Until late 2015, much of the Highlands (north of the Great Glen) was subject a large airspace designation called the Highland Restricted Area (HRA) which restricted midweek free flying activity to enable military low flying training.
In 2015 this situation changed and the HRA is no longer ‘active by default’. Instead the area is re-established and publicised, by NOTAM, with adequate warning time whenever required for military operational low-flying training.
It is every pilot’s responsibility to check NOTAM’s prior to flight and you are advised to pay particular notice to the status of the HRA before flying during the mid-week days. If the HRA has been activated you may well have to modify your plans for the day as paragliders and fast jets do not mix together well.
You can find more information:-
You can find details of airspace here and a reminder of the relevant flying law here.
There are a couple of large military excercises conducted in the Highlands each year, which can involve a good deal of military flying - helicopters and fast jets.
Sites with Access Agreements
Over many years special access agreements have been agreed with land owners and Inverness Airport. It is vital that all pilots - whether resident or visiting - adhere to these agreements.
This coastal soaring site, which works on a sea breeze or a NE met wind between about 7 and 9 miles an hour can accommodate a small number of gliders and is often popular on summer evenings.
Prior to flying at Alturlie pilots MUST phone Dalcross Airport Control Tower on 01667 464000 and advise the duty controller of their intention to fly. You will be asked for a flight ceiling (usually 300ft AGL) and the number of pilots active. Alturlie can only really accommodate 2 or 3 gliders in the air at the same time.
It is essential that the last pilot to leave the site also phones the Control Tower to advise that flying activity has ceased for the day. This is a delicate site, in full view of the Control Tower and incoming/out-going air traffic. It is highly likely that the access situation will change in the future as airspace changes to Inverness Airport are currently in the pipeline. It is therefore vital that any pilot flying at Alturlie adheres to these arrangements.
There is currently no access to Cairngorm via the funicular, see here for further details.
The Highland Club is currently in discussion with the relevant bodies over possible future access. In the meantime pedestrian access is open to all, but please act responsibly and try to avoid entering conservation areas (anything outside of Coire Cas or Coire Ciste).
This is a sensitive site on a managed grouse moor. The club is very pleased to have limited permissions to use an access track up the hill site near Lochindorb which makes this hill a great site for hang gliding on a good day. There are two locked gates to the track and the club has a key.
To allow us to maintain this valuable access the Head Game Keeper MUST be contacted ON EVERY OCCASION this site is to be flown, whether by hang gliders or paragliders, even if they walk up! The keeper is very supportive so please contact us prior to any flying at this site.
To find out about access to Lochindorb contact Irene, Highland Club secretary on O7876 683987, at least the night before, for full details and up to date site information.
Ben Bhraggie, near Golspie, has a very rough track to the launch site beside The Duke of Sutherland's Monument. Access is through a locked gate and can be arranged by phoning a local hangie - Mark - on O7867 5O2867. You will be required to fill out & sign a liability waiver (here) and to deliver it to the Estate Office (here.)
Hang Gliding Sites
There are a number of sites that have access agreements allowing vehicles to be driven on private land to launch sites - particularly useful for hangies.
There are also sites not too far away controlled by the Aberdeen Hang Gliding and Paragliding Club. Please contact Irene on O7876 683987 for further details.
Flying Sites and Airspace
The Highlands of Scotland offers some of the most spectacular flying in the UK, on the right day! Progressive access laws coupled with spectacular and largely uninhabited mountain landscapes make for exciting, challenging and potentially hugely rewarding flying experiences.
The Highland Club welcomes visiting pilots from all over the world. We encourage you to contact us if you want to fly in the Highlands.
Not only will we welcome you but we will assist you in finding suitable sites, navigating our unpredictable Scottish weather, our access laws and quirky land management customs.
We have a number of sites at which we have negotiated special access agreements with landowners and it is vital that you contact us before flying any of these sites.
Scotland has a long standing tradition of red deer stalking and grouse shooting, which take place right across the Highlands at certain times of year. It is vital that we respect these practices and work with land owners and managers to maintain the access that we currently enjoy.
Please get in touch. You'll find us a very friendly and welcoming bunch!
Pilots are encouraged to submit NOTAMs for all flights they intend to do. Not only does this reduce the risk of AIRPROX incidents but it may also provide useful data in future airspace discussions.
Details on how to submit a NOTAM are here.