Latest Safety Notices

Steve Purdie's picture


Closest point is only 1.3km NW of Mt. Caburn launch.

Pilots must take great care not to infringe the open air assembly rules if thermalling away from Mt. Caburn this weekend.

i.e. Minimum of 1000' above and height to glide clear and do not launch or land within 1km.

Steve Purdie's picture

Devils Dyke rule change: NEVER inflate gliders on or below the paddock footpath. ALWAYS check all around for traffic.

Good airmanship requires that paragliders must not be inflated in or below the paddock unless their pilots can see that there are no hang gliders present.
It is not possible for them to to so from low down the paddock, still less in front, without their first walking up to a position above the brow of the hill.


Pilots MUST be able to visually check that there are no hang gliders using or about to use the paddock before inflating their wings. This is no more than an affirmation of the general principle that a pilot MUST complete a full pre-flight check, in particular the all around 'traffic' check, immediately before inflating a paraglider.

(This modification to the rules was made under Rule 11a of the constitution which allows the committee to make such changes without reference to a general meeting.)

Hairy Dave's picture

Flying with model aircraft

Some notes from last night's meeting with Allen Elliott from the East Sussex Soaring Association.

The modellers are keen to break down any barriers between "us" glider pilots and "them" model pilots. We all recognise that we share the same airspace and the same land owners. Any incidents, be they in-air or ground-based confrontations, need to be resolved swiftly and amicably in the interests of safety and good land owner relations.

It is important to talk to the modellers. We can better understand each other's needs and flight plans. It seems that many of the model flyers have very limited knowledge of thermal flying and gliding practices and can benefit from the experience of SHGC pilots. By better understanding, we can better predict each other's actions and fly more safely together. For example, if the best thermal of the day is coming up the modellers bowl, what might be obvious to a glider pilot might not be to a model pilot focused on ridge soaring.

The biggest problem faced by the model flyers is that they are unable to keep a good lookout because they most keep focused on their model at all times. This produces a tunnel vision effect, so the first they might know of a glider's presence is when it arrives dangerously close to their model. WE CAN ATTRACT THEIR ATTENTION EARLY BY SHOUTING AS WE APPROACH AND PASS THROUGH THEIR AREA.

Allen agreed that all flyers must be full, insured members of their associations and operate in a sensible and responsible manner. He cited examples of young flyers with e-bay models and members of "the irresponsible idiots aerobatics club" as known problems. We can all look out for these types and explain the error of their ways. If a polite approach doesn't work, please refer to SHGC coaches, committee members or our counterparts in the East Sussex Soaring Association. Getting the land owner or police involved is a last resort and should never be necessary.

We discussed the different types of models flown on our sites and Allen proudly showed us his F3 racing model, a 3-5 kg, 2m wide solid carbon sailplane capable of 200 mph. While slow, light models are useful wind dummies and relatively safe to fly with if expertly piloted, some of these heavy, fast and aerobatic types do not mix well with gliders. It was a moot point whether a responsible model flyer should consider flying such things in mixed company.

Steve Purdie's picture

BHPA Rules for Individual Flying Members - a reminder...

1. Pilots must comply with Air Law.

2. All accidents and incidents must be reported to the BHPA using the Incident Report Form
within 48 hours. Any fatal or potentially fatal accident must also be reported to the police
and the Air Accident Investigation Branch immediately.

3. Pilots involved in any type of incident that could lead to an insurance claim must not
admit fault or liability.

4. A well fitting helmet must be worn on all flights. The helmet should be CE marked EN
966 in the HPG category.

5. Members who wish to be involved in any activity that involves others (e.g. Coaching,
Instructing, Dual Flying, Towing, Aerotowing) must be appropriately licensed and must
adhere to the requirements set out in the Technical Manual

6. BHPA members must fly acceptably certificated aircraft, or aircraft that have been
entered on the BHPA registration database.

