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Return to Flying

Return to Flying

Postby Dave Thomas » Sun Mar 07, 2021 1:16 pm

Return to Flying
First of all, as long as the population are sensible, get their vaccinations and continue to socially distance, we are unlikely to have to endure another lockdown due to Covid 19 or any of its variants. Therefore, we all have pretty well a full flying season ahead of us, so there’s little need for a headlong rush to fly on March the 8th.

A note of caution

Experiences from last years release from lockdown showed these few significant causes of incidents, so carry out your own mitigations to avoid.
1) Crowded launch sites. This led to mid-air accidents, many near misses, many pilots choosing to either not launch or to stop flying because of the very apparent dangers and on the ground anger. This can be mitigated to some extent by flying at less popular times of the day, or on less busy sites (more of that later).
2) Ground handling. Some very serious injuries were sustained through attempted ground handling or ‘kiting’ of paragliders. You can mitigate this by preferably going somewhere to practice that is not a flying site, and not just once but multiple times before you restart flying. Alternatively get to site early with a good few hours before you intend to fly and just keep practicing in a safe place where you won’t impact someone else or yourself when things go awry.
3) Equipment. Make sure your kit is still in perfect condition, before you even go outdoors. Do you actually remember where all those straps fit on your harness. This can and should be done now – in the kitchen if necessary, just repeatedly keep getting in and out of your harness, checking the status of the emergency parachute installation until you could do it all blindfold. Just imagine being on launch, in a rush and forgetting to attach a critical buckle – it’s not worth spoiling everyones day, for an hours worth of practice now.

Some other comments
The BHPA advice is to avoid the peak thermic time of the day on your flights and fly early or late, and this is just as significant to the experienced pilots who would ordinarily only want to fly when it’s banging through with thermals. However I would say from personal experience, that on our UK windy hillsides, the preference should generally be for late afternoon or evening before dusk. The reason for this is that the wind when it’s more laminar early in the morning gives rise to two particular affects that can make flying a hillside sometimes less than pleasant. The laminar flow is accentuated by lower level layer cloud that causes a venturi over the hill (especially the Long Mynd), so the wind appears strong but with very little lift in it meaning you can end up scratching close in to the hillside in bumpy on off conditions. The bumpiness can become severe as the Wave which is almost always present to some extent can become out of phase with the hill and suddenly create bad turbulence. These affects are far less likely late on the day when cloudbase is usually much higher and the thermals of the day have broken up low level wave.

It is always the case for any individual about to fly, if it don’t seem quite right – it aint right. There is no shame in deciding even when clipped in that now is not the right time or even the right day to fly. Other people may be flying – they may be very current with their skills, have kit that perfectly matches the conditions and their skills, or they might be just stupid – you won’t know, but it’s your decision. If the air or sky for you personally do not make you comfortable, then don’t do it – we have a whole season and years ahead of us.
This is especially so for lower airtime pilots and more particularly so for pilots who have done most of their training abroad away from windy UK hillsides, please do contact a coach before you go out – all the contact details are on our website. If you don’t get a response from any of them, email the committee ( and let us know as we need to know that coaches are there to help you. The coaching is not training, but before you waste a day going out, they will be able to talk with you about your experience and skills, how that will relate to the particular site that you intend to fly from and the conditions that will be appropriate for you. They may be able to arrange to meet you on site and ensure that you are comfortable with the site specific knowledge you need to be safe and support you while you take those long forgotten steps into the air.

Flying in crowded conditions, a simple way to think of it – assume everyone else is a half blind idiot and keep well away from everyone when ground handling your PG or HG and in the air.

Please do think at least twice before you do anything, but get out there and enjoy.
Dave Thomas
Posts: 2489
Joined: Thu May 02, 2013 12:45 pm

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