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British Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association

British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association

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Skywings News - 2020

Coronavirus – Covid-19 Update

In anticipation of the Prime Minister's Statement to the Nation this evening and in the almost certainly forlorn hope that the announcement will allow the resumption of flying, we have prepared some guidance as to how you should behave when flying. This guidance pre-supposes that the Clubs are able to reopen their sites in the light of any changes to lockdown:

COVID 19 - BHPA recovery plan for flying activities.

This recovery plan sets out guidelines which the BHPA believes will allow a resumption of the sports of Hang Gliding and Paragliding, including powered variants, in the UK.

Pilots should be aware that it only becomes effective when the prohibition on non-essential travel is lifted and consequently, the CAA directive to cease recreational general aviation is also lifted.

It must be borne in mind that with 4 governments over the home nations, it is entirely possible that flying will be possible in some parts of the United Kingdom before it is possible in others.

The BHPA will make an announcement at that time that flying can be resumed if conducted in accordance with these guidelines.

The Association anticipates a three-phase restarting of its activities, beginning with an initial phase of flying activity by qualified pilots only (Club Pilot and above). Phase two will be solo training at BHPA schools. Phase three will be dual air experience flights and dual flights for passengers who are not members of the pilot's household. Phase 3 will only be authorised upon the issuing of guidance on proximity between members of the public, that can be applied effectively to dual flying.


• Stay at home if you are showing symptoms of C-19 or should be self-isolating having had contact with someone suspected to be infected with C-19.

• If you are in a high-risk group consider carefully if you wish to risk infection through joining others, even though it is outdoors and with special measures in place.

• Bear in mind that you may be asymptomatic - act accordingly, maintaining social distancing and be vigilant with hand hygiene when touching surfaces.

• In general, a two-metre distance must always be maintained. Only in specific situations can this distance be reduced. In these situations, effective measures must be taken to ensure the protection of those involved.



• Every member carries individual responsibility for adhering to the rules to minimise the risk of infection or transmission of the disease.

• Maintain a two-metre distance in all situations, unless required to provide essential first aid.

• Carry hand sanitising gel.

• Inform yourself of your club and any site-specific guidance before traveling to fly.

Access to the flying site

• Club members should travel to and from flying locations individually in separate vehicles until Government advice changes to allow sharing. When this is not possible, club members must follow the guidance from UK Government on distancing in vehicles / on public transport.

• Before and after contact with any surfaces outdoors (stiles, gates and gate latches, etc), the BHPA recommends the use of hand sanitising gel.

On the site

• Only unpack and set up your equipment if intending to fly. On landing, immediately clear the landing area and carry your equipment to an appropriate unoccupied area to pack up.

• Use your own equipment. Try not to come into contact with another pilots' equipment. If you are required to touch a piece of equipment that comes into contact with others, the BHPA recommends the use of hand sanitising gel applied before and after use (however this may not be appropriate for application on certain types of equipment).

• Providing assistance to a pilot - hang check. Avoid “hands on” contact and check remotely from a two-metre distance, allowing extra time to perform the checks.

• Providing assistance - e.g. pull-starting another pilot's paramotor. Do not undertake this activity as it is not possible to maintain a two-metre distance.

• Dual flights are only allowed if both pilot and passenger live in the same household. In the current situation, dual pilots are strongly advised not to operate in conditions where a launch assistant may be needed.

• Providing assistance - launch assistant for dual paragliding. It is impossible to undertake this role and maintain a two-metre distance. As well as the usual requirements for launch assistants, the launch assistant must be a member of the same household as the pilot and passenger.

• In general terms, you should not be flying cross country - any “retrieve” journey may not adhere to COVID 19 travel guidelines. For the time being, only undertake flights local to your site.

• Do not share food and drinks and dispose of waste at home.

After flying

• Upon arrival back home, decontamination should take place by washing hands and quarantining any equipment for as long as possible, either outside or in a dedicated separate space indoors.

