Hugh Pidgeon writes: I received the following letter yesterday from Alexander Ledger on the activities of his small flying school on which I know there has been some controversy in the villages. I found him to be meticulous in his attention to the exacting standards to which the school is bound by law and I felt it went a long way to explaining both what had led to their flying in the area and the provision Alex himself has been making to minimize the disturbance.
Chair, Sibford Gower Parish Council
For the attention of Hugh Pidgeon, SGPC, 22.6.’20
Thank you for contacting me yesterday, Hugh.
I am concerned to hear that the recent flying activities of my small powered paragliding school have been the cause of some complaint in the village. The last thing we wish to do is to create a disturbance. Perhaps I should explain how we come to be flying locally. In the summer, but for the impact of the Coronavirus epidemic, we would normally be operating in various locations in Europe. The recent lockdowns meant that we had to find an alternative solution if we were to stay in business.
I live in the village, and to provide us different options, we secured permission from a number of local land owners locally to fly at different times from several of their fields. We have taken a lot of care to brief all pilots to adhere to the flying height of 500ft, which is one of the rules governing our sport. The rule states that we must remain 500ft from any person, vessel, structure or object unless taking off and landing.
We are meanwhile taking a number of steps to reduce the noise impact in the local area as best we can during this unprecedented period. On the maps we use, we have also marked out the villages and areas with livestock as no-fly zones, and as trainers we are always in radio contact with our pupils, and fly with them.
While we can control pilots under our care in this way, we do not have the same control over local pilots, of whom there are several. I believe some of the pilots who have been seen flying over the village are those who live and fly locally and visited us once they heard we were in the area. I have now requested they avoid the village and other sensitive areas in the future.
I have also made provision to relocate to more remote fields to fly from, the moment the crops have been harvested.
Due to the nature of the sport we can anyway only operate when the wind is calm, usually at the beginning and end of the day. We are limited to the number of days we can fly from any one location, and we ourselves intend to operate in the North Oxfordshire area only until 10th September when we plan to return to mainland Europe, and in some instances beyond that.
If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact me.
Secretary, The Association of Paragliding Pilots and Instructors