7. When flying from club sites pilots must familiarise themselves, and comply with the club
site rules.

8. Members must only fly when fit to do so.

9. Members must restrict their activities to those that they are qualified to undertake.

10. Members must not act in a manner which brings or may bring the BHPA or the sport in
general into disrepute.

Nb. Aircraft means hang gliders, paragliders, parascending canopies and variants thereof (e.g. SPHG) that have been
encompassed by the BHPA.

The BHPA Pilot Handbook sets out recommended practice.

Steve Purdie's picture

HG reserve issues. Maybe PG harnesses from same manufacturer too?

Dear pilot colleagues!

After pulling our reserve chute in a gym and wanted them to repack under DHV instruction we encountered a severe failure with several (3) Skyline Zero Drag harnesses. It was for the pilots not possible to release the chute! The container could not be opened in flying position. After a short inspection we tried to pull out the container first with one hand than with to hands and still the container would not open, we measured the force and it showed above 10kg. This happens because of the cord material. After just one year the cord stiffens out and remains in the shape after the splint is being pulled out. It won't bend and therefor prevents the container from open and a chute failure is the result.

So please check your harness, the same and exact issue occurred on 3 Skyline Zero Drag harnesses.

We temporarily solved this issue and prior to this already informed skyline about this though no action followed. There were also DHV represantitives present and we hope for a security information in some time but I thought I won't held this information back because our lives depend on this! Report your harness to skyline if you have the same problem and can't release the rescue chute.

Read more:

Hairy Dave's picture

Pod harness safety

It seems the DHV are now addressing the issues of paragliding pod harnesses with dodgey reserve systems, back protectors, etc. and their inappropriate use by recreational pilots.

Their report is at

Reserves and back protectors are just the glaring problems with some of these harnesses. There are numerous other areas in which some of these types are found wanting and I expect the DHV will get on the case in due course.

The taking off with the leg straps undone problem can only truly be solved when everyone does a proper pre-flight check before every launch.

Steve Purdie's picture

Eastbourne Airshow

Beachy Head and surroundings will be closed from Wednesday night until Monday for Eastbourne airshow.

See for details.

Hairy Dave's picture

Ground inversion season - avoid a nasty surprise.

I hate to mention the word, but it's beginning to feel autumnal early morning and late evening some days. What we're feeling is a ground inversion, which has provided more than a few nasty moments for pilots. It works like this:

We're all familar with the ground heating in the day, heating the air touching it and making thermals. As the sun goes down the reverse happens.

The once-hot ground radiates it's heat energy. If there's no blanket of cloud to bounce it back, the energy is lost into space and the ground gets cold.

The air touching the cold ground gets cold and dense.

As evening draws into night, the layer of cold air gets thicker and colder, anything between a few feet and a up to several hundred feet, perhaps even a thousand.

We now have a lake of heavy, cold air over the land with the real air doing it's own thing over the top.

The autumnal feel happens when we're standing in the cold layer - it's cold, humid (even forming dew or mist) and less windy than in the day.

Risks to the unwary pilot are:

It's been windy all day and close to sunset the wind drops to flyable. If you fly and climb a bit, you might get up to the windy layer and find a turbulent surprise in the shear layer between the two. Above the shear layer it will still be as windy as it was all day.

The wind early morning is light and flyable (possibly with plenty of wind from the north as the cold layer flows out to sea, just like a river). With some sun on the ground, thermals start and climbing begins. If you get a decent early climb, you might get to the shear layer and receive a battering from the turbulence. If you get through that in one piece there might be a lot more wind above.

At about the point in the day when the thermals are strong enough to get our intrepid shear-layer researcher aloft, all those thermals belting through the cold layer stir up the whole system and mix the cold air in with the normal air above. That usually takes 10 minutes to half an hour and is not a nice time to fly. The thermals race up through the cold air, lumps of windy air from above are brought down and sensible pilots will be on the ground having coffee.

Once the mixing is complete and the ground inversion is gone, all the cold air having mixed up with the air above, thermal activity will slow right down. That's because the air over the fields is now warmer and the fields and their thermals need to get hotter to make the required temperature difference. After another coffee it should get going again and this time the climbs will go all the way up.

