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British Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association

British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association

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BHPA statement - Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As I wrote in our statement published just 5 days ago on 18 March 2020, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic presents us with a fast-moving situation.

I am therefore issuing this update on our previous advice. This should be regarded as being in addition to the previous advice and not in substitution of it.

Unusually, I would comment that the contents of this statement were agreed by a small majority of the BHPA Executive Council.  There was a significant minority in favour of recommending a complete ban on flying, rightly pointing out that travel to any flying site would constitute 'unnecessary travel' in contravention of the government guidelines.

The recommendations of the Government's medical advisors, and those of the Welsh and Scottish Governments, remain that people should stay fit and get out and about whilst maintaining social distancing.
Who could ever have expected that, in the face of government advice to avoid unnecessary travel, over the last weekend Snowdonia would experience its busiest day ever! Many other areas such as the Lake District and seaside resorts were also extremely busy.
As a result, the National Trust, who have previously closed its indoor properties and allowed free access to its parks, has now closed all access to its parks and gardens. Many of its car parks are also closed.
Whilst all the British airsports associations recognise the possible poor public perception of us being seen to have fun flying and possibly having accidents, only British Skydiving ( formerly the British Parachute Association ) has recommended a cessation of activities. The latter is hardly surprising given the 'minibus' nature of many of their jump aircraft and the difficulties of maintaining 2 metres separation from a tandem student.
The CAA has not given any advice in relation to General Aviation.
The British Mountaineering Council highlights Government advice but does not recommend staying off the mountains or hills. British Cycling has cancelled organised events but advocates individual cycling; the British Horse Society has, overnight, reversed its recommendation that centres should close.
At this stage, there is little evidence that the medical services are so overwhelmed that a single unnecessary accident would be untreatable. However, it is clear that many of the Mountain Rescue groups, upon whom we often rely, are not equipped with the necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to deal with a Coronavirus-infected casualty and so their advice is to stay off the hills and mountains.

The problem for the BHPA in issuing a single statement of advice is that we cover such a wide range of sports and locations. These range from paraglider pilots gathering en masse on extremely busy hill sites, to individual or very small groups of paraglider pilots flying on remote coastal hillsides, to tow groups where the pilots lands back at take-off, and on to powered pilots flying from airstrips or private fields over remote and deserted areas such as moorlands and beaches. There are also a significant number of pilots, mostly powered paraglider pilots, who are not BHPA members and who may choose not to follow any BHPA recommendations ad who are statistically more likely to have serious accidents.

Decisions are therefore best made by individual pilots who know their personal circumstances, or, if it involves access to sites under a local agreement, clubs.

We would generally recommend that:
• Pilots should only fly when they are fit and well.

• Pilots should maintain social distancing whilst on the ground.

• Pilots may consider that attempting to fly in places where significant numbers of members of the public have gathered is not sensible.

• Pilots may consider that gathering together in large numbers on particular sites may be detrimental to the sport generally, simply due to our visibility.

• Pilots should bear in mind that flying where the local Mountain Rescue team would have to turn out in the event of an accident, it is likely to attract seriously adverse publicity generated by that Mountain Rescue team.

At this stage, the BHPA is not issuing a general recommendation not to fly to all pilots who fall within our remit. We would recommend that pilots bear in mind the above issues when deciding to fly or not. We would also ask pilots to bear in mind that the issues that affect their group of pilots, for instance hill launched HG Pilots, may have a much lesser effect on another group of pilots, such as tow launched parascending pilots.

We anticipate that it may well be necessary to further update this advice in the future.

Marc Asquith, BHPA Chairman

23 March 2020.


Posted: 23 March 2020
By: Paul Dancey

BHPA statement - Coronavirus (COVID-19)

British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association What does the current Coronavirus pandemic mean for free flying in the UK?

The BHPA takes take the health and wellbeing of its members, clubs and volunteers very seriously and we are following Government and NHS guidance very closely.

Following the latest Government advice we urge everyone to follow best practice to minimise risk. We recommend BHPA clubs to cancel any planned group activities and trips, and advise all BHPA members not to take part in indoor group activities such as repacks and theory sessions until further notice.

We're not saying that all your flying activity needs to stop. Flying itself is a fairly solitary activity and we recommend those who wish to carry on flying to do so, but to minimise your risk and your interactions with other pilots. It might also be wise to avoid using sites where the public presence is high. Staying fit and active is one way to combat ill health generally.

If you do fly, and are planning to fly XC, please pre-plan your retrieve. It might not be wise to use public transport or to jam into a car with 4 other pilots.

