Emergency Landing at Montecito Union School

By Nick Schou   |   March 11, 2021
Paragliders performing emergency landing at MUS last week

At 2:07 pm, Montecito resident Abe Powell was driving north on San Ysidro Road when he noticed a pair of paragliders swinging in the sky. “They were just too low,” Powell said. “I knew they weren’t going to make it to the beach, because they were coming low and towards the powerlines that come across Montecito.”

Just as Powell reached Montecito Union School, he could see that there were three, not just two, gliders, all of whom were running out of time to find a landing zone. “I could tell they didn’t want to land at Manning Park, because there are too many trees, and Lower Manning is basically in a mini-valley,” he said. “So I figured for sure they were going to land at the school.”

Powell notified a crossing guard who was on his walkie-talkie; he had just contacted a teacher across the street. “Everyone got on the radio and managed to clear the field of kids just as three paragliders crash landed, and the kids got quite a show,” he said. “The school was all over it really quickly. It was funny and nobody got hurt.”

It was quite the event,” confirmed Assistant Principal Rusty Ito. “We had three paragliders land on our track safely.” He added that a fourth paraglider landed at a separate location nearby, also without incident. “Our staff moved kids to a safe location to observe the landing. And we were able to escort the gliders to a gate in a remote area of the campus where they could get picked up.”

According to Ito, the paragliders were circling above the school long enough so that the school was able to safely relocate students. “They wanted to make sure it was safe,” he explained. “They were very respectful and apologetic and said it was the only place they could land.”


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