The purpose of this section is to give landowners a brief on the sport and the nearby sites so that they can understand better why their generosity is so important to us.
Firstly, to our local land owners may we offer a hearty expression of gratitude for your generous hospitality in allowing our pilots to land on your properties.
Without the knowledge that we can choose a safe landing from the air without causing offence we would be unable to attempt many of the flights that we do. In that respect the value of the Ovens-Kiewa Valleys as a hang glider/paraglider venue is greatly enhanced.
The purpose of this section is to give land owners a brief on the sport and the nearby sites so that they can understand better why their generosity is so important to us.
The sport of hang gliding and paragliding has developed since the late 1960’s to become both sophisticated and well regulated and is today pursued by many hundreds of pilots from all over the world. The development of pilot skill, training and licensing requirements, wing design and operational practices have significantly reduced the risks involved which are today comparable with those of General Aviation (GA).
Our Sport in Australia
The sport’s governing body in Australia is the Sports Aviation Federation of Australia (SAFA, formerly the Hang Gliding Federation of Australia - HGFA). SAFA is responsible for all levels of administration, training and regulation of hang gliding and paragliding operations.
In Australia there are thousands of active pilots, several major competitions each year and hundreds of hang gliding and paragliding sites on public, private and club-owned lands. Those sites are all detailed in the online Australian Site Guide which serves as the definitive brief to all pilots on where to launch and where to avoid landing.
Hang gliders and paragliders differ primarily in their construction
Both require similar launch and landing requirements.
Foot launching these aircraft is quite a simple process. All that is required is a suitable hill or mountainside without obstructions. Varying degrees of slope and height may be required depending on the type of flying undertaken; the higher the launch the better in most cases, as this gives greater opportunity to find lift in order to climb and fly further or simply enjoy the views. Also important is the directional aspect of the launch which determines how often and how strongly the wind will be blowing ‘up the face’ in the manner needed to permit a safe launch.
Once launched the flight may then comprise one or more of three forms:
Typically, at Mystic Hill, Bright a simple glide might take 6 to 8 minutes. If there is thermal activity this can be extended while the updrafts prevail which can allow the flight to be prolonged for hours. If the updrafts have sufficient strength heights over 3,000m can be achieved which presents opportunities to leave the launch area and fly cross country.
In the right conditions and using the launch sites in the Ovens-Kiewa Valleys flights can be made cross country to Mt Feathertop or Corryong and beyond.
Hang gliders and paragliders have some similarities in regards to landing ie neither of them have motors so when the lift stops, we lose height and have to land ... we have no say in that!
We do however usually have time to make informed decisions about where we would like to land.
In this case, paragliders can land in fairly tight spots although large open spaces are our prefered options, whilst hang gliders do need a fair amount of room to land and they prefer somewhere close to a road as their equipment can be cumbersome to carry large distances.
All pilots are responsible for ensuring they know where no-landing zones are and to avoid them. That said, sometimes we can find ourselves in an emergency situation where we really have no choice on where we land. ie unexpected weather, bad sink, rough air causing problems with our wings, emergency reserve throws etc.
The simplest way to experience the sport is with a tandem flight on which an experienced and qualified pilot takes a passenger. There are then a variety of options for short ‘taster’ courses (2-4 days) through to licensing courses of around nine days. There are three schools operating out of Bright, all of which can accommodate the needs of the newcomer.
Once a pilot is licensed there are endless opportunities to develop the skills and learn to fly cross-country in a range of conditions. Every flight becomes a fulfilling experience as you soar with eagles and find your own unique viewpoint of the beautiful part of the world in which we live.
The topography of the Ovens-Kiewa Valleys is ideal for the sport. The combination of the valley breeze and solar driven thermal updrafts create favourable conditions on all the launch sites from where the altitudes can be gained to achieve ambitious cross-country flights. Our local flying sites can be summarised as being:
The details of these flying sites can be found elsewhere on this website on the Sites page.
Each of the launch sites has a nearby, designated Landing Zone which can be reached on a glide from launch. In the majority of cases the landings are targeted to these LZ’s. One of the greatest joys of this sport is launching from one location and flying for hours, covering distances of over 100km (and often much more) under the power of solar and wind energy only. Flying cross-country like this will inevitably involve ‘landing out’: that is landing somewhere other than the immediate designated landing zone.
We appreciate that some land owners do not want pilots landing on their properties so we have developed a system that informs pilots where these properties are. Pilots use a mapping system showing the following zones:
Blue Zones – properties where pilots are welcome to land.
Orange Zones – land owner preference is for pilots not to land there, but the occasional landing will be tolerated.
Red Zones – the land owner does not want any pilots landing here at any time.
Properties that aren’t marked as being any of these zones may have pilots landing there from time to time. This may happen due to individual pilot decisions based on flying conditions, whether the property is safe to land in or whether a flying competition is underway.
Our club takes the approach that being allowed to land on private property is a privilege not a right and that any kind of misdemeanour on our pilots’ part can lead to landowners no longer welcoming us on their land: sometimes for decades. In that respect we insist that all pilots should:
If you have any concerns about any pilot landing on your property please reach out to the club committee. The Contact Us page lists all our contact points.
By continued dialogue we endeavour to ensure that the Site Guide accurately reflects the wishes of each landowner. These arrangements are made by verbal agreement and changes to the Site Guide made at any time at the Landowner’s request.
Under Civil Aviation and Safety Authority regulations, an aircraft may legally land anywhere if required to do so by emergency conditions. However, we actively encourage our club members to manage their flights so that they do not cause unnecessary ill will by being aware of specific land owner wishes before they start their flight.
As with any sport, competitions bring another level of excitement to hang and paragliding presenting opportunities to hone skills and excel. As a consequence of the endeavours of Australian pilots, many of whom fly and train from Mystic Hill, Australia is respectably ranked number eight in the world (2019).
Competitions have been held in Bright for many years which give local pilots opportunities to fly with the best. They also attract many visitors and their families which contributes to the local economy.
The tendency of our society towards greater litigation has had a dramatic effect on all sports including our own and has brought with it legal requirement for participants to be insured against damages to themselves and others. To meet this requirement, all hang glider and paraglider pilots flying in Australia are obliged to be members of the Sports Aviation Federation of Australia (SAFA, formerly HGFA). SAFA is obliged by law to hold a $20,000,000 public liability insurance policy which protects all parties against any financial disadvantage arising from an incident involving its members.
All affiliated clubs are covered under this policy, as are all members of the Federation. It includes cover for any injury or damage to public or third parties and property as well as the members of the Federation. If a pilot damages property or causes injury to a third party while landing, that pilot is covered by insurance. If a pilot is injured, or if anyone retrieving that pilot is injured (e.g. vehicle accident on private property), the landowner is covered by insurance.
Whilst we as pilots enjoy the benefit of the landowners’ generosity in the form of increased opportunity for safe extended flights, there are other benefits arising from the arrangement.
The Ovens-Kiewa Valleys offer some of the best flying in Australia which attracts visiting pilots and their families from all over Australia and the rest of the world. This has an immediate benefit for the local economy and further enhances the reputation held by Bright and its surrounds as being a world class recreational destination.
Hang and paragliding has developed into a legitimate and globally respected sporting and recreational pursuit and has evolved into a cheap and relatively safe form of aviation.
It is arguably the purest form of flight relying entirely on wind and solar power. Once believed to be the domain of the more eccentric, it is a sport now enjoyed by people from all walks of life, male and female, aged from 15 to over 80 years.
To be free to fly over the beautiful Ovens-Kiewa Valleys is a privilege whose opportunities are greatly widened by the generosity of the local landowners for which we are very grateful.
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