ESP club Blog WordPress weblog for members & friends of East Scotland Paragliding club


Club members flying at Nigg, Class D – NOTAM/Weather Limits Etc.

Filed under: Club days in Aberdeenshire,Club East Coast Days,Site Restrictions — Murray Hay @ 10:48 pm

ESP club members can fly at Nigg (and some of our other sites within the Aberdeen CTR which is Class D Airspace down to ground level, with clearance generally up to 200ft PROVIDED that the conditions at Dyce are good enough to allow ATC to issue a SVFR (Special Visual Flight Rules) clearance, which in essence lets our PG pilots fly without needing to maintain radio contact with the control tower.

Nigg Class D

In the case of flying at Brimmond Hill, which is within the ATZ (Class D) at least one pilot MUST be in direct contact with ATC i.e that pilot MUST hold a FRTO and be carrying a Type Approved, Licenced Airband Radio, if flying with other (non-radio) member the pilot in contact with ATC MUST be able to instruct all other paraglider to land promptly when instructed by ATC (I.e. using ‘box two’ R/T on 118.675mHz, the club Freq, or by use of an audio ‘land’ warning like say an AirHorn)

For new members the basic procedure is to phone/text Murray on 0783-11-22-480 (you can also Email giving the requested OPENING (& CLOSING) time

 NOTE you MUST state as to if times you are requesting ‘Zulu’ OR if times you give are ‘Local’, as in the summer the error in giving the wrong reference is one hour! Closing time can also be given as end of Aviation Daylight (30 mins after official sun down aat the Airfield)

ATC also requires to know how many gliders the clearance is for, if this includes non-members they MUST be flying legally i.e NO USE OF ILLEGAL 2m RADIOS Etc! As Class D clearance can NOT be given for illegal flying!

Due to the limits imposed on a SVFR, ATC MUST be able to use a single point of contact to close the clearance at short notice FOR ALL PARAGLIDERS FLYING, this happens a few times per year when the weather (normally cloud base heights) drops below certain limits.


This week we also had a rare case of the change in the classification of the ‘Class D’! Alan Coffin had sent a request text to Murray requesting that Nigg be activated for two hours, till 1900 (local) and was able to start flying as soon as the request had been approved by ATC, with the conditions changing towards the end of the SVFR in fact this day flying ended (text sent) and Murray phoned ATC to close the Class D, as on checking earlier the METAR/TAF on SkyBookGA (BlackBerry access) Murray had noted that Aberdeen CTR was ‘NOTAMED’ for one hour (from 2000 to 2100) to CHANGE TO CLASS A AIRSPACE….. The change to Class A (NO VFR permitted) was due to a Royal Flight, so it is not just weather conditions which can result in ATC requiring us to not/stop paragliding, and on occasions this can be at short notice! One other occasion I experienced was when flying in the Leuchars MATZ, on ‘7/11’ when the whole of the UK Airspace was shut down

 Murray Hay

PS If other (NON-members) pilots are added to the Class D clearance, the clearance CAN ONLY REMAIN ACTIVE WHILE at least one ESPclub member is present.


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

Filed under: Club days in Aberdeenshire,East Scotland — Dunc1261 @ 05:59 pm

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…


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!,



Morrone or Moron?

Filed under: Club days in Aberdeenshire — Joe Smith @ 01:07 pm

Did anyone else read the comments added to Duncan’s post from Morrone last week and the subsequent article in the adventure blog? Did you wonder if you were really on the same hill? Full of tales of broken lines and ground handling errors. Advice heard by no-one but the head-honcho himself. Unseen maps and weather info. Saving a pilot by talking him down on the radio. Tales of heroic flying in wind shear that no-one else could have possibly survived – and not so much as a bead of sweat crossed his furrowed brow. Mmmm me thinks a certain canoeist isn’t the only one with selective memory problems. Certainly does make for interesting reading though and, personally speaking, I can’t wait for the movie.

