‘Her eyes would light up’: Tributes flow for Victorian champion hang glider killed in NYE crash

On December 25th, the Martin family got together for a white Christmas in sunny Sunbury.

While it was hot in Melbourne’s north-west, where most of the Martin family live, the theme of their Christmas was ‘white’ and while they played Secret Santa a plethora of white gifts bleached the family living room.

Emma Martin loved hang gliding. Photo: Facebook

There was nothing secret about the gift Emma Martin received from her sister Kylea, who got her a T-shirt with her face printed on it that read: ‘Best sister’.

It’s this the family remembers her wearing as she spoke excitedly about competing at the annual Forbes Flatlands Hang Gliding Championships the following week.

Sadly, it would be the family’s last Christmas together with Emma – the youngest of four siblings.

“She was so excited about competing as intermediate glider at Forbes,” Kylea said. “Her eyes, her whole face would just light up whenever she spoke about hang gliding.”

Emma Martin was 31 when she died during a training run at the championships in Parkes, in NSW’s central west.

A photo of Emma during a 2015 glide. Photo: Facebook

The Martin family on Monday described Emma as their ‘baby’ who was both clever, had a bubbly personality and an exceptional adventurous streak. Her day job – working in a laboratory as a microbiology manager – masked her fierce thirst for adventure and sport that she satisfied with hang gliding – her true love.

“She just loved the feeling of being up there,” Kylea said. “Ever since her first tandem flight four years ago near Geelong she was hooked.”

It now gives the family comfort knowing that Emma died doing what she loved.

“We just want to say that we as a family are heartbroken, we are devastated,” Kylea said. “She is a daughter, a sister, an aunty of three children … and we will all miss her terribly.

“It gives us comfort that she died doing what she loved so much.”

Bystanders rushed to Ms Martin’s aid at Peak Hill on Saturday afternoon before the arrival of emergency services, who continued CPR, but were unable to revive her.

On social media, tributes from friends who had remained close to Emma from high school and university were flowing.

They described her as being fun, caring and someone who loved “getting dirty playing in the dirt”.

Friend Sandy Nieuwenhoven described a woman with a “great adventurous streak” who would be sadly missed.

“We will miss her always,” another friend wrote.

Others shared their personal stories. “The thing I remember the most about her was her ease of friendship, her smile and how much she was terrified of fish,” friend Meagan McCabe wrote.

“We went out one night for Thai and they had a fish tank with fish swimming around, and she spent the entire meal convinced that they were going to jump out and get her.”

Emma Martin’s Facebook page depicts her passion for hang gliding.

In December she celebrated her 200th solo flight in a hang glider by posting a video of one of her trips.

“Making the decision and finally learning to fly is still the best decision I have ever made,” she wrote.

Her feed is filled with excited posts and descriptions of her flights. In early November, she posted about her first foot launch with a Gecko hang glider.

Police and hang gliding experts will investigate the crash and prepare a report for the coroner.

The Age

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