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British Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association

British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association

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Skywings News - all non archived years

Avian changes hands

Parafest 2017Tim Swait is now confirmed as the new owner of Avian, a contract having been signed on July 5th.

Steve Elkins will continue to provide assistance and support. The handover marks the end of Steve's 28 years at the helm of what has become the UK's last hang glider manufacturer, during which time he saw off the two former giants of the British industry. With a Master's degree and a PhD in Aerospace Engineering, Tim is eminently qualified to take over.

His years specialising in carbon-fibre composites at world-leading research institute provide the background to introduce advanced manufacturing innovations at Avian. We look forward to Avian becoming a major force in hang gliding.

"I'm looking forward to the hard work of actually building gliders," says Tim. "Thanks to everyone who provided support throughout this process. Let the next chapter of Avian begin!"

Posted: 1 August 2017
By: Paul Dancey

Ollie tries wingwalking!

Ollie ChittyAt Sywell in early May, Ollie Chitty got towed up to 5,000ft by the Flylight's prototype FoxTug trike. After releasing and making a few practice passes, Ollie successfully managed to land on the wing of the FoxTug for a quick touch and go.

Tug pilot Ben Ashman: "I could see Ollie getting into position through the sail of the FoxTug. Being translucent, it was like looking through a shower screen - quite a blurred image. Suddenly, two feet appeared in sharp clarity followed by quite a physical thump."

For reasons unknown, both pilots are reported to have been overcome by a fit of the giggles immediately afterwards. We recommend, of course, that BHPA members do not try this at home!

Posted: 28 June 2017
By: Paul Dancey

Brilliant Buttermere Bash!

Buttermere BashBlue skies and fair winds greeted paraglider pilots and outdoor lovers at the 10th anniversary Buttermere Bash on the first weekend in June.

The idyllic location became a mini village as children discovered the joys of playing outside all day and grown-ups rediscovered the art of conversation. Pilots were treated to some great flying as Jocky Sanderson and Al Westle set ambitious tasks in the Lakeland Charity Open - Friday saw a race to goal at Penrith and Saturday a 50-mile race from Latrigg to Hexham where two pilots made goal.

On Saturday evening a helicopter transported the show pilots to the summit of Robinson but the weather was starting to turn. Organiser Gordie Oliver called in the Osprey Skydive Display team from nearby Flookburgh but the conditions were just too turbulent and their jump had to be abandoned. Eventually a brave acro pilot took advantage of a lull in the wind to perform a number of tricks, but on final approach the wind had the last say and dumped him into the lake close to the shore. Screams and shouts of appreciation from the 800-odd spectators echoed around the valley as the bedraggled pilot saluted his adoring public. An evening of music and merriment lay ahead, the quality of which many top events would struggle to better.

The Bash is a unique event, bringing together people from all walks of life to share the little bit of heaven which is Buttermere for one special week each year. This year's event has raised over £2,500 for local charities and good causes including the local Air Ambulance and Mountain Rescue, and Motor Neurone Disease research. (Photo by Tom McNally)

Posted: 28 June 2017
By: Paul Dancey

464km non-stop by paramotor!

Giles FowlerGiles Fowler completed his long-planned coast to coast paramotor flight in support of Cancer Research UK on Wednesday June 7th, flying from the former RAF Brawdy in West Wales to Beccles in Suffolk in five hours 31 minutes. The trip was meticulously planned and, with met assistance from fellow RAF Officer Matt Tandy, Giles picked a perfect slot in blustery weather to make the attempt. Launching at 11.55, Giles cruised east at just under 3,000ft at ground speeds of up to 100km/h. "Over the Black Mountains things got really rough and I started to wonder what I was doing here," said Giles. "It stayed that way for the next 50km - I was encountering wave off the mountains!"

At Beccles local paramotor pilots and the airfield operator, himself a paramotorist, waited to assist in gaining control of Giles's Dudek Hadron 22 canopy in the still strong and gusting wind. Giles kept the wing in check and touched down safely to a very well deserved round of applause. The inspiration for the flight was his friend Clarisse Hamilton's breast cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment. "If I can save one person's life through this then I have done my job. Clarisse has been given a second chance at life and I want to give someone else that." Clarisse's partner Dempster was driving ground support but such was Giles's progress in the strong winds aloft that when he landed at Beccles at 5.30pm Dempster was still battling round the M25.

Power for the flight came from a standard Bailey V5 four-stroke with beautifully-made extra tankage by Paul Bailey. About four litres remained of Giles's 26-litre fuel load when he landed. Giles remained on course throughout the flight, visible to followers on Livetracking, and crosswind flying was required only for the last section. No UK record has yet been recorded so Giles will be able to claim it at 464.24km. Those who witnessed his difficult landing will attest that this flight was no picnic. To contribute to Giles's fundraising efforts please visit the JustGiving website, or Giles's FaceBook page.

Posted: 28 June 2017
By: Paul Dancey

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

Icarus Cup to soar again

Team AirglowThe BHPA-affiliated British Human Powered Flying Club will run its annual Icarus Cup competition at Lasham from July 15th - 23rd. Competition entries for this year already include previous winners Team Airglow (pictured), John Edgley's Aerocycle and Clive Barford's Betterfly, now run by Ian Round.

An Imperial College team is said to be rebuilding the 2013 Bath University entry, and a French team from Bordeaux have also entered.

The BHPFC hopes to be able to announce a new series of prizes from new private donors for the first three aircraft to compete a 1.5km triangle in the UK. The accent on triangle flights is intended to encourage teams to shoot for the remaining Kremer Sport prize from 1959, and to stimulate the interest of young people in human-powered flight.

Posted: 13 June 2017
By: Paul Dancey

Trikes - free at last!

ParatrikeOn April 26th the CAA published an Exemption, with immediate effect, which allows paratrikes to fly without the need for a pilot's licence. This is the fruit of detailed behind-the-scenes work between the BHPA and the CAA's GA unit in the face of clear opposition from the BMAA.

The Exemption (from pre-existing Air Law) applies to solo aircraft only which weigh less than 70kg (or 75kg if the aircraft is equipped with an emergency parachute) and have a stall speed below 20kts. The Exemption has been issued for 12 months and will be carefully monitored.

In response to this, and as a temporary measure, BHPA Exec has agreed that any BHPA member who holds a BHPA Power rating can now fly a paratrike and is insured under the BHPA master policy. Over the summer FSC will consider whether further training will be required to fly a paratrike. At some date in the future pilots may be required demonstrate experience, or to undertake training, in flying with wheels.

The FSC is also working with the few schools that could legally teach pilots to fly a paratrike to generate a syllabus for the discipline. Note that 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 BHPA insurance to give such instruction. It is hoped that this situation will be rectified very quickly. The full wording of the CAA Exemption can be found on the CAA website, or search for ORS4 No.1224.

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

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last updated: 18 November 2023

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