Safety Notes November 2023

By Brian Stewart on  November 17, 2023 16:12

Just a brief one today: this video from GASCO is well-worth 13 minutes of your time, in which they discuss the human factors involved in spotting other aircraft and the role of Electronic Conspicuity devices in enhancing or degrading a pilot’s ability to spot potential conflicts.

Stay safe!

October 2023–John Oliver Live!

By Carl Fairhurst on  October 12, 2023 13:56


We kicked off the winter club nights at the end of the year with a discussion of the incident on Parlick the previous day. For more information on this see Safety Notes October 2023

John Oliver then gave a talk covering such items as

  • Flight preparation using Microsoft Flight Simulator or Condor to get familiar with the terrain before travelling.
  • Pictures taken through the season
  • What equipment used to take pictures, how to configure the camera and how to post process the pictures captured.


Simon Blake captured some notes below:

1. A suggested minimum spec for a PC to run Microsoft Flight Simulator useably for paragliding purposes would be nice.

Hard drive size: 400GB, It uses a lot!

The scenery is not stored on hard drive, but cached from the internet as needed. So an ok internet speed is needed

A graphics card, GTX1080 ok. I used a GTX1660. Only upgraded to GTX3070 to max out settings with complex 3rd party aircraft (A320 with weather radar and Cu’s reflecting in lakes ect)

Tuning up graphics quality and using 3rd party aircraft increases demand.

20 fps Minimum frames per second required before glitches occur.

2. Details on that sailplane simulator - what's it called, what kit do you need, what's nice to have, what's the Discord server stuff?

Condor 2. Low spec computer ok. Internet only required for multiplayer.

Download from 60 euro. And you may end up buying 1 or 4 extra aircraft. Such as a K8 and ASK21 that Boland club fly (To feel how much rudder it requires!)

The multiplayer servers.

Yorkshire gliding club at Sutton bank are the most active uk users.

The XC league of online soaring. And where the tasks are shown before they appear on the live server list.

Discord is a sever for voice chat used by gamers. Very high quality, no lag sound.

It is also been used as a forum more and more these days.

The UK Virtual soaring club

Yorkshire gliding club at Sutton bank are the most active users. 

3. Some recommends on joysticks and other interface devices?

Any joystick ok. Rudder with a twisting joystick or dedicated pedals.

Microsoft sidewinder force feedback 2, USB version form eBay. Made in the 90’s. They don’t make em like that anymore. Not the precision.

Rubber pedels

£200 approx. Higher quality than most real aircraft. Pivot style rather than slider, as found in sailplanes.

Head phones and mic.

4. What was that tablet with the colour e-ink screen? Tech specs, manufacturer, purchasing source etc.

I use a TLC S8. Only exported out of China with English operating system by one person on Ali express

Sorry, the price has gone upto £510, but he will knock some off if you ask.

Too big for none comp use. RLCD has no back light. Other TLC products claiming to have “NexPaper” are not RLCD

5. What was the app you were using in on for competition? (and what are the alternatives? and do they work on that tablet? (Is it android?))

I use XCTrack. Most comp pilots use it now, plus another device. The task is passed around via a QR code. The XCTrack layout can be very different on a large screen.

6. What was the flight planning app you were using? (, formerly Thermikxc, if I recall correctly...).

Yep, Fly app.

7. I've written "flying with others" - I think there's a whole talk on this but just the recommendation to fly in gaggles.

Yes, defo! Maybe Richard Meek's talk will contain some more on this?

8. What's the name of that woman doing the research about vultures? Where can one find out more about that?

Hanna Williams

Clouldbase mayhem epposide link

9. What are the alternatives to Lightroom? (Is GIMP any good for instance?)

Just get lightroom! Everyone uses it.

10. What size monitor do you use, what did it cost etc.?

Ultra wides are made for photo editing. I use a 1440p 34” LG 34UM95. It was £600 years ago and only 60hz. Now there is much more ultra wide choice and they are much cheaper. Unless you want one of the new 4K OLED, HDR, wide gamut, high speed 120hz+ gaming ones!

4k is over kill for a TV at the opposite side of a room. But it is more useful when you are close up to a big monitor. I might need to upgrade. Although don’t get sold on resolution. Like camera mega pixels, The resolution is one of the least import factors, its just easy to sell with. Colour gamut eg 99.7% of RGB or better is more important. Deep blacks, ok dynamic range ect

I calibrated it with a

But my monitor was very close to correct. Just brightness and colour balance where a little off. Sign of a good one. Some bad ones are very far off.

Microsoft Fancy zones

Good for managing window size on large monitors. As i still view some stuff, like webpages, at 16:9

11. Details of the printing service you use?

Every one uses them.

Good prices for professional quality

If the print doesn’t turn out how you expect, its your monitor settings that are wrong.

