View Full Version : Circling over villages - Please read!
29th Aug 2001, 01:32
I live in a small village north of Cambridge and I feel I must say something regarding the aircraft that have been circling over head in the last few weeks.
Recently (today included) there have been a number of different light aircraft loitering over head at a height of anywhere between 800 - 1500 ft, flying in continuous circles. Mainly C152s, and all with private G registrations. Today, one particular aircraft was circling over the area of my house for more than 30 Minutes! Now, we've all done the trip to look at our own house, or taken a friend to look at their house, and I see no harm in that, but 30 mins over the same street??? Come on, this is only going to give us all an even worse reputation than we have already got among certain members of the non flying public.
I suspect that some of these flights may be for photographic sorties, but never the less, it can't be helping anyone's cause to prolong the overhead part of the flight for so long. Being a pilot I obviously don't mind the sound of aircraft, but we all know that many people do. I am also no advocate of giving in to the Nimbys, but this kind of flying only plays directly into their hands making life more and more difficult for GA in this already over restricted country.
In addition to this, I understand the low flying rules to mean "enough altitude to glide clear, or 1500 ft over a built up area or village etc - which ever is the higher...." Please correct me if I'm wrong. Some of these flights have clearly been in breach of this which in itself means bad airmanship. I don't want to upset anyone here, but I am concerned about anything which may ultimately lead to further restriction on our noble art!
To put this into perspective, I was easily able to read the registrations of a number of these aircraft with the naked eye - which makes them low. I could even tell you how many POB. When I saw several people staring up into the sky from their gardens today, I felt a little embarrassed about being a pilot.
Please think about the noise foot print of your aircraft when you're out on a lovely day, because many other people will be out in their gardens etc for the very same reasons. What ever the wrong or right of it, we all need to be seen as responsible and considerate...
Good point, well made. Being a new PPL holder, I'm still at the stage of saying hello to the kids with an orbit or two but I never stay more than a few minutes and never below 1800 agl.
The next door misery is just dying to complain and unfortunately, our village is right on the path from the local training area to the airfield so we do get our fair share. To be fair to the villagers, they don't complain often and only when someone is loitering for ages - typically aerial photographers (you can bet you'll then get the door knockers trying to flog some crap photo).
I think an orbit or two at a safe height is fair enough. 30 minutes at 800' is taking the p*** and just selfish.
29th Aug 2001, 14:47
Good points Nishko.
In addition to this, I understand the low flying rules to mean "enough altitude to glide clear, or 1500 ft over a built up area or village etc - which ever is the higher...." Please correct me if I'm wrong.
Both of those apply to a 'congested area' ("‘Congested area’ in relation to a city, town or settlement, means any area which is substantially used for residential, industrial, commercial or recreational purposes")
I don't think that the concept of whether a village constitutes (or at least how big it has to be to constitute) a congested area has ever been properly tested in court. IIRC it played a part in the successful appeal in the Crown Court of a pilot who had been convicted for low flying around the village of East Hanningfield in Essex.
That, of course, excuses neither poor airmanship nor inconsiderate behaviour.
29th Aug 2001, 14:58
The skies would not be a great place to be if we all flew around exercising our privilages to the absolute limits of what we could get away with legally. Luckily, many pilots stick to a self imposed standard of airmanship based on consideration, reason, safety etc. Unfortunately, there are also an element of pilots who sadly don't.
I am certainly sad to see an increasing number of pilots taking into the air with them the same selfish and inconsiderate habits that many of them no doubt also have on the roads. Is nothing sacred?
A and C
29th Aug 2001, 21:21
I bet in about three weeks you will get a knock on the door and a bloke will try to sell you a photo of your house.
30th Aug 2001, 12:17
A & C,
You're right...about a year ago a 172 spent a hour circling the new estate I live on in West Berks one Saturday morning.
Curiosity being aroused, I stood on the front path as he circled for a while (at about 800' AGL I would estimate, with what sounded like a fairly low power setting).
About 3 weeks later a man did arrive on the doorstep and sold us the photo for £25. I bought it as it was actually quite good (house smack in the middle) and I am standing on the front path looking up!!
30th Aug 2001, 12:57
£25? You woz ripped off, W!
A few years ago a bloke turned up on my Aunt's doorstep with an aerial photo of her house. He wanted £50. She said no way. They haggled for a bit. Eventually she bought it for £5.....
These guys have already gone through the expense of hiring the aircraft and taking the photos. Now they need to get as much money as they can for them. Of course it costs more than £5 to take the photo, but they'd rather get the £5 for it than nothing at all.
