What a day! 24 Feb 2019, glorious warm spring sunshine pulled over 2 dozen members (and others – see below) onto Parlick East bowl. Once the ground warmed up, the early light winds were supplemented by some half-decent thermals. Unfortunately, most of these were chopped up and broken, possibly by some wave type effects but more so by the very obvious inversion limiting thermalling height to around 1600’ ASL. The narrow range of altitude available meant with that number of wings in the sky it was going to be crowded; throw in some sailplanes and a hang glider and the scene was set for carnage . . .
So, it’s great to be able to commend all concerned on a remarkable display of airmanship. I wasn’t aware of any conflict; rules of the air seemed to be well observed and even the low airtime pilots were able to gain experience of dealing with a crowded sky. One comment I heard concerns what to do when you are heading straight on to another glider: obviously if a collision were imminent, both turn right. However, if you can see from some distance away that you are on a collision course, the sensible course of action is to plan what you are going to do before you get close. If that plan means a slight turn to pass to one side or the other, then make that alteration early so that the other pilot can see your intentions. If you both make a slight correction (one left and one right) and are still on collision course, then I would suggest that whoever initially turned left must then make a positive turn right to clear the other. We don’t want to see the ‘pavement dance’ where each one keeps changing direction and both keep on a collision course. Well done all; it was a challenging day and it’s good to see so many PSC members out enjoying our wonderful site.
On that note, there were some strangers around. Visiting pilots are welcome, provided they are BHPA members (or for visiting pilots from overseas, carry equivalent third-party insurance from their recognised national body) and have studied the site guide. Ideally on a first visit we would like them to speak to local pilots to gain first hand and up to date info on the site and conditions. Committee members were able to speak to one or two of these, but everyone can play a part here: It is our own safety that is compromised if pilots are flying without knowledge of the site and its conditions; it risks the financial future of our families should one of them cause an accident and be uninsured; grieving families looking for someone to blame can employ a scattergun approach seeking compensation. Proving you have no liability could be expensive and highly stressful. If you see a face you don’t recognise, then a friendly approach to introduce yourself is a polite way to start a conversation about this. We want to be inclusive and try to present a friendly approach to encourage all to join our gang, but we must be clear that uninsured pilots are not welcome on our sites. Obviously, don’t get involved in any confrontation, let’s try to get more people onside.