Sites Open, but tread carefully please

By Brian Stewart on  May 14, 2020 21:43

We’re at the point where we have been released from the grip of gravity again. There is still some way to go, but it has been very gratifying to see the almost perfect adherence to the guidelines issued by CAA, BHPA and the member clubs across the UK regarding free flight. One of the outstanding characteristics of PG and HG pilots, and our powered cousins, is a willingness to assess risk, make reasoned judgments and take responsibility for the consequences. That this has not led to large numbers making the assessment that it’s OK to fly despite the official line, is a testament to the responsible attitude of the vast majority of us.

The club’s officers have been in constant communication with the BHPA, our neighbouring clubs and the various individuals and bodies that control the land around our sites to coordinate our approach to the easing of restrictions. Rest assured that we were all desperately keen to get back to what we love as soon as it became safe and reasonable to do so.

Our sport is but a niche recreational activity on the fringes of aviation which is a large multi-billion-pound industry. It is only through the hard work the BHPA’s officers over decades that we have such light-touch, unlicensed (and therefore untaxed) regulation of our activities. The future of this relationship depends on CAA and, by extension, the government, remaining convinced that paragliding and hang gliding are governed responsibility by the BHPA through its network of local clubs.

As the aviation industry shrinks, there is an opportunity to influence the future airspace plans that are afoot. We have a dog in this fight, albeit a rather toothless, three-legged one-eyed mongrel, but we have a voice and have made representations to derestrict some of the blocks of airspace that get in our way downwind of Parlick and Pendle. I’m not expecting too much to come of this, but one way to guarantee no movement will be to discredit our organisations in the eyes of the CAA.

Please remember too that when we go to Parlick or Pendle or wherever, we are guests in the neighbourhood. People are fearful of the virus and may be very wary of the return of visitors from outside. Take heed of the guidance given in the BHPA document regarding hygiene and social distancing – we are only in phase 1 of the re-opening.

So, thank you to all of you for your patience, and please – resist the temptation to use closed sites until we get the go-ahead. Remember that even though you may be invulnerable and indestructible, someone close to you or an onlooker may be only one contact step away from another with a pre-existing condition that means serious consequences if they were to catch this virus. There are still thousands of new infections each day, and that’s just among those able to get tested.

Enjoy the skies, and thank you for waiting.

Covid-19 May Update

By Brian Stewart on  May 11, 2020 10:01

The PM has spoken but, as always, the devil is in the detail. While we wait for some flesh to be wrapped around the bones of Boris’s statement, below is the BHPA’s road map for a possible return to paragliding, in case you’ve missed it on their website. BHPA themselves are waiting for the response to their submissions to government and are hoping to hear today or tomorrow (Tuesday 12th May).

The PSC committee has been communicating with the United Utilities, National Trust and other landowners and managers relevant to our sites, as well as talking to our neighbouring clubs to coordinate our approach.

While you get ready for a return to the skies, please take a moment to read carefully the BHPA proposal below and remember this is just a POSSIBLE route. Please wait for clarification and a go-ahead from BHPA. Also please check in every time to the website and site guide for updates on any restrictions and conditions that may be placed by the relevant bodies who own or control the land we use.

COVID 19 - BHPA recovery plan for flying activities.

This recovery plan sets out guidelines which the BHPA believes will allow a resumption of the sports of Hang Gliding and Paragliding, including powered variants, in the UK.

Pilots should be aware that it only becomes effective when the prohibition on non-essential travel is lifted and consequently, the CAA directive to cease recreational general aviation is also lifted.

It must be borne in mind that with 4 governments over the home nations, it is entirely possible that flying will be possible in some parts of the United Kingdom before it is possible in others.

The BHPA will make an announcement at that time that flying can be resumed if conducted in accordance with these guidelines.

The Association anticipates a three-phase restarting of its activities, beginning with an initial phase of flying activity by qualified pilots only (Club Pilot and above). Phase two will be solo training at BHPA schools. Phase three will be dual air experience flights and dual flights for passengers who are not members of the pilot’s household. Phase 3 will only be authorised upon the issuing of guidance on proximity between members of the public, that can be applied effectively to dual flying.

OVERARCHING PRINCIPLES

• Stay at home if you are showing symptoms of C-19 or should be self-isolating having had contact with someone suspected to be infected with C-19.

