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


Flying at St Cyrus

Hi and (not that the weather this week was looking to be ‘on’ for St Cyrus!) thanks to Bill for the phone call tonight (11th April) to confirm that the situation is fully resolved regarding flying at St Cyrus.

So as usual for the summer flying the ridge AT the car park and to the north is fine, as per the long established gentleman’s agreement pilots are requested NOT to fly (beyond the 1st spur) to the south of the ridge during the raptors nesting season.

Murray Hay

The above was in reference to the previous (below) request to ESP members

Hi all, a request has been passed to ESP pilots via Bill (who lives there) from the Aberdeen club that while talks are about to start with the new senior warden at the Nature Reserve (at St Cyrus) that pilots “please don’t fly at any part of St Cyrus”.

St Cyrus has been flown by ESP club pilots (we in fact had exclusive permission to park the 4×4 in one of the landowners private car park) for almost 19 years and like the other club there, AHPC we had a voluntary gentleman’s agreement to limit flying to the north end of the site during the raptor nesting season, just to be clear, for now, the arrangement is to NOT fly even this area while talks are on going.

Murray Hay


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.


St Cyrus (the site that has always eluded me…..)

Filed under: Club East Coast Days,East Scotland,YouTube — Dunc1261 @ 06:07 pm

I’ve been to St Cyrus several times where on each occasion the conditions have not been suitable for flying. Last Saturday I got a call from Scott Rigg to say that he was heading for Morrone, near Braemar. I checked and the wind was 12MPH from the South East at Aboyne.

I thought it would be too strong on the hill and Scott call me back to confirm that this was indeed the case. With a South Easterly he mentioned St Cyrus. I thought “This is it!” and headed down the A90 to Stonehaven then on to the Coastal Road.

I called Murray who was doing a Wedding Photo Shoot and he said good luck and to be careful. I know this is a site not for the faint hearted as the drop is very steep. The wind has also to be spot on to the slope. About a mile North of St Cyrus I saw a couple of paragliders up so I knew conditions were flyable. I phoned Scott back to advise and then parked up at the Public Car park to see three paragliders on site. One I knew was Bill Connon from the Aberdeen Club. The other two pilots were unfamiliar but when they landed I introduced myself to Terry Stubbs and his friend. 

I spoke to Bill to get his feeling for the conditions. He had been flying on and off for a couple of hours and said that conditions were very smooth. I told Bill this was my first time flying at St Cyrus, the site had always eluded me. Scott arrived as I was setting up and laying out my wing. I watched Terry’s friend take off, then pulled up the Aeron. No double bounce (sorry Murray you were right!) but a smooth transition up. I made sure the wing was solid, not looking up, and then I stepped off the cliff edge Into the first beat and into the busy traffic! I stayed up for well over an hour only coming down to take on some fluid! 

Scott took off and joined in. 5 gliders in the air and all working the circuit. Terry performed a death spin (I think?) and landed in the barley field. I shouted down and he replied that he was okay but claimed he was out of practise! The second flight was similar as was the third. A few lumps only when flying over the car park and the views were fantastic. I had to pack up early to pick up one of my boys, but the wind was strengthen as per the forecast and I know I made a good call. Other folks arrived from the Aberdeen Club. Simon Lucas and John Newton. I’ve posted up a video with the photos I took on to search for Dunc1261. 

A good day at St Cyrus indeed! 

See you on the Hill or on the Coast!

Fly Safe 



‘C’ ‘B’ flying…. Sea Bay that is!

Filed under: Club East Coast Days — Murray Hay @ 11:48 am

After the weekend up the mountains (Glen Coe) and Hill’s (E Lomond) of Scotland, it was time for some lazy flying (as far as walking goes)…. so late afternoon after work up the coast to pick up Ali….. cups of tea, walk 20 ft to pickup….. arrive at Vic Park, ‘climb’ up the steps for Ali (50ft) and walk 20ft for Murray to fly up…… with VERY ‘x’ conditions due to the east component it was a fun half hours airtime for me and Ali honing his GH & Take Off skill in the almost (gnd) trim speed = wind speed…. then another 20ft walk back to the pickup….. Gosh that’s getting close to 100ft walking so far!


A quick drive around to East Seaton, phoning to farm manager to open the site, and then….. you guessed it, walk about 20-30ft to take off on the bay slope (!) For almost 2 1/2 hours of GREAT flying with all the usual T & G’s, mild aeros and spot landings…

Jim from Dundee was out walking and taking pics along the coastal path and is going to forward pictures of the two gliders in the air, with luck capturing the ‘close quarters’ stuff we were doing for the camera, fingers crossed we (and the shuter release) got everything lined up to make some spectacular images… to be added to this post  soon 🙂

A slightly early end to the days flying as the lift was dropping by 7:30 (along with the temp!) and to get around to Pepo’s in time for the chips etc… so a L O N G walk of at least 150ft…. Shocking! to the pickup drive around and 10ft to the counter to pick up the phoned in order and back down the road to yet another 20ft walk to more tea and nibbles….

