Incident Report 002

Date & Time of Incident

February 2021

Weather Conditions at the Time of the Incident

Varying light wind

Incident Location

Tops of Fichell – Glen Clova

Description of Incident

Pilot A arrived on site and after assessing conditions, conducted pre flight checks to all equipment before launching and taking to the air.

After 10 minutes of ridge soaring, the wind strength dropped and Pilot A slope landed halfway up the hill. Deciding to re-launch on top, he unclipped his wing from the harness and continued to walk back to the launch point whilst carrying his wing in hand and wearing his harness.

After reaching the launch point, Pilot A prepared to re-launch. While connecting the risers to the harness, a passing pilot noticed his reserve handle and both reserve securing pins had become undone.

Why Did It Happen?

  • While walking back to the launch point, Pilot A concluded the speed bar connection located on the harness had wrapped around the reserve handle pulling it and the reserve securing pins out of their secure position.
  • Pilot A continued to wear the harness and carry the wing loose while walking back to launch. This increased the chances of the reserve handle encountering other equipment and becoming unattached.
  • Pilot A had rushed unclipping his wing from the harness to walk back to the launch point and did not give due care to his packing arrangements.

Lessons Learned

  • If both wing and harness were packed properly prior to walking back up the hill, this might have avoided the reserve handle becoming unsecure.
  • If Pilot A had not rushed while unclipping the wing from the harness, the instance of the speed bar connection entangling with the reserve handle might have been avoided.
  • Thorough pre flight checks should be conducted after instances of slope/top landing where Pilots disconnect from their harness or disconnect from their wing.

Incident Report 001

Date & Time of incident

25th November 2020 11am

Weather Conditions at the Time of the Incident

Wind from North North East – 18mph gusting to 20 mph. Forecast suggested later in the day that gusts would increase to 25 mph.

Incident Location

East end of Fraserburgh beach

Description of Incident

After arriving at Fraserburgh beach, Pilot A estimated the wind speed to be a steady 18 mph whilst standing on the beach.

After conducting pre-flight checks Pilot A clipped in and noticed it was difficult to keep the wing on the ground even while using C’s and brakes together. Deciding it would be safer to launch and get airborne, he pulled the wing above his head. At this time, a strong gust occurred which lifted him off his feet with the wing overhead.

Whilst airborne, Pilot A noticed his groundspeed was reduced to 0 mph and the was slowly being pushed over the back of the sand dunes. After applying speed bar, he managed to penetrate with 1-2mph forward speed. Deciding to land he faced the sea and came down vertically on the beach. After touching down, he grabbed both C risers, but whilst turning around to kill the wing, he tripped up and started to get dragged backwards towards the sand dunes.

Luckily, two other pilots who were on the ground were able to kill the wing before it became airborne once more.

Why Did It Happen?

  • Pilot A launched despite the wind speed not being within a ‘safe range’.
  • Pilot A underestimated the wind speed at wing height.
  • Pilot A had not ground handled in over 4 months and considered himself “rusty” as such was not quick enough to kill his wing once he landed.
  • Pilot A did not check the wind speed at dune height prior to deciding to fly.

Lessons Learned

  • Rusty pilots should consider their level of currency when evaluating whether to fly in strong conditions.
  • Prior / recent ground handling practise might have ensured quicker reactions when killing the wing in this instance.
  • Wind strength should always be assessed at the highest point prior to making decisions to fly, in this case, the top of the sand dunes. If pilot A had assessed conditions here first, he likely would not have launched.

Balmoral & Birkhall Airspace

Two new areas of airspace have been created in Deeside, affecting Balmoral and Birkhall Royal residences.

The Birkhall restricted zone became permanently active on 1st December 2019. No aircraft may fly below 3500ft amsl within the area bounded by a circle having a radius of 1 nautical mile, whose centre is 570144N 0030427W.

The Balmoral temporary restricted zone will come in to effect for two periods each year described below. When active, no aircraft may fly below 3500ft amsl within the area bounded by a circle having a radius of 1 nautical mile, whose centre is 570227N 0031349W..

  • 0001 hours on 16th May and ending at 2359 hours on 2nd June
  • 0001 hours on 10th July and ending at 2359 hours on 31st October

Full details are available in the Statutory Instruments, linked at the end of this article.

Deeside Gliding Club have gained permission from Police Scotland Royalty and VIP Planning (North) for their gliders to cross both regions of airspace, but on the condition that aircraft have a minimum 30:1 glide angle, and remain at least 500ft above ground level.

AHPC are investigating whether any concessions for paragliders and hang-gliders can be secured, however until further notice, we are bound by the full effects of both of the restricted areas.

OS Map showing the extent of airspace over Balmoral and Birkhall Royal residences (Note above radii are too large, they are approx 2.8km whereas 1 naut mile = 1.8km)


Birkhall SI

Balmoral SI