Free test prints too

12. Recommendation for a lens - wide vs. distortion

I’m out of touch. I only know the full frame models. The professional stuff is expensive, but they don’t depreciate. So if you buy / sell a lot, they are cheap after the initial payout. I mostly break even. But the len's don’t break, even if you drop them. Ebay: buy mid-day during the week, sell 7pm on a Sunday.

Google “Flickr lens pool <name of lens>” to see if you like how a lens looks

For full geek out read

13. Recommendation for a body, if you're doing body/lens thing?

As above, i went Sony when they made the first large sensor that was stabilised. Now i know the button layout i stick with them. There is so much choice now. The Sony RX100 used to be the goto good small camera. But also many more options now.

14. Is there a simpler camera that's still a camera that would be usable for flying?

Small is fiddley. I find larger simpler. They all have the same auto functions.

15. Megapixel recommendation - is it always more is better, what do you use etc.

With small sensors, more is normally worse. Apart from smartphones that are using the extra pixels for noise cancelling and to give the AI sharping more to guess with.

Apple proved 12mp was the peak of a phone unless AI was involved.

For a large sensor 12 ok if you dont crop or print large canvas size. Best for low light use, Due to the seize of each pixel.

24pm average these days.

42 over kill. But I like it for deep cropping in. Only the best, mostly modern lens can resolve more than 24mp. So no use without a sharp lens.

Mega pixels is not the measure of how good a camera is. Its just easy to sell with that number, so they are often used in marketing.

To geek out on low megapixel street photography cameras, watch youtube channel:

16. What are the settings you really need to use in Lightroom and what do they do?

The right hand panel lays its functions out in order of importance. Exposure, white balance and cropping are what are important. The rest is optional.

Import Raw files. And only convert out to jpeg if you need to share.

The evening was well attended and was a great start to the winter evenings!


Safety Notes October 2023

By Brian Stewart on  October 11, 2023 17:20


As many of you will know, on Sunday 8th one of our members was seriously injured on the South face of Parlick and airlifted to hospital. We wish him a full and speedy recovery from his injuries.

As we move towards winter, it’s worth analysing in some detail how the weather may have been a significant factor. As the power of the sun to heat the ground reduces, thermal production slows and so the mixing of the layers of air stops happening and a low-level inversion can often last all day. You will often see clouds above whizzing past with little or no wind on the ground early in the day. In summer, vertical mixing of the upper and lower layers usually clears this inversion, but in winter it can lurk undetected. If this layer is below the take off, you may feel this as a sudden increase in wind speed from very light to very strong, possibly with an abrupt change in direction – a clear warning sign. However if the layer is just above take off, you may launch from what feels like a perfect breeze into a nightmare as the friction between the layers of air moving at different speeds and directions creates violent vortices. This can happen at any altitude, but if it’s close to the ground, any collapses induced may be unrecoverable before impact.

Warm southerly airflows are particularly prone to causing this effect as they produce more pronounced inversions, which is significant for our south-facing sites like Parlick and Nonts. An approaching warm front can mean warm air riding over the cooler air near the ground, which exaggerates the inversion Add in the wave influence of upwind hills (Longridge, Standedge) and you get a recipe for extreme turbulence, just where you don’t want it.

Back in the day, we used to just have the TV forecasts and shipping forecasts, so just went out when the weather man (and it was always a man back then) said the magic words ‘light to moderate’ and sometimes had a horrible experience, muttering over our beers about what might have caused it. Now we have incredibly detailed atmospheric models to predict what the wind is going to be doing at every level. The question is how to access and make use of this amazing resource. The ground level wind speeds on the Met Office site, XCWeather etc are only a starting point – if they say too strong, then it’s too strong, but if the numbers are low, it’s vital to look at the upper layers to get an idea of what is going on above our heads. This isn’t the place for an in-depth lesson on weather forecasting, and I’m not the person to do it, but here’s a few take-aways from the conditions on Sunday.

This is the RASP tephigram custom sounding for 1100 BST on Sunday 8th October for Chipping (CHP) Note the low level inversion where the air temperature increases with height and how the wind changes direction .



Here’s another view of the 1100 data, provided by NOAA and analysed by Neil Charles:


Here we can see that the wind was forecast light SE at ground level, fresh S at take off and veering to strong SW just above.

Other sources of data include and the, Ventusky, which have free versions that provide this data. There are many others. My advice is to find one that you can learn how to use, and visit it regularly before flying. Look at them on the days before too, see how the forecasts change. Where possible examine the different data sources (ECMWF, Met Office, NOAA, GFS etc.) – the more they agree, the more confidence you can place in the prediction.

So how do we use these data in order to make out flying safer?

