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

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

Rembering our friend Nairn

April 3rd, 2009

Nairn Ferrier

A Husband, Father and Brother

 

Lost April 2009 along with 15 other

souls in the North Sea helicopter crash

Our friend, who will be sadly missed.

Jane’s first PG flight!

August 25th, 2008

Well, it’s been another successful weekend’s training in Scotland! This time, my partner Jane came up with me. Setting off at 11pm on Friday night, we arrived at Murray’s soon after 5am. Who needs sleep anyway?? Saturday proved to be another full day, with lots of tandem work and a couple more solo’s for me, plus some extended ridge soaring at Arbroath, but the real high point was Jane deciding that she wanted to find out exactly why we do what we do. It’s worth bearing in mind, we’re not youngsters. I’m 51 and Jane’s 46! Here’s her part of the story:

After watching my partner (Paul) having paragliding tuition from Murray Hay, I decided, after some encouragement, to ‘give it a go’.  I accompanied them both to a hillside near Dundee and after watching Paul and Murray, I suddenly found myself saying to Murray I was ready for a tandem flight.  I felt quite excited but did not give it too much thought – otherwise I might have talked myself out of it!

 A very short while later, Murray was getting me into the harness and Paul was doing up the straps; I was then anxious to ‘get up there’.  Basically all I had to do was relax and let Murray do all the work, which was quite reassuring.  After waiting for the wind to come right, we took a few steps and suddenly we were in the air and Murray called out: “Launching!”  It was a wonderful weightless feeling – I felt so calm and relaxed and in a way ‘free’.  I remember thinking so this is how the birds in the sky must feel.  We flew all the way down to the bottom of the hill and had a very smooth landing.  My partner came down the hill towards me and I had a big cheesy grin on my face, which said it all. 

 I did a further two flights before we changed location to Arbroath, where I experienced an extended ridge flight, soaring backwards and forwards along the coast, which was a faster pace and quite exhilarating.  We did lots of turns with Murray instructing me to ‘lean to the left, or right’.  It felt surreal to be flying over so many people and Murray encouraged me to give them a wave as we passed over them.  This flight lasted approximately 20 minutes, by which time I had lost my initial nerves and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.

 This experience helped me understand why paragliding holds so much appeal.  I am scared of heights and I really don’t think I could have done this had I not been so confident in Murray Hay’s ability.  I would highly recommend this tandem flying experience as if you don’t do it, you will never know what you are missing. I can’t wait to do it all again!

 Jane (& Strutty)

Paul (and others) 3 days training in Scotland

August 1st, 2008

In one single week during late July ’08 at Precision we had a total of 5 days of flight training (six days flying) in the east of Scotland. As is becoming more and more common the new PPC students entering the sport were from all across the UK, with this week folk arriving from Wolverhampton, Glasgow and Aberdeen areas to train.

Monday started with Paul coming up from England for a three day starter short course, opting to train at Precision rather than train with any of the (9) BHPA schools local to his home area!

Paul spent a lot of time looking at the paragliding standards on sites like YouTube, his main reason for choosing Precision came down to the fact that most (95%) of what I teach directly contradicts what is taught by the BHPA, and so results in a significant difference in standards.

Monday (‘Day One’): Paul arrived in Scotland very early and we met up in
Fife at sunrise (4:30 am!), with him having fairly high expectations for the three days training, I think it’s safe to say he left on Wednesday afternoon with those expectations more than exceeded!

Paul: “I didn’t take the decision to train with
Murray lightly. I knew it would involve a round trip of at least 700 miles, so had to be sure the effort and cost would be worthwhile. At the age of 51 and a total novice, I wanted to make sure I would receive the best training in safe flying. I was aware that paragliding can be dangerous, that accidents do happen, but I had no wish to become ‘another statistic’. Having spent several hours on the phone to him, (during which time we covered a lot of theory) I was confident I was doing the right thing. I’d already been awake a lot of hours, had done a day’s work and driven 430 miles by the time I met up with Murray, so it’s testament to his teaching skills that he managed to keep my mind and body focused on the tasks in hand. We had clocked up around 24 flights before I finally succumbed to exhaustion on a sunny Scottish hillside that afternoon.”

Murray:  Two late morning phone calls to the hill top from more new students (two from Aberdeen & one from  Glasgow area) worked in nicely as it would give Paul time to ‘cat nap’ later on in the afternoon, as training (as normal) was planned to continue till near sunset, subject of course to student ‘energy levels’!