Summing up the afternoon/evening: We were out for under 4 hours, with a total walking time about 5 mins and my flying time, well around three and a half hours, Ali doing slightly less time when we were flying at the park but solidly flying till pack up time at the Bay 🙂


The taste of spring.

Filed under: Club East Coast Days — Ali @ 11:05 pm

Well, it has to be said it didn’t LOOK like much of a start to the day, no matter what Murray forecasted, it was a mediocre morning, clocks forward day or not. Only the wind strength was right, but a little too far north of east for my liking. Overcast, muggy, nothing dreadful, but not a lot of sunshine on the ground. Driving past Arbroath en route to Lunan Bay at twenty past ten, there was a distinct lightening of the sky to the east though, so I began to feel at that point that a little optimism might not be altogether unrealistic.
Arriving at Lunan to meet up with Alan C, in the public car park, the wind felt more like it was parallel to the beach, but that was to change quite quickly, or rather we were to change site, moving down to the gorse ridge as soon as Alan C arrived. After a rather bumpy ride in the back of the pickup, (Sorry M’lud) I went down to the base of the gorse ridge, popped up the canopy, and went walkabout, right along the its 500 metre. There did seem to be more of a cross component than would allow me to climb out from the beach, so I struggled round the north end of the gorse ridge, and up into a bowl about 200 metres in diameter. First flight from there took me round the corner, and onto the front, where I proceeded to do a very good landing. The fact that Murray and  Alan C were soaring non stop throughout this last attempt to launch, and through most of  my futile ascent into the bowl, fuelled a certain impatient sulk in me, which always leads the kind of fluffed takeoff which I now proceeded to demonstrate my expertise in. Time after time. Gosh, I am a good swearer.
In the end though, even my incompetence could not prevent me taking off, and once in the air I settled into staying up there. The wind was indeed well off, but there was plenty of lift. Getting to about 100 feet over the top was about the most I could hope for (the very most) so it was down to using the airtime to practice penetration flying (low height loss wingovers), high speed scratching, an interesting mix of easy lift, rules of the air, and then, an opportunity to get into the bowl, there to use thermals rising from a seeded field.
As the afternoon wore on, the sun came out, and the field heated more and more, so there was a really cool dirt track, paraglider style: Climb at the south end of the ridge, wingover where beneficial right up to the pill box at the north end, then turn into the bowl, and either follow the rim to the thermal source, or fly straight to it across the field. It felt quite low at times, but I always managed to climb out again. It was just a blast. I’d get up to the north end of the bowl, and then hurtle along just above the gorse with the wind well behind me, back down to the south end of the ridge, turn in the house lift there, gain height then do it all again, and see if I can do it faster/less height loss/ low as I can/ big eared  etc.



 Alan Coffin enjoying his first ‘feet wet’ (as the RAF say) flight out over the sea.

Bottom image is me flying the far headland, shot when Murray landed to drive Alan back to his car.

About four oclock, we went up to the cliffs (pictures above), and walked along the tops. Murray took off from above the huts and flew along to the section we were going to soar, but Alan and I had a good enough look from the cliff top path to see that bottom landing was not an option so we walked. When Alan and I arrived at the takeoff, on the next bay up from the fishing village, the wind seemed well on to the hill. Obviously there was enough lift, with Murray getting 150 feet over the top. Alan promptly took off. I promptly screwed up my takeoff like I did in the morning, following up with a linethrough which took 10 minutes to clear. Eventually, I too took off, as Murray and Alan disappeared down the ridge to the beach so Alan could get a lift back to the public car park and keep the family happy by getting home on time!
 So, here I am on my own again, I thought, as I pushed forward to the very front of the cliff line, but absolutely no further. A series of little bays, a serrated edge between the sea, the land and the sky. A row of houses, and of boats in one, the others grassy, or rocky, broader or narrower. Over the spume and froth of the rocks, red sandstone reef, water deep blue, flecked with patches of fleeting turquoise. The smell of coalfires, the fast run towards the beach, turn and work your way up to the front again.
And then Murray came back from delivering Alan C back to his car, and for a few minutes we shared the air. I turned and ran for the beach, And discovered I’d been in the air for an hour since my last takeoff. Bliss. More of the same soonish, I hope. Maybe even tomorrow.

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