Protect the NHS

The inherent risk to aviation participants has not changed because of COVID 19, however there are measures that individuals can take to further reduce the risk of an incident whilst allowing activities to re-commence.

• Undertake any flying activity at a level well within your ability. Normal springtime conditions and currency precautions apply.

• Low airtime pilots and those recently qualified are advised to seek advice from a Club Coach before re-commencing flying.

• All pilots are advised to re-acquaint themselves with their flying equipment by setting it up in an isolated outdoor space and checking it (e.g. in garden), before resuming flying.

• All pilots are advised to initially undertake flight activity in light wind to minimise the need for another pilot to intervene.


Any club member organising a coaching session / towing activity is advised to inform club members who are planning to take part about these guidelines at least one day before the start of the coaching / activity.

Any club official or licence holder organising a coaching or training session must ask club members at the beginning of the coaching session if they feel ill or have symptoms of COVID 19. If necessary, they must be excluded from the activity.

If a club member who has taken part in the coaching session subsequently falls ill, he/she must immediately inform the club official / licence holder who conducted the coaching / activity. This official will check which other persons in the coaching session he/she has been in contact with and will inform these people immediately.


• Maintain a two-metre distance in all situations, unless required to provide essential first aid.

• Carry hand sanitising gel.

• Physical intervention on launch / landing should be avoided unless required in an emergency to prevent an incident.

• Restrict access to club buildings to essential personnel only.

Briefing / debriefing.

• Use a “hands-off” manner. Allow extra time to conduct demos, and brief/debrief maintaining 2m distance.

• Be aware of positioning - avoid standing directly upwind/downwind of a pilot (even when briefing from two metres away).

Specific guidelines for Coaching.

• First refresh your coaching basic skills by using guidance material / coaching resources.

• Encourage Club Pilots you are coaching to initially undertake tasks that involve flying in the local area (avoid supervised cross country flights for Club Pilots for the foreseeable future).

• Encourage Club Pilots you are coaching to initially undertake flights in light winds to reduce the need to physically intervene.

Specific guidelines for tow / aerotow operations.

• Segregate the launch queue to allow social distancing to be maintained.

• All winch / tow vehicle controls and ancillary equipment (e.g. signal bats) to be thoroughly sanitised before and after use. Avoid user changes if possible. If the user changes, the equipment must be appropriately sanitised when changing user.

• If radios are used, they should be sanitised with suitable wipes when changing user.

• The Launch Marshal should conduct verbal checks from at least 2m and to the side of the pilot.

• The Launch Marshal is advised to hold the end of the hang glider keel instead of the nose (for example to position the glider on the aerotow trolley).

• Tow group must agree and write down a procedure to minimise person-to-person contact with the tow rope, connections and glider launch trolleys, ensuring that appropriate sanitation is carried out on all surfaces to minimise risk of transference of COVID 19. The procedure is to be circulated and followed by all pilots, operators, tug pilots, launch marshals and coaches involved in the activity.

Guidelines for solo training and dual flights will be released in the forthcoming weeks.

Posted: 10 May 2020
By: Paul Dancey

Colin's microlight record is ratified!

Colin Fargher's microlight distance record ratified by the FAI.BHPA member Colin Fargher's microlight distance record set last September has been ratified by the FAI.

Colin now holds the weight-shift two-seater (RWL2) record for straight-line distance at 783.9km.

With his son Louis aboard and doing some of the flying, Colin flew his Air Création Skypper from Vesoul in eastern France to land, after nearly eight hours in the air, at Plobannalec just 3km from the Atlantic coast.

Colin has been interviewed for future video transmission by FFPLUM and the the story has been published on the FAI website. Respect is due!

Posted: 23 April 2020
By: J. Schofield

CAA leans towards compulsory EC

At a CAA GA Partnership meeting in March the head of Airspace and Air Traffic Management outlined moves towards mandating Electronic Conspicuity for all UK aircraft, with a view to widespread adoption by January 2024.