Maybe I have a poor-ground handling doppelganger that was out defying gravity on Sunday. With both my and Iain’s recollections of the main events of the day seemingly at odds from those of the ‘senior’ club member it would certainly appear so. Nothing new there then! Just for the record though – I didn’t actually break any lines due to bad ground-handling and certainly have no memory of being ‘advised’ not to set up there – unless of course you count ‘building a wall’ as ground-handling. In essence, while waiting to launch, the sheath on 3 lines was in fact damaged by a small sharp rock. End of story. It was an easy decision after that not to take off. So, it’s difficult to understand the motivation for the critical comments made in response to Duncan’s post. Butt covering perhaps?

Alas poor Iain however was not so lucky. He did indeed fall victim to a short scoot across the top of the hill. Granted, that part of the day is actually true. True, but not the full story. Unfortunately, because his ability sometimes takes a good kicking from his confidence, he does occasionally ask for a little assistance in high winds. Nothing wrong with that. Is there? Pity for him though that, this time, his ungainly assistant happened to trip when a large gust came through, which in turn caused him to land unceremoniously on his right buttock and be dragged 20 feet across the slope. Is that bad ground handling or just plain bad luck? However as we all know that was nothing new and nothing any of us haven’t been victim to, or seen happen to other guys both in the ESPC and other clubs. It really was nothing of consequence, considering that there are no sudden drops anywhere within 3 miles. Something we had checked ourselves before setting up – no advice needed, but thanks for offering.

Once he had picked himself up; dusted down his pride and dragged his hitherto unflappable self-esteem out from behind a rock, we talked briefly about a quick repack and fly down. But, being frequent flyers on the big tops, we had both been in situations like this before and knew from previous misadventures that it was time to call it a day. Adrenaline flunkies that we are, the decision was quickly made that the window of opportunity had long since gone and we jumped unceremoniously into the first truck back down. Yeah right! More accurately, discretion was putting up the fight of its life and kicked the shit out of valour, so in reality we just looked at each other and said what we should have said over an hour ago, ”feck this fer a game of soadyers. Let’s get out the £*&” of here before it really goes tits up! ‘Rather wisely as it turned out.

On a more serious note, what I do wonder is, why every single person who did launch on Sunday suffered at least 1 big collapse? Some reportedly took 3 or 4. So, I’m not too sure if it says as much about the skill of the pilots on the day; the inherent safety in modern wings, or if it was just plain good fortune that allowed survival in such adverse conditions. However, thankfully lady luck was smiling on them and everyone made it back safely and gratefully to mother earth. Allegedly Nairn’s first words on getting back to terra-firma were, ‘Does anyone want to buy a wing?’, ‘One careful owner, complete with harness, and pre-installed brown stain!’

On an even more serious note (For those that haven’t been paying attention, that’s two serious notes in one article. One more and it’s called a rant) there does seem to be a difference of opinions as to the cause of the problems. Call it what you will, rotor, wave, wind-shear, whatever. There were definite wave patterns over the cairngorms. I definitely saw 2 pilots being forced down in their initial attempts to get over the back. Yes, there was a lot less wind in the valley than higher up on the ridge. That tends to be a major feature of being in the lee-side of the hill. Personally, I reckon there were indications of all three. But, what do I know? Air-detectives make your own mind up.

Also, I wouldn’t imagine for a minute that ‘ he who wants to be obeyed’ would intentionally put anyone in harms way. However, the decision to allow a very low airtime pilot with less than a months experience to fly in such conditions of extreme wave and on the lee side of the hill in rapidly deteriorating conditions was, to say the least, questionable and it is hoped lessons will definitely be learned there. If that was not bad enough, to allow him to do so without a reserve 1500ft agl – especially considering he had as yet no knowledge of descent techniques such as ‘big-ears’ etc borders on incompetent. Apparently, at one point conditions were so strong that even with big-ears on the poor guy was still going up! Talk about throwing some one in at the deep end. Hope it hasn’t put him off flying? I can only imagine that allowing a pupil to launch in such unfavourable conditions was due to either a total miss-interpretation of or gross ignorance of air conditions. A worrying thought, either way you look at it.

