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Crews Rescue Downed Paraglider

Published On: Sep 29 2011 08:27:09 PM HST
Updated On: Sep 30 2011 01:08:42 AM HST
HONOLULU -

Honolulu firefighters rescued a paraglider stuck overnight on an Oahu mountain.

Fire Capt. Terry Seelig said the paraglider, Jorge Atramiz, called for help Thursday afternoon after he had problems with his kite. Seelig says the paraglider was blown from the windward side of the Koolau mountains over to the leeward side.

Atramiz, 35, has 11 years of paragliding experience and considered one of the best in the sport. Which is why friends are convinced he survived the emergency landing.

"Because (the glider) is not rigid, it's just fabric, downwind comes and it could fold over. So now I only have half a glider hanging and this thing is stuck underneath me," said Tom Therrien, a friend of Atramiz and fellow paraglider. "If it was me, I'd be freaking out a little bit, but Jorge, he just looks at it and no big deal. He just flies the half the wing and he went and landed it."

But it was a precarious spot where Atramiz landed.

"Going down it's very steep and leads to waterfalls he can't get past. Going up it's slippery and steep and you really need ropes," said Seelig.

Friends and rescuers had been in contact with Atramiz by cellphone. Atramiz's friend said the paraglider pilot joked that Domino's Pizza would not deliver to his location Thursday night.

After cloud cover lifted, the Honolulu Fire Department's Air 1 chopper was able to fly in to rescue Atramiz. Back on the ground after the 18 hour ordeal, Atramiz explained he was flying from Makapuu to Kahana Valley and lost his direction in what they call the "white room".

"I was pulling out of the valley to get far away from the clouds, but one of them started to go up really fast and sucked me up and that was the last thing I saw," said Atramiz.

Atramiz was unhurt but said he was cold and thirsty and didn't sleep during the ordeal.

"Everytime I wake up, I was in a different place because I was sliding down," Atramiz said.

But he was unhurt and despite the harrowing experience, was thinking of heading back up Friday afternoon.

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