SHOULD I JOIN A CLUB?

Definitely! Clubs don't cost much to join and you couldn't wish for a friendlier bunch of people. A typical club only charges around £10 for membership (plus £32 or so for BMFA insurance if you don't have it). Even if you don't join a club, you should have BMFA insurance (bmfa.org), so it's easier to join a club and let them arrange the insurance for you. Here's a list of the main slope soaring clubs in southern England:

Bartons Point Model Flying Club (Power flying club that also slope soars on Isle of Sheppey, Kent)

Coombe Hill Soaring Association (Coombe Hill)

Cotswold Slopers (Gloucestershire)

Dartmoor Slope Soaring Club (Dartmoor area)

East Sussex Soaring Association (Eastern South Downs such as Butts Brow and Long Man Hill)

Hornets Model Flying Club (Isle of Wight, a Power flying club that also slope soars)

Invicta Model Flyers Club (Kemsing area)

Ivinghoe Soaring Association (Ivinghoe Beacon)

Meon Valley Soaring Association (Butser Hill and nearby sites)

North Devon Slopers (Northern Devon)

North Downs Soaring Association (Colley Hill, run by the Elmbridge power flying club)

South Cotswold Soaring Association (Haresfield Beacon and several other hills near Stroud)

Thames Valley Scale Aerotow (Large model glider aerotowing in Berkshire - most also slope soar)

Thames Valley Silent Flyers (Watership Down and surrounding areas)

Wessex Soaring Association (Dorset/Wiltshire border area)

West Cornwall Slopers (Cornwall)

West Mendip Soaring Association (Mendip Hills)

White Sheet Radio Flying Club (White Sheet Hill)

In addition you might consider joining the National Trust since many slopes are on Trust land.

OTHER SUPPORT

Online resources such as rcmf.co.uk, scalesoaring.co.uk and barcs.co.uk are great sources of information and help. For example, from rcmf, in case anyone uses a JR radio here is a handy glider programming guide: JR Easy Six-Servo Glider Programming

BE COOL 

Whether you're a club member or not, please respect other flyers and nature when slope soaring. Slope soarers are usually among the most responsible users of natural areas. Maintaining these high standards helps ensure flyers are always welcome:

  • The sites listed on this website are almost all public access land, but take care to keep off neighbouring private land and don't trample crops or anything like that
  • Follow the rules of any clubs operating in the area
  • Be nice to walkers and other recreational users
  • Don't leave litter (and that includes smashed planes!)
  • If you still use a 35MHz transmitter check frequencies with other flyers before you switch on 
  • Many of the sites are managed by the National Trust: remember motorised planes should not be used on Trust land
  • Some slopes are council land: the bylaws of most councils allow electric motors, but a few councils do not
  • Watch out for paragliders, hang-gliders, low-flying full-size gliders and helicopters - fly away from them and down, never over them
  • Park considerately
  • Follow the advice of local flyers and don't do anything to mess it up for them

All obvious stuff really ... but there's always one isn't there?

SHARING SLOPES WITH PARAGLIDERS

Radio control glider fliers are lucky in that all public access land is potentially usable by them. Model glider flying is counted as an "outdoor recreational pursuit" and the public has the right to carry out such pursuits on public access land. However paragliding and hang-gliding are excluded from being "outdoor recreational pursuits". This means they cannot fly on public access land unless a specific licence is in place. As a result many of the slopes featured on this website never see a paraglider. The slopes that do have a paraglider licence can get quite busy with paragliders when the wind is low enough for them (below 10-12pmh or so). 

The existence of a paraglider licence does not in any way limit the right to fly model gliders at that site. However, since paragliders can only fly at a limited number of sites, and only when the wind is fairly low, perhaps the gentlemanly thing to do is to give paragliders a "fair crack of the whip" when they are there. Often there is an agreed bowl that the model flyers use, and another agreed bowl that the paragliders use. It is wise for model flyers to allow paragliders plenty of airspace and give them right of way even if they seem to have strayed into the model glider area. The paragliders' national body offers excellent advice on sharing slopes: BHPA Policy.

These are the main slopes in the southeast of England where paragliders fly: Beachy Head, Beltinge Cliffs, Bopeep Hill, Ditchling Beacon, Firle Beacon, Hindover Hill, Mount Caburn, Thurnham Castle Hill.


Dartmoor Slope Soaring Club