Bouloc-en-Quercy, France – A French pilot was given a 12-month suspended prison sentence on Tuesday, September 19, 2023, for his role in a horrific July 2018 incident where he accidentally decapitated a wingsuit jumper in mid-air.
On July 27, 2018, the pilot , an employee of the Midi-Pyrénées Parachuting School, in Bouloc-en-Quercy (Tarn-et-Garonne), was dropping four wingsuit jumpers from his small plane over Tarn-et-Garonne in southern France. After deploying the first three jumpers, the pilot deployed the parachute of 40-year-old Nicolas Galy. However, immediately after the chute opened, Galy got tragically hit by the plane’s wing at 4,000 meters altitude and decapitated by the violent impact.
The Investigation Findings: the pilot is guilty
The investigations found that the Midi-Pyrénées Parachuting School pilot should not have been flying solo that day due to medical restrictions on his license. However, the 64-year-old told the court he believed his license was valid. Prosecutors noted a “lot of recklessness and negligence” by the airman and the parachuting school that employed him without properly verifying his qualifications.
The flight was also conducted without proper communication or trajectory planning between the pilot and wingsuit jumpers. “There was a lack of communication between the victim and the pilot,” the judge noted.
The parachuting school was fined 20,000 euros
In addition to the pilot’s sentence, the parachuting school was fined 20,000 euros, including a 10,000 euro suspended fine, for security breaches contributing to the accident and for not having checked the license of its employee. And new safety measures, such as mandatory briefings, have been implemented since the tragedy.
Galy is the only one who followed the regulations
Galy’s lawyer stated that the victim was the only one who followed regulations properly. “This tragedy affects everyone and we share the pain of the victims. The practice is extremely dangerous. Flying, we touch the limit of the human being,” the defense lawyer, Elsa Correa Barbaris, acknowledged while noting that wingsuit flying involves great risks.
The case highlighted the extreme dangers of wingsuit parachuting and prompted calls for tighter safety procedures.
Galy’s family hopes the trial brings some closure and raises awareness of the risks involved with such extreme sports.