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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Caught on YouTube, slate mine owner’s illegal drop

HONISTER Slate Mine owner Mark Weir was caught on YouTube illegally dropping a paraglider from his helicopter.

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FINED: Honister Slate Mine owner Mark Weir

The 44-year-old was fined £400 by the Civil Aviation Authority after footage of the stunt was posted online.

It shows him flying 10,000ft above Buttermere before letting Spaniard Felix Rodriguez jump out.

Rodriguez, a champion acro pilot, was trying to beat the world record for the death-defying ‘infinite tumble’ manoeuvre.

The incident took place in front of 800 spectators at the Lakes Charity Classic air show on June 5, 2010.

Weir, of Honister Pass, Keswick, admitted failing to comply with Rules of the Air regulations when he appeared at West Allerdale and Keswick Magistrates’ Court.

He was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £600, plus a £15 victim surcharge.

A spokeswoman for the Civil Aviation Authority said: “Jumping out of a helicopter can be dangerous for the parachutist and a risk to the aircraft and its occupants if it is not carried out correctly.

“The Air Navigation Order requires that anyone seeking to drop a person from an aircraft must have the written permission of the CAA. This will be granted where the CAA is satisfied that the applicant is competent to conduct the activity safely.”

Speaking after the court case, Weir said the offence was more a technical issue than a matter of safety.

He said: “I didn’t have the right paperwork to do the event, which I wasn’t aware of at the time. Obviously, if I do something similar in future I’ll make sure I get written permission.

“The helicopter I was flying has been used by the military since the 1970s. It’s only dangerous if you’re not aware of what’s going on.”

The air show itself, now in its 20th year, raised more than £3,000 for Cockermouth and Keswick mountain rescue teams.

At the same court appearance on Thursday, Weir was accused of 15 counts of failing to comply with building regulations. The offences related to the Yew Tree Restaurant and Seatoller Barn in Seatoller, Keswick.

He did not enter pleas and the case was adjourned until March 17.

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