Victim of glider crash identified

By Michael R. McFall

Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, July 1 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

PAROWAN — Investigators have identified a Colorado man who died Monday in a gliding accident.

Michael Packard, 65, from Littleton, was competing in a gliding competition at the Parowan airport. He was released from a tow plane 2,000 feet off the ground shortly after takeoff. But because of what has been determined to likely be an operational error, Packard ended up plunging into a field a mile west of I-15 near the Paragonah exit, said Iron County sheriff's detective Jody Edwards.

The Federal Aviation Administration declined to investigate the accident, so the National Transportation Safety Board investigated instead and determined that the fault was more likely operational than a mechanical failure, said Edwards.

The gliding competition is continuing as planned through Saturday despite the glider's death. Risk is an accepted factor for these men and women, Edwards said.

The competition includes about 58 competitors who are flying to and from different national landmarks until the Fourth of July. They're each equipped with GPS devices to track their flight times.

"People come from all over the world to glide in Parowan. The weather conditions and the mountains make it one of the best," Edwards said.

— Michael R. McFall

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