Kiwi skydiving instructor killed in base jump

Alan McCandish. Photo / Facebook
Alan McCandish. Photo / Facebook

A New Zealand base jumper has died in a jump in Switzerland while taking a holiday from his Taupo skydive instructor's job.

Professional thrillseeker Alan Malcolm McCandlish, 31, died in the mountain region of Berner Oberland, about 200 km southwest of Zurich, at 10.40am on Saturday (local time).

A statement from Bern police said he hit a ledge, plunged over the cliff and then fell onto another ledge.

Other base jumpers had been with him and witnesses alerted authorities.

He was found dead at the scene, police said.

A German friend, Dom Habersack paid tribute to Mr McCandlish on Twitter.

"The skydiving world has lost a legend. Watch over us, Alan McCandlish. I am glad to have known you.''

The adrenalin junkie had been touring Europe's base jumping hot-spots over the last month with two mates, Teroy Attwood and Benjamin MacPherson.

Mr MacPherson, of Taupo, posted the news on his Facebook page, vowing to return his friend's body to his homeland.

"The brother has left us with beautiful memories. Alan Malcolm McCandlish. What a legend he is. R.I.P. my brother. He is free.''

Today, his employer at Taupo Tandem Skydiving was devastated to lose "a natural'' skydiver who had been at the firm for four years.

His boss, chief executive Hamish Funnell said McCandlish was "a real good bastard'' who will be missed by everyone.

"It was a hell of a shock to the system. Alan was a bloody nice guy, well liked by anybody who had anything to do with him.

Mr Funnell estimated McCandlish had performed around 4000 skydives in his lifetime, but stressed it was a far cry from the dangerous sport of base jumping.

Last year, another New Zealander, Ted Rudd, 35, died after a failed jump in Norway.

"I can't speak to the base jumping side of things ... I understand Alan had been doing it a while,'' Mr Funnell said.

"But as a skydiver, he was an outstanding skydiver, just naturally talented.''

He said McCandlish and his two pals, MacPherson and Attwood had been searching out the top European base jumping sites.

He was phoned this morning to be told the bad news.

"It wasn't Alan's first time over there doing that,'' Funnell said.

"Europe is well known for having quite a few sites for people to jump off, and quite a lot of skydivers take a few months off in winter, when it's a quiet time for us, to go do something different.''

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was aware of the death and was offering consular assistance to Mr McCandlish's family.

- APNZ

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