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Qantas jet almost rammed by sky-hog glider pilot

Mystery birdman wreaks havoc over Adelaide. Sort of

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A Qantas jet had to swerve out of the way of a sky-hog hang glider in the vicinity of Adelaide, Australia, according to reports.

The incident actually took place in February, but has only been picked up by the Australian media in recent days. The Sydney Morning Herald quotes a Qantas spokesman as stating that "a hang glider entered controlled airspace without clearance", placing the blame squarely on the wayward bird-man.

Apparently, "the Qantas crew noted the hang glider's presence", - there isn't any description of what the pilots actually said, sadly - "and took appropriate action".

The airline immediately squealed to the Australian safety authorities, and also gave its pilots a "reminder of the importance of scanning outside the flight deck in busy approach airspace" - pilot speak for looking out the window now and then.

But a hang-gliding enthusiasts' spokesman cast some doubt on Qantas' version of events. Chris Fogg, general manager of the Hang Gliding Federation of Australia (HGFA), told the Herald that none of his members had coughed to jostling any airliners.

According to Fogg, that leaves only two possibilities. Firstly, that a dastardly "renegade" non-HGFA scab birdman had intruded into controlled airspace; or alternatively that the rogue aircraft wasn't a hang glider at all, but something resembling one – perhaps a paraglider. Fogg seemed unwilling to entertain the possibility of an errant HGFA member simply keeping schtum.

He also downplayed the seriousness of the incident, saying that the Qantas aviators had "made a correcting course, not a severe evasive action", according to the Herald.

There seems little hope of the mystery birdman being brought to book, as the Aussie air-safety investigators don't seem to be putting significant resources into the hunt. Or any resources at all, in fact. An Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) spokesman said a report on the incident had been received from Qantas, but candidly admitted that the ATSB had done nothing about it. ®

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