Coronavirus & Paragliding

By Brian Stewart on  March 18, 2020 20:14

Some wise words from North of the border, equally applicable here. A considered approach to ensuring our sport has a future beyond the present crisis:

Are you fit and safe to fly?

As we approach the first potentially flyable days in Scotland since COVID-19 has started to have significant effects on our daily lives, we must carefully consider our individual responsibilities, both as recreational users of the sky and potential health service users, before venturing out to fly.

Many of us will have flown rarely over the last 3-6 months, some of us fly rarely throughout the year, some of us are in our first years of being pilots, and all of us are facing the start of spring conditions in Scotland. No matter who you are, if you choose to fly in the following weeks and months, you will be at higher risk of injuring yourself, potentially diverting health care from those who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

No matter if we are gently soaring a grassy hill, sand dunes, or simply ground handling, we put ourselves at risk EVERY time we put our harnesses on. Our greatest skill is to judge when the potential risk does not justify the reward of flight. At the moment, the consequences of misjudging our risk are far greater than normal. Free-flight is a completely non-essential activity, therefore every first responder, search and rescue member, ambulance, helicopter, hospital bed, nurse, doctor, and surgeon utilised because of a flying incident is a completely avoidable waste of resources, and this is exactly how it will be seen by the general public, who often only know about paragliding through accidents that reach the news.

Any incident during the COVID-19 response period will carry far greater negative consequences for the entire free-flying community. One or two poor judgements could carry enough negative press, induce enough public disappointment, and attract enough interest from the authorities to result in a hard ban on free-flight for the foreseeable future. If the general public opinion of free-flight drifts towards the 'unnecessarily risky' end of the scale, this could have dire consequences for the survival of the sport in a future where use of the sky becomes increasingly regulated.

If you do head out to fly over the coming weeks and months, please, for the sake of everyone else, ask yourself some hard questions:

Have I had little or no flying in the past months?
Am I unfamiliar with the site?
Is the launch difficult, daunting, or unforgiving of mistakes?
Have others ever been concerned about my attitude, competency, or safety? (Be particularly honest with yourself on this one)
Are the forecast or actual conditions even slightly concerning to me?

Now is not the time to be doing anything fancy with your free-flying, to be pushing your limits, nor to be drawn off the hill just because others are flying and you don't want to miss out. If you answered yes to any of the above questions, don't fly.

On the other hand, if you can objectively prove to yourself that it's safe for you to fly, go for it, enjoy, and please don't sneak under the radar. Continue to let someone know your intentions, discuss conditions with other pilots (while adhering to all government advice on safe physical separation), use your SPOT or InReach, and fly with others.

Safe flights, and happy landings.
Kieran Campbell
AHPC Sites Officer

Carabiners–Update

By Brian Stewart on  March 14, 2020 17:24

While the original article could come under the ‘Fake News’ heading, there are still some good learning points to take in. The following is from UK Airsports, and refers to the original posting about Aluminium Carabiners:

This is part of an OPINION piece from a French club loosely based on an official FFVL investigation, cherry picking info to back their opinion without reference to the conclusions of the FFVL.
There has been a lot of misinformation, speculation and debate on forums about it.
Carlo wrote a answer to Andy Wallis on the Derbyshire Club Facebook Page which I agree with and will quote.
As Carlo posted:
this "Avis de navigabilite" (which translates into "Opinion of navigability) document published by 'Les Toiles du Sud' (which seems to be a freeflight club in southern France) appears to be just that i.e. just someone's opinion, not an official safety notice based on thorough investigation, imho.
This doc appears to be a rehash of the real safety notice published by the FFVL (Federation Francaise de Vol Libre, the French equivalent of the UK's BHPA) in Dec 2018, following FFVL investigation, but with the FFVL's conclusions removed. For example, they do not conclude that pilots should not use alu karabiners, or that these failures are down to design or production flaws in the karabiners.
The main conclusions of this FFVL investigation were:


Never use karabiners designed for solo use for tandem use;


Check/verify your equipment (and inspect it regularly);


Do not use alu karabiners for more than 5 years or 500 hours maximum, whichever comes first, from first use;


Alu karabiners which are older than 5 years, have more than 500 hours use, or are not in good condition should be removed from circulation;


Pilots should ensure that their karabiners are neither too old nor over-used nor in poor condition;


Do not connect reserves with alu karabiners;


Pilots to circulate this info.
There is also some mention of alternatives (soft links, pin lock, steel karabiners, maillions) and their pros and cons.
Link to the original FFVL safety notice (PDF, 391 KB) http://bit.ly/39C4R34

Carabiner Warning

By Carl Fairhurst on  March 12, 2020 21:37

The original document is in French and can be viewed here

In 2018, it was reported that 3 accidents were caused by the rupture of the carabiners on solo and tandem paragliders.
It is proven that one of the accidents concerns a Camp-40mm carabiner distributed under the brand name Woody Valley.


This carabiner had about 3 years and 600 hours of cross-country and thermal flight and was used in solo paragliding.


After analysis of available public documents, products derived from the Camp 40 carabiner (Gin 40 ,Niviuk 40; APCO-AirExtreme 40; Kortel 40) would also be affected by a risk of rupture towards end-of-life or tandem use.
For safety reasons, users are advised not to use this equipment anymore.

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A collection of this material is set up with the aim of carrying out tests of residuelle resistance and the results of which will be published.

You can send your reform connectors, under envelope "bubble strengthens" accompanied by this fact sheet information a:

 

Use Exceptional Email

Manufacturer   Model  
Use Mono/BI/Acro/ Cross/Soaring   Main Axis Resistance - kN  
    Anne of Purchase Nine / Occas. ?  
   

Flight time

 

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Gudauri_Georgia paragliding accident - 2018

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZKq-e0mOms&feature=voutu.be&t=441

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CAA Airspace Classification Review 2019-2020

By Brian Stewart on  February 20, 2020 15:10

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