Archive for February, 2008

Near ‘Airprox’ with two Grobb aircraft out of Leuchars.. & other issues.

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

A reminder to members about the need to maitain both contact with ATC (via radio) on some of the club sites (mainly Forret & Mount hill) in addition to checking with Murray, who is the site contact with the landowners/Farm managers, for the other nogotiated club flying sites.

 While the changes in land access do open up most of Scotland for foot access (including to climb to hill tops for launching) the act expressly states that there is a duty to ‘maintain contact’ with the land managers for recognised flying sites… Please remember that it is due, over the last ten years to many 100’s of hours of hard work and a considerable amount of money, which has been spent on improving fences and tracks etc. etc. as well as donating numerous bottles of malt to farmers and/or taking them tandem flying, that has resulted in the club being widely welcomed by the farmers & landowners, often on sites which the farmers have previously asked BHPA pilots to refain from flying due to accidents or stock/crops issues!

 The great reputation the club has built up over the years can be just as easily lost by ANY PG pilots (including members!) just turning up with no idea of the current go/no-go areas (or having accidents!) or damaging crops/fences/disturbing stock recently put back on to the hills, or of course flying outwith agreements/clearence (with ATC).

Already this year there have been a couple of instances where farmers have been annoyed by (in one case, non-members) flying at sites/areas of sites, which we were currently requested not to used!

NB. A (non-UK) pilot involved in one recent complaint from a farmer had, it turns out also flown with friends illegally in the Class D airspace near Glasgow!

Near Airprox: Forret Hill, Fife.

On Sunday there was almost an ‘Airprox’ when two Grobb aircraft out of Leuchars flew at low level (one BELOW hill top height) only about 60sec after the tandem had landed from a ridge & thermal flight on the SW corner of Forret, if the tandem had still been in the air separation would have been in the region of 20-30 feet verticaly and 50-100ft horizontaly AT BEST… 

As gliders we of course have right of way over powered aircraft BUT as low flight is part of the requirments of fast jet flying and along with the other branches of the armed forces it is the RAF that helps to maintain the freedoms we in the UK enjoy… the club has a ‘letter of agreement’ with RAF Leuchars to provide for safer aviation BOTH for the club and for RAF pilots. This letter states that in the intrests of safety of all pilots, Murray will advise Leuchars Zone, on its designated frequency, PRIOR to gliding commencing and then again at the end of flying for the day.

In addition to this agreement due to its location at times a TRA may be in operation which would make gliding at Forret Hill illegal, generaly due to airshows/’royal’ flights/exercises, at times restrictions may be at very short notice hence radio contact is generaly maintained.

NB. If flying ‘non-radio’ (after ‘opening’ the site) ATC can always contact Murray direct via MSG on the landline or on the mobile if need arises.

The duty controler at Leuchars having been advised of the situation (Near Airprox) has spoken to those concerned, however never forget it is in the intrests of us as PG pilots to do our best to ensure safe seperation from both ‘prop’ and Jet aircraft, this is best done by complying with the arangments that have been in place for the last ten years.

It is important to remember that Forret Hill is almost directly in line with Leuchars main runway and at just over 4 miles distance Jets can quite legaly pass over the hill at very low level easily within 60sec of take off… and ‘wake’ can easily ‘take out’ any paraglider which is remaining out of sight of the jets due to it soaring low on the ‘front’ face of the hill!

 Murray Hay

Flying in the Valley of the Green Dragons

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Rather than head up to Aberdeen last weekend, I stayed down in London and planned a trip to the BHPA Green Dragons Paragliding School. Run by Andy Shaw the school is in Woldingham, Surrey about 20 minutes by train from London Victoria.

I spoke to Andy on the Friday evening and we both had the same opinion for Saturday that would see light southerlies. Andy suggested the site at Pilgrims Farm.

Saturday morning saw me take tubes and trains from Stratford with my Advance wing on my back. Good exercise walking down all the steps through Oxford Street Tube Station from the Central Line to the Victoria Line with a large bulky item!

I had a map of the site from www.streetmap.co.uk and picked up a taxi at Oxted, the next station from Woldingham. Heading through the countryside I saw the familiar paragliding shapes and bright coloured flying suites on the side of a small hill on the North Downs.

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The site was small by ESP standards. A mix of Club Pilots and Day 1 tasters were on the hill. I spoke to a few pilots and watched as some launched, went into short beats and landed.

I spend the next 5 hours having a great time pulling up, flying short beats, slope landing with the wing overhead and walking back up to start again. At no time did I gather my wing having managed to kite back up or walk backwards with the wing overhead. I find the Advance wing ground handles better than my Nova Aeron.

I was the last to pack up and got a lift back to Lewisham where I connected with the Docklands Light Railway.

I noted the various standards of the pilots. Clearly all the hours spent Ground Handling with PBM/ESP paid off. Only a few pilots had their wings over head and occasionally they looked behind to check on a reverse launch.

I offered some suggestions for improvement to a few who generally agreed with me. A friendly bunch including the Day 1 folks who were enjoying some extended flights to the bottom.

I hope to get back there soon and fly some of the other sites. The other opportunity at Green Dragons is for tow launching. I want to give it a go perhaps next time.

See you on the hill soon!

As always Fly Safe

Duncan