Latest Safety Notices

Steve Purdie's picture

Temporary Prohibited Airspace - Air Display near Hastings today

From Dave's fine website, & our NOTAMS page:

H1193/11: Air display will take place
Q) EGTT/QWALW/IV/M/W/000/025/5051N00033E002
LOWER: Surface, UPPER: 2,500 Feet AMSL
FROM: 23 Apr 2011 14:00 GMT (15:00 BST) TO: 23 Apr 2011 17:00 GMT (18:00 BST)

Steve Purdie's picture

Gentlemanly Behaviour

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.

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.

In the early days of paragliding, once paraglider performance had advanced to the point where soaring was commonplace, 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?

Steve Purdie's picture

Spring is coming... Chest Straps, Stirrups and Pods

The turbulent days of spring will be with us imminently; we have already had a few good thermalling days and February has barely started.

The rougher air may encourage less well informed pilots to change their chest/waist strap setting. Before doing so, you must be aware of the effects of the riser separation:

Too wide and although you will have good feedback and weightshift authority, this may become wearing. You will also experience increased spiral stability (the tendency to stay spiralling - not a good thing) and within a range of deflations you will get tilted more aggresively. This tilting can result in line twists.

Too narrow and you will not get enough feedback to tell you when to land, you are also more likely to suffer deflations and more likely to suffer line twists.
Every glider has a designed chest/waist strap setting which will optimise perofrmance and safety. Use it! If in doubt of the setting for your wing, RTFM.

The pilot's moment of inertia will also affect the likelihood of line twists. If you fly very upright, with your feet down, 'the old man position' you will exhibit pretty much your lowest possible moment of inertia and would be unlikely to get line twists. If you fly very supine &/or with your feet out as if in a stirrup or pod, then you exhibit a high moment of inertia. This is not all bad, but it can complicate the handling of big deflations. It is far simpler, whenever you feel a deflation is likely, to lower your feet and maybe also sit up. This has the added benefit of making most harnesses less rigidly cross braced and so more likely to ride out the rough air.

If it's rough and you are near the ground, say 100', you should go into the PLF position. You may not think it looks cool, but walking away from a 60% deflation and subsequent crash looks a whole lot cooler than the alternative. In which regard, the next time you are on the hill waiting for conditions, why not have a PLF practice session. It'll definitely be a good laugh, because most pilots are hopeless at them!

If you find you have a big deflation when fully supine, initially roll with it and bring your legs down slowly. What you don't want to do is find yourself rotating and then quickly lower you're legs as that will cause the rotation to accelerate.

In my experience, line twists are usually caused not on any initial deflation, but occur when the initial deflation recovers fast and the canopy violently rotates in the opposite direction. This is when you want your moment of inertia to be as low as possible.

Don't forget your sunscreen, I managed to get sunburnt on Tuesday!

Steve Purdie

Steve Purdie's picture


Nowadays the SHGC has to have a zero tolerance attitude to flying in our heavily used airspace whilst under the influence of narcotic substances. Consequently, anyone repeatedly doing so will be reported to the police.

I have received a report that cannabis has again been seen being smoked by certain pilot(s) on our sites prior to flying.

I am sure that all pilots are aware of the dangers and severe penalties of such actions and that therefore would not countenance such a foolhardy act. However, if you have indeed flown under the influence, I trust that you will not do so again, knowing the hazards…


Steve Purdie

David Webb's picture

Paragliders and Horses


A rider was seriously injured after her horse was 'spooked' by a paraglider being ground-handled, near one of our flying sites last week. The lady rider is undergoing skin grafts after receiving injuries consistent with being thrown onto a barbed wire fence.

Whilst the SHGC is not directly involved we have had communication from the rider's family asking for some dialogue to help prevent this type of accident in the future. As a matter of good PR we will continue this dialogue as necessary.


David Webb
Sites Officer

Steve Purdie's picture


Lord Gage expressed deep concern regarding pilots flying low over a group of horses at Bo Peep/Firle on appx. 9/11/09.

Please be aware that low flying near to horses puts our access to most of our sites in jeopardy.

Please be especially considerate to horse riders when paragliding, or for that matter, driving anywhere near our sites.

Steve Purdie's picture

Safety Matters May 2008

Accepted wisdom is that a water landing is typically fatal, though this has been disproved on several occasions by our members, it is only a matter of time before someone DOES DROWN unless we all change our ways. The added buoyancy of the back protector in the harness usually holds the pilot face down in the water. Also the 400 metres or so of super-strong string is very effective at binding the pilot’s arms and legs to stop them swimming.

Whenever you are flying anywhere that there is a significant risk of landing in water you are well advised to wear a life jacket. Given the weather of this could be construed as every site we have, but really we mean the maritime sites. Locally this is Newhaven and Beachy, plus a few unlisted sites. Wearing a life jacket does not make a water landing acceptable, but it does improve your chances of survival. The best thing you can do is to never land in the water in the first place! To achieve this is quite simple:

• Don’t try to soar the harbour arm.
• Don’t fly out of reach of a safe landing.
• Don’t fly beyond the point when the wind is off to the south east.
• Don’t fly beyond the point when the tide is in, or coming in.
• Don’t fly when it is so crowded that there is not enough room to stay up.

