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Mon, Mar 03, 2008

Paraglider, Pet Rescued From Tree After Accident

High-Flying Chihuahua, Owner Spent Five Hours In Branches

An Australian paraglider who likes flying with his pet chihuahua found himself stuck in a tree more than 100 feet above the ground Friday...  with his dog... after a flight gone wrong.

42-year-old Paul Hansen set out on the flight near Melbourne about 5:00 pm local time Friday, carrying four-year-old Emma strapped to his chest. Fortunately, Hansen was also carrying a UHF two-way radio and a mobile phone.

When he hit in the tree shortly after takeoff, he secured Emma, then tried to call for help on the radio. But as Hansen told Melbourne's Sunday Age newspaper, "I couldn't get anyone on the radio. All I could hear was chatter about the cricket and people were talking about their Friday night, but no one could hear me."

Hansen had better luck text-messaging friends, who called police with his position report. A police helicopter crew then made contact on the UHF radio as they approached his position.

Hansen's rescue took over five hours to complete. He said his situation was becoming pretty painful, because the heavy dose of morphine he'd taken before the flight -- to deal with the pain from his ongoing bout with cancer -- had worn off.

"I normally don't take anything with me if I'm going flying, but by the time I was hanging up there well into the evening it was getting pretty painful," he said.

Hansen said his main concern, however, was for his loyal chihuahua... who slipped out of her harness during the accident.

"It took me nearly an hour to put it back on her because of the precarious way we were perched," Hansen said. "She knew that we were in danger, but she didn't panic or anything.

"She always flies with me. She loves it. I wouldn't take her if she didn't like it," he added. "She goes everywhere with me, so she's used to being in some pretty radical situations. She's a pretty awesome little chihuahua."

Hansen told reporters he's considering selling his paraglider and donating the proceeds to volunteer emergency service workers.



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