In the middle of the day we delayed an intended bottom landing flight (for lunch) so we could also meet Sam (Glasgow) by the main road, continuing with short flights and then flying all the way to the farm once Sam had called from the big roundabout several miles south of the hill, giving us time to bottom land/fold the glider & walk to the main road.

Sam decided to travel to Tayside/Fife for his training despite two BHPA schools in his area, and only needed to wait a couple of weeks for the right conditions/day off work to get started. One advantage with Precision is, subject to my work commitments in commercial photography/property management, training takes place both mid-week & weekend, it is easy to quickly build the 15-25 hours airtime in a few months to reach the Precision PG Basic Pilot standard.

Having fed, watered & met up with Sam, Paul, Sam and myself were soon back at the hill top ready for more Dual Control flights, first flight of the afternoon session with Paul on the Dual controls, and following that demonstration Sam’s first flights observing & assisting the ‘Wing Warp’ primary control prior to flying with the Dual Controls connected on his next flights.

Once the other two new students (from Aberdeen) had arrived at the main SW launch point Paul took the opportunity to have a snooze while the other three took their turn flying using the Dual controls, often including the launch & landing.

Paul: “It was only the ONE snooze!”

During the mid –afternoon the only change from SOP (standard operating procedure) was that the mandatory calls of “LAUNCHING” were more a case of ‘shouting pianissimo’ i.e. “launching” (quietly!) so as not to disturb Paul ;-)

Paul: “They are a very considerate lot!”

After any walk ups (some flights were ‘top landing’) the last pilot filmed video for later review/YouTube of the next student, then just rested/watched the flying before it was their turn again. With everyone rapidly building airtime, including on the controls for launch & landing, the afternoon quickly passed, the only down point was Sam getting an emergency call to head back to the west coast after only having time for a few flights.

Based on the MET aviation reports I had predicted that Fife would ‘blow out’ some time between late afternoon & tea time so it was simply a matter of keeping a close eye on the conditions ‘Mark One Eyeball’, helped by MET updates via the mobile internet until, as forecast the conditions started to become too windy for good ‘Day One’ student tandem training.

Calling an end to that part of the days flight training and leaving the ‘part day’ students to walk down the hill,  Paul, after his short snooze.. got in one more big Dual Control flight to land leaving just a short walk to the car, then drive to Dundee for food & several cups of tea, a review of the flying (and MET updates) before Paul & the Aberdeen students headed to the last site of the day, everyone getting in several more short tandem flights in non-thermic (wind only) conditions, this in the early stages of training makes for better ground control ‘Taxi’ instruction.

Tuesday: As it had look likely on the longer term synoptic, it was too windy in Tayside/Fife so the morning was spent on review and more MET, Aerodynamics and other ground school work until Alan Coffin, an ex-BHPA pilot who re-trained with me a couple of years ago (and now has several 100 hours flight time) phoned to ask me to open one of our Class D airspace sites up in Aberdeen. He reported that the conditions there had become good, he often takes a ‘long lunch’ from work to fly our site under a mile from his office!… A quick call to ATC and an equipment check/load the car saw Paul on his way to fly his third site in
Scotland, stopping off to buy sunscreen!

Paul: “Yes – really! I seriously did not think I would need to pack that!”

We arrived in perfect timing to get in first more tandem training flights, before with the mellowing conditions saw Alan heading off and so, in the now lighter (and dropping) breeze Paul got his first solo hop’s.Wednesday: Being Paul’s last (part) day in Scotland and needing to leave early to drive back to England, the choice was
Fife again, in part to save him some driving time, and so gain more time for flying. The wind forecast was for SSW to SW and as the intention was for more solo airtime, it was another SW site where we have private vehicle access direct to the top of the open grassy slope, giving first easy Dual Control tandem training and soon switching to the solo equipment (and back) as the conditions dictated the type of training during the morning/early afternoon.

In conclusion I leave Paul to sum up his start in the sport:

Paul: “How many instructors do you know who would be willing to meet up and start the day at 4.30am? And continue training until sunset? That sums up Murray Hay’s commitment to, and passion for, the sport. Paragliding, like many other

outdoor sports, is very much subject to the weather, and this is where
Murray’s knowledge of the weather and surrounding area plus access to a huge range of launch sites, is such a bonus. We were able to successfully train and fly at a variety of sites without training being adversely affected by changing conditions.