The CAA's ambition is for all aircraft to provide EC transmissions on protected common frequencies. This is to facilitate the refashioning of UK airspace in line with their Airspace Modernisation Strategy, mitigate mid-air collision risks and enable the safe integration of UAS (drones) within UK airspace.

The CAA believes the 2024 deadline gives manufacturers, and those required to comply, time to develop and purchase the technology. They appear confident that an approved device can be made available for around £500, and that they would be able to offset the cost by around 50% per aircraft, as was (sort-of) done with the recent introduction of 8.33kHz VHF radio spacing.

The BHPA response so far has been - at every opportunity - to present our facts: approximately 7,500 pilots with their own aircraft, flying from hills, fields and airfields anywhere in the UK. And at least 1000 pilots that are not BHPA members. Our open cockpit aircraft cannot carry the large batteries needed by the majority of currently available transponders. One device, SkyEcho 2, may be compatible for free fliers but has not been tested. Finally, the projected cost is prohibitively expensive for a device of limited usefulness.

The proposal to mandate EC on our aircraft would throw up compatibility, licensing and signal-saturation issues, inevitably driving some pilots to operate 'rogue', ie. without a transponder. This reasoning has been conveyed to the CAA and the Department for Transport.

Posted: 23 April 2020
By: J. Schofield

Coronavirus – Covid-19 Update

A number of members have asked, in the light of the guidance issued by the College of Police in respect of The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 and what constitutes a reasonable excuse for going out, whether the BHPA intends to change its stance on members going flying.

We can confirm that the Government Guidance on the lock down has not changed.

The CAA guidance on Recreational GA flying has not changed.

And as yet, we are seeing no change in public perception of people engaging in what they perceive as risky activities.

The BHPA stance therefore remains unchanged.

BHPA members must refrain from flying, including ground handling, for the time being.

See College of Police Publication
See UK Government Publication

Marc Asquith
BHPA Chairman
17 April 2020

Posted: 17 April 2020
By: Paul Dancey

BHPA Mock Pilot Exams

With flying suspended during the Coronavirus pandemic, it's important to try to stay positive and look forward to a future when hopefully we will all be able to go flying again.

In the meantime the BHPA Flying & Safety Committee (FSC) would like to encourage members who are Club Pilot (CP) rated to use this downtime to think about their flying aspirations, build their knowledge and work towards obtaining Pilot rating.

To assist CP rated members online mock Pilot exams have now been published and can be accessed using the following link:
BHPA Mock Pilot Exams

These mock Pilot exams will enable you to test your knowledge, understand the subject areas that you need to revise, and prepare yourself for sitting the real exam. Having had a go at the mock exam, we hope you will be encouraged to contact your club or school and make plans to obtain your Pilot rating.

With Pilot rating you are seen as being fully qualified and able to plan and execute cross country flight with the necessary skills and knowledge.

Posted: 12 April 2020
By: Paul Dancey

BHPA statement – Coronavirus (COVID-19)

In these times of difficulty, the BHPA acknowledges that our schools and instructors are part of the life blood of the sport. Without new pilots the sport would waste away and die. It is therefore imperative that the BHPA offers the maximum support to the schools and their instructors right now. Some of us were involved during the Foot and Mouth outbreak of 2001 and I am pleased to say that this time round we believe we are able to offer even more support than we did back then.

Before I set out what we plan to do, one of the difficulties we face, is not knowing how long the shutdown will last. It could be the 3 months suggested by the Prime Minister, it could be much longer. Just for the purposes of a working hypothesis we have planned for a 6 month shutdown, with provisions to be made in the event that it is shorter. If it turns out to be longer, we will revisit the hypothesis and change our plans.

Exec has agreed that the following measures can be put in with immediate effect.

School Fees

- Schools that are due to pay their renewal fee of £400 from now on during the shutdown can defer paying anything until the shut down is finished and they start teaching again.

- For ease of administration, we do not intend to change a school's renewal date, so when a school eventually renews and starts teaching again, it will pay a proportion of the £400 depending on the number of months left in its membership year. So if you were due to renew on 1 April 2020, and the shutdown ends in September and you start teaching again from 1 October 2020, your renewal fee will be £200 for the remaining 6 months. (Assuming a wonderful Autumn !)

