CASA GRANDE — Federal Aviation Administration officials are investigating the death of a skydiving instructor in a jump last week near Casa Grande.
According to Ian Gregor, the communications manager for the FAA Pacific Division based in El Segundo, California, a male instructor died during a tandem jump about noon Friday. A female student who was on the tandem jump with him was hospitalized. The extent of her injuries and her condition are not being released.
The jump was made out of the Phoenix Skydive Center based at Casa Grande Municipal Airport.
An FAA safety inspector was sent to the accident site on the Gila River Indian Community Friday afternoon as the cause of the instructor’s death is still under investigation, Gregor stated in a written press release.
A friend of the Mesa woman who survived the jump told FOX 10 the parachute deployed while they were inside the plane, and the pair fell several thousand feet. The student was badly hurt, but was able to walk to the Sacaton Rest Area on Interstate 10 to find help.
The woman reportedly told family and friends that her skydiving instructor was new to the company, and it was his first jump in the United States, the television station reported.
The identities of the instructor nor the student have been released.
“The FAA’s skydiving accident investigations typically focus on whether the instructor was properly certificated and whether the parachutes were properly packed by the appropriate person,” Gregor stated.
The jump aircraft is a 1965 Cessna 182H Skylane aircraft and is registered to an undisclosed person at an address in Kyle, Texas, after its sale in March. It had previously been owned by a person in Syracuse, Utah.
A spokesman for Phoenix Skydive Center said the company had no comment to make and was simply trying to support the family of the man who died in the jump. He said the company would comment after a National Transportation Safety Board report is completed.
For years the Casa Grande City Council has opposed skydiving activities at the airport. Monday evening the topic was again on an executive session agenda for the council meeting, titled “discussion and consultation regarding the FAA order regarding skydiving at the Casa Grande Municipal Airport and a potential proposed agreement with Phoenix Area Skydiving.”