A HANG glider is lucky to be alive this morning after hitting the face of a cliff in the Watagans and dangling unconscious for more than an hour.
Witnesses saw the man veer into the cliff near the Hunter Lookout in the Heaton State Forest about 1pm yesterday afternoon.
Jason Sattler from the Cessnock District Rescue Squad said they arrived at the scene and found the man dangling upside down from his harness.
The glider had become entangled in several small trees.
When the rescue squad reached the man, he was unconscious but breathing.
A NSW Ambulance Service rescue helicopter was unable to winch the man to safety, and instead he was lifted to the top of the lookout by a vertical rescue haulage system.
It took about 90 minutes to secure the injured man into a stretcher before lifting him to safety.
He suffered head, spinal and internal injuries and was flown to John Hunter Hospital, where a Hunter New England Health spokeswoman said he was in a serious condition this morning.
Mr Sattler said the rescue operation was long and delicate.
‘‘Due to the nature and complexity of the incident emergency personnel from various services attended the scene and all worked extremely well together in very adverse conditions, including 40 degree heat,’’ he said.