Notices to Airmen (NOTAM)
You have a legal and moral duty to ensure that your flight can be made safely. Even if you only plan some ridge soaring at your local site, you should be aware of any local airspace restrictions and take steps to avoid infringing them. If you plan to fly cross-country you should be familiar with Air Law and understand airspace types and restrictions as they apply to our kind of aircraft.
Airspace is regularly changed as civil airports grow, military aerodromes are abandoned, airways are raised or lowered and other changes occur. The CAA replaces charts as required, and this can be as often as within twelve months of the previous issue. You should therefore check at least annually to make sure you are using the most up-to-date issue.
Even with an up-to-date chart, the information is only valid on the day of issue! In order to keep your chart fully up to date between new editions, it is necessary to consult the Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP) and NOTAMs (Notices to Airmen) that the CAA issues, and amend your chart as necessary.
You should also check the NOTAMs for any other activities that may affect your flight. You can you can use the web to access all the NOTAMs for that day at www.nats-uk.ead-it.com (there's no need to register, just enter the username: "BHPAuser" and password: "password"). A more graphic representation of current airspace restrictions can be found at http://notaminfo.com/ukmap. Pilots flying midweek should also make use of the Civil Aircraft Notification Procedure (CANP) system to alert military pilots of their presence.
Ideally your Club should have access to NOTAMs. If you use the postal service, you should be aware that details may have changed after the bulletins were printed and posted. And don't forget to read the Airspace Update column in Skywings. It's also a good idea to call Freefone 0500 354802 to check on Royal flights, Red Arrows displays and other Temporary Restricted Airspace (RA[T]).
The most comprehensive treatment of Airlaw, covering Air Law, types of airspace and other legalities, aeronautical charts, the Rules of the Air and the Air Navigation Order, is to be found in the BHPA Pilot Handbook. This is available from hang gliding and paragliding dealers and from the BHPA Shop.
Page last updated: 10 June 2014