It wasn’t difficult to have confidence in, and great respect for, a guy who can demonstrate such incredible flying skills and depth of knowledge.
Murray’s teaching style is unique and effective. Rather than telling you things, he encourages you to realise that by utilising the information you already have, it’s possible to find the answer for yourself. This results in a greater degree of understanding and knowledge retention. He also exhibits enormous patience!
The third day culminated in my first real solo flights, and with my confidence boosted by
Murray’s calm instructions over the radio, I executed the required tasks and made safe landings at the bottom of the hill. I enjoyed it so much I was convinced I would require surgery to remove the grin off my face!

I didn’t really expect to go ‘solo’ during this first trip to
Scotland, thinking that all flying would be on the dual control tandem, so I was delighted to have been able to take such a major step before having to leave. I will approach my next visit with much more confidence. I am utterly hooked and can’t wait for time and funds to allow the next session!”

Flying in Goa, India

April 25th, 2008

Over the Easter Holidays in March this year I flew out to Mumbai and on to Goa for a Paragliding/Site seeing break. I’ve been to India before. A country diverse and full of culture and you are never lonely with 1 Billion people around!

goa.gif

Goa lies to the south of Mumbai on the Arabian Sea. There are plenty of beaches on North and South Goa with a number of take off points above the cliffs. The location I was flying was above Arjuna Beach in North Goa. There are many hazards to consider in the form of coconut trees and shrubs all over the area. Also tree landings are common there where the locals will endure the biting red ants to retrieve a deflated canopy. I saw one unfortunate incident where a pilot decided to go tree hugging. Careful flight planning was the order of the day where there were limited options for both top and bottom landings. There were local pilots around who advised on flying conditions and the best spots to go.

If you enjoy coastal soaring then Goa is a great location for a flying trip. I did not get a chance to go XC but going over the back was a real risk because of the density of the trees and consideration for the retrieve.

But getting good height on some of the days provided worthwhile with splendid views of the area.

Food drink and accommodation are relatively cheap with Beer around 70p a bottle, a two course meal for £3, and a room with A/C for £13 a night so for the Tight Fisted Scotsman it is Heaven.

Mumbai is around a 9 hour flight from London Heathrow. BA, Virgin, Air India, Sri Lankan Airlines all operate regular flights there.

My next trip away is to Chamonix in France in May with Ian Archer to fly from the steep slopes and hopefully avoid the strong valley winds in the afternoons.

Hope to see you on the hill soon.

Fly Safe!

Duncan

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

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

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.

gd-01.gif

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

2008 – First Flight of the New Year – Leadlich, Aberdeenshire.

January 7th, 2008

Happy New Year to you all !

Like most folks who were feeling the over indulgence of the Festive period I was keen to get my first flight in for the New Year. The forecast for Sunday 6th Jan was for the wind from the south to ease later on in the day. I phoned Scott Rigg who was in Inverness and he recommended I call Adrian which I did. To cut a long story short as I was at my Mum’s in Banchory I thought a quick trip out to Leadlich would do harm and to see if any other folks had the same intentions….

I pulled up behind Jules and Guillaume (members of the AHPC) at the lay-by near Tarland. A third chap (Audi All-terrain estate) was also there. We headed up the track and met John Newton travelling down in his vehicle. John had already one flight in, filling us with confidence saying that conditions went from nil wind to gusting 25 mph plus and after taking off he was going backwards…

leadlich.jpg

Photos taken using my LG Camera Phone

We all opted to walk up for the exercise, refusing a lift from John. He dropped off his wing and drove down to the car park. We all got to the top and sheltered behind the cairn. Conditions were too strong. After 30 minutes conditions eased and all five of us got off and worked the ridge lift. After 25 minutes we all started dropping as conditions eased and we all bottom landed in the field next to the trees. I was pleased in that I was first to take off and last to land. Probably because I am very light on the Aeron 28 after having lost 3.5 stone…must get a medium wing…

After packing up we headed to the Crossroads Hotel for a pint

Later Simon Lucas and his girlfriend had a Tandem Top To Bottom (TTTB) in nil wind conditions.

First flight of the year bagged by all that were out and hopefully many more to come….

Fly Safe!,

Duncan

Another sunny day ‘up top’ in Scotland…. Foggy Bottom down below!

December 21st, 2007

Taking a ‘long lunch’ on Friday afternoon from a FOGGY Dundee saw me heading north to Craigowl to test fly Nairn’s new (2nd hand) DHV 2 Ozone, joined in the 4×4 by somewhat sceptical Nairn we were 2/3rds of the way up the hill and still in thick fog!

