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Paraglider instructor under fire for student’s death

IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif – The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the death of a student paraglider who crashed into a pile of rocks near the US Mexico border.

ParagliderHenry Ho, 48, was pronounced dead on scene.

According to the San Diego County Medical Examiner, Ho died from blunt force trauma to the head after his glider slammed down.

The death has paraglider instructors calling on officials to revoke the license of the instructor in charge.

Dell Schanze is a well known paragliding instructor, but several local instructors say his methods are reckless.

“Over and over and over, he’s just a habitual violator of any kind of air sport we have,” said paraglider instructor Billy Purden.

Purden said when it comes to Schanze, he’s had too many bad encounters to count.

But Schanze defended his safety record, saying it was perfect until Ho’s fatal accident.

“It was a fluke thing. I could never have guessed he was going to freeze up like that,” Schanze told Fox 5.

Schanze said it was hard at first to deal with the accident, “but now I realize I couldn’t have done anything more. I am the best instructor and the leader of the biggest paragliding school in the world, and this is the first death I’ve ever had in my 12 years of instructing.”

29 comments

  • MdB

    Henry Ho should be capitalized.

    First sentence should read: "Purden says when it comes to Schanze, he’s had too many bad encounters to count."

    C'mon, editors!

  • chris

    I would hope that this paper at least will do some digging and report the absolute fraud Dell and his so called flight school are. He lied to the media again. Hoping you realize that. BTW, any world records Dell claims, exist only in his head. Hopefully the media will investigate and show that no sanctioning organization has Dell being #1 in the world at anything other than making things up. It still amazes me that he can still attract students. Anyone that spends 30 seconds on google can see he is a total fraud. Hoping this is the beginning of the end of this fool before he kills someone else.

    • Chuck

      Exactly Chris…Thanks for spelling out the situation. As you said, Dell isn't #1 of anything beside being a buffoon. Surprising that people taking lessons with him haven't done diligence. Tragically, this time it cost a life. A simple Goggle search will reveal him to be the charlatan that he is. He has been kicked out of every reputable flying organization in the US. He is a classic narcissist and nothing short of physically stopping him from his reckless antics is required. He needs to see the inside of a jail cell for a very long time.

    • George

      It's really not a dick thing at all. It's the lack of or no concern at all about Henry Ho and Henry's family or other students who witnessed Henry's violent death. He is not standing up and solely taking full responsibility for his actions as a responsible instructor should or would. This act of abandonment of a student in need and his family is at best despicable and deplorable. His poppycock spew attitude is now sickening and deadly. This sport and it's participants need to demand accountability and hold liable those that are incompetent and teaching students, while knowingly putting their lives and safety at risk.

  • chris

    The article also fails to mention that Dell is not instructor rated by any recognized organization other than the one he made up. There is much more to this story Mr. Chambers. You have only cracked the surface. But thank you for the story and I hope you don't let it fade into the cracks without a diligent follow up.

    • George

      There is no such thing as rated. Incompetent instruction and reckless abandonment sure were practiced and employed through his own actions.

  • Angered

    Please, Please, PLEASE don't let this story die! Dell Schanze is a cancer on the paragliding world and needs to be grounded permanently. BTW… First-hand witness states that Henry Ho was being towed into the air by a rope, not picked up by a gust of wind which will probably come out in a few days in the official report.

  • Anonymous

    Us the members of the paragliding community have complained time and time again to the FAA about Dell Schanze and nothing has been done maybe now the media will be up on this?

  • PPG Pilot

    ….and just a coincidence that he is in Mexico right after the accident and has deleted his PPG forum and facebook posts back to April.

  • usppa certified inst

    he can try to delete as much of his lies as he wants but the internet holds on to its dead posts. an electronic signature so to speak never goes away. He knows this and it only serves to show his guilt by deleting the facts…I hope he gets slapped with a wrongful death suit by the mans family that puts him out of the game permanently

    • Liliu

      Folks, I dont live in USA. I'm trying to understand.

      I am curious to know:
      Is this the only fatal accident occurred in the USA associated to Dell in 12 years???
      How about other fatal accidents. Is there any fatal accident in the statistics associated to the members or instructors on those association like USPPA/USHPA??

      For sure, based on what I see in the internet, Dell is at least out of any standard.

  • A Pilot that knows!

    Funny… What FAA/CFI rating is there in paragliding? So, how can any idiot ask for the FAA to revoke someone's FAA license when there isn't one for paragliding or for PPG instruction? The student was operating under FAR Part 103… Which he and you can do anytime under the FAR Part 103 with or without instruction…

    • Liliu

      Folks, I dont live in USA. I'm trying to understand.

      I am curious to know:
      Is this the only fatal accident occurred in the USA associated to Dell in 12 years???
      How about other fatal accidents. Is there any fatal accident in the statistics associated to the members or instructors on those association like USPPA/USHPA??

  • SDHGPA

    The San Diego Hang-gliding and Paragliding Association (SDHGPA) extends its sincere condolences to the family of Henry Ho and Firmly supports USHPA's statements regarding Dell Schanze and his operations.

    SDHGPA encourages people interested in learning to fly hang gliders, paragliders, or power paragliders (PPG) to seek out trained instructors holding valid USHPA Instructor Appointments. This would exclude Dell Schanze, and his flight school operations.

    • SDHGPA

      More specifically: Dell Schanze and his flight school operations are not sanctioned by USHPA. Dell Schanze is also not a current USHPA member in good standing.

      Further, Dell Schanze and his flight school operations, as non USHPA members, are not welcome at SDHGPA maintained and Site Insured flying sites (Little Black, Blossom, Horse, Laguna, Big Black, Palomar, and Otay Mesa) or in 4 mile vicinity of those sites for any flight or ground handling activities.

      True Paragliding (PG) and Powered Paragliding (PPG) flight is conducted under FAR Part 103, and is deemed to be self regulating. However, the recognized Self Regulation body for our sports is the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (USHPA). All competent and respected instructors are members and abide by it’s self regulation guidelines.

      Please Reference USHPA’s Official Statement on 7-3-2013 at: http://www.ushpa.aero/

      Steve Rohrbaugh
      SDHGPA President
      (SDHGPA is a Local Chapter of USHPA)

      • George

        I see what you are saying but I disagree with the last statement,
        "All competent and respected instructors are members and abide by it’s self regulation guidelines".
        My instructor is not a member of anything and I certainly respect his 20,000+ hours of instruction and flying experience. He is a consummate professional and treats me very well. Other than your last sentence, I agree with your comments and are right in line with everyone I have talked to in this matter.

  • George

    Any instructor worth there own salt would take full responsibility for any students under there care, custody and control while they are under there supervision in an ongoing training environment. Any good instructor no matter who they are or what they are teaching try's to eliminate as many potential hazards to their students as possible before any class begins in any environment. Any students safety should always be first no matter what or that student needs to find a more competent instructor that will put their safety first. Ask a lot of questions and stay open minded when it comes to your personal safety! In the end you are responsible for selecting who trains you so take your time, don't rush and choose wisely! Ask for recommendations and then get a second and third opinion, it's only your life! May Henry rest in peace and God lift his Family in this life ahead.

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