A PARAGLIDER who lost control of his aircraft and hit a power line before crashing to earth has been described as a “best mate to everyone”.

Thomas Prince, known by his family and friends as Tom, died after crashing to the ground in a paraglider on August 31.

An inquest in Salisbury on Tuesday heard that the 26-year-old from Gillingham in Dorset had borrowed a friend’s new paraglider wing to try it out on the summer evening, in a field off the A350 near East Knoyle.

In a witness statement, Mr Prince’s friend Tom Prideaux-Brune said he had just bought the new glider wing, which was “in very good condition”.

He described Mr Prince’s take-off, at about 7pm, as “very smooth”, but said that as he approached the field again to land about 10 minutes later he started to perform a series of turns to bring him lower.

“These manoeuvres resulted in Tom gaining significant speed,” he said.

Another friend, Harry Penny, said: “Everything looked very controlled and smooth, as it should.

“We didn’t realise anything was wrong until it was too late. He was dropping height extremely quickly.”

He crashed to the ground, hitting a low-voltage power line, and despite attempts by his friends and the emergency services to revive him he was pronounced dead at the scene.

A report by Dave Thompson, of the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, found that Mr Prince had had about 50 hours of air time prior to the incident, having trained to fly a paraglider in July 2017.

The wing was later examined and no faults were found, but Mr Thompson said the model - a Paramania GTX 22 - was aimed at “experienced pilots or racers”.

A pathologist found the medical cause of death to be multiple traumatic injuries, and recording the death as an accident, coroner David Ridley said: “Tom’s unfamiliarity with this more advanced wing is a material factor [to his death].”

Mr Prince’s father, Kevin Prince, said: “Tom was obviously the most-loved son you could have, and he’ll be missed by everybody.

“He was everybody’s best mate.”