Jump to content

500 foot rule

Recommended Posts

Hi Guys re beach flying and the 500 foot rule.

Most people get this rule wrong its a distance rule in the UK not a height rule.

The rule is something like a person shall not fly closer to a person vessel or structure within 500 feet.

Therefore beach flying is legal as long as you are more than 500 feed ( 167 yards) away from persons vessels or structures.

I was a microlight flying instructor at a local airport and the GA instructors also thought it was a height rule but looking in the relevant CAP document it clearly showed that I was correct. I used this in my practice forced landings as the heart really does not start to pump in an engine failure situation until your below 500 feet.

Trust of use


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Simon,

Yes of course height over - but what I was trying to explain was that if the area is clear ie nothing on the beach then height would not matter, so foot dragging touch and go's etc can all be practiced safely.

When I use the beach I normally go mornings mid week and only have company of dog walkers and bait diggers. Any tourists or 'do gooders' are still in bed and the beach is much quieter than would be in the evening.

This way I can fly when the tides are suitable and when my fields are full of sheep and their wet poo!

I also also say hello when I'm on the ground to all the other users and so far I have only had good comments and questions.

Long may it continue.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also, I just had a PM from Francis who rightfully corrected me to suggest that it's more of a Sphere than a dome in fact :-)

When teaching the 500ft rule I always make people aware of the 'advantages' of it as well :-)

We can have a lot of fun low down for sometimes miles on end without breaking the 500ft rule of course.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Interesting, i also thought it was a height rule and wondered why so many PPG`ers seemed to flout the rule by flying low and potentially annoying / harrasing people or animals etc..

Whenever i`m `up there` i just don`t see anywhere really suitable that i could try flying low without causing disturbance to folk - houses, farms etc always seem to be within too close a range.

I try to keep myself high to avoid annoyance - the more we keep ourselves as annonymous as possible to the general public the better for the longevity of our unregulated sport?

It doesn`t just apply to us then?

In theory you could fly a small Cessna or other light aircraft skimming the ground?

Why don`t we see that..!?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess you don't see planes doing it because it would not be safe, they are also covering ground much quicker so would need to react to a person object, structure.... very quickly indeed.

If you think Helicopters or Hot Air balloons though you will I am sure, see that often. :-)

I am with you on the stay high thing, but there are many places in this area where one could legally fly low over open ground.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

As an example: At the Oxfordshire Fly-in several of us were flying low, chasing each other round a coppice of trees in an adjacent field. The nearest persons, livestock or structure were in the camping field, probably 400 yards (1200 feet) away.

500 feet is a surprisingly short distance if you're not used to judging imperial units from the air. As a rough guide, the 'countdown' markers before road junctions are at 100 yard (300 foot) intervals, so 2 markers = 600 feet. Not very far at all, even at 25 kts.

  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...