Genghis the Engineer
30th Aug 2001, 13:24
Firstly the village I live in is within a MATZ, but I regularly see people flying sorties like this between 7 and 9 in the morning before the MATZ comes active. They are generally considerate, but I wonder sometimes what they are going to do if the engine coughs.
Secondly, a colleague flies from his own farmstrip which is behind his house. He had great fun one day when somebody turned up with a photo to sell, asking the salesman to try and explain what the large green rectangle was behind the house (and clearly visible in the photo).
30th Aug 2001, 17:03
Without wishing to sound too pompous about it, I really believe that we all have to do our bit to reduce the perceived nuisance of light aircraft over built up areas - it's in all of our long term interests after all.
That for me extends to refusing to buy photos of my house, even if they are good - I dont wish to encourage these guys from exacerbating the bad image that we are already tarred with in light aviation.
I also try to take into account my noise nuisance potential when I'm cruising around locally - I restrict circling over locations to no more than one 360 turn in each direction, and I try to stay at 1500 AGL minimum (but always able to glide to open land)- this isnt too easy to judge sometimes as the ground in our local flying area gets progressively higher as you fly out from the airfield.
Furthermore, if heading out to the local flying areas, I try to look for the routes that arent necessarily on a direct track, (the one that everyone uses of course) but for a route crossing areas which are less densely populated.
Another one to watch for in terms of alerting the local populace is sudden changes in engine note - guaranteed to get heads turning, and some of our locals have complained about us "stalling our engines" and "aerobatics" over their houses :eek:
When over the towns and villages or when on base I try to progressively change the settings rather than suddenly. :cool:
I believe someone has recently been prosecuted for low flying up in Lancashire recently - but I havent read any official reports so I dont know the circumstances.
2nd Sep 2001, 19:44
The pilot flying for a living is operating under at least a BCPL but more likley CPL/IR with frozen ATPL first timers building hour to eventually fly you around the world on an airliner. Aerial work is conducted in accordance with strict rules approved by the CAA.
Next time your transiting over a town consider a professional may be working there
better still try using LARS,ATC and transponders. I have people fly under me often.
Look forward to seeing you on board.
Some of that £25 helps pay me.
6th Sep 2001, 01:20
Chap turned up on our doorstep a couple of years ago trying to sell us an aerial photo, so I asked him if he had been the fellow observed the previous week circling in the 152 with one hand on the stick and his camera in the other (clearly visible at 500 ft). I then tried to sell him one of mine, not quite as big admittedly, but then we prefer our houses smaller when we're flying) :p at which point he gave up and went to try his luck with the neighbours.
Trouble is, I'd already given them copies of mine.
Can't take a joke, shouldn't have joined :D
6th Sep 2001, 13:07
Yeah, next they'll be landing in the fields next to my house offering us pleasure flights, just like the great Waldo Pepper!
6th Sep 2001, 13:59
Wrencher, the last thing I want to do is deprive you of a livelihood and career, but we have to be realistic - I would like to bet, from many situations I have heard of and read about, that many of these people selling photos are no more than Delboy characters making cash no tax sales, and are not using commercial pilots.
In any case, whether legit or not, flying continuously over built up areas annoys people, gets the NIMBYs going and can result in the gradual erosion of light aviation airfields and activities. If you support that way of thinking then you are being totally selfish, not only to the pilots who fly for pleasure but to future generations of wannabes. I hope you're not.
Genghis the Engineer
7th Sep 2001, 11:37
Agree with the poet. The majority of aerial photography going on is rather grey single PPL. Photography should be done by a commercial pilot, with a separate photographer. The CAA have certainly issued some fairly severe shots across peoples bows in recent years and there have been more than a few fatal accidents doing this, so you can hardly blame them.
7th Sep 2001, 14:48
I agree with both of you. Wanting to have good photographs is healthy and a good thing, but I feel that making a few quick quid by cold calling at people's houses and putting people under pressure to buy a picture they never asked for is a bit much. Secondly, if done under a PPL, it is clearly an abuse of what is a privilage, and to some extent I would apply that to some of the 'Cowboys' operating under a CPL.
The amount of noise and disturbance caused is in no way related to the ticket you hold, but *IS* directly proportional to the level of airmanship and consideration the pilot exhibits...
7th Sep 2001, 15:17
Pulse SOP for "Temporarily uncertain of position"
Circle village at steadily reducing altitude until road signs can be read
Fix position using AA road map
Isn't that how everyone does it? :D Much better and reliable than your new fangled GPS.
PS. If this doesn't work you can do what a fellow student did on his QXC. He landed in a nearby field and asked. He didn't let on and passed the test until the story appeared in the local press.