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The Bigfella
02-16-2007, 12:35 AM
This is an amazing tale from my State:

A German paraglider survived lightning, pounding hail, minus 40-degree temperatures and oxygen deprivation after a storm system sucked her to an altitude higher than Mount Everest.
Ewa Wisnierska, 35, passed out due to a lack of oxygen and flew unconscious for up to an hour covered in ice after reaching an altitude of 9947 metres - near the cruising height of a jumbo jet.
The champion sportswoman's survival was like "winning Lotto 10 times in a row", Australia's most experienced paraglider says.
Wisnierska says experience told her she had no chance of survival, but a doctor told her that blacking out had saved her.
"It was because that I got unsconscious because then the heart slows down all the functions - it saved my life," she told ABC radio.
Froze to death
A Chinese man who flew into the same storm near Manilla (http://maps.google.com.au/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=Mount+Borah++NSW&sll=-30.747753,150.72025&sspn=0.104451,0.159645&ie=UTF8&z=13&om=1) in northern NSW on Wednesday did not share Ms Wisnierska's luck.
He Zhongpin, 42, was found 75 kilometres away from his launch site, and most likely suffocated or froze to death after being sucked into the storm, hang gliding experts say.
Ms Wisnierska's top speed of ascent was clocked at 20 metres per second and her descent at 33 metres per second by an on-board tracking system, she told ABC radio.
She described the violence of the storm system as "amazing".
''You can't imagine the power - you feel like nothing, like a leaf from a tree going up,'' she told the ABC.
"I was shaking all the time - the last thing I remember it was dark, I could hear lightning all around me.
"I knew I was in the middle of the thunderstorm and I could not do anything.
I knew the chances to survive are almost zero
"From the theory, I knew the chances to survive are almost zero, I knew I can only have luck, I can't do anything - and I got it."
Wisnierska had been training for the upcoming Paragliding World Championships when she was sucked into the violent storm.
She regained consciousness in mid-air up to an hour later.
"I wanted to fly around the clouds but I got sucked 20 metres per second up into it and started to spiral," she told smh.com.au.
"After 40 minutes or an hour, I woke up and I was 6900 metres.
"I was still flying but I realised I didn't have the brakes in my hand.
"I saw my hands and the gloves were frozen, and I didn't have the brakes, and the glider was still flying on its own.
"I was thinking I can't do anything so I only have to wait and hope that the clouds were bringing me out somewhere.
And then I woke up
"And then I woke up and was thinking I was maybe unconscious for one minute.
"I didn't know I was unconscious for so long."
Godfrey Wenness, the president of the Manilla Sky Sailors club and organiser of the upcoming Paragliding World Championship, said Wisnierska's tale of survival was mind-blowing.
"It's like winning Lotto 10 times in a row," he said, noting that the previous altitude survival record for a paraglider was 24,000 feet.
"[Wisnierska] flew underneath a storm cloud and got sucked up to 30,000 feet. She was unconscious for about half an hour. She regained consciousness at 20,000 feet and then flew down and landed safely.
"She was covered in ice. She suffered from severe frostbite. The temperature at that altitude was about minus 50 degrees. It's higher than Mount Everest."
Mr Wenness said her injuries were severe.
Her ears nearly got frozen off
"She's got bruises all over her body from the hail stones and she's recovering from frostbite to her extremities. She's got bandages over her head because her ears nearly got frozen off."
"She just remembers going up, lightning around her in the cloud and she doesn't remember anything until coming to again."
He said the size of the hail stones was up to 15 centimetres in diameter.
"Apples, oranges, up to rockmelon size. And her glider kept flying perfectly which is the amazing thing in this whole thing.
"Basically she can't believe that she's alive.'
Sergeant Scott Tanner of Manilla police said Wisnierska landed between Barraba and Niagra, 60 kilometres away from her launch site.
"She was treated in hospital and discharged with frostbite injuries to her face," he said.
A Bureau of Meteorology spokesman said the temperature in the storm at 9,000 metres would have been lower than minus-40 degrees.
Body found 25 kilometres from Bingara
The body of Mr He was found by the Westpac Rescue helicopter 25 kilometres south-east of Bingara in northern NSW about 2pm yesterday.
He, a member of the Chinese national paragliding team, was in training for the Paragliding World Championships, which start next week in nearby Manilla.

The paraglider, who had 10 years' experience in the sport, was last seen about 3pm on Wednesday as thunderstorms were moving into the area.
Hang Gliding Federation of Australia general manager Chris Fogg said Mr He was probably sucked into the cumulonimbus storm system and propelled to high altitude.
"We assume he was taken to an altitude where he may have suffocated and may have become radically chilled," he said.
"At the top of thunderstorms is typically where hail forms and there's lots of agitation and turbulence.
Below zero
"I understand he was above 9000 metres so that's below zero [degrees].
"This system one sounds as if it was pretty strong - he could have been taken up at 1200 feet a minute and beyond. "Most pilots will try to get down to the ground before they get close to something like that."
The glider piloted by Mr He would have continued flying even if he had been unconscious, Mr Fogg said.
Mr Wenness yesterday said the paragliders were among 200 people taking part in a routine training flight.
"The other flyers in the area had given the stormclouds a "wide berth", he said.
"Maybe he was trying to thread the needle between two cells, but we don't know," he said.
Mr Wenness said more would be known after data retrieved from the GPS instruments carried by the man had been used to map out his exact flight path.
Storm cell building
Mr Wenness said the storm cell had been building since the early morning, and all paragliders had been briefed about the danger before beginning their training flights.
"You do not fly anywhere near them - not even 747s fly through storm cells," he said.
Mr Wenness said if the paraglider had deliberately steered into the storm cell, it was not just a risk but a decision that was "99.9 per cent" likely to lead to his death.
The Paragliding World Championships begin in Manilla on February 24. It is the first time the event has been held in an English-speaking country.