When you consider that trying to teach a beginner how to do big-ears via the radio is hard enough but to do so in such extreme turbulence and rapidly failing daylight and then have them attempt steep 360 degree turns with big-ears pulled in to get down, it really does call into question ones sanity. What is even more staggering is, that having done so, to then claim credit for ‘saving the day’ If I’m teaching someone to swim and throw them into a raging torrent and have to jump in to save them – am I a hero for rescuing them or a villain for putting them in harms way? Perhaps both? I can’t say I have ever been a big fan of these sink or swim techniques and can only hope that lessons will be learned and that student’s safety will, in time, be put before ego.

Although, despite appearances to the contrary, we are NOT actually paid up card carrying members of the ESPC club, Iain and I have always been happy to meet up when invited and have had many a good day with some of the guys in the club. After this post, I doubt that it will be happening again any time in the near future. However, it is hoped for the sake of safety, especially the fee paying publics’, that lessons from the day will be taken on board. Murray is a good instructor when he sticks to what he knows. As I’ve always said, ‘if you want to develop your ground handling Murray’s yer man.’ For everything else you have to make your own mind up.

Just a suggestion, perhaps actual training activities should be kept to smaller hills where local knowledge is greater and the conditions more forgiving. At least until the CFI has a little more experience on the larger hills.

Right I’m of in search of some new lines so I’ll just leave you with the thought for today.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and can be a valuable learning tool when used constructively. And, for the more prosaic amongst us; when all around you seem to be flapping in the wind – Bugger of – sharpish!

See you on the dark-side.

Joe/Iain KMRT
(not affiliated to any paragliding clubs)

P.S I was going to include some photos of the day but everyone I looked at had Murray in them. How does he do that?


Logistics and other animals….

Filed under: Club days in Aberdeenshire,Mountain days — Murray Hay @ 11:52 am

As usual with club meet days the ‘day’ started for me a few days earlier, building to a peak the evening before with several hours on the mobile to try and ensure all those attending would be singing from the same hym sheet! As well as collecting Nairn’s wing in case he ended up with a walk up as family commitments ment he would be arriving late morning.

A lot more ‘mobile’ time on the morning followed on from the normal (FIVE THIRTY… AM!) MET office weather check and printing out, along with ensuring enough maps were printed from the Memory Map software of the flying site and landing locations for members new to this site (including ME!) this is done with an eye to the wind directions & forecast conditions.

Final equipment loading & checking all done and it was on the road to Braemar with enough spare time avaliable to drive around Morrone to assess the landings at first hand to the NE valley, an area I was not familiar with.

With the first batch all on location the estate Landrover driven by Barry and the club pickup loaded with wings and a couple of bodies started up the track, the plan being to get the first group sorted, checked, test flown on tandem (new site) where needed and then back down for Nairn, Joe & Ian etc. who were arriving about 11:30 – 12:00 ish, as it happened Barry did the second drive as I was teaching his older son Ryan on G-BZJI.

With the second group all on the hill top and Nairn, Ian Archer, Jonathan having had a check flight on the tandem, solo flying & training was the order for the rest of the day in very nice light smooth (and sunny) mild conditions, till just before sundown when, as forecast, conditions quickly started to pickup.

With solo flying underway Ryan, Barry’s older son to started tandem flying, getting two 15-20 min flights with most of the time on the controls (his first flight while Barry was driving the ‘second batch’ to the hill top).

Barry’s youngest (photos) son Lee up on the Philou 29 rigged as a tandem, as Joe who had had the wing on loan had brought it back which was perfect as Lee being only three would have been too light for the normal tandem gliders! Once Lee had flown a few times his dad, deciding he could not go home without having flown it was back to G-BZJI then a LOT more retrive driving and fitting in a few solo flights on students and my own wings.

