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Glider pilot killed in southern Alberta crash

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A well-regarded, experienced glider pilot and instructor from Calgary was killed Wednesday while competing at a national championship event near Diamond Valley, leaving his loved ones and the province's soaring community gutted.

RCMP told CTV News the crash was reported around 1:30 p.m.

Calgary EMS said the crash site was south of Highway 7 between Diamond Valley and Okotoks.

A 65-year-old man, the lone operator of the aircraft, died at the scene.

A 911 caller told RCMP a pilot tried to eject from the non-powered aircraft but his parachute appeared to not deploy, causing him to fall hundreds of feet.

The glider then crashed into a field in the area.

The Cu Nim Gliding Club, located northeast of Diamond Valley, confirmed the death of a "respected member" of the organization in a statement.

The incident occurred during the Canadian National Soaring Championships, which the club was hosting.

"This lost pilot was an accomplished glider pilot, an active and reliable glider flight instructor, a regular participant in competitions and a long-serving former president of the gliding club," the statement read.

The club said the Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation into the incident.

"Our thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to all those who knew and admired this remarkable individual," the statement read.

"Their passion for flight and their contributions to our club and the gliding community will always be remembered and celebrated," the club said.

Jason Acker, president of the Alberta Soaring Council, which the Cu Nim Gliding Club is a member of, said a vote was to be held Wednesday night regarding whether to continue with the competition.

CTV News has learned the remainder of the competition has been cancelled.

Twenty-eight aircraft are registered in the competition, with pilots from across Canada and two from the U.S.

Acker said it's currently unclear what went wrong.

"There are a number of reasons that a pilot would make the very difficult but split-second decision to eject from an aircraft," he said.

"This includes a control system malfunction where the pilot is unable to control the aircraft to perform a controlled descent and landing.

"It could also include an airframe failure that results from overstressing the aircraft or a mid-air collision.

"At this time, there is no indication what may have occurred which prompted the pilot to eject and attempt a parachute escape."

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