British Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association

British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association

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Skywings News - all non archived years

New wind and weather resources in Europe

In 2014 a young windsurfer and paraglider pilot from Grenoble became obsessed with the idea of reliable onsite wind and weather information. Nicolas Baldeck began creating and testing his own garage-made wind station - a 200-euro wind station called Pioupiou. Within a week of alerting paragliding clubs Nicolas had received 90 orders and today, having expanded using crowdfunding, Pioupiou now sells factory-built units guaranteed for life for about 600 euros.

A complementary system to the FFVL balises (flying site wind stations) which broadcast on the official vol-libre frequency of 143.9875MHz, Pioupiou stations are accessed via their own website in French and English. The stations - there are 600 of them! - upload their data to the cloud using the Sigfox network which uses ultra-low frequency radio carrying very small amounts of data. As a result power consumption is very low and the units need only a tiny solar panel. The resulting info is available online without subscription.

Not content with the democratisation of onsite wind stations, Nicolas is also the man behind France's Meteo Parapente - a revolutionary RASP-based weather forecasting website which has rapidly become the go-to resource for French pilots. The site is incredibly well thought out and simple to use, once you've had a quick look at the explanatory tutorial pages.

British pilots crossing the channel now have two very useful new tools at their disposal. The Pioupiou website and Meteo-Parapente website.

Posted: 13 June 2017
By: Paul Dancey

Safety Notice - Jojowings Instinct S paraglider

As the result of an investigation into a recent fatal paramotor incident the BHPA's Flying & Safety Committee has issued a Safety Notice for the Jojowings Instinct S paraglider which was found to be displaying an out of date certification placard indicating that the glider was rated to AFNOR 'Standard'.

However, since certification in 2005, the manufacturer has extended the weight range and added risers fitted with a trimmer system. Both the extended weight range and the addition of the trimmers render the certification invalid.

As part of the investigation, flight testing carried out by an independent EN paraglider test centre showed the glider to exhibit extremely dynamic responses to both symmetric and asymmetric collapses when flown with the trimmers set to 'fast'. In the opinion of the test centre such responses would receive at least an EN D under the current EN certification system.

The BHPA would like to advise its members that anyone owning and flying a Jojowings Instinct paraglider with trimmers should sign and return a Pilot's Declaration: Uncertified Wings form.

The BHPA recommends that the Jojowings Instinct paraglider should not be flown with the trimmers set in the 'fast' position unless the pilot is confident that they have the necessary skills to recover the glider should a collapse occur. The BHPA recommendation for flying EN D class gliders is as follows:

"For pilots who have been flying for many years, fly more than 200 hours a year, often in strong thermic conditions, and are masters of the various SIV skills."

A copy of the official safety notice can be downloaded on the Safety Notices page, and a copy of the full report, 2016_10_23_ppg-pilling-lancs.pdf, on the Formal Investigations page.

Posted: 23 May 2017
By: Paul Dancey

Paramotor incursion delays Royal Flight

ParamotorOn Thursday March 9th, two paramotors were identified crossing the Air Traffic Zone at Cotswold Airport (Kemble), half a mile from the airfield. Undetected by radar, the paramotors had entered the Kemble Air Traffic Zone and temporary Class D Airspace. Nearby RAF Brize Norton were notified and a Royal Flight was delayed. A Mandatory Occurrence Report (MOR) was submitted to the CAA and a report made to Gloucestershire Police.

All pilots, powered or otherwise, are reminded of the need to check for permanent controlled airspace and NOTAMed temporary airspace when planning flights. Kemble may not be a commercial transport hub but it is a busy airport handling diverse air traffic from 450kg microlights to Boeing 747s, etc, protected by an ATZ four miles in diameter extending to 2000ft agl.

Advance warning of temporary airspace restrictions across the UK is provided by the NOTAM system. Whether you load the correct up-to-date chart into your navigation instrument or access the very useful and accurate, it is imperative that all pilots are aware of all permanent and temporary airspace restrictions and prohibitions on their likely route or routes. Advance warning of Red Arrows routes and displays, and of impending Royal Flights, can also be accessed by phoning 0500 354802 or 020 8750 3939.

Posted: 9 May 2017
By: Paul Dancey

New approach to airspace consultation

In late March the CAA asked for views on its draft guidance that sets out how their redesigned airspace change process will work. The new process was developed following consultation with the aviation industry, local communities and airspace users.

