Woman dies after falling from light aircraft

TAIPEI, TAIWAN - A 21-year-old woman surnamed Su died yesterday morning after boarding a light aircraft and suddenly jumping from it at a height of 100 meters and without any life-saving equipment in Guanshan Township, Taitung County.

According to the police investigation, Su, the daughter of a doctor, lived in Taipei. She and a female friend stayed at a guest house in Taitung on Tuesday.

The owner of the guest house, surnamed Zhang, used to run a light aircraft company. He stopped the business after an accident in 1996, which caused the death of a foreign tourist.

Zhang said that Su and her friend pressured Zhang to take them for a ride on the light aircraft. Because it was Su's birthday yesterday, Zhang reluctantly agreed.

The flight took off at around 7 a.m. with Zhang piloting it and Su in the back seat. About five minutes after takeoff, when the plane was flying at about 100 meters, just over the top of the Guanshan Township optic bridge, Su, without warning, unlocked her seat belt and leaped to her death.

"When I looked back, she was gone," said Zhang.

The friend said that she hadn't noticed Su behaving strangely.

A note was left behind in Su's seat on the aircraft saying "sorry" to Zhang, and in Su's bedroom there was a letter addressed to her father. Police said that the cause of Su's death is under investigation and did not rule out the possibility that Su had committed suicide.

Police have informed Su's families after the accident, Su's father has since gone to Taitung to learn more about the situation.