Devon

Matt Wright death: Glider pilot and YouTuber died in 'challenging conditions'

Matt Wright. Pic: Facebook/Balleka Image copyright Facebook/Balleka
Image caption Matt Wright, known to thousands of YouTube fans, was described as a "highly experienced" pilot

A glider pilot and YouTuber who died in a crash on Dartmoor took off in "challenging" and "turbulent conditions", an investigation found.

Matt Wright, 47, from Tiverton, died in the crash in December 2016.

His engineless craft came down at about 13:00 GMT on Sunday 4 December shortly after launching from Brentor Airfield.

An accident report said Mr Wright - known to 15,000 YouTube followers as Balleka - was known for "seeking out challenging flying conditions".

Mr Wright was described as very experienced commercial airline pilot during the investigation carried out by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).

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'Epic wave'

Investigators found he decided to take off despite having witnessed another glider pilot aborting his own flight an hour beforehand because of the wind.

Friends of the experienced pilot told investigators they had deliberately gone to the site because of the tricky conditions and decided to risk a flight because of the chance of experiencing an "epic wave".

His glider had three cameras attached, on the tail, right wingtip and in the cockpit, the AAIB report said.

Mr Wright's craft was hit by a downdraft as it turned left, possibly as he attempted to abort his own flight and landing, the AAIB said.

'Degree of hazard'

It assessed that, given Mr Wright's experience of over 1,500 flight hours in gliders, the decision to launch seemed "a reasonable choice".

"At this level, gliding is a high-performance sporting activity and the pilot knew of and accepted the degree of hazard to achieve high-performance flight.", it said.

Devon and Somerset Gliding Club chairwoman Lisa Humphries described Mr Wright as an "accomplished commercial airline captain".

"Matt was a highly experienced pilot and friend to all of us at the Devon and Somerset Gliding Club," she said.

"He was always full of energy and loved every aspect of aviation."

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