• If you are in a high-risk group consider carefully if you wish to risk infection through joining others, even though it is outdoors and with special measures in place.

• Bear in mind that you may be asymptomatic - act accordingly, maintaining social distancing and be vigilant with hand hygiene when touching surfaces.

• In general, a two-metre distance must always be maintained. Only in specific situations can this distance be reduced. In these situations, effective measures must be taken to ensure the protection of those involved.

SPECIFIC GUIDELINES FOR INDIVIDUAL PILOTS

General

• Every member carries individual responsibility for adhering to the rules to minimise the risk of infection or transmission of the disease.

• Maintain a two-metre distance in all situations, unless required to provide essential first aid.

• Carry hand sanitising gel.

• Inform yourself of your club and any site-specific guidance before traveling to fly.

Access to the flying site

• Club members should travel to and from flying locations individually in separate vehicles until Government advice changes to allow sharing. When this is not possible, club members must follow the guidance from UK Government on distancing in vehicles / on public transport.

• Before and after contact with any surfaces outdoors (stiles, gates and gate latches, etc), the BHPA recommends the use of hand sanitising gel.

On the site

• Only unpack and set up your equipment if intending to fly. On landing, immediately clear the landing area and carry your equipment to an appropriate unoccupied area to pack up.

• Use your own equipment. Try not to come into contact with another pilots’ equipment. If you are required to touch a piece of equipment that comes into contact with others, the BHPA recommends the use of hand sanitising gel applied before and after use (however this may not be appropriate for application on certain types of equipment).

• Providing assistance to a pilot - hang check. Avoid “hands on” contact and check remotely from a two-metre distance, allowing extra time to perform the checks.

• Providing assistance – e.g. pull-starting another pilot’s paramotor. Do not undertake this activity as it is not possible to maintain a two-metre distance.

• Dual flights are only allowed if both pilot and passenger live in the same household. In the current situation, dual pilots are strongly advised not to operate in conditions where a launch assistant may be needed.

• Providing assistance – launch assistant for dual paragliding. It is impossible to undertake this role and maintain a two-metre distance. As well as the usual requirements for launch assistants, the launch assistant must be a member of the same household as the pilot and passenger.

• In general terms, you should not be flying cross country – any “retrieve” journey may not adhere to COVID 19 travel guidelines. For the time being, only undertake flights local to your site.

• Do not share food and drinks and dispose of waste at home.

After flying

• Upon arrival back home, decontamination should take place by washing hands and quarantining any equipment for as long as possible, either outside or in a dedicated separate space indoors.

Protect the NHS

The inherent risk to aviation participants has not changed because of COVID 19, however there are measures that individuals can take to further reduce the risk of an incident whilst allowing activities to re-commence.

• Undertake any flying activity at a level well within your ability. Normal springtime conditions and currency precautions apply.

• Low airtime pilots and those recently qualified are advised to seek advice from a Club Coach before re-commencing flying.

• All pilots are advised to re-acquaint themselves with their flying equipment by setting it up in an isolated outdoor space and checking it (e.g. in garden), before resuming flying.

• All pilots are advised to initially undertake flight activity in light wind to minimise the need for another pilot to intervene.

GUIDELINES FOR GROUP ACTIVITIES SUCH AS TOW AND AEROTOW GROUPS AND FOR COACHES AND OPERATORS.

Any club member organising a coaching session / towing activity is advised to inform club members who are planning to take part about these guidelines at least one day before the start of the coaching / activity.

Any club official or licence holder organising a coaching or training session must ask club members at the beginning of the coaching session if they feel ill or have symptoms of COVID 19. If necessary, they must be excluded from the activity.

If a club member who has taken part in the coaching session subsequently falls ill, he/she must immediately inform the club official / licence holder who conducted the coaching / activity. This official will check which other persons in the coaching session he/she has been in contact with and will inform these people immediately.

General.

• Maintain a two-metre distance in all situations, unless required to provide essential first aid.

• Carry hand sanitising gel.

• Physical intervention on launch / landing should be avoided unless required in an emergency to prevent an incident.

• Restrict access to club buildings to essential personnel only.

Briefing / debriefing.

• Use a “hands-off” manner. Allow extra time to conduct demos, and brief/debrief maintaining 2m distance.