Alan had phoned earlier to say that (at that time) visability was Ok and he could see the back of the hill from about 15 miles to the north west where he was… so I was relying on the MET reports, local knowledge and Alan’s ‘mark one eyeball’…. and yep the “plan came together”…. Dig out the sun cream, a complete dome of blue sky opened up above us in about 100ft (vertical) further up the slope… by the time we were at launch level the fog was a few 100 feet below us!

It was intresting over the next hour to watch the ebb & flow of the fog ‘lapping’ around the hill, at times the gaps had fog flowing to the north and a while later flowing back south, with the valleys on both sides of the hill full of fog. Even the front of the hill while there was a steady east drift visible all the time, localy patches were moving in oposition to the main drift, useful to see how the air mixes on light breeze days.

So not much flying to be had, just a few short test flights, but one of those days just being on hill top was enough to make it a afternoon to remember!

 Murray Hay

Oh and the temp down at the farm was -3.5*c with about <100m vis in freezing fog!

Press cutting from Saturday 22nd December

Winter High Time….

December 20th, 2007

After a FANTASTIC week of personal flying the weekend was looking to be a lot less intensive for me as many of the members & students were ‘booked’ to do family stuff, mainly involving a jolly fat man in a red flying suit! I wonder if he was telling Nair’s crew about some of his mid winter epic XC flights?

Sat was a meet up with just Duncan for the first of two days planned flying, taking the ‘student free’ chance to fly a favorite technical site of mine which as Duncan mentions in his post was a new site for him. From my normal parking spot it was a 5 min hike for Duncan to the ‘second site’ launch point of this split site (two owners, both requiring the private site to be ‘booked’) for me it was the shooting range cliff launch and then ‘jump the gap’ to fly along to the mid cliff landing zone, keeping the wing up to jog up the rock face to show Duncan the layout/pull up and launch areas for the day.

Due to the highly technical nature launches at this stepped cliff site mean even long term members need to go through the full site brief, however once in the air the flying here once ‘sussed’ is often very easy, the main issue on this day being the x-wind factor leading to fast down wind beats but easier launches and landings 🙂

 Flying was in lovely warm conditions with the inversion making it feel more like Autumn rather than mid winter, even the inversion haze was not an issues at it was mostly below the flying site take off and landing altitudes. Part way through the day then again at the end of flying we were joined up on the hill by one of the landowners and his son on their dirt bikes, as a 1,000hr GA pilot he often comes up to chat about aviation in general but is yet to have a flight on the tandem..

Checking the conditions at the top of Dundee Law, prior to meeting Duncan

Sunday saw Jonathan across to further build on the flying tasks he had been practicing at Morrone the previous weekend. the pickup loaded it was up to the low hill launch as the ‘top field’ part of the site was (at that time of the day) still below the inversion layer and almost still, but a couple of 100ft up at the low launch the windsock showed 10ft above the ground there was a nice steady 10kt wind almost directly up slope.

The first part of the day was taken up with JR practicing tricky “double bounce” launches with the wing on the ground only in about a couple of knots breeze… a delicate touch required! With steady progress and a lot of short flights completed… 2 mins back to launch point by 4×4 so no walking required 😉 Duncan arrived midday from the Aberdeen area, and it was now time to shift further up the hill to the mid launch area for a lot more flights & retrives, finaly another shift to the top area after 2pm, flying from where Duncan had hiked up to earlier.

The day was lots of good flights for JR, with the delicate launches and ground control all coming together nicely and the bigger flights giving him time to both enjoy the view more and work on turns and fine tuning both the variations in approach path and the landings (also getting better and better).

The last flight was about 20 mins after Duncan’s last one and the first one for JR from next the masts, with a bit of ‘air to air’ filming (shortly to be added to YouTube) it was a ‘hard’ cut back to the hill for me to spot in next the 4×4 to drive down and collect JR.

 A GREAT DAYS flying and training… the only issue being a wrong turn on the drive down resulting in the pickup being nearside ‘nose down’ in a BIG hole… (about 2 1/2 foot air gap under the rear wheel on the drivers side!) fortunately the trick with putting on the handbrake (to lock the rear wheels) put all the power to the front wheels and a drive back out of the hole! 10 mins later and a ‘alternative’ route saw the 4×4 down at the landing field to pick up JR and drive him back to the farm and his car ready for the long drive back to the west coast.

Murray Hay (VERY Glad for all practice driving 4×4’s while doing commercial photographic work on ‘off road’ courses over the years!)