It is with great sorrow that we announce the pilot involved in yesterday’s fatal crash was 59-year-old Herbert Weiss from Friedrichsruhe, Germany.
Mr Weiss had been gliding since 1969 and was twice German national champion. He had clocked up more than 8,600 flying hours and was also a district training officer and examiner of the Ohringen Aviation Group. He qualified for the World Championships by winning the Slovakian qualifying grand prix in Nitra in April 2006. Mr Weiss lived with his wife, Barbara, and two children Felix (19) and Lisa (18) and when not flying taught German and economics at the local school.
Bob Henderson, president of the International Gliding Commission said Mr Weiss’ death was a huge tragedy for the gliding community and an untimely end for a passionate pilot.
“Herbert was enjoying the event; he saw it as a challenge and a chance to fly with the world’s elite pilots,” he said. ”He came to New Zealand early to prepare for the event and was really enjoying being here.”
After consultation with Mr Weiss’ family and the other competition pilots, the decision was made to put the world championships on hold out of respect for Mr Weiss. Racing will resume on Sunday, December 23, weather permitting.
The cause of the accident is not yet known but an investigation has been started to determine the cause. This is being undertaken by CAA in co-operation with Gliding New Zealand and the local police.