One of the recurring issues that the SAHPA committee must continually address, relates to pilot access to sites. Current issues being investigated include:
- There have been several complaints about para-trikes operating from Mossel Bay beaches, resulting in a formal by-law proposal by the Mossel Bay Municipality to prevent all related recreational flying along the Mossel bay coastline. To our knowledge, these are unlicensed pilots who are not SAHPA members.
- A member of the public made a complaint about paraglider pilots flying 1000′ above his house, with the mistaken view that he owns the airspace above his house. On being educated about air-law, he is now trying different tactics to have the site closed down.
- There have been a small collection of petty and unwarranted complaints from people in a small town on the Garden Route who report every PPG pilot as there is a common belief in their community that PPG is illegal.
- A club instituted a rule which prevented many schools from operating from a site. One of the school owners responded with confrontational comments on social media. The land-owner has indicated that it would be easier to shut the site down.
- A pilot used a site without paying site or club membership fees in spite of being banned from the site, and the owner has indicated that it would be easier to shut the site down.
- A group of residents at Clifton Beach have made complaints about speed-wing pilots flying between buildings and landing at high speed on the crowded Clifton beach, and these residents are now considering their legal options. To our knowledge, these pilots are not SAHPA members.
- Several residents along the Kleinkrantz ridge have complained about a school of PPG pilots flying too close to the ridge, disturbing the peace and making a nuisance of themselves. These complaints have been directed at the landowner (ie. SANParks) and the local municipality, with the possible outcome that this site may be closed down.
Our community of pilots must take these complaints seriously. Should the anti-flying sentiment grow (even through the conduct of just a few pilots), it will almost certainly result in the loss of several excellent flying sites. We therefore need to remind pilots that:
- Each land-owner has the right of admission. If a pilot is banned by the landowner (or managing club), then SAHPA does not have the mandate to intervene.
- SAHPA Membership includes 3rd Party Insurance, and also landowners liability. This does not mean that SAHPA members are automatically guaranteed and entitled to unrestricted access to sites. The consequence of a pilot breaking site or club rules is that the pilot may be banned, and SAHPA is obliged to respect and uphold the land-owner’s rights.
- SAHPA does not have the mandate or authority to over-ride decisions made by Club officials. If a club committee has instituted disciplinary action, then the issue needs to be taken up within the club structure.
- Access to flying sites is a privilege, not a right. Being banned from a site is typically the consequence of poor conduct, and SAHPA will not condone poor conduct.
While this is not an encouraging state of affairs, it requires careful and respectful engagement between pilots and landowners. We ask all pilots to please help us to protect your interests.
While the SAHPA committee strives to improve on an imperfect governance framework, SAHPA members also have a responsibility to support this by:
- Respecting and obeying Club and Site rules (including payment of the relevant fees). If you disagree with a rule, then please address this constructively through club channels.
- Pilots have a responsibility to treat fellow pilots, landowners and members of the public with dignity and respect.
- Pilots have a responsibility to ensure their SAHPA membership and licence is up to date. This is a legal requirement.
The SAHPA Committee