A Scots father has told how he and his 12-year-old son cheated death when two gliders collided 4,000 feet above the Aberdeenshire countryside.
Robert Tait, 44, chairman of the Highland Gliding Club, had taken to the air in a two-man aircraft as part of the Deeside Gliding Club’s UK Mountain Soaring Championship.
But disaster struck when his aircraft crashed into one being piloted by another club member – and both were sent tumbling towards the ground.
Mr Tait and his son Ruari had to deploy their parachutes before the glider smashed into farmland about five miles from the airstrip in Aboyne, Aberdeenshire.
The other pilot managed to guide his stricken aircraft back to the clubhouse.
Mr Tait, who was taken to hospital with minor injuries, said they had all been “extremely lucky” and praised his cool-headed son.
He said: “It was a close call but luckily all the training we do has paid off.
“Once we realised we were going down and had to get out, there was nothing more to it.
“Ruari carried out the parachute training to the letter and all three of us made it out safe and sound from the crash.
“I’m extremely proud of him – there wasn’t a single moment of panic.”
A probe has now been launched by the British Gliding Association to determine how the two aircraft came so close.
Mr Tait added: “When incidents like these occur it can give the sport a bad name, but I’d like to say that gliding isn’t a risky sport.
“In the 30 odd years I’ve been doing it I’ve never met anyone who has had to use their parachute. We all made it out OK so that’s the positive to take away.”
A spokesman for the Deeside Gliding Club said: “Investigations are under way and the Deeside Gliding Club will co-operate fully with these.”
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Two gliders were involved in a mid-air collision at approximately 1.15pm on September 1.
“As a result of this one person was taken to hospital with minor injuries.
“An inquiry into this incident will be carried out by the British Gliding Association and there will be no further police involvement.”
The British Gliding Association (BGA) was asked to lead the probe by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch. A BGA spokesman said: “We will try to understand what has happened to see if any lessons can be learned.”