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British Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association

British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association

Skywings Archived News

Skywings Archived News - Jan 2013

The Wide Open - It's all about having fun

Buckle up for the Wide Open! Launching this year in Meduno, Italy on 19th May, the Wide Open is a fun competition aimed at pilots to whom an enjoyable week‘s flying means more than FAI points.

Less bravado and more friendly achievable tasks, the Wide Open is the perfect training ground to those new to competitions or those who simply want to fly with friends, meet fellow XC pilots and improve their skills in a relaxed atmosphere. The one week event will include plenty of briefings and debriefs, lectures by experienced pilots and prizes galore.

Two free paragliding holidays, a brand new wing and much more besides are all up for grabs. Featuring barbecues and parties, the Wide Open also promises to be a social experience to remember. Meduno has been carefully selected to host the Wide Open because of its huge grassy launch plentiful land-out options and reliable flying conditions. Without a doubt, this offers pilots a cost effective opportunity to improve their xc flying skills in a fun and supportive environment.

Expect places to fill fast. For full details and to reserve your place see the Wide Open website at www.flywideopen.org.

Posted: 19 January 2013

Farewell Richard Westgate (1969-2012)

The flying community has been shocked to hear of the passing of top UK paraglider and record holder Richard Westgate.

An absolutely committed XC pilot, Richard won the XC League in 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2010, and finished second in 2011. His example inspired many pilots who began to realise just what was possible in UK flying. On the ground, Richard was heavily involved in clearing the way for the Bath Gap, Ubley Glider Block and Upton Corridor airspace concessions, and in the tightening up and policing of XC League airspace avoidance rules.

Richard had garnered records galore, most but not all in tandem flying, and several with his twin brother Guy, a noted sailplane pilot. These began with the British tandem distance record at 119.2km in Spain in 1995, and closed with the British declared and open triangle records at 90.1km and 93.2km, in company with Mike Cavanagh, in the Scottish Highlands in April 2011. In between he had secured the FAI tandem height gain in South Africa in 1996 (4,380m), the FAI tandem distance and distance to goal in Brazil in 2001 (220.4km and 215.0km), The FAI Tandem distance record again in South Africa in 2006 (356.2km) and the British tandem height gain (1,903m) in Wales in 2007. He also won the BHPA‘s Wings over a Cloud Award for the best Skywings article of 2001.

Richard will be remembered by his many friends and fellow pilots as a having possessed great motivation harnessed, unusually, to a great generosity of spirit. He struck all who encountered him as a thoroughly nice bloke with time and respect for everyone.

Richard died on December 12th following a long illness. He was 43. A commercial pilot, it is thought he had been suffering from organo-phosphate poisoning due to exposure to contaminated cabin air.

All are welcome to attend the funeral which will be held on Friday 18th January 2013 at 2.30pm at Ham Down Woodland Burial Ground, Bere Marsh Farm, Shillingstone, Dorset DT11 OQY.

Parking at the Ham Down Burial Ground is limited and mourners are invited to meet at the Crown Hotel, West Street, Blandford Forum, Dorset, DT11 7AJ, from 1.00pm to share transport for the 6 miles to the Burial Ground. Please allow 10-15 minutes to walk from the Bere Marsh Farm carpark (on the track to the Burial Ground) to the gravesite where the funeral service will be held.

No Flowers please. You are instead invited to adopt a tree in "The Circle", a new tree circle in the memory of Richard at the Westgate Wood, Princes Field, Fontmell Magna SP7 0PB.

The funeral will be followed by a Wake, commencing 3:30 pm at the Crown Hotel. The family will be collecting memories, photographs and other memorabilia to record Richard‘s rich life for the benefit of his many friends, Nephews and God Children. You are invited to contribute. A memory book and computer/scanner (for photographs) will be available at the wake venue.

Rooms are available at the Crown Hotel at a discount rate (please state Westgate Funeral).

RSVP RIPrichard (at) rocketmail.com

Posted: 7 January 2013

BHGC Blog for worlds

Ben Philpott has setup a blog to cover the 2013 Hang Gliding World Championships in Forbes, Australia.

The blog is available at www.pressbhgc.blogspot.co.uk/, and Ben hopes to be updating this daily with a reports, photos and (time allowing) video. The blog is also available as a news feed at http://pressbhgc.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default.

Ben, who recently did the "Friday Fixture" interview on the Simon Mayo Drivetime Show, said: "I will be flying out on the 1st January and arrive finally in Forbes late on the 3rd. For those of you who would like to follow our teams progress, I will be posting regular updates through out the competition.

"At the moment there is no official live tracking system in place, but there will be some pilots transmitting their positions so as soon as I know I will forward on the details. Time allowing there should be plenty of photos and even some videos published on to the blog, so watch this space.

"Hang Gliding is an overlooked sport, at which we as Brits excel - the conditions in Australia will be quite similar to that in Texas 2007 when we won the team event so we have a very good chance of winning the Worlds - wouldn't that make a cheerful ‘feel good‘ story for the post-Xmas blues?"

Posted: 2 January 2013

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 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).

Posted: 20 December 2012


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.

Post Updated: 20 December 2012

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.

Posted: 20 December 2012

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!

Posted: 20 December 2012

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.

Posted: 20 December 2012

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.

Posted: 20 December 2012


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