Hang Gliding and Paragliding are inherently dangerous sports. In the interests of pilot safety, some flying sites have been deemed (through hard experience) to pose a significantly greater risk of a serious or fatal accident to inexperienced low air-time pilots and may not be flown by any pilot with less than 50 hours of air-time flying experience. Generally, a site is deemed to require a minimum of 50 hours air-time experience if there is no easy landing field directly out in front of the launch area. This includes most coastal flying sites where the pilot is required to either top-land, land on a narrow beach, or where the pilot must fly over the side of a valley, or any significant distance to reach a safe landing zone. Please respect these sites and do not be tempted to fly them until you have a minimum of 50 hours air-time experience. When you have finally clocked up 50 hours you are strongly advised to only fly these sites in the company of another experienced pilot who can give you a full site briefing. Please take heed of this