All parties are now urged to have their say on the draft guidance. It outlines seven stages of the new process for permanent changes to UK airspace, from initial objectives to post-implementation review. It explains what a sponsor of an airspace change (the airport or other body requesting it) must complete at each stage; the stakeholders they must engage at each stage and the CAA's expectations of that engagement.

It also explains how the CAA will assess any proposed change before making a decision. The new approach is designed to make sure future decisions about airspace changes are fair, transparent, evidence-based and proportionate. You can view - and comment - on the proposed guidance on the CAA website. The deadline for responses is June 30th.

Posted: 9 May 2017
By: Paul Dancey

Luke changes sides!

Luke Nicol1 - photo by Ben PhilpottOn 11th April it was reported that top hang glider pilot Luke Nicol had flown 206km on a second-hand Ozone Zeno paraglider, from Garway Hill, Herefordshire to near Duxford in Cambridgeshire in company with Mark Watts.

It turns out that this was no flash in the pan - Luke went on to fly 130km from Devils Dyke to Broadstairs on April 14th with Mark, Catherine Turner and Roger Turner, 171km from South Cerney to near Exeter on April 18th with Mark and Jim Mallinson, and a 105km triangle from South Cerney on April 19th with Hugh Miller, who had already flown 158km from Garway Hill to near Biggleswade on the 11th.

As a result of all this epic flying, on April 20th Luke led the paragliding XC League with 946 points from Graham Steel (930), Richard Osborne (768), Hugh Miller (633) and Mark Watts (617). We're not sure yet if this is a temporary aberration on Luke's part or if he really has crossed over for good.

Posted: 9 May 2017
By: Paul Dancey

New electric records

Electric-powered Extra 330LE aeroplaneFour months after setting a world record time to climb to 3,000m (see Skywings, February), the FAI has ratified two further records for the electric-powered Extra 330LE aeroplane.

Two flights were made in Germany on March 23rd, at different weights, to secure speed-over-3km records of 337.5km/h (500-1000kg class) and 342.86km/h (1000-1750kg class).

Siemens, the company behind the electric-power technology, described the records as a technical milestone. In 1922 a 440hp Curtiss V12 engine was needed to push the world air speed record only just beyond that figure to 359.72km/h. The Curtiss weighed 314kg; the Siemens motor weighs just 50kg.

Posted: 9 May 2017
By: Paul Dancey


We are pleased to announce that in respect of wheeled undercarriage for paramotors (paratrikes), our work with the CAA has borne fruit.

On 26th April 2017 the CAA published an exemption which allows paratrikes to fly without the need for a pilot's licence. This applies to aircraft which weigh less than 70kg (or 75kg if the aircraft is equipped with an emergency parachute recovery system) and have a stall speed below 20kts. The exemption only applies to aircraft flown solo.

For the full wording of the exemption please visit the CAA website.

In response to this and as a temporary measure, BHPA Exec has decided that any BHPA member who holds a power rating can now fly a paratrike and is insured under the BHPA master policy.

Over the summer, FSC will be considering whether further training will be required to fly a paratrike and may, at some date in the future, require pilots to undertake training, or demonstrate experience, in flying with an undercarriage.

FSC are rapidly working with the few schools that could already legally teach pilots to fly a paratrike to generate a syllabus for teaching this discipline. Until this work has been completed and published, instructors who could not previously teach pilots to fly paratrikes are not yet authorised or covered by the insurance to give such instruction. This is something that we hope to have in place very quickly.

Posted: 29 April 2017
By: Paul Dancey

A secure future for Avian

AvianLast June Steve Elkins announced that he was putting Avian up for sale after running the business for nearly 30 years. It is now clear that engineer, hang glider pilot and Hang Points columnist Tim Swait will be taking Avian on.

Tim will be taking over all aspects of the business but Steve will remain involved as a consultant, training Tim and providing assistance with new designs. Avian will continue to manufacture and sell Avian gliders, provide factory support, servicing and repairs for all models of hang glider, and act as agent for AIR rigid wings, High Energy Sports parachutes and Icaro gliders, helmets and other accessories.

Tim's first priority is to maintain continuity in all Avian's services; in the longer term he plans to implement further innovations. To raise capital for this he is launching a crowd-funding campaign offering rewards such as substantial incentives on gliders and servicing. For further details please visit the Avian website.

Posted: 9 April 2017
By: Paul Dancey

Skywings news last updated: 10 July 2019 at 11:06:22 AM

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