Above all, the guiding principle should be common sense. Stay safe, look out for yourself and each other, and keep abreast of developments. This is a fast-moving situation so keep up to date with any updates on the BHPA website and on the BHPA Facebook page.

Marc Asquith, BHPA Chairman, March 18th 2020

Posted: 18 March 2020
By: Paul Dancey

Pandemic reactions

In the light of the coronavirus pandemic the DHV have recommended that their members reduce their flying activities and follow all national and local government advice; German towing and tandem operations have been suspended along with buses to take-off areas.

The FFVL have recommended that French clubs interrupt all activities and cancel or postpone scheduled events or competitions.

The Norwegian CAA have suspended all unnecessary VFR flights in controlled or uncontrolled airspace.

Considered advice would be to abandon plans to travel to these countries or anywhere else until the situation improves. It's almost certain that BHPA pilots have already drawn this conclusion without this information.

Posted: 17 March 2020
By: Paul Dancey

Flying in Greece

The Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority advise us that BHPA members wishing to fly in Greece must contact them (d2d@hcaa.gr) in advance, and the Hellenic Aeronautical & Airsports Federation (hrelaoinfo@elao.gr), in order to be updated about the National Regulations and the locations where flying can take place.

Posted: 17 March 2020
By: Paul Dancey

2019 RAeC Medals and Awards Ceremony Postponed

Royal Aero ClubIn light of the developing situation with the Covid-19 pandemic, and in conjunction with the RAF Club, the RAeC have taken the decision to postpone the presentation of the 2019 RAeC Medals and Awards which was due to take place on the 19th May 2020.

The RAeC have agreed that the ceremony will now be held on Tuesday 29th September, subject of course to the advice and/or measures in place at that time.

They will be writing to all Award recipients in the next couple of days to notify them. Any additional ticket bookings will be carried forward to the new date unless refunds are requested.

The RAeC have apologised for any inconvenience caused by this change, but they were unfortunately faced with no alternative, with the health and well-being of those attending their primary concern.

Posted: 16 March 2020
By: Paul Dancey

Hi-viz for hang gliders!

Paul Leary showing his hang glider's hi-viz leading edgeElectronic conspicuity is the current buzz phrase for pilots of all types of aircraft with electronic collision avoidance systems.

Suffolk flier Paul Leary has gone one better to help avoid conflict in the air. Paul took a striking image to his local sticker shop and got several made up in vinyl.

Many modern hang gliders are built of grey sail material, similar to the colour of a stealth bomber. White shiny leading edges are a little easier to see, but adding bright vinyl stickers as Paul has done to his Moyes Litesport - seen here in Lanzarote - really makes a difference.

Is this the start of a new trend?

Posted: 6 March 2020
By: J. Schofield

Len Gabriels

It is with great sadness that we report the death of Len Gabriels, who, following a long illness, died at his home in Hollinwood, Oldham on Monday evening aged 93.

Len Gabriels flying a mk1 Skyhook at Lobden Moor He will be remembered by many as one of the pioneers of hang gliding in the UK.

As proprietor of Skyhook Sailwings, Len designed, built and flew a range of Skyhook hang gliders. He can be seen here flying a mk1 Skyhook at Lobden Moor in February 1973.

This initial design led in steps to the successful Skyhook mk3a, plans of which were advertised in Aeromodeller magazines. In all 2,500 copies of the plans were sold, which generated a huge number of enquiries about where to get the tube, fabric, etc, so Len decided to start selling kits, and eventually complete hang gliders.

Len also took an interest in powered hang gliders, and in 1979 flew one across the channel. Len finally stopped flying at the age of 65, and took up sailing instead.

Len Gabriels' funeral will take place on Thursday 20th February at 12.00 o'clock at Oldham Crematorium, Hollinwood Cemetery, Roman Road, Oldham, OL8 3LU.

Posted: 14 February 2020
By: Paul Dancey

World Air Games cancelled

The 2022 World Air Games, to have been hosted by the Turkish Aeronautical Association (THK), have been cancelled. THK had asked the FAI to postpone the event until 2025 due to Turkey's current difficult economic situation.

After consultation, the FAI Executive took the decision to cancel rather than postpone, and to undertake a review of the WAG concept and format before deciding on any future iterations.

FAI President Bob Henderson said, 'The World Air Games is the FAI's flagship event and we must make sure it is held in optimal conditions. We will take this opportunity to discuss the future of the Games, taking FAI stakeholders' best interests into consideration.'

Posted: 11 February 2020
By: J. Schofield

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last updated: 18 November 2023

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