http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/dead-luck-ewas-flight-of-fury/2007/02/16/1171405421626.html

boylesboats
02-16-2007, 01:56 AM
Wow, thats amazing

seanz
02-16-2007, 03:37 AM
You beat me to it .I was gunna post that.:p

After the thread on rapid descent (parachutists) who would have thought rapid ascent would be as bad if not worse.I was stunned when I read this story.The incident is so bizarre (not to mention tragic as the Chinese fellow died) that it must rate as one of the weirdest survival stories ever.
Nearly 10,000 metres up.:eek:

shamus
02-16-2007, 05:00 AM
She looks in pretty good shape. The rest of the world championship is kind of anti-climactic now I should think.

martin schulz
02-16-2007, 07:45 AM
How come the US press almost never gets foreign names spelled right.

Inattentiveness, ignorance or a general disregard for spelling of names I wonder.

The girls name is:
Eva Wisnierska

I hope the mistake is because although the spelling is Eva the pronounciation is Ewa.


...and by the way, my name is spelled Schulz - without a t, but with a c

Vince Brennan
02-16-2007, 07:54 AM
A natural enough mistake, Martin... they do it so often, but this time (http://www.skyfly.cz/zajimavo_e/ewa05_e.htm) they got it right.

Pete Dorr
02-16-2007, 08:35 AM
Report from competitor Will Gadd

http://gravsports.blogspot.com/2007/02/manilla-xc-comp-and-worlds.html

paladin
02-16-2007, 09:04 AM
a similar thing happened in 1978 over Vatnjokull Glacier in Iceland. We were warned about the severe updrafts over the glacier because the volcano is smack dab under the middle, and there are really warm currents there.....I sailed around the fringes, but a couple of other folks cut a path across looking for thermals...one survived, barely, the other didn't. The sailplane made a perfect unassisted landing about an hour after takeoff with the pilot frozen solid in the cockpit...

martin schulz
02-16-2007, 09:27 AM
A natural enough mistake, Martin... they do it so often, but this time (http://www.skyfly.cz/zajimavo_e/ewa05_e.htm) they got it right.


Allright I take everything back and claim to have said the opposite.
It is true that polish/czech names with a "w", like Ewa or Sylwia are spelled with a "v" in german. The real question is if she still writes her name the polish way or the german way.

Hwyl
02-16-2007, 09:41 AM
http://www.skyfly.cz/zajimavo/image/ewa05a.jpg

TimH
02-16-2007, 11:27 AM
Allright I take everything back and claim to have said the opposite.
It is true that polish/czech names with a "w", like Ewa or Sylwia are spelled with a "v" in german. The real question is if she still writes her name the polish way or the german way.

They do make things more complicated in English though...Like take the word receive...receeeve...e sound, from the spelling you would think the emphasis would be on the i , but no..

brad9798
02-16-2007, 12:47 PM
Looked like Aussie press to me, Martin!

By the way, girl's is possessive!

;)

John of Phoenix
02-16-2007, 02:10 PM
Thunderstorms! You're taking your life in your hands anywhere near one.
The hail is especially deadly (15 cm ~ 6"). She's lucky to have only lost parts of her ears.

http://www.smh.com.au/ffximage/2007/02/16/ewa_wisnierska_narrowweb__300x478,0.jpg
"Still smiling, incredibly ... Ewa Wisnierska today after surviving her high altitude ordeal."

boylesboats
02-16-2007, 02:17 PM
Very brave woman, I'll give her a hand (applause).....

John of Phoenix
02-16-2007, 02:36 PM
Brave?
What's "brave" about using up twenty lifetimes of luck in an hour?

Cec
02-16-2007, 04:22 PM
Brave?
What's "brave" about using up twenty lifetimes of luck in an hour?
John, while "brave" may not be the word, she seems to have kept her head and courage about her.... not sure how I'd have reacted under similar circumstances.... I say Good On Her ...

JimJ
02-16-2007, 08:05 PM
Time of Useful Consciousness at 25,000 feet is 3 to 5 min and at 30,000 feet (9,144 m) is 1 to 2 min. Death would follow soon after at 30,000.

I would like to know what recording device was used to establish the height reached.

PeterSibley
02-17-2007, 06:09 AM
Whenever we find ourselves in dire situations our options are limited. Any choice may be as good as the next. Sometimes you get lucky.

Steve Paskey
02-17-2007, 07:04 AM
Time of Useful Consciousness at 25,000 feet is 3 to 5 min and at 30,000 feet (9,144 m) is 1 to 2 min. Death would follow soon after at 30,000.

I would like to know what recording device was used to establish the height reached.

An absolutely amazing story. I can't even imagine what it would feel like to be alive after all that. As for Jim's question: I suppose whether it was 10,000 feet or 30,000 doesn't really matter, but the following is from an AP report ...

=========
Officials and Wisnierska's ground team used global positioning and radio equipment to track her altitude as she soared well beyond the 29,000-foot plus height of Everest, the world's tallest peak. Wenness said she went from 2,500 feet to the maximum in about 15 minutes.

rbgarr
02-17-2007, 07:08 AM
'Thrilla in Manilla'