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US Pilot in SW UK - advice required please


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A couple of months ago I temporarily moved near Torquay in Devon from the states and will be here until approx Feb of 2009. Sorry about the length of the post, but I have lots of questions.

I have flown light aircraft, powered and un-powered Hang Gliders for over 10 years and took-up Paradliding, then Paramotors a couple of years later. I do not have any recognised British qualifications as Arkansas is kind of a world away from here.

Since moving here I have purchased a cheap motor & Paraglider / paramotor wing, along with airspace maps & GPS, but I'm kind of at a loss and could do with some advice about local flying...

1) Do local laws allow you to foot-launch take-off from PUBLIC & COUNCIL operated spaces, such as parks and cliff sites? - obviously without many people around? I'm thinking Torquay beach, Paignton beach & the headland around Watcombe BMX track.

2) I have read conflicting reports about Eastern Dartmoor. Some people say you can fly under power, some say you cannot. I understand Dartmoor has firing ranges and low-flying military aircraft. Incidentally I saw a paramotor flying about 2000 feet over Haytor a few days ago, so I presume it's legal?

3) I have no desire to join local clubs as I have quite limited time in which to fly due to commuting and family. If I have to, I will, which brings the next question about British insurance - Do I legally need it and can I get it, not having UK Club Pilot qualifications?

I only have a few hours each week to fly, and less as the nights are getting longer. Your advice would be appreciated.


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Looks like a load of questions that Farmer Dave can help you with as he is down your direction, if he doesn't pop up just send him a personal message through one of his posts.

There will be conflicting opinions on common land and beaches, I know a few lads down here that use both but they are always careful and considerate and to date they've not had a problem!

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Hi Seth. the issue is not really where can you fly, as that is taken care of by the airspace laws. i.e you can fly in class G space in VMC following VRF rules.

The issue is where can I take off from. This is a land access issue. The owner of the land is the person (body) from whom access permission is obtained. Many sites that are suitable for paragliding have had permission granted after careful negotiation for paragliding after careful negotiation and a random paramotorist turning up and flying could well lose that permission permanently. Just seeing a piece of open land, empty and begginbg for PPG use and taking off may get you a few nice flights but the consequences for others could be severe.

Every square inch of tiny England is owned and jealously guraded by conflicting interest groups. Bird watchers, hunters, aeromodellers, walkers, horse riders, 4x4 clubs..........

Please do talk to local flying clubs and find out where is a good place. You dont have to join but please liaise.

Beaches are generally run by local councils and there will be byelaws governing permitted activities. It is unlikely that paramotoring is permitted but may ot be explicitly banned either. The beach between low and high water is owned by the Crown but often administered by local government. Much coastal land in Devon is owned by the national Trust whose wardens grant permissions for activitoes.

So no easy answer, you really do need to get in touch with local flyers and find out where to take offa nd where not to.


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Thanks for your replies.

To reply for Francis777.... Thanks for the advice. The last thing I would ever do is to just takeoff from somewhere where I didn't know for certain that I could do so. This is why I've yet to fly in England and why I have posted this topic. After reading many threads on the Paragliding forum, I understand how important specific flying sites are and how much work goes in to securing them, so I deffinately won't go upsetting anyone!

If Farmer Dave doesn't reply to the thread, I'll send him a PM as he should have good local knowledge.

I have spent a lot of time in England as a large part of my family is from this area, but never such a prolonged period. As much as I love this country I never fail to be suprised by just how tightly land is controlled. As an example, I own a ralatively small area of land back home with a grass landing strip. I have never complained when people have used it for takeoff's or landings without asking my permission, and I don't know of anyone in my area that would complain, as long as crops and property were not being damaged and people were not messing around. This also applies to a lot of public areas, including recreation areas. I'm deffinately not saying the states are any better to fly in than England, but land control seems to be a fair bit more relaxed.

Of course, if you do upset someone you are far more likely to get shot, which thankfully has never happened to me, although a friend once took a shot to his wing.

Thank you all once again.

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