospital with lower back and chest injuries.
Both are understood to be associated with the Byron Bay Gliding club.
The club's chief flying instructor was overseas in France and not available for comment yesterday.
On its website the club boasts a fleet of powered gliders and services, including joyflights, trial instructional flights and courses 'designed to take the new pilot to solo stage in the shortest possible time'.
The website also lists safety as the club's number one priority with no crashes recorded.
Saturday's crash occurred on the eastern side of the airfield, about 70m into the bush. At the time of the crash the skies were clear and only a light wind was blowing from a south to south-westerly direction.
Tweed-Byron Local Area Command police, who attended the scene of the crash, are investigating, along with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.
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