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Richard Carter wins Westgate Trophy
The Westgate Trophy is usually awarded for declared FAI triangle and straight-line distance-to-goal flights. The 2018 winner, presented at the North-South Cup in May this year, was Richard Carter in recognition of his UK record 300.91km straight-line-to-goal flight from the Elan Valley to Scarborough in July 2018.
Past winners have been Mark Watts, Hugh Miller and Kirsty Cameron (2013), Mike Cavanagh (2014), Phil Wallbank (2015), Julian Robinson (2016) and Graham Steel (2017).
Richard Westgate - pioneer long-distance XC paraglider pilot and multiple XC League winner - put his own money up for an award, initially for the first pilot to obtain 1,000 points in the UK XC league. The Richard Westgate Trophy itself was funded by his many flying friends around the world following his untimely death.
Winners have to be dedicated highly skilled. It's not about flying in the windiest conditions imaginable; much more about site choice, launch timing, really good flying, a safe landing and a valid tracklog. If you are good enough, plan your year to try to get your hands on it.
Posted: 2 July 2019
RAFA40 team succeeds
On April 12th Giles Fowler and Paul Mockford touched down at RAF Halton, Bucks, having flown their paramotors over 44 current and former RAF airfields in the previous two days. The flight was to raise funds for the Royal Air Forces Association, the long-established charity that provides welfare support to the 'RAF Family'. Together they covered more than 265 miles in ten hours of flying, so far raising more than £2200 for the RAFA.
The flight was split over six legs, starting from the former Bomber Command airfield at RAF Goxhill in Lincolnshire. Support throughout the flight - fuel, necessary spares, supplies, etc - was provided by fellow paramotorists Katie Pagett and Andy Greaves. The route took them over Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, overnighting at Sywell Aerodrome before the final legs covering Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
The flight covered a number of historic wartime and post-war bases including Elsham Wolds, Hemswell, Scampton, Swinderby, Waddington, Digby, Cranwell, Cottesmore and Wittering, before the final landing at the legendary RAF Halton, originally established as No. 1 School of Technical Training in 1919, where Paul Mockford's father runs the RAFA Branch. You can still contribute to their fundraising on the Just Giving website.
Posted: 5 June 2019
Welsh land-access shake-up
In April the Welsh Government announced proposals for significant changes to rights-of-way legislation. These are wide ranging and include measures to ensure dogs are kept on leads around livestock, to give farmers more flexibility in managing their land, and to grant horse riders, cyclists and others - including free flyers - the freedom to use many footpaths. Currently recreational users can access only 20 per cent of the rights-of-way network.
Open access land such as expanses of moorlands - e.g. the Berwyn mountains - will also see certain restrictions lifted, including for hang gliding and paragliding. Organised games and camping will however still be largely prohibited without prior permission. The Welsh Government had originally proposed to open up its rights of way in 2017, to widespread public support. Some minor changes are likely to happen fairly quickly; in the longer term an independent access reform group will consider more significant changes. Please note that these changes are at present proposals only; until new freedoms are formally notified there are no changes to land access in Wales. Ther announcement is a positive statement but there's some way to go yet.
Posted: 5 June 2019
Leeds Bradford ACP rejected
In May the Airspace Change Proposal submitted in 2018 by Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) was rejected by the CAA. First proposed five years ago, the final iteration of the proposal would have seen a vast area of West and North Yorkshire, including the Dales National Park, blanketed by an complex series of Control Areas with bases of 3,500ft - over terrain that rises to 1,500ft in places. The proposed airspace would have severely restricted XC flying for Dales, Derbyshire and Pennine pilots.
Local BHPA and BGA representatives formed a Regional Soaring Airspace Group (RSAG) and, supported by clubs and members, objected to the proposal on the grounds that it could not be justified, and that the safety of those outside of controlled airspace had not been properly addressed. The RSAG also protested that the LBA had not adhered to the ACP process.
Scrutiny of the proposal by the CAA's Safety and Airspace Regulation Group found that issues surrounding future expansion were not adequately justified and that the sponsors had provided ambiguous, reactive responses to the consultees. The consultation itself had been poor - more of an exercise in box-ticking.
