I refer to an incident, which may have come to your attention when on April 17th this year, in an exceptionally unusual occurrence, a sailplane in which I was instructing, was struck by lightning. It exploded and the two of us parachuted to safety. I was wearing a Para-Phernalia softie parachute, long model, serial no 4516-5 made 2/97. We both landed without serious injury. The sailplane was at approximately 2500 feet at the time of the strike and witnesses indicated that we baled out relatively quickly so were probably about 1800-2000 feet at the time the parachutes opened.
The event took place near Dunstable, Bedfordshire in the United Kingdom and Dunstable is approximately 35 miles north of London.
The canopy was Free Flight Enterprises Model Preserve I C serial 62144 made in Jan 97.
The harness and container is of Para-Phernalia manufacture.
The sailplane was a tandem 2 seater and I was sitting in the rear seat. I believe that I passed out momentarily due to the force of the explosion or due to massive current flows which passed down the control linkages and which were just behind my head.
Due possibly to this or possibly to the stress of the occasion I failed to keep hold of the ripcord D ring, which I would have liked for a souvenir. However, failing having the real one, I wondered if it would be possible for you to send me a similar one as a souvenir. Two would be even better for if I manage to get the parachute back.
I also wondered whether your company has a ‘club’ for those who have used your parachutes in an emergency or life threatening situation and if so could I join.
My third query was whether you have data on my probable descent speed given my weight of approximately 160 lbs.
The occurrence was of such extremely high energy and so unusual that the UK Air Accident Investigations Branch is carrying out a detailed analysis on the wreckage to try to ascertain the actual current levels involved. They will then publish a full report detailing the findings in due course.
May I offer my thanks to your company for producing a good product, which in my case has enabled me to write this rather unusual letter.