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Parachutists outside drop zones?

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Parachutists outside drop zones?

Old 12th Nov 2016, 17:56
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Parachutists outside drop zones?

Hello

On a recent hour building flight I had a somewhat nasty surprise at 3000 feet.

After a zone transit N-S through the Brize CTR as an exercise, I turned north-east and at about nine miles east of Oxford Kidlington AD I look up and see a parachutist very close and off to my 1 o'clock. It's very difficult to judge (and recall) the exact distance, but I think it was in the region of about 200m as he/she was descending through my level.

I'd deliberately spent ages planning my route to steer well clear of any drop zones (getting the transit through Brize CTR made that easier on this particular route), and double checked my map and local features to ensure I hadn't drifted unexpectedly into a drop zone. I also called Brize Zone who I was still in touch with and asked them for a fix to make sure I hadn't made an error in nav. Further, I checked my Skydemon GPS log when I got home to see if an infringement had taken place, and the closest I'd gotten to a drop zone was about 4 miles (Weston-on-the-Green). So the parachutist was well outside of any notified drop zones (either established or by NOTAM).

I've tried looking online in official sources (UK AIP) and through my air law PPL and ATPL manuals, but can't find anything that states whether or not drops are permitted outside of designated drop zones.

I appreciate it's Class G and basically a free-for-all (and that I should keep a correspondingly appropriate lookout), but didn't realise this also applied to people jumping out of aeroplanes.

Any ideas?
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Old 12th Nov 2016, 18:36
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What were the upper winds in relation to Weston? I've had a similar experience at least five miles from a drop zone. I was at six thousand. Upwind.

Last edited by Flyingmac; 12th Nov 2016 at 18:48.
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Old 12th Nov 2016, 18:50
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Are you sure you did not fly through the Hinton DZ?.....

We don't drop at Weston at a weekend. Hinton would be the nearest at about 4 miles away.

Post your SkyDemon log and we can check.

Drops outside of DZ are only permitted for demos and they need specifc permission. So either there was a demo or you bust a DZ or someone just bailed out.

Five miles from a DZ would require winds way beyond the limits for jumping. Most we would ever drop upwind of the spot would be about 3nm and that would be in upper winds blowing a hooly at 15k. 5 miles at 6k would be a land off.
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Old 12th Nov 2016, 19:09
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Wind in my case at 6K was in excess of 30 knots. Rather more at 12k.
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Old 12th Nov 2016, 21:23
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Looked again at the log - apologies, it seems more like 3 miles than 4. Still well outside the DZ though:



This was a weekday by the way.
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Old 13th Nov 2016, 08:54
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Wind in my case at 6K was in excess of 30 knots. Rather more at 12k.
Still would not have made 5 miles......
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Old 13th Nov 2016, 09:24
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Maybe a paraglider.
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Old 13th Nov 2016, 09:25
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Crazyscientist, if you give us the time date and location I will check our logs. But as far as the DZ at weston is concerned no drops are permitted outside of D216 regardless of the wind. Its protected military airspace that is coordinated with Swanick as its bang in the middle of an airway.
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Old 13th Nov 2016, 09:36
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Maybe a paraglider.
That was my thinking as well.
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Old 13th Nov 2016, 14:17
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Not so sure myself now - I was shocked by the sudden appearance of the thing in my field of view and that, combined with the concern that I had potentially drifted into a DZ, meant I didn't spend too long looking at it once I was satisfied it wasn't a collision risk. So it could have been a paraglider, apologies for wasting your time if that is indeed what it was.

In any case, the time was 14:42z on 11/11/2016 and I think the location was just east of the bird sanctuary on that chart screenshot I posted, close to the M40.
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Old 14th Nov 2016, 08:25
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Hey Crazy - don't think for a second your post is wasting anyone's time - these stories all great learning for all of us!
I remember a very similar thing happening to me the first time I saw, what I thought was an RAF Tornado coming towards me way in the distance - it turned out to be a glider!
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Old 14th Nov 2016, 08:26
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Just imagine what they were thinking!
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Old 14th Nov 2016, 09:22
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I have checked the logs and there was no para activity at Weston at all on that day. In fact none this month as they are all in Cyprus.