The BGA recently employed a barrister to 'remind' the CAA of its responsibilities. Westminster has recognised the need for scrutiny of the CAA by forming the APPG [see below]. Lasham, with financial assistance from the BHPA, has launched an appeal for a judicial review of the Farnborough decision. It may be that the tide is turning.
It remains to be seen if LBA will try again; their professed need will not have gone away. The CAA's full response can be found on the CAA website.
Posted: 5 June 2019
The unique four-day flying event and three-day music festival runs from July 11th - 14th at Caerwys, North Wales. It's a weekend of fun with like-minded people, the UK's only trade show for foot-launched and single-seat-trike aviation and the year's biggest pilot social.
The site, with easy road links from anywhere in the UK, is close to the hills for free flyers and to the coast and the sea breeze for power pilots. It's a social event the whole pilot community and their families can enjoy.
Musical attractions include the UK's premier Bob Marley tribute act and the spectacular 11-piece Chicago Blues Brothers, and support acts cover a range of genres. There's a second stage for 'unplugged' acoustic performances, and open-mic sessions for pilots and their friends to reveal their talents and jam with others.
Non-flying activities include a para-jumble (bring your pre-loved kit), Jean Francois Chabaud discussing his 6,000-mile US paramotor adventure, a GASCo safety presentation and many other attractions.
Posted: 28 April 2019
Paramotor distance record at 1,132km!
Estonian paramotorist Lauri Kadakas flew 1,132.7km on March 9th to claim the straight-line-distance world record, eclipsing the 1,105km flown by Ramon Morillas in 2007.
Using a Zero Gravity HPR225 motor under a MacPara Paradox 27 wing, Lauri flew from Queensland's Charters Towers airport and followed the Barkly Highway - Australia's Route 66! - westward, to land in the bush in the middle of nowhere after 15 hours in the air.
Lauri took off carrying more than 70 litres of fuel including 55 litres in a bag-tank on his lap; the gravity feed to his smaller tank failed and he was only able to stay in the air by continually squeezing the primer bulb. His take-off had been at an all-up weight of 200kg! Most of the flight was accomplished at between 7,000 and 9,000ft. We salute Lauri on this tremendous feat of endurance!
Posted: 28 April 2019
Girard conquers the Andes
French paraglider pilot Antoine Girard recently returned from Chile having completed the first ever paraglider crossing of the central Andes. In doing so he became the first ever paraglider pilot to fly above the summit of Aconcagua, at 6,962m the highest peak in the Americas.
Antoine's 100+km flight from Argentina to Chile took three and a quarter hours and reached 7,200m. During his expedition he also claimed Rob Whittall's 25-year-old world height gain record and recorded Chile's biggest-ever FAI triangle at 129km. In 2016 Antoine soared to over 8,100m in the Karakoram and in 2107 was nominated National Geographic magazine's Adventurer of the Year.
Posted: 28 April 2019
The Last Glaciers
The Last Glaciers
A few years ago filmmaker Craig Leeson, and Malcolm Wood of LevelWings paragliders, released a film raising awareness about the problems single-use plastics cause to the environment.
Screened in more than 60 countries and translated many languages, it was supported by environmentalists including Sir David Attenborough. A Plastic Ocean helped change government, business and UN environmental policies and garnered many documentary awards.
The same team is now working to bring a similar awareness to climate change. Mounting evidence of global warming still brings heated debate among politicians and the public.
To represent visually the changes taking place, The Last Glaciers follows a group of paragliders and extreme speedwing pilots as they access previously-impossible filming opportunities to highlight climate change and reveal how mankind is affecting the future.
Glaciers melt and millions of people are at risk of natural disasters such as floods, droughts and landslides. Communities face uncertain futures as our changing climate impacts ecosystems, agriculture, water systems, infrastructure and human health. The film's message is a wake-up call - see the Last Glaciers Instagram page for further details.
If we don't address global warming now, we will not survive the changes that will occur on earth.
Posted: 5 April 2019
last updated: 5 October 2021
Visiting Overseas Hang Gliding & Paragliding Pilots please read this...