Latest Safety Notices

Steve Purdie's picture

Man Flew!

A fairly experienced pilot who shall not be named flew while suffering from and medicated against man flu.

He promptly flew fully downwind into trees!

As it's that time of year, remember, for very good reasons it is illegal to fly if you are not fit to do so!

Darwin strikes again...

Hairy Dave's picture

Ground inversions - it's happening again!

Before anyone climbs up and gets a spanking, or piles in for a landing, I'd like to draw everyone's attention to some old news about ground inversions.

Please see

Steve Purdie's picture

Summer 2014 - Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose!

This is again largely a concoction of old material, which is becoming more relevant again.

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. 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. 

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.

Steve Purdie's picture

Combe Gibbet

Combe is closed until further notice following a fatal accident today.
Edit: now reopened.

Steve Purdie's picture

Southend RMZ

The recent notification of the establishment of a Radio Mandatory Zone (RMZ) around Southend airport has led to a lot of discussion about the implications for free fliers. Some of the opinions expressed seem to be based on an incomplete understanding of the nature and purpose of RMZs, so this is an attempt to explain how they work.

In August 2013, the CAA published a policy for RMZs. The purpose of a RMZ is to enhance safety. Only the CAA can “notify” (i.e. establish) a RMZ, which can be “sponsored” (i.e. proposed) by an airport or other interested party. The sponsor is obliged to consider the impact of a RMZ on all airspace users and make suitable allowance for non-compliant aircraft (e.g. those without an airband radio) to gain access to the RMZ where a legitimate requirement exists. The dimensions of a RMZ have to be the minimum possible to meet the controlling authority’s operational requirements. There is provision for non-radio aircraft to make “agreed tactical arrangements” with the controlling authority.

A RMZ is very different to Class D controlled airspace (which is what Southend have applied for), in that flight in a RMZ is not necessarily controlled: it simply means that air traffic controllers will be aware of all the traffic in the zone and the position and intentions of each aircraft. In Class D airspace, full control of each aircraft is mandatory. As long as the controller knows where you are and what you want to do before you enter the RMZ, you can fly through it. The controller cannot exclude you, but it is your responsibility to remain clear if you are not sure that the controller knows about you. This knowledge can either be through prior contact on the ground, or radio contact in the air. For the latter, you need a licenced airband transceiver capable of transmitting and receiving on the appropriate frequency (130.775 MHz for Southend), and a Flight Radio Telephony licence.
On 3 July the CAA confirmed that a temporary RMZ will be established around Southend airport, commencing at midnight on 18/19 July 2014. It has the same dimensions as the control area (CTA) of the Class D airspace that Southend applied for. It extends from the surface to the base of the existing overlying controlled airspace.

We are trying to get information from Southend air traffic control about what they require in terms of prior notification and “agreed tactical arrangements” to cover the case of the very infrequent need to cross the Thames in the western end of the RMZ, and will make you aware of their requirements in the near future.

17/7/14 - Although the first NOTAM in respect off this RMZ gave a telephone contact, subsequent ones appear to require radio contact only. Consequently it would appear at this time that all pilots wishing to fly within the RMZ must either make radio contact themselves or be in a flight of aircraft, the leader of which makes contact with Southend.

Ed Bewley & Steve Purdie

Hairy Dave's picture

Brummel Hooks - Officially no good and here's the solution

Thanks to the good people in our club providing the BHPA with evidence to show the dangers of using Brummel hooks on paragliders, the European Paragliding Safety Committee have instructed the various manufacturers to find a better solution.

At this early stage it looks like there are two possible solutions.

1. For those who want a super quick connection, a quick release swiwel used as a key ring component is being trialed (very similar to the mechanism used already on hang glider pip pins).

2. For those not afraid of tying knots, a lark's foot is a good solution already used widely on power kites.

The quick release swiwel is cheaply available here

I'm told they need a slight modification to smooth the sharp edge where the string goes through (where the split ring is fitted when it's a key ring.) The end of a drill followed by a fine file or some abrasive paper will do that in seconds.

Drawings of knots suitable to tie them on are here.

A clinch knot (otherwise known as a fisherman's blood knot) is ideal.

The drawings also show a lark's head / foot knot, as per option 2. Note that on "cool" applications like paragliders and surf kites, the simple lark's foot can be improved (pimped up) by the additon of a kevlar reinforcement sleeve and a little webbing tab on the loop to help with it's release.

If you decide to try one of these before general release (which does mean modifying your glider, but it's got to be better than a brummel hook) then please let me know how it goes and I can feed useful information back to the safety committee and the PG manufacturers. It would be especially useful to have the regular XC folks who use speed bar in anger trialling the quick release swivels. If you do, I suggest leaving the string extra long with a loop on the end ready for an in-flight lark's foot in case the swivel lets go.

Steve Purdie's picture

10 miles of cat D airspace centered on Shoreham tomorrow, Tuesday!

All SHGC sites west of Saltdean affected.

Unless advised otherwise DO NOT attempt the cliff run tomorrow.

They are taking the urine!!! Less than 24 hours notice!

Nothing here:

Steve Purdie's picture

6th - 8th June D-Day Commemorations

The Red Arrows and many other minor flypasts and air displays are all over the country like a rash over the next few days.

Check NOTAMS religiously!

Steve Purdie's picture

Bo Peep

Paraglider Pilots, please don't forget to leave room at the car park end of the top for hang gliders to launch and land.

Don't ground handle near to hang gliders unless you can afford to pay for the replacement of a £17000 carbon rigid. (BHPA insurance is not meant for member-to-member claims!)

After a long period when they were categorised as a 'HIghly Endangered' verging on 'Locally Extinct' there is now a fairly active group of hang glider pilots and consequently we have downgraded their status to 'Vulnerable.' PG pilots need to generally be aware of their existence and characteristics. Why not approach them carefully when on the ground and ask if one will take you up dual to get a feel for how they differ, especially in terms of field of view and lack of maneuverability?

Steve Purdie's picture

Mt. Caburn

Once again it appears to be time to remind the members of some of the site rules and of their obligations:

* Ground Handle in the car park
* Land in the car park
* Overfly the car park (<500' say)
* Leave the car park gate open or unlocked
* Overfly (<500' say) the cottages at Brigden's Field and at Airworks' landing field.
* Launch from the slope
* Land on the slope other than in the designated areas (except in an emergency)
* Visiting pilots must receive a site briefing and join as temporary members (Fee from £0/day for bona fide foreign visitors to £5/day-£10/week for anyone else)

These rules apply to ALL PILOTS, especially the more experienced ones who ought to be setting a good example to the rest.

The BHPA have made it quite clear that the insurance is not there to cover member-to-member claims. If you damage a parked car it's your responsibility to put it right. However, our main reason for the rule is to make it clear to the householders that we are not overflying their cottages.

There is an obligation on all members to point out their error to anyone breaching these rules, lest the site be compromised again...