So I would assume as per the earlier suggestion that what you saw was a paraglider.
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Old 14th Nov 2016, 11:16
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Originally Posted by bose-x View Post
I have checked the logs and there was no para activity at Weston at all on that day. In fact none this month as they are all in Cyprus.

So I would assume as per the earlier suggestion that what you saw was a paraglider.
"I have checked the logs and there was no para activity at Weston at all on that day. In fact none this month as they are all in Cyprus."

Could EGD129 not be Notamed as deactivated when there is no para activity.
EGD129 creates a choke point with aircraft transiting north/south trying to avoid Bicester gliding site.
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Old 14th Nov 2016, 11:33
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I was surprised by several parachutists opening their 'chutes around me when I was flying North over Lancaster/Lancaster University earlier this year (took some photos).

They were about my level (circa 3,000 feet QNH) and probably operating out of Cockerham. The wind was easterly, so upwind would have been in the Lancaster/Thurnham area.

That was the only time in all my years of flying that I have encountered anything like that - suddenly in my vicinity, but obviously unseen until they opened their parachutes.

They were some way away (maybe a few hundred metres), so no immediate danger of a conflict.
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Old 14th Nov 2016, 16:01
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Could EGD129 not be Notamed as deactivated when there is no para activity.
EGD129 creates a choke point with aircraft transiting north/south trying to avoid Bicester gliding site.
You would have thought so wouldn't you.... Not my call its a military zone and we have no control over its operation we are just one of the airspace users. The main reason its held open all the time is to give the Hercs the opportunity for short notice tasking which can be 24x7.

Last edited by S-Works; 15th Nov 2016 at 10:54. Reason: speelin
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Old 14th Nov 2016, 21:45
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There are ongoing discussions about that......
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Old 15th Nov 2016, 00:41
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Thanks for taking the time to look into it for me bose-x. It does seem like it was just a paraglider, but for sure some of the responses I've seen in this thread are eye-openers. I think it's very easy to get lulled into a false sense of security when flying clear of DZs - feeling that as long as you stay outside of the magic circle printed on the map then you will be guaranteed safety.
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Old 15th Nov 2016, 07:17
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As a former jumper and current pilot I always have a very healthy respect for the airspace around and adjacent to drop zones. If i'm flying in the vicinity I will usually try to get on the frequency so I can at least hear if they are airborne, when they are dropping etc.

I've seen quite a few 'interesting' things from both perspectives……once on an extended jump run in a large Russian helicopter, ramp comes down and red light goes on, whereupon two visiting jumpers just rush past those of us standing on the ramp and hurl themselves out ( jump master was spotting from the front door) the rest of us look at each other with mild amusement then wait for the green light before proceeding. The two landed miles from the DZ and were later invited for a tea and no biscuits discussion with the Chief Instructor.

On another occasion out of a sky van, long jump run during which most of the RW formations exited. Then a freefly group swing two guys from the bar underneath the ramp whilst their mates wait inside……light goes red and plane starts a gentle turn, the guys inside look at each other wondering what to do, i.e. mates dangling beneath the plane waiting for someone to jump out. Eventually one of them jumps and they all land off the DZ !

Amusing maybe, but it occasionally happens as does a premature deployment in the door ( nasty for all concerned) so it is possible to find canopies deployed near the or even outside the DZ, although happy to say it doesn't happen often.

In most cases high openings such as for Canopy Relative Work and even bad spots are confined to the airspace within the DZ. Those well outside are likely to be paragliders or paramoters. But it pays to keep well clear of active jump sites.
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Old 15th Nov 2016, 11:28
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I live close to the area and have seen a paramotor on a few occasions swanning around, normally west of Brill on the road to Bicester. 1st time was at approx. 2 feet off the ground having to add power to hop over hedges. Later sightings were at about 300'. If was him/her, they're certainly getting braver with the height.

in the region of about 200m as he/she was descending through my level.
- does make me question if it was a paramotor though.
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