A 25-year-old student at Queen's University in Belfast plunged to her death in front of her boyfriend when the wings of her glider inexplicably fell off.
Amy Barsby was killed instantly while taking part in an inter-university gliding competition in Oxfordshire.
Her grieving father yesterday spoke of the family's loss as they tried to come to terms with what had happened.
Steven Barsby said Amy's boyfriend, Bruce Duncan, a gliding instructor, witnessed the wings of her aircraft falling off.
The disaster occurred despite a test flight passing off without incident.
Gliders are launched by a tractor-type machine that pulls them along. As the air gets under the wings it lifts into the sky.
Her father said: “She reached the right height when her partner, who was witnessing it, saw a wing separate. It sounds like they more or less came away at the same time and then it plunged down to the ground.
“It was all over in a few seconds.
“Bruce witnessed the event and we understand that his first reaction was to instantly call the emergency services.
“Fortunately he was prevented from seeing Amy at the crash scene, but he is struggling to make sense why such a lovely young woman has been taken from us at such a young age. His family have been able to get to him and his mum and sister reached him on Monday.
“The emergency vehicle was on scene very quickly and I think it was apparent that she died |instantly.”
Despite being just 25 years old, Amy, who came from Longridge, near Preston, Lancashire, had |10 years' experience of flying |gliders.
A formal investigation into the tragedy has been launched.