 The final BIG fly down was delayed by a few problems (mentioned elsewhere!) so with Nairn high out front and starting to feel it was getting ‘intresting’ as soon as the Vertex was off the ground it was one quick beat to gain just enough height and cut back low over the hill… flying through the wind shear (NB. not rotor) and often passing instructions on the radio made for (I am told!) some ‘very intresting’ views of the TOP of my wing by those down on the ground at the LZ… still no Murray adrenaline was released (is that a scary thing?) but for safety I sent Nairn over to the far side of the valley (lift but better air) while I punched down to the river ‘jumped’ the water just and no more at tree level (don’t try this at home!) and ‘spotted in’ to a nice clear field suitable for Nair landing in.. on the radio and it was Big Ears and turns/360* for Nair to work his way down, at one point after letting the ears back out he was going up again showing just how good the performance of his wing is!

But pulling in the ears again and he did a very nice job of getting low,  so once below the wind shear (upper wind V very light/nil valley wind.. boundary)  layer he had a sweet approach to a nice nil wind landing… still buzzing, glad to be on the ground but very pleased with the Big Ears and turns… a short walk to ‘chill’ while Alan C drove me with the wings back to the parking at the bottom of the track 5 mins away..


Sunshine and Snow on Morrone

Filed under: Club days in Aberdeenshire,East Scotland,Mountain days — Dunc1261 @ 01:06 pm

Last Sunday 2nd December saw a large contingent of ESP Club members and Precision Paragliding Trainee’s up on the slopes of Morrone, one of the hills overlooking Braemar.Light winds were forecast from the NW. After phoning Murray for an update on the forecast I headed out the North Deeside Road. The temperature was -2.5degC at Aboyne. Mist had formed on the banks of the Dee, but Lochnagar was clearly visible when I got closer to Ballater.I was low on fuel and none of the petrol stations were open. This was 9.00am on a Sunday morning! I made my way to the Old Military road past the Braemar Golf course and waiting for Murray and Alan Coffin to appear.Ian Archer arrived with his friend Barry from the estate and also Jonathan in his Westfield Sports car with Nova wing on the back luggage rack. He must have been cold in an open top sports car!

We headed up the hill in the comfort of 4 x 4 vehicles. Walkers on the track looked on with envy. I shouted to the leader to “Get the Tea on when they got to the top” when we passed them on the track.

Barry, Ian and I were in the lead vehicle, Barry’s land rover. We stopped near the mast at the top and Ian and I got out and checked conditions on the ridge. The wind was blowing square up the face. I said to Ian that this would be the take off point. Murray had stopped behind us and popped his wing up to test the conditions. We headed back down to where Murray was parked them came back up to the same spot on the slope.morrone-temp.gifA few wings lifted off into the air. People were correctly shouting “Launching” on taking off. Alan Coffin got away early and maintained a good height above the slope. I took off and started my beats. I stayed in the air for around 40 minutes and only slope landed as my hands and fingers were very cold.

Murray was flying tandem and I remembered the rules of the air and always to look before turning. I was also looking above and below me. Remember the lower glider has right of way!

Joe and Ian turned up as well so there was Murray, Ian Archer, Alan Coffin, Joe, the other Ian, Jonathan (PUT) and Nairn (PUT). Also Ian Archers friend Barry and his two sons.

Everybody got some airtime (even the boys on the Tandem with Murray) and managed to stay high on the slopes. The vehicles were busy doing retrieves from the lower section of the bowl.

Later Alan and I decided to head down to where the cars were parked. I needed to catch a flight to Heathrow and conditions had eased. We took off almost at the same time. I headed round to the right of the hill and above the northern slopes. I did not get good height and had a tuck and tumble “arrival” near the telephone cell mast on the east facing slope. I made my way down through the soaking ground and saw Alan approaching with bags of height above the valley. He landed safely and we saw Ian Archer and Murray fly down from the bowl. Alan had got height above the Northern slope. I should have waited another 10 minutes…..

The others started to fly down. Murray had a few large frontal collapses as he had cut back very low. So the air appeared to be very ‘mixed’. Ian Archer approached the ground and Alan and I shouted up to Ian to look for the power lines close. Ian landed safely.

