A French stuntman snared the sail of his paraglider on the torch of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor Thursday, and was left dangling on the statue's massive arm before being hauled to safety by rescuers.
The man, identified as Thierry Devaux, 41, had intended to land somewhere on Liberty Island, carrying a sign protesting the use of land mines. It was not immediately clear whether he had hoped to land on the statue itself or on the ground.
Devaux, who tried a similar stunt last year with less fanfare, was not injured, police said.
Devaux had a propeller-driven motor that looked like a giant fan strapped to his back. There is a sport called powered paragliding that uses a backpack engine, called a paramotor, that allows gliders to cover greater distances and heights without the need for wind. It also allows gliders to start from level ground, instead of a high point.
Members of the NYPD's emergency service, harbor and aviation units responded to the scene.
The scene was broadcast from TV news helicopters. Before the rescue, Devaux could be seen hanging from the statue's outstretched arm, with the bright orange parachute partially covering the flame.
The bizarre incident left hundreds of early morning tourists, already lined up for their turn to climb the 22-story monument, shaking their heads in disbelief.
Nick Russo, a tourist from London, said, "It looked like a James Bond sort of thing. This piece of kit on his back called a paraglider, a big parachute and a propeller encased on his back. I thought it was Sean Connery coming down to take the bad guys away."
The statue is 151 feet high from base to torch. From the bottom of its pedestal to the torch is more than 300 feet.
The park is accessible by ferry from Manhattan and New Jersey. It had 5.3 million visitors in 1999, the last year for whch figures were available.
Standing at the entrance to New York Harbor, near neighboring Ellis Island, the statue is one of the most recognized in the world. A gift of international friendship from France, the statue dedicated in 1886 and designated a National Monument in 1924. It was extensively restored in time for its centennial.
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