Hang Glider

British Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association

British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association

BHPA Media

This is the BHPA media page, intended to provide members of the press with contacts and information to quickly fact-check a story following a new record, a competition success, or an accident.

We do not run to a dedicated press officer or team, so any press enquiries are dealt with by the voluntary members of our controlling Executive or by the Technical Officers employed by the BHPA.

What is the BHPA?
The BHPA is the controlling body for the sport aviation disciplines including Paragliding, Hang Gliding and their powered variants, which are collectively termed 'Free Flight'.

The British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (BHPA) sets standards for training through registered and inspected schools, and issues pilot ratings for flying the various types of aircraft we represent. In conjunction with international bodies it also administers airworthiness standards for free flight aircraft.

Through the national sport aviation governing body, the Royal Aero Club, we control free flying sports in international competition.

Hang Gliding
Not Hand Gliding – it is not, and never was, called that!
Hang Gliders are controlled by shifting the pilot's weight and were first popularised in the late 60s, although antecedents go back to and beyond Otto Lilienthal in 1891. They owed much of their initial appeal to the fact they offered a means of cheap flying, and were the first aircraft that could be packed up small enough to store in a garage, or put on the roof of a car. The descendants of these cheap flying machines now have enough performance to fly hundreds of kilometres powered by thermal lift alone.

Paragliding
A glider that has no rigid structure and, like a parachute, can be folded and packed into a large rucksack. As a result they are even more portable than a hang glider, but when inflated can form a stable wing capable of flying long distances, with similar performance to a Hang Glider. Paragliding performance and accessibility means that in the UK Paraglider pilots now outnumber Hang Glider pilots by some 8 to 1.

Paramotors and Powered Hang Gliders
Derived from powered versions of Paragliders and Hang Gliders, but now mostly designed specifically to fly under power.

Acro
Aerobatic Paragliding is probably the most visible of the many specialist Paragliding disciplines, along with Accuracy where competitors aim to land on a 10cm target. Hike-and-Fly is an emerging discipline which requires pilots to race across large upland distances on foot and by air, and Speed Flying utilises small wings for high-speed flight.

Microlights
Powered flexwing or three-axis rigid wings, comparable to conventional light aircraft in control and performance but weighing between 300 and 600kg. The controlling body for microlights is the British Microlight Association, not the BHPA.

Human Powered Flight
As the name suggests, these are aircraft driven by human power alone, and consequently very light and delicate structures that are exclusively flown in very calm conditions.

The legalities of flying Hang gliders and Paragliders
The Civil Aviation Authority issues pilot's licences in the UK. The BHPA does not issue licences. However there is no legal requirement to hold a pilot's licence for flying Hang Gliders, Paragliders or powered aircraft weighing under 70kg such as Paramotors.

The BHPA issues ratings for various disciplines of free flight. The success of our training regime has meant we have been left to self-organise without the need for our pilots to hold a CAA licence. While almost all free-flight pilots are BHPA members, partly because of the advantages of insurance and access to sites, there is no legal requirement to be a member.

Regardless of what licence or ratings you hold, the Rules of the Air, Anti-Collision Rules, Priority Rules and other Air Law must still be obeyed. A paraglider pilot uses the same maps and must obey the same airspace rules as an Airbus captain, and of course some pilots fly both machines.

Competitions, Records and achievements
There are many types of competition featuring Aerobatics, Accuracy, Navigation and more, but the top level of both Paragliding and Hang Gliding competition involves racing round a GPS-defined course of around 100km.

The current reigning World Champion is UK pilot Russell Ogden, and the UK Paragliding Team currently holds the World Championships team title.

Despite receiving no external or government support the UK has produced World Champions in the Men's, Women's and Team classes in both Hang Gliding and Paragliding.

The current World Hang Gliding distance record is 764km and the Paragliding record stands at 582km.

UK weather, geography and airspace make long-distance flights more difficult – the UK Hang Gliding and Paragliding distance records stand at 338km (Carl Wallbank) and 306km (Richard Carter) respectively.

Finance
The BHPA is entirely funded by members' subscriptions. It does not own flying sites but supports clubs who do own sites. It facilitates access to sites by providing £5 million third-party insurance cover for pilots, and also for landowners where they have agreements to allow clubs access.

Accidents and incidents
The BHPA has a reporting system for accidents and incidents whether or not they involve injury. Fatal or serious accidents are investigated by the UK AAIB (Air Accident Investigation Board), who may ask the BHPA to provide specialist expertise or work more directly on its behalf.

Contacts
Email: Bill Bell Tel: 07768 028899

Pictures
You may use the following pictures free of charge, with appropriate attribution, for news or magazine articles. Please contact us for any other purposes including commercial use.

 

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Hang glider launch 1: Photo Richard Sheppard
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Hang glider launch 2: Photo Richard Sheppard
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Hang glider launch 3: Photo Sue Brooks
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Hang glider in flight 1: Photo Richard Sheppard
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Hang glider in flight 2: Photo Bill Bell
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Hang glider in flight 3: Photo Richard Sheppard
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Hang glider in flight 4: Photo Richard Sheppard
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Hang glider in flight 5: Photo Richard Sheppard
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Hang glider in flight 6: Photo Richard Sheppard
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Hang glider in flight 7: Photo Richard Sheppard
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Hang glider in flight 8: Photo Richard Sheppard
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Hang glider in flight 9: Photo Richard Sheppard
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Hang glider in flight 10: Photo Sue Brooks
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Hang glider landing 1: Photo Richard Sheppard
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Paraglider in flight 1: Photo Richard Sheppard
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Paraglider in flight 2: Photo Richard Sheppard
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Paraglider in flight 3: Photo Richard Sheppard
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Paraglider in flight 4: Photo Richard Sheppard
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Paragliders in flight 1: Photo Richard Sheppard
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Paragliders in flight 2: Photo Richard Sheppard
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Paragliders in flight 3: Photo Richard Sheppard
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Paraglider 1: Photo Richard Sheppard
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Paraglider 2: Photo Richard Sheppard
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Paraglider and hang glider in flight 1: Photo Richard Sheppard
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Paraglider and hang gliders 2: Photo Richard Sheppard
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Last updated: 25 June 2023