British Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association

British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association

Skywings News

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Skywings News - all non archived years

Suffolk anniversary

The Suffolk Hang Gliding club is 40 years old this year. An informal gathering is being arranged to mark the occasion in the finest tradition - in the pub.

If you flew with the club or know of someone who did, please add September 21st to your diary and RSVP to Richard Hunt.

The evening meet up will be at the Sorrel Horse at Barham, near Ipswich. The date is almost 40 years to the day that the BHGA officially recognised the Suffolk Coastal Floaters Hang Gliding Club - named in disdain for the newfangled hot ships of the day!

It is with some irony that the club is now one of the most active in the country; last year the recently-renamed Suffolk Club finished second in the UKNXCL and first on distance alone.

Posted: 8 August 2019
By: J. Schofield

John O'Groats to Land's End by paramotor

James du Pavey at lands EndAt 3.30am on Monday July 8th, BHPA member James du Pavey launched his paramotor at John O'Groats, intent on reaching Land's end in record time. In the afternoon of the next day he reached his destination having covered 1,200km and spent 24 hours airborne out of a total of 36 en route.

The flight was made to raise money for the Stoke-on-Trent based Donna Louise Children's Hospice, for which £15,000 has already been subscribed.

James suffered two engine failures en route and a third just 10km from Land's End. After his flight he reported, 'I feel unbelievably tired and ruined, but it has been incredible. However I am never, ever doing anything like this ever again!' James's two ground crew were kept busy - in addition to his 11 planned refueling stops he made three forced landings, one caused by a seized main bearing and another by a broken exhaust.

The first recorded Land's End-John O'Groats paramotor flight was made in seven days by Andy Phillips in 2000. The first known north-south flight, by John Caston, Brian Pushman, Alex Heron and Henry Glasse, took five days in 2009. And in 2016 a southbound team took six and a half days.

You can contribute to James's efforts on his Just Giving Fundraising page.

Posted: 8 August 2019
By: J. Schofield

Powered Paraglider Improvements Survey

Cranfield University is undertaking research into possible upgrades to the conventional powered paraglider design. Both performance and safety aspects are assumed to be susceptible for further improvement, and researchers are calling for input from both paragliding and powered paragliding pilots to assist them to identify and explore possible improvements.

Paragliding (PG) and powered paragliding (PPG) pilots who would like to assist this research are asked to use the following link to complete an online survey:
Powered Paraglider Improvements Survey

The survey, which closes on the 30th September 2019, aims to obtain information about:

  1. Market share of each flying style
  2. General performance parameters
  3. Feeling of safety during different stages of flight
  4. Need for improvement
  5. Likeliness to re-buy improved gear
  6. Likeliness to switch from unpowered to improved powered

Cranfield University is a British postgraduate and research-based public university specialising in science, engineering, technology and management, and was originally founded as the College of Aeronautics in 1946.

Posted: 18 July 2019
By: Paul Dancey

New Paramotor Code

The Paramotor Code A neat document document is now available outlining the legalities of flying paramotors. At A4-folded size, among other topics it offers an overview of minimum heights and distances, the use of air charts, observance of airspace and legal in-flight visibility. The basic principle is 'Be safe, be aware, be legal, be insured, and see and be seen'.

The document, funded by the CAA and produced by the BHPA, follows a meeting between Association staff and the CAA's GA unit last October to discuss issues of paramotor pilots infringing airspace, and numerous reports of them breaking the low-flying rules.

The Paramotor Code is modelled on the CAA's successful Drone Code campaign. The CAA hope to inform non-BHPA paramotor pilots (who might not have been trained in airlaw) of the existence of the relevant rules and regulations. The objective is to encourage UK paramotor users to access the information they need about how to fly their aircraft safely and legally, without endangering others in the air or on the ground.

5,000 copies of the Paramotor Code, initially launched at Parafest in July, will be made available to clubs, dealers and manufacturers operating outside the ambit of the BHPA. Copies of the print version can be obtained from the BHPA office; it can also be downloaded as a pdf document on the Paramotor Code Website.

It is worth noting that the CAA's Enforcement team is now actively prosecuting pilots who break the law; their options include seeking the forfeiture and destruction of paramotoring equipment.

Posted: 10 July 2019
By: J. Schofield

Problems at Pyla

Pyla dunes under stressThe FFVL reports that the Dune de Pyla is under great stress from overcrowding. In the last few years increasing pilot numbers, bad practices (launching in high winds, poor airmanship, no helmets, etc) and numerous accidents have put the site at risk of permanent closure.

The FFVL asks all pilots to follow the widely publicised flying instructions and regulations, notably the new registration procedures for non-local groups, either French or foreign. Visiting pilots, whether individuals or groups now have an obligation to register with the FFVL. An online calendar at this address allows local site managers to 
regulate the number of visiting pilots - if there are already too many you will need to change your dates.

A maximum of ten pilots (including organisers) in a group, and 50 pilots using the site at one time, will be enforced, and unregistered groups will be asked to leave if the maximum number is exceeded. Professional group leaders are also reminded that
 all EU citizens wishing to work independently in France as sports educators are obliged to register on the French Ministry of Sports website. 
Full details of the Rules and Regulations for Paragliding and Hang gliding at Pyla are available on the FFVL website.

Posted: 10 July 2019
By: J. Schofield

Richard Carter wins Westgate Trophy

Richard Carter wins Westgate TrophyThe 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
By: J. Schofield

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
By: J. Schofield

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
By: J. Schofield

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last updated: 5 August 2022

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