It’s not unusual for firefighters to get a call for a cat stuck up a tree, but it’s not every day they have to rescue a paraglider.
The pilot from Kitty Hawk ran into trouble Tuesday afternoon attempting to land at First Flight Airstrip at Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills just after 5 p.m., getting stuck in pine trees northwest of the runway next to Colington Road.
Crews from the Kill Devil Hills Fire Department quickly arrived on scene and used a ladder truck to bring him down within 10 minutes. Other than a few scratches, the 50-year-old wasn’t injured.
During his time up in the trees, he was talking to first responders on the ground.
Traffic was stopped in both directions on Colington Road for the rescue, causing a significant rush hour backup.
The paraglider’s motor and other equipment was also brought down, but the parachute remained in the trees Tuesday night. The pilot said unexpected turbulence caused the chute to get caught in the trees.
Boone Vandruza, Chief Ranger for National Parks of Eastern N.C., praised the quick response and abilities of Kill Devil Hills firefighters to safely recover the operator. The incident happened on National Park Service property.
Wright Brothers National Memorial staff will contact the pilot to coordinate removal of the parachute, according to NPS spokesperson Mike Barber.
Units from Dare EMS, Kill Devil Hills police, Dare County Sheriff’s Office and N.C. Highway Patrol also responded to the scene.