We are the pilots, and we are responsible for our own decisions; there is no launch marshal or air traffic controller to make us see sense. Here are some tips:

ALWAYS check winds at higher altitudes – all year round. Don't just look at ground level winds before flying. We don't fly at ground level, so it is silly to only look at ground level winds. Even on days when there is no inversion there can often be surprisingly stronger winds at take off height or higher.

In summer you will mostly get away with only looking at ground level winds, as in summer the difference between ground and upper winds is generally not great for the reasons given above. But why not spend five minutes looking, it may save you a wasted trip to a blown out hill.

In winter you won't get away with only checking ground level winds for long. Even on days when there is little or no inversion, the difference in winter between ground level and higher level winds can be dangerously high. Add an inversion around hill hight and danger is multiplied. 

The wind speed and directions on soundings can be a little awkward and imprecise to read; however using websites like you can check the wind speed and direction of all northern England at 10m, 100m, 250m, 500m, 750m, 1000m, 1500m etc. You don't have to check every altitude, but you should check 100m, 500m (take off altitude) and 750m at say 10am, 1pm and 16pm. When you get familiar with a website or app like Ventusky you will be able to check the winds in five minutes. It is a lot quicker than recovering in a hospital bed for four months.

Using the free version of an app like you can get a spot forecast for Parlick landing field showing the wind at all altitudes in about 60 seconds, as below:


Neil Charles is currently developing a tool to show graphically the wind speed and direction at our sites and elsewhere. Watch this space for news

Don't use RASP for wind speed in winter. In summer time the RASP parameters “BL Avg. Wind” and “Wind at BL Top” are excellent forecasts. But in winter these parameters are often useless as the Boundary Layer is so low. If there is an inversion at 900ft then BL top will be 900ft, so “BL Avg. wind” will be an average of the wind from the ground level to 900ft – not much use when you are taking off at 1300ft.The decision to take off is every pilots personal responsibility, every pilot should be checking the weather before they fly. Don't rely on others, don't fly like sheep!

Brian Stewart and Phil Wallbank, with contributions from Gordon Rigg (DSC).

Safety Notes September 2023

By Brian Stewart on  September 19, 2023 11:30

It’s been a fairly quiet year as far as incidents go so far . . . Probably tempting fate by writing that, but I don’t believe in that nonsense, so there.

Equipment Checks

We all do these, don’t we? Daily inspection, pre-flight checks etc. One of our members received a harness with his reserve re-packed back from a well-known PG service centre. During a pre-flight check the bridle zipper was seen to be starting to open and was re-closed. This happened again at the next flight. Further checking showed a mistake in re-packing the reserve and closing the container. AFAIK this is still unresolved between the pilot and the service centre. This shows the importance of doing your own inspections and checks every time you launch. You know it makes sense.

Another recent incident involved a near-miss for a member when one set of risers became trapped inside the carabiner of the opposite riser. Fortunately, he was sufficiently aware to abort the launch before getting lifted too far, but still got dragged. The carabiners in this case were the screwgate type, not the more common twist-lock gate, which require two separate actions to unlock the gate (slide and twist). The screwgates on both carabiners had not been tightened up to lock, so were both free to open. Again, this shows how important it is to include such a check in your list if you have these carabiners. Also remember the advice about replacing carabiners every 5 years or 500 flight hours. As they are subject to repeated load cycles the alloys used in them will work-harden over time and become brittle.

Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team

Earlier this year the CVSRT got in touch to find out more about our sport and the equipment we use. It’s the eastern sites like Blackstone Edge, Nont Sarah’s and Pule that are more likely to be within their region, and it’s the recent increase in use of these sites that has brought us to their attention. They had a couple of calls from concerned members of the public reporting PGs in distress. Despite searching, including with helicopter, they found nothing but wanted to know more.

Mark Shaw, BHPA Technical Officer came up to their Mytholmroyd HQ las week and gave them a presentation about our sport which I attended, covering all aspects from speed flying to powered hang gliding. It was interesting to find how little they knew of what we do – the outsider’s view that we’re a bunch of reckless thrill-seekers wasn’t so prevalent (much more respect for us as fellow users of the outdoors) – but the realisation that we actually fly distances was quite an eye-opener for some. A useful lesson learned that our activities are not confined to specific locations. Their HQ is very impressive, and the team all turned out in their mountain rescue kit – they are a very professional organisation with 45-50 registered responders with a wealth of medical knowledge and expertise between them. One subject that we discussed at length was the issue of alerting soaring pilots to the arrival of a helimed. The MRT members all carry smoke flares – these are deployed to guide the heli to the spot and indicate wind conditions. The suggestion that one could be set off as soon as the heli was requested will be carried forward by Mark to the BHPA with a view to establishing a code of practice.

This was a very useful evening, and was great for making contact with the people who do such great work on the ground saving lives.

Tight lines, everyone