Skywings News Update - Christmas 2012
BHPA Liability Insurance & Club Officers
The settlement of a high profile case against a BHPA Recreational club has apparently given rise to concerns amongst Club Committee members in a number of other Recreational Clubs in respect of their personal liability for such claims, such that a number of people have resigned as Club Committee members or Officials.
The first point to make is that because most Recreational Clubs are not registered companies, any claim is brought against all the Club members at the time of the accident. It makes no difference whether you are a Committee Member or an Official. Usually, the Chairman and Secretary will be named in the litigation, but they are only named in a representative capacity on behalf of every Club member. The legal reality is that everyone who was a club member at the time of the accident is a Defendant in the action.
Secondly, this is exactly the reason we have liability insurance. In the high profile case all aspects of the claim were dealt with by insurers and solicitors appointed to act on the Recreational Club‘s behalf. The settlement has not cost any BHPA member a single penny of their personal money. This total cover is the very reason why BHPA Exec regularly remind Recreational Clubs that all Club members must be BHPA members. Our insurance is there to protect, not just members who fly hang gliders or paragliders, but also others, be they marshals, tug pilots, competition organisers or any other role undertaken under the auspices of the BHPA and that includes being on Club committees and yes, even being on Exec!
We can always potentially get something wrong that needs insurance. Such widely-based insurance is deliberately pitched thus because it is important to the functioning of the BHPA and the sport in general in the UK that people are not scared off from offering their services as Club Officials or other non-flying volunteers because of unfounded concerns about losing their house in the event of a claim.
The terms of the settlement of the high profile claim are confidential and the court order only permits them being them as being described as "confidential and mutually satisfactory". Anyone who engages in discussion of the terms of the settlement risks being in breach of the court order and subject to the laws of contempt.
Recently, it has become more widely realised that a jokey threat to bomb Robin Hood Airport can suddenly result in your emails and social networking messages becoming open to scrutiny by the police, the court or anyone who wants to bring a claim. Speculation about any incident on email or social networking sites may well cause difficulties if the incident becomes subject to an action and your messages are later examined as part of the case. In essence, the old rule that after an accident you must not admit fault, in the new electronic era now extends to all discussions on social networking sites by those who are witnesses or potential witnesses.
If there is anything to learn from this case, it is not that your insurance cover has in any way changed or that your house is at risk, but instead that opinions and speculations should not lead to a case being subjected to a "trial by internet" until that case has been concluded in the more time-honoured and proper manner by a Judge.
If any member has any questions they should feel free to contact Marc Asquith (BHPA Chairman) 07802 525099 or Martin Heywood (BHPA Insurance Officer).
The Annual General Meeting of the BHPA will be held on Saturday March 2rd 2013 at the Belfry Hotel, Nottingham, NG8 6PY,starting at 11am.
Last year‘s event, co-located with the BGA AGM, seemed to work well and the same format is to be repeated this year. It is hoped that members will take the time to turn up to hear how the BHPA Exec has been working on their behalf, to quiz Exec members on their record and put forward ideas for the future direction of the Association. Voting papers and details of candidates will appear in the February issue of Skywings.
Topics for discussion at the members‘ forum, held directly after the AGM, should be notified to the BHPA Chairman by February 1st. Voting papers and details of candidates, and the BHPA Treasurer‘s Report, will appear in the February issue of Skywings. The Belfry is adjacent to Junction 26 of the M1.
The AGM will include the election of the Association's Executive Committee (Exec), from which three current members (Marc Asquith, John Nash and John Welch) will be standing down and seeking re-election. A fourth member, Sites Officer Steve Walsh, has resigned. Any BHPA member considering seeking nomination for election should contact Chairman Marc Asquith or another Exec member to find out what‘s involved, and contact the Office for the appropriate form as soon as possible. Completed nominations should arrive at the BHPA Office no later than Friday January 18th.
Nominations are sought for BHPA Awards of Merit. These are presented to BHPA members to acknowledge conspicuous service to a club or clubs, or to competitions. If someone in your environment has put their heart and soul into the good of the sport for many years, please consider writing a citation for them for a BHPA Merit Award. Citations should be sent to the BHPA Office by January 31st 2012; awards will be presented at the BHPA AGM or other suitable occasion.
Steve Cook to fly Atos VR
Steve Cook, one of the south coast‘s most accomplished hang glider pilots, will be flying a brand-new Atos VR rigid this season.
Steve won the hang gliding XC League in 2007 having logged out-and-returns of up to 180km aboard an Aeros Phantom rigid. He had flown 124 and 146km out-and-returns the previous year and went on to make a 138km out-and-return flight in 2010.
Steve was British hang gliding champion in 1999 aboard a La Mouette Topless, and Class 5 champion in 2002 on a Top Secret. A former disciple of last year‘s XC League winner, Johnny "age-is-no-barrier" Carr, with a VR in his hands Steve will be a force to be reckoned with this year and might cause rigid-wing hard men Neville Almond and Tim King an anxious glance over their shoulders. However Steve should note that Nev‘s last record (278km) involved dropping a turnpoint a mile out to sea, just to make life harder for the next pilot.
If you are thinking of following Steve Cook‘s lead don‘t leave it too late - we are informed that quoted VR delivery dates are already well into the spring.
John Aldridge appointed FAI Companion of Honour
At the FAI‘s 106th General Conference in Turkey in October, longtime BHPA comps officer, hang gliding comps organiser and meet director, CIVL delegate and latterly CIVL President John Aldridge was appointed an FAI Companion of Honour.
There are only 63 Companions in the history of the FAI, but no Brits except former RAeC Chairman Fred Marsh and former BGA medical adviser, FAI Medico-Physiological Commission President and CIMP Secretary Peter Saundby, who was also honoured at the October conference.
John‘s award reflects his years working with current FAI President John Grubbström on CASI, the Airsport General Commission, where he was a Vice-President. He is the only Companion past or present with a hang gliding or paragliding background!
Big Fat Repack
The Thames Valley club‘s Big Fat Repack will run on Sunday February 24th at the Rivermead Leisure Complex, Reading.
There will be a zip slide to practice reserve deployment, and the BHPA‘s repacking team will give presentations on how to deploy and repack your ‘chute. Qualified packers will be on on hand with help and advice to ensure that everyone leaves with their ‘chute repacked.
There will also be first-aid lectures. The BFR costs £27.50 per person - less than a commercial repack! Please book online at www.tvhgc.co.uk, or download a booking form and send it, with a cheque and stamped, addressed envelope, to BFR, The Gables, 1 Henwick Lane, Thatcham, Berkshire RG18 3BJ.
John Chambers talk at CSC
The Cumbria Soaring Club is to host a talk by X-Alps athlete Jon Chambers, recently in the news as the first Brit to top-land Mt Blanc.
John is a regular on the lecture circuit and has previously headlined at the Kendal Mountain Festival. The date for your diaries is February 23rd; further information including booking details will be posted in due course on the Cumbria Soaring Club website.
As this is the last Skywings News update for 2012, on behalf of everyone at the BHPA I'd just like to thank you all for your support over the past 12 months, and wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.