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Hang glider air show performer Dan Buchanan died after a crash in his hang glider last weekend at an airshow at Mountain Home AFB in Idaho. Buchanan, who was 62 years old, was a paraplegic and an inspiration to many, both on the airshow circuit and among the community of people with diabilites.
Despite his parapalegia, Buchanan flew in airshows for more than 30 years, and had flown at Mountain Home’s event since the 1980s. Becasues he could’t use his legs to land, Buchanan made use a special landing gear rig for his hang glider. He’d launch from the back of a pickup truck as a tow vehicle. Buchanan was one of the only hang glider airshow pilots in the world, and he set his act apart from others by using pyrotechnics and dramatic lighting effects. He also flew a night airshow that was unlike any other airshow act in the world.
Buchanan, a mechanical engineer by training, was a commercial pilot and respected hang glider pilot who has done flights in excess of six hours. He was an accomplished scuba diver, commercial sailplane pilot, a desert ATV racer and certificated pyrotechnician. Every summer Buchanan would fly at 25 different airshows across the country. He was a recipient of the prestigious Bill Barber and Art Scholl awards for showmanship.
The cause of the accident is unknown. The NTSB is investigating.