Whitehorse Daily Star

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A CLOSE CALL – Members of the Hootalinqua Fire Department work Saturday afternoon to extract paraglider Shawn Kitchen from his predicament north of Whitehorse. Photo courtesy HOOTALINQUA FIRE DEPARTMENT

Paraglider says he's grateful to have survived his mishap

A Whitehorse paraglider caused an area power outage Saturday after getting tangled up in power lines along the North Klondike Highway.

By Christopher Reynolds on November 4, 2013

A Whitehorse paraglider caused an area power outage Saturday after getting tangled up in power lines along the North Klondike Highway.

Sean Kitchen hung from the wires for roughly an hour after cruising into them at around 4:30 p.m.

"I'm lucky to be alive,” Kitchen said in an interview this morning.

He and four other flyers had hiked to the top of Vista Road on Saturday afternoon, planning to glide to a familiar landing spot.

"Everything was fine; it was a routine ‘sled ride' from top to bottom,” he told the Star.

Soon after launching, Kitchen spotted the "silver glint” of the power lines as he approached the highway.

"The sun was really low in the horizon.... I thought I saw them all, not realizing that the lines in front of me were shadowed — I didn't see them at all,” he said.

It wasn't until he had passed between two lines that he realized he would become entangled. A power line stretched just inches below his feet as his glider continued to fly overhead.

"Then it was a matter of controlling the glider” to avoid "the big zap.”

If Kitchen had come into contact with a wire while his glider lines were touching a separate wire, his body could have become the conductor for a potentially fatal low-voltage electrical current, fire officials said.

The weight on the wires "popped the fuse at the main pole,” causing outages in residences throughout the area, Dan Nickason, chief of the Hootalinqua Fire Department, told the Star this morning.

Volunteer department members cut Kitchen down after Yukon Energy employees determined it was safe.

Kitchen was president of the Association of Yukon Paragliders and Hang Gliders until he stepped down earlier this year.

He has been paragliding for 10 years and has made nearly 1,000 flights.

Kitchen said his glider suffered "minor damage,” but he will be back flying "whenever the weather looks good again.”

Comments (7)

Up 16 Down 9

Dustin on Nov 8, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Landing in one place is not exactly an easy task.

Winds shift, ground heats up and air currents rise... just some of the issues that can take place that a pilot be it a paraglider pilot or the captain of a 737 must deal with.

Until you have done it yourself you should eat your words.

Up 19 Down 10

Heather Kerr on Nov 8, 2013 at 1:59 am

Give the guy a break, thank god he is alive!

Life is too short to sweat the small stuiff, be thankful we wake up everyday and can walk and talk!!

Up 22 Down 9

Mike Pearson on Nov 7, 2013 at 9:13 am

A very favuourable ending to what could easily have been a fatal accident. Wires are difficult to see, aviators avoid them because they are so dangerous.

Sean would have known the danger and thought he had done enough to ensure his safety. I do not know Sean but find many comments too stinging. Give him a break!

I hope Sean continues with this sport and has no other mishaps.

Up 27 Down 11

Joel on Nov 7, 2013 at 8:31 am

I would have thought being a veteran paraglider, that he would have looked at where he was going before he started the trip. Lucky he is not dead.

Up 32 Down 25

rh on Nov 6, 2013 at 6:59 am

Sean Kitchen is a very young man who made a mistake. He did not set out to intentionally give you the sad little inconvenience of a power outage. You should be happy that he is even alive. Even being a veteran para-glider, mistakes can be made, as with any sport or really any activity. Poor you, your power went out for a little while. You will not receive the sympathy that you feel you deserve.

Up 29 Down 32

jp on Nov 5, 2013 at 5:54 am

Are you seriously that incapable of flying and cannot touch down in the miles and miles and miles of open space..... Thanks for the unneeded poweroutage buddy, think smarter next time. He better pay for that

Up 33 Down 37

MIDNIGHTSUN007 on Nov 4, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Hey, now Yukon Energy has a valid reason for a power outage! I hope he gets a bill for all the expenses & damage his dangerous actions created, instead of it being tacked on to my power bill & taxes!

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