• Be aware of positioning – avoid standing directly upwind/downwind of a pilot (even when briefing from two metres away).

Specific guidelines for Coaching.

• First refresh your coaching basic skills by using guidance material / coaching resources.

• Encourage Club Pilots you are coaching to initially undertake tasks that involve flying in the local area (avoid supervised cross country flights for Club Pilots for the foreseeable future).

• Encourage Club Pilots you are coaching to initially undertake flights in light winds to reduce the need to physically intervene.

Specific guidelines for tow / aerotow operations.

• Segregate the launch queue to allow social distancing to be maintained.

• All winch / tow vehicle controls and ancillary equipment (e.g. signal bats) to be thoroughly sanitised before and after use. Avoid user changes if possible. If the user changes, the equipment must be appropriately sanitised when changing user.

• If radios are used, they should be sanitised with suitable wipes when changing user.

• The Launch Marshal should conduct verbal checks from at least 2m and to the side of the pilot.

• The Launch Marshal is advised to hold the end of the hang glider keel instead of the nose (for example to position the glider on the aerotow trolley).

• Tow group must agree and write down a procedure to minimise person-to-person contact with the tow rope, connections and glider launch trolleys, ensuring that appropriate sanitation is carried out on all surfaces to minimise risk of transference of COVID 19. The procedure is to be circulated and followed by all pilots, operators, tug pilots, launch marshals and coaches involved in the activity.

Guidelines for solo training and dual flights will be released in the forthcoming weeks.

Top of Form


No flying, New wing

By Barry Sayer on  April 2, 2020 10:52

Hello fellow sky friends,
It's been a very difficult time the last few week's, and I'm sure everyone's thoughts are with the families who have lost loved ones.

Everything seems to have stopped at the moment, work, social events, sports, and our Pennine playground.
It does give masses of time to think about things paragliding related, possibly xc flights, training, kit, holidays, brushing up on theory, or just day dreaming of aimlessly floating around your local hill in good company, without a care in the world.

Personal plans for when normality has resumed is.....fly!
Just before the sh*t storm hit mother earth I bought a new little wing. A mini wing/speed wingythingy . Sol Attak 20, in red! Screenshot_20200322_230657
I'd wanted to make the transition for a while, to have a second wing that’s more practical on stronger wind days, when the standard PG is grounded. I didn't want an all-out speed machine for the close terrain proximity rush, just something in between.
I'd had a quick test fly a few years ago on a Niviuk roller 16 (thanks to Barney) , I really enjoyed it, just a bit to hot for me though.
The Attak seems to be aimed more at beginners, described as built with safety in mind over performance.
I ordered through Ginger nomad paragliding shop, owned by Guy Richardson who's an all round nice bloke, and a pleasure to deal with.
 
Screenshot_20200322_230821It took a few week's to arrive from Brazil, definitely worth the wait and very satisfying opening up a super crispy new wing.
One thing also strikingly impressive is how neat they are folded and packed from the factory. After a good inspection layed out in the garden at home, it didn't quite pack away as neat, so maybe I'm not as good as the Brazilian factory wing folder, but who cares.
The wings construction looks to be of excellent quality, tough durable material that should last, not the lightest though. Sheathed lines coloured for easy identification, nice size brake handles on swivels, magnetic clips, standard trimmers plus brumels for optional speed bar set up.

First flight was on Parlick East, 15+mph wind speed.
The take off was effortless and predictable, it seems to be nice and responsive with a feeling of it being very solid overhead. Weight shift and break inputs positioned the wing smooth and precise in flight, with a little bit of constant brake pressure to feel what's going on above. I didn't test full use of the speed range, it had a good constant forward speed even in the strongest gusts, so I left the trimmers and speed bar alone.

Screenshot_20200322_230744


Screenshot_20200402_100232After about half hour of soaring that was plenty enough for me on this test flight, so i cautiously headed for a bottom landing, trying to judge the glide and sink rate to take on board for future flights. It was very strong in the landing field, and with a final flare only a few steps forward was needed, and that was that!
Very impressed and happy.
 
Stay home, stay safe, see you on a hill soon.

Regards
Barry Sayer

CAA Airspace Classification Review 2019-2020

By Brian Stewart on  February 20, 2020 15:10

image