- If you have already renewed we will give you a discount on next year's renewal - equal in cash to the discount allowed to those schools who were due to renew in the next few months. This highlights the problem of not knowing when it will all be over, since we don't know how long this will go on for, at this stage we don't know how much of the value of your last renewal has been lost.

Individual Instructor Renewals

- All Instructor Supplements will be waived for this calendar year (2020). If you have already renewed your membership and licences in 2020, you can seek a refund of your supplement. You will temporarily lose your Licences and revert to a full flying membership.

- Licences will be automatically returned if you start teaching again within a 6 month window with no need to show currency or competence, so long as you have retained your full annual membership during the period.

Tandem Licences (Non Instructors)

- On your next renewal, Tandem Licences will be renewed automatically, whether or not you have achieved the normal currency requirements, again so long as you remain a full annual member in the interim.

Finally, new members joining the BHPA for the first time as annual members before the shutdown, in anticipation of undertaking their first training course, that has now been disrupted by the shutdown, will have their membership extended by 6 months at no cost to allow them to undertake the training next year if necessary. Please contact the office with confirmation of your booking on a course.

We should emphasise that during the shutdown, if your licence has lapsed or been suspended - you are not insured to undertake any of the licensed activities - so if your instructor licence has lapsed - you cannot teach students who would otherwise require an instructor.

We do not intend to make any reductions for normal full flying members. We would emphasise that if we are to survive this period we need everyone to renew as normal and provide the cash flow to support our schools. Once all this has passed, with all the waivers etc, BHPA reserves are going to be seriously reduced. We hope not to have to make any of our staff redundant and plan to use the government schemes to keep them all employed. However, it is inevitable that some of the Tech Staff and Office staff will be furloughed and cease to work for us during the shut down. We hope that we will be able to deploy them as usual once the crisis passes. Members who delay their renewal simply enhance the risk that our staff who have worked for us for so long, face redundancy. We must all pull together at this time. My own membership renews on 1 April 2020 so I feel your pain !

Should you need to contact us during this shutdown, the office phone is diverting to the mobile phones of those office staff who are not furloughed. The BHPA Office email accounts are being monitored and dealt with. For the Tech Staff, Mark Shaw is the first point of contact. Snail mail post is being dealt with.

Marc Asquith, BHPA Chairman, March 30th 2020

Posted: 30 March 2020
By: Paul Dancey

BHPA statement – Coronavirus (COVID-19)

This advice is being written on 24 March 2020. Over the previous week the BHPA has sought to preserve the ability to fly of those pilots who could safely and sensibly do so whilst remaining within the Government guidelines.

The Prime Minister's statement at 20.30 last night has made it clear that we are essentially in lock down. Our efforts to keep the door ajar for a few pilots have therefore come to an end. There is no way that BHPA Exec. can support the concept that any travel in order to go flying is in any way necessary.

Many clubs have closed their sites and we require members to abide by these closures. The BHPA centrally has always maintained that the clubs know what is best in their locality, and this is perhaps the most important time for us to abide by that belief. Please follow the Government guidelines and stay at home.

The BHPA Office is now closed and those staff who can work from home are doing so. The Association itself is like many of our hang gliding and paragliding small enterprises, entirely reliant for its existence on people participating in our sports. There will be difficult times ahead. We will be supporting our staff in the same way as the other SMEs by accessing any Government schemes open to us. Should you wish to contact the office, the phones are being manned remotely and the staff have remote access to our database and emails.

Marc Asquith, BHPA Chairman, March 24th 2020

Posted: 24 March 2020
By: Paul Dancey

BHPA online shop closed

With the BHPA office now closed, and staff working from home, it will no longer be possible to despatch anything ordered through our online shop.

We have therefore reluctantly decided to close our shop until further notice.

Posted: 24 March 2020
By: Paul Dancey

Skywings news last updated: 19 July 2020 at 12:03:28 PM

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