Archive for the ‘Safety!’ Category

The new LOA (Letter of Agreement) between ESP & RAF Leuchars.

Monday, May 4th, 2009

 With changes in personel at Leuchars it is once again time for Murray to sign the latest update of the club’s LOA with RAF Leuchars. Just to remind members, the LOA covers a number of the clubs paragliding sites in the NE of Fife and helps ensure there is no conflict between paragliding and fast/heavy ‘wake’ aircraft on low level sorties or departing from Leuchars in the case of Forret/Lindifferon.

 In addition to the named/notified PG sites, as the LARS unit provides ‘conflict’ information to the many GA aircraft flying in this part of Fife they can also assist us in maintaining safe seperation from light aircraft by advising those GA pilots of the areas we are thermal flying, provided radio contact with ATC is maintained.

 While there are only minor up-date changes (mainly including more detailed information regarding thermal flights/routes) members are required to read the LOA before flying at a number of the training sites managed by Precision Paragliding.

At some of the ‘open’ sites along the Tay south bank it is strongly advised to check with Murray as to the site status on that day (farmers/landowners requests) as well as to let the RAF controllers inform the Jet Jocks where we are soaring.
Remember it’s not just to ensure safe separation between RAF Jets if anything the hazards from Helicopters quite legaly flying in the Class G airspace of Fife passing in front of a slope or over the top of a hill at low level can not be over stated!

Not to mention that on occasions the controler may call Murray up on the radio to check no PG pilots are about to bottom land… then pass (on one occasion 4 in tight formation following the A92 well below hill top height!) some jets BELOW the paragliders! 

Murray Hay

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