Latest Safety Notices

Hairy Dave's picture

DIY Pilot - please look out for him

Over the last few weeks an untrained (and therefore non BHPA, non-insured) paraglider pilot has been seen on our hills and spoken to several times.

He is a danger to himself, others and to our site agreements.

Please can everyone look out for him and explain the need for training, insurance and club membership. All those things are required to gain the land owner's permission to fly and to comply with the law.

You can put him in touch with me (Dave Lewis, Chief Coach) and I can sort out how best for him to join the BHPA and get his ratings.

He's flying a red and dark blue Apco Tetra. Name of Matt.

Steve Purdie's picture

More Tick Trouble

Dear All,

I have heard from a reliable source that there is an infestation of ticks at various locations on the South Downs close to the coast, including Rodmell, Firle and Exceat. The ticks are of a species never previously found north or west of Serbia, and carry various diseases including rickettsial fevers (one of which is Rocky Mountain spotted fever). These are potentially paralysing diseases, so you may want to warn members to be especially careful about precautions to avoid picking them up, and to check themselves carefully after a day's flying. If a tick is found, remove it with an extractor or loop of thread. Do not pull it out with tweezers or fingers, and do not use heat. Once extracted, keep the tick in a plastic tube or bottle for later identification; and if any odd symptoms are experienced, seek medical assistance immediately. I'll try to get more details on the species name, etc. and forward them.

This is not one of those Internet "jokes", but as far as I can tell genuine and worrying. Certainly Porton Down are very interested, and I believe the ESCC have advised their field workers about it as an HSE requirement.

Best wishes,


Steve Purdie's picture

Summer 2015 - Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose!

I'm sure there's an echo in here?



Committee members and, I believe, coaches can check easily membership status using their mobile phones but may elect to charge £10 for this service ;0)

Once upon a time in the Southern Club there was gentlemanly behaviour in the sky. And it was Good.

Pilots on the ground were aware that they are the lowest form of aviation and justly gave way to all those above them, even if they were actually below them. They even looked to check.

Pilots thermalling were given right of way and ridge soaring pilots would turn back before interrupting the thermalling pilot's 360. The thermalling pilot would however not impact upon the soaring patterns of the ridge soaring pilots as he would know that he was more skilled and was better placed to avoid them.

When it was seen to be getting too busy, pilots would either thermal away or gracefully bow out after a few minutes ridge soaring to allow others the chance to do so. We would often land unbidden to allow a waiting group of hang glider pilots free use of the sky. It would usually take only a few minutes before they were high enough to permit usual service to resume.

Wouldn't it be nice if those days returned?

It has been notable how close together everyone is flying nowadays. Please do give each other more room!

Fly predictably and telegraph your next move as clearly as possible. I'm not saying give hand signals, though providing you are flying in accordance with the ANO that is not a bad idea, just make it obvious where you are planning to go and try not to make erratic course changes when other are in close. Also try to predict what other pilots may want to do.

Avoid flying line abreast and thereby creating a wall of cloth (a curtain?) which oncoming traffic struggle to avoid.

Remember that by convention, the glider on the inside of a thermalling circle has right of way and that by air law the glider on your right is the stand on aircraft.

Please don't sit just behind and outside a ridge soaring glider as this effectively prevents them from turning back, almost as if you were overtaking them on the outside. If you are closely following another ridge soaring glider, aim to be directly behind or better still towards the ridge.

When top landing, get your glider pointing into wind, even if you have already landed. This will slow your progress across the ground significantly and may save you having to explain yourself to an irate pilot who's laid out wing you just trashed. With a paraglider it is never too late to be able to turn into wind, just too late to choose to do so.

If it is too crowded for you, don't launch. If by launching you will make it too crowded for the pilots already airborne, don't launch. If it is too crowded for you and you are in the air, immediately make your way to a safe landing.

It is common courtesy for paragliders to slope land if there are hang gliders airborne and struggling to maintain height. The inconvenience of stopping your flight for a few moments hugely outweighs the inconvenience of being forced to bottom land a hang glider, with the attendant hour or so of de-rigging and rigging.

ANY pilot can call for a red ribbon half hour. You don't need to seek anyone's permission, though of course you will be expected to justify your actions to the growing angry mob of pilots waiting to launch. If in doubt, ask a coach.

Beware of the gust fronts associated with approaching rain showers and land in good time.

