KAAAWA (HawaiiNewsNow) – A woman whose paraglider was swept over an Oahu mountain range in a strong updraft was found unhurt Monday afternoon by search and rescue crews. The visitor from Wyoming was found walking out of the mountains outside of Wahiawa over three hours after she was first reported missing. She was flown by helicopter to Swanzy Beach Park, where she was reunited with friends.
Witnesses at Kahana Bay State Park called for help around 11:50 AM after they saw her glider caught in an updraft and then disappearing into a cloud. The woman was described by friends as an experienced paraglider, but unfamiliar with Oahu's terrain.
After she came to a landing, she cut herself free from the glider and hiked for several miles. She was spotted by rescue workers around 3:00 PM.
"I guess there is a chance that once she was in the cloud, there was enough lifting effect that she stayed up higher, longer and blew farther than we would have thought" said Alex Colby of the Hawaii Paragliding Association.
Fire officials say that she was swept up in a wind current that carried her over the crest of the Koolau range. When clouds cleared, rescuers first spotted her chute and then later spotted her walking down the streambed of Poamoho stream in the direction of Wahiawa. They gave her a helicopter ride to Swanzy Beach Park in Kaaawa, where she rejoined her friends.
"People do land in a place where they don't mean to and they'll be in touch with us. But in this case, we didn't hear from her and we couldn't find her. So we were worried" said Colby.
She was not carrying a cell phone or two-way radio.