Another hazard of cliffs and arêtes is of course the rotor. A new pilot was very lucky to escape with his life, let alone his legs unbroken recently when he strayed too far back and became pinned above the bungalows at Newhaven. A simple rule is that if you cannot see all the way down the face of the cliff to the beach, then you are too far back.

If you find yourself pinned in a hazardous position, then your best method for penetrating forwards is to:
• Point directly into wind; do not make any turns, swoops or other manoeuvres.
• Make sure that you have absolutely NO BRAKE applied – release any wraps.
• Consider using the accelerator while you are above any turbulent air. Big ears used in conjunction with the bar will allow you to fly fast in mild turbulence. Big ears alone will slow you down and seal your fate. Accelerator alone used low down in turbulence will also seal your fate.
• Get into the PLF position; the extra offset drag created will make the glider fly a little faster and if you do get a beasting, you may land on your feet and be able to PLF.

May, or even June will be with us by the time you read this. Allegedly we will be experiencing a warm but rather wet summer. If this is the case then we need to be aware of the formation of orographic cloud; wisps of cloud start to form very close to the hillside, followed by a very rapid blooming of cloud which can easily envelop the unwary flyer. If you spot telltale wisps then land immediately!

Given the very poor start to the year the biggest hazard is inevitably going to be rusty flying skills – I have flown on every possible day and I feel rusty, heaven help those who have not flown yet this year! Please give each other more consideration that usual and don’t assume that there is enough airspace left for you to fly.

Trees – the tree landing season will be upon us so remember, don’t risk falling out, make sure you are well and truly roosted.

You won’t live long enough to make all the mistakes, so learn from others.
Fly safe and keep having fun!
Steve Purdie

admin's picture

Spring Safety Briefing 2008 (was 2007!)

At last. It's that time of year again. The thermalling season has started!

We've already had some strongish thermal activity, though this has been limited so far by thin cirrus filtering the sun a bit - even Caburn at lunch-time in sea air has been relatively benign. But, look out for the next cold night and really clear day...

Things To Remember

Despite being at its warmest for years, seasonally speaking the sea is at its coolest now, so there may not be much of an early morning land-breeze to give you an indication of the impending wind; pay attention to the forecast and upper wind-speeds.

The air at night still gets pretty cold at this time of year, but the morning sun now has a bit of punch and will rapidly produce a shallow super-adiabatic layer with small parcels of air going both up and down quite fast. Within about half an hour this layer will deepen and flows will become more organised and suitable for soaring.

Surface heating will gradually raise the temperature to the point at which the wind can get down to ground level and, as you catch sight of the first cumulus of the day, a gusty surface wind will start. Thermals going up start to cause downdraughts coming down to fill the 'holes' and these sinking parcels of air bring their upper-level wind momentum with them adding to the gustiness and sharp direction changes of the air at flying levels. Average climb rates will leap from the 2-400 fpm of the last few weeks to 800fpm or more. Downdraughts will increase in similar magnitude.

Be prepared to get gusted off the ground during your launch or whilst ground-handling and don't forget to sit on a wing tip when parked. If you leave your glider, make sure it is securely bundled under the weight of your harness.

Crowded Skies

This is one of the seasons when over-crowding can get to be a real problem. Lots of pilots, all scrabbling for the same small thermals, some of them insufficiently experienced, others out of practice, others totally oblivious of the conditions. If you have the opportunity to go elsewhere to fly, now is the time!

The problem is not so much that there will be more fliers because the sun has come out, but is more due to increased instability and typically small spring thermals. In this kind of air we all need more room to allow a safe margin. Add a couple of wingspans extra horizontal clearance and do not take your vertical separation for granted; gliders can change height very rapidly. You can find yourself only a few feet away from someone who is climbing at over 1000fpm when you are literally falling out of the sky.

Allow space for the pilot in front of you to circle and centre in thermals. Make it clear that you are giving way by making a slight turn to one side, holding off, then joining behind them. They will afford you the same courtesy when it is your turn.

Sea Breeze Fronts

Spring sea breezes are generally patchy broken affairs, often more of a curse than a blessing. Onset may be sudden and with little warning, though there is usually a flurry of intensified thermal activity just ahead of the front. As the season progresses they tend to develop as more organised large-scale flows and may even stretch for some miles in straightish lines. In these conditions the wind will gradually back and decrease as a SW sea breeze front gets nearer, finally increasing sharply just before the front comes through. Look for vertical movement in the approaching curtain cloud. If this is rapid or disorganised, stay well clear.

As a rough guide, I would not recommend you to play with sea breeze fronts at low level unless you have some hundreds of hours and are current on your wing. If however, you have good height when the front comes through, go with it and enjoy!

Ian Grayland