We saw Nairn who had been high out front of the hill approach well overhead and he appeared to be going up! We saw a significant collapse on one side of his wing and were all concerned as this was a Pilot Under Training (PUT). Alan jumped in his car and headed over to the area where Murray had landed. Nairn landed safely and Alan advised that Murray was in touch with Nairn on the radio and had received instruction, doing a number of 360* in Big Ears to drop below the lift area.

Murray advised me that Ian and Joe had an incident on the slope where Joe’s lines had got snagged and Ian’s reserve had accidentally come out of his harness as he was being ‘helped’ during a ground drag, both had been previously advised to set up for launch clear of the hill top location they actualy used. They opted to drive down in the pick up.

So a number of issues on the last flight down. Perhaps an earlier call to pack up would have been a safer and better bet.

I headed off looking for a Petrol Station. The Braemar Garage closed at 4.00pm and it was 4.05pm! I was committed to running on a very empty tank. I drove in 5th gear and kept my speed to a reasonable 50mph. luckily a garage outside Ballater was open and the tank was filled up again.

A good day was had by all but a few lessons were learned as well.

Take care and fly safe. Always check the forecast for the whole day….



Wave at the Knock of Formal…..

Filed under: Club days in Aberdeenshire,Club days in Angus,East Scotland — Dunc1261 @ 05:28 pm

Early last Sunday morning 25th November I spoke to Murray to agree on where we would meet up for some much needed Paragliding activity. Windsor Street Dundee was the agreed planned rendezvous point. The TT was already packed with my Nova Aeron, fuelled up and ready to go. The prevailing wind was from the North and when I looked out the window. The clouds were travelling fast across the ground. I had a feeling that on the hill conditions may be blown out.

I headed over the Cairn O Mount and the heather and grass was blowing very strong at the Viewpoint Car Park. I continued on South.

I made a call to Ian Archer and a change of plan. Ian was heading to the Knock of Formal and rang me back to say conditions were very light at the parking spot for the Knock.


I pulled up and agreed with Ian’s prognosis. He suggested going to the Cairnwell or Morrone. I suggested that we wait and see if the wind picks up. We did not have to wait too long and Ian’s wind sock started to flap to the south. A steady Northerly wind started up.

Ian was keen to fly a demo wing, a Ozone Rush. We headed up the hill and conditions were fairly strong. Ian measured 14mph on his wind meter. Ian pitched up close to me and waited for the Wind Dummy to take off. Yes me again!

I pulled up the wing and walked forward slowly. I launched and almost immediately got a asymmetric collapse on the left side. I was side slipping. I did not panic and did not look up at the wing but I knew it was a large collapse. The wing recovered very quickly without pilot input. I took the decision to bottom land.

Ian flew down on the Rush and had a similar story about rough air. I looked at the clouds and there were snow falling o the hills to the North. It did not dawn on me that we were experience wave. The shape of lenticular clouds was not obvious, but on my second flight it was very obvious I was flying in wave.

Having landed, gather and walked up the hill I spoke to Ian and we agreed that the North facing bowl at the Knock could be worked. I warned Ian that he should have speed bar connected but he did not have this set up because he was on a new wing. Lesson to be learned there…..

I set my wing out and pulled up. I pushed forward and took off. I set out and did several beats on the Northern slope. I was also going up very fast. Ian got smaller and smaller and I could see well beyond the top of the hill. Big regret was no Vario and no video camera.

I then started to get pulled up and up and suddenly I was very high about the hill. I put my speed bar on slowly and started a straight line flight from the summit of the hill. I was still going up and I took the decision to land. I now realised I was not in ridge lift. This was something very different and very powerful. I was flying in wave lift, created by the air passing over the southern Grampian Mountains and I was in the lee side.

I was high above the heather to the North of the landing field and did a 180 degree turn to get back over the landing field. I landed safely and watched Ian pull up his wing and eventually he took off. Again he made a top to bottom flight and landed safely.

This was not my first experience of Wave. Murray and I experienced wave at Forrett Hill but this was very interesting indeed!

Thanks to Murray who has put together the photo collage and thanks to Ian for his wit and humour!

Take care and Fly Safe!


Powered by WordPress