Son saw parachute jump dad plunge to his death

The teenage son of an 
Edinburgh director who died in a parachute jump witnessed his father’s fatal fall.

Former banking executive David Ball plunged to the ground at Strathallan Airfield, near Auchterarder in Perth and Kinross, on Saturday.

Oscar Ball, 16, had travelled with his father to the airfield and was on site when Mr Ball suffered a parachute malfunction and fell to his death.

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The Stewart’s Melville pupil was said to be “absolutely inconsolable” and “utterly devastated” by onlookers after being informed his father had died at the weekend.

It is believed his main parachute failed to open and Mr Ball, 56, may not have had time to deploy his reserve as he jumped from around 4000ft due to the plane being unable to climb higher because of poor 

In better conditions, aircraft can climb to heights of up to 13,000ft.

It is unknown if Oscar – who is also a qualified solo skydiver with more than 20 jumps to his credit – had also been planning to jump on Saturday.

He was amongst those spoken to by club officials, police and members of the British Parachute Association in the wake of the tragic accident.

A source said: “The boy was absolutely inconsolable, which is no surprise at all. He was 
obviously close to his dad and he had been to the club with him before.

“To be there when something tragic like that happens would be hard enough for anyone to take but for a young boy, he would be utterly devastated.”

Oscar made his first solo skydive days after his 16th birthday in October last year and had reported helping pack his father’s parachute for a previous jump.

In a tweet last month, Oscar said: “Absolutely buzzing learnt how to pack ma dads brand new chute then he actually went and jumped my pack job and said it was his best opening!”

Mr Ball was a licensed pilot who lived in Barnton with his hairdresser wife.

In line with strict guidelines, the reserve parachute would have been packed by a fully qualified independent rigger with specialist training.

It can take up to an hour to pack and cannot be done by a person who is not qualified at the highest level.

Mr Ball’s other son, Elliot, has flown home from training with the Scottish ski squad in France after being told of his father’s death.

Elliot, 18, was in the middle of a continental training camp with the national junior 

Arrangements were made for him to fly back to Scotland to join his devastated mother, Ruth, 55, Oscar and sister Rowan at the family’s home.

Investigations are continuing into the circumstances of the accident, which led to Mr Ball plummeting to the ground close to Strathallan Castle, some distance from the landing zone.

A Tayside Police spokesman said: “A full report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal. The family of Mr Ball request that their privacy be respected at this sad time.”

Cloudy weather on Saturday meant it was unsafe for the Cessna launch plane to go any higher than 3000-4000ft.

Investigators are looking at the possibility that the relatively low launch height may have played a key role in the tragedy.

The low height meant the first parachute would have been deployed almost immediately upon leaving the aircraft.

Kieran Brady, chairman of Skydiving Strathallan, said he did not want to comment on Mr Ball’s death.