Signs that this might be the situation:

It's been a warm, breezy day and in the evening the wind slows as it cools off.

The skies are fairly clear allowing the energy to escape.

It's not windy on the ground, but the clouds are moving well.

The forecast is for wind, but it's not windy on take off.

The isobars and other higher level wind forecasts show wind but the simple forecasts for ground level wind show much less.

It's clearly shown on the forecast soundings.

You're soaring around take off where there's plenty of wind but not much lift. You get a bit low and slope land only to discover there's no wind at all. You're in the cold lake and only the top bit of the hill was sticking out in the breeze.

You're bottom landing into wind and at 10 feet the glider dives as it enters the cold, still layer and you land long (and fast). Hopefully you followed procedure and came in with excess airspeed and legs down so you didn't stall.

You've watched someone take off half-way up, climb 100 feet above the hill, take a series of collapses, then start going backwards.

Hairy Dave's picture

How to hold brake handles and survive

I've found the organisers initial statement regarding Dillip's death in Bulgaria (below). Apart from slow rescue services, the main issue is that he was found with a half deployed parachute and the brakes still in his hands. They suggest that holding the brakes and trying to deploy would influence glider behaviour. It would certainly impede throwing of the reserve.

I seem to remember that Dillip was in the habit of passing his hands through the brake handles so that they were around his wrist. This has resulted in similar incidents in the past where the pilot has been found it difficult or impossible to release the brakes quickly enough in order to throw the reserve properly.

However we choose to hold the brakes, it is essential that we are able to release them and and deploy without hesitation. Putting the handles over the wrists is a dangerous practice.

Official statement for accident 15 July 2012

Yesterday, Sunday 15 July, the indian pilot Dilip Kotecha falled at the upper part of Ravnets massif, north of Karlovo and Vasil Levski. Later he died from from internal bleeding and injuries.

He flew above the mountain, 120 m above the terrain, when according to witnesses he had collapses, spiral dive, rescue parachute deployment and hard impact into the ground. 5-10 minutes later 3 pilots landed next to him: Jan Minnaar, Ivelin Kalushkov and Daniel Dimov. They reported promptly the condition of Dilip - unconscious with irregular breathing and bleeding from the mouth. Mountain rescue helicopter was called and it arrived within 1 hour and 40 minutes. Unfortunately around 15:30 he stopped breathing. The helping pilots continued with CPR until the coming of rescue helicopter, when the doctor announced him dead.

It is difficult to find the reason of the accident because the weather conditions were normal and because Dilip was relatively experienced pilot, flying from 1995 and he attended SIV courses. He knew the terrain as he flew 5 competitions in Sopot area. He's been flying his glider - Ozone Mantra 4 for one year, had 100 hours on it and flew it in the crowded Czech Open and Skynomad Open in Sopot 2011.
The area of the accident is in the lee of a strong thermal trigger, which probably caused the initial turbulence and collapse. He was found with brake handles in his hands, which might slowed the deploying the rescue with them (the harness velcro for the rescue riser was not opened entirely and rescue container was 10 meters away from him). Trowing rescue with brake handle might influenced the glider behavior.

As far as the accident was not caused by organization failure, the competition will continue. Monday 16 July is a rest and respect day. Shambhala club will donate all entry fee money to Dilip's family and will support his son until his 18th birth day.

From the organization.

Steve Purdie's picture

Parachute Packing Error

I just repacked an Independence Annular EVO reserve which was last repacked by the owner under supervision at the Zip Slide event before Christmas.

The reserve had been folded at 90 degrees to the design plane. i.e. folded like an Apco Mayday, rather than the intended short concertina folds.

When packed in this manner the reserve opening will be delayed and it is not impossible that it will fail to deploy.

If you packed your reserve like this, please refer to me, The Loft or any Independence dealer for advice on how to do it properly.

The correct manual is very clear on how to pack the reserve.

Steve Purdie
SHGC Safety Officer