|The Website of the Avon Hang Gliding and Paragliding Club - Avon Online Sites Guide||Sunday, 9th December, 2018|
An Open Letter from Robin Brown (Sites Officer, North)
It must be obvious to anybody that witnessed either of the two mid-air collisions last year, that something will have to be organised on the few days we get each year when it seems everyone and their dog descends onto Selsley to fly.
It should be as flexible a system as possible, to give everyone a fair crack of the whip and avoid having too many rules.
I would be very interested to hear from anybody who has a view on the matter, particularly those who fly it regularly. Ultimately the committee will have to decide a sensible way of tackling what is essentially a matter of everyone's safety.
My personal view is as follows:
There is not generally ever a problem of overcrowding on sites where there is limited space to take off or no side slope landing, so if we make a take off box and only allow people to take off from within this one area, we can regulate what happens in the air in a flexible way. For example: if for a period of time its very light and scratchy, only two or three pilots should be in the air, or perhaps more if they are all very experienced. If suddenly two of these pilots find a thermal and get high and therefore out the way of waiting pilots, you put one or two more in the air. Again, if a pilot loses it and side slope lands, another could take off and so on. If a Hang Glider wishes to take off, you give them more room until they have reached sufficient height for them to feel comfortable with the traffic, or top land, as necessary.
The only drawbacks with this system are that pilots will have to queue for their take off slot and someone will have to regulate as they see fit. This may mean me, although I am less likely to be there on weekends as the spring/summer comes. Hopefully local pilots would be able sort it out amongst themselves.
Anyway that's my theory; discuss, shoot down in flames, come up with a better idea, whatever - its only something that would need to be put in place on a few days a year.
Concern was expressed at the recent committee meeting regarding increasingly crowded skies at our sites, with particular respect to Selsley and Westbury, especially in the light of recent tragic events elsewhere. Whilst no-one wants to see the introduction of rules such as flying windows (no, not the screensaver!), limited numbers in the air at any one time, etc. these steps may become necessary if a little more common sense is not made to prevail. This also applies to behaviour on the ground - on Westbury, in particular, far too many pilots, of both disciplines, are setting up on or just behind launch and then just sitting there obstructing take-offs and landings.
We wish to reinforce the authority of pilots experienced at any particular site to request other pilots to modify their behaviour, not just in respect of Site Rules, but also in terms of common-sense and courtesy towards other pilots. It was further suggested that we identify these pilots more specifically, perhaps by issuing such stalwarts with helmet stickers in order that visiting pilots in particular know that they are 'qualified' to offer advice or instruction. This suggestion will be actively pursued. In the meantime, we would like to forewarn all pilots flying our sites that, where necessary, they may be asked to amend their behaviour in some way and that the committee will take a very dim view of anyone refusing to comply with a reasonable instruction.
If this reinforcement of current informal arrangements has no effect the club will be forced to take more authoritative action before the results of the inconsideration of some pilots causes a major incident.
Avon Sites Officer