Low sun is a major hazard at this time of year. Pilots must be aware that if they are approaching another aircraft from 'out of the sun' it is probable that they will not have been seen.

If we don't resolve conflicts due to overcrowding then it is almost inevitable that we will have ANOTHER FATAL MID-AIR COLLISION. It is the responsibility of ALL PILOTS to behave as educated adults and to avoid exposing themselves or others to this risk.

When did YOU last pack your reserve? I recommend a 3 month cycle – it makes a huge difference!

The biggest hazard, as always, is the human factor. You may have had a long lay off waiting for flyable conditions at the weekend. Consider watching the forecast and planning a midweek day flying. At this time of year the forecasts are pretty useless though, so be prepared for last minute changes of plan.

When you get to the hill, if it is too windy don't push your luck, the hill will still be there tomorrow! Remember, if you break yourself, you'll miss much more flying than a few minutes gale hanging...

The advancing sea breeze is often, though not always, betrayed by either a clearing of cumulus development towards the sea or by an advancing line of from curtain cloud to fracto-cumulus again with little or no cloud on the seaward side. The sea breeze can be very rough when it first arrives and is usually stronger when it first comes in, settling down after half an hour or so. As always, if you see a linear cloud feature approaching, if you are at all unsure, land and wait for it to pass.

At inland facing sites such as the Dyke or more so Ditchling, the advancing sea breeze will tend to back up behind the hill, then pour over in a big turbulent rush. No pilot who doesn't enjoy being tossed about like a cork in a storm wants to be in the air when this occurs.

Avoiding Aerial Collisions
(CAP 393 Air Law, as opposed to conventions and BHPA rules)

It shall remain the duty of the commander of an aircraft to take all possible measures to ensure that his aircraft does not collide with any other aircraft.

An aircraft shall not be flown in such proximity to other aircraft as to create a danger of collision.

An aircraft which is obliged to give way to another aircraft shall avoid passing over or under the other aircraft, or crossing ahead of it, unless passing well clear of it.

An aircraft which is being overtaken in the air shall have the right-of-way and the overtaking aircraft, whether climbing, descending or in horizontal flight, shall keep out of the way of the other aircraft by altering course.

When two aircraft are approaching head-on, or approximately so, in the air and there is a danger of collision, each shall alter its course to the right.

When two aircraft are converging in the air at approximately the same altitude, the aircraft which has the other on its right shall give way.

An aircraft landing or on its final approach to land shall have the right-of-way over other aircraft in flight or on the ground or water. An aircraft shall not overtake or cut in front of another aircraft on its final approach to land.
[But the other pilots need to know that you are landing! Get out of your harness and dangle those legs. S.P.]

If two or more flying machines, gliders or airships are approaching any place for the purpose of landing, the aircraft at the lower altitude shall have the right-of-way.

Move clear of the landing area as soon as it is possible to do so after landing.

Rules and Conventions

The glider with the ridge on the right has right of way.
(He should still move as close to the ridge as he feels comfortable with, but you are not the judge of how close that may be. There could easily be something behind you causing him to fly further out than you would like. Tough!)

When thermalling, the inside glider has right of way. This convention is contradictory to 'on the right is in the right' but is designed to prevent a glider being forced to spin and to cover putting a wingtip into the core and being involuntarily straightened up.

Join a thermal tangentially.

Hairy Dave's picture

Incident at Devil's Dyke 18 Aug 2015 - 15:30

Incident at Devil's Dyke 18 Aug 2015 - 15:30

An unknown pilot was observed flying aggressively, causing several pilots to take avoiding action. When a local instructor attempted to talk to him he was less than charming. It is not known if he is a SHGC member.

The club would like to trace the pilot in question to discuss the issue. He would not provide a name, but we have a reasonable description and ask if anyone recognises him, or can keep an eye out for him on the hills.

He was described as:

Glider: Ozone maybe.

Grey front with yellow rear I'd say an ENB low/mid range

Upright harness probably with yellow strip and the rest black

White open face helmet with some black square, possibly for a GoPro or just some velcro, at forehead position.

Age of pilot difficult to say with helmet on, perhaps 35-40 years plus. Tall and lean. Blonde hair.

He stated he flown for 20 years.

Steve Purdie's picture

Pre-Flight Check or die #2!

For not the first time on our sites, a mid-air collision recently ensued when a pilot inflated his wing directly into the path of a flying glider. Not that long ago there was a similar incident at another UK club resulting in profound injury to the airborne pilot...

You absolutely must perform a pre-flight check before each and every inflation of your wing.

Inflating your glider in conditions too strong for your ability can also result in an uncontrolled departure, with risk of injury to bystanders.

For these reasons, after completing the BHPA's Will Geordie Have His Cat Aboard Today mnemonic (perhaps more appropriate as Will Grandma Have Her Cardiac Arrest Today ;0) I like to complete the 'One Way Ticket' check (Obstacles, Weather, Traffic)

This brings to mind obstacles, including very importantly, bystanders, wind strength & gustiness and most importantly other aircraft as the final check immediately before inflation. Think: a glider on the ground is the lowest form of aviation and hence has no rights.

Steve Purdie's picture

Festivals, Horse Trials, Country Fairs and any other 'Organised Open Air Assembly'

As the festival season is well upon us and pilots are flying cross country a timely reminder about the rules for open air assemblies is in order. The idiot paramotoring into Glastonbury will have added a lot of fuel to the CAA's drive to require licensing of FLPA pilots.

Whether you are flying powered or gliding:

- You must fly at least 1000 feet above any organised open air assembly.

- You may not launch or land within 1000 metres of an organised open air assembly. (Except at an aerodrome or with the written permission of the organisers of the event and in accordance with the conditions advised by the CAA.)

A possible get-out from prosecution may be to declare an in-flight emergency causing you to land, but...

If you are in doubt as to whether there are >999 people present, then there are.

Steve Purdie's picture

Ticks & Lymes disease

A number of pilots have been bitten by ticks in the last few weeks. A few of these have contracted Lyme disease, which if left untreated, can be very serious indeed.

Pilots are advised to take precautions to avoid being bitten, e.g., wear socks and long trousers, avoid laying on the grass etc. Inspect for ticks at the end of the day too. The ones which have been found biting have generally been smaller than the typical 5mm ones we usually see. You need to be on the lookout for arachnids as small as 1mm.

Please check this out:

Lyme halo

Hairy Dave's picture

Marshalling at Devil's Dyke and Beachy Head

Hi all,

There has been much talk about overcrowding recently so I'd like to remind all members about the systems already in place to control it.

For the Dyke, there is a marshalling kit in the cupboard behind the pub and it is the duty of whoever is first on site to get the stuff out and set up. Marshalling and controlling numbers of launches can be initiated whenever someone thinks it's necessary. This is the responsibility of every pilot on site.

For Beachy, marshalling, erection of the warning signs and notification to the council is now a compulsory part of the site agreement and is being checked by council representatives. If it isn't done every time pilots are on site, we risk loosing use of the site.

Details can be found in the site guide.

Nobody should be complaining about overcrowding without first themselves marshalling the site and doing something about it. - If you're not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem!

Happy flying, Dave

Hairy Dave's picture


Forwarded on behalf of Tom Hardie:

Hi All,

There has been a considerable increase in First Person View (FPV) unmanned aircraft (drone) flying. This is where the pilot of the drone is wearing a device so that they can see the view as if they were in the drone. Therefore they have an extremely limited view when it comes to avoiding other aircraft. These drones can be of a multi-copter or helicopter design, or fixed wing design, both powered and unpowered.

There have been a number of incidents where FPV drone flying has caused the pilots of other aircraft concern for their safety, everything from a 747 to a paraglider. To cater for this and to protect third parties on the ground the CAA has drawn up a set of rules for the drone pilots to follow. These rules are in CAA Official Record Series 4, Number 1108,, copy attached.

If you become aware of FPV flying on or near where you are flying the best thing to do is to talk to the pilot to establish safe operating procedures, which it should be possible to do without over limiting anybody’s flying. Due to the readily available equipment, limited training facilities, and/or a lack of aviation law awareness they may not know about the CAA document.

Hairy Dave's picture

Will anyone get hurt this bank holiday?

It looks like it might be flyable this bank holiday weekend, which often means that someone will take advantage of silly season, do something silly and get hurt.

Can I ask everyone to be extra vigilant for unfamiliar pilots on our hills, especially anyone flying in an erratic fashion and have a word with them before anything happens. I'd much rather we all do our bit for safety and prevent accidents happening rather than watch someone get hurt and have to go through all that unpleasantness with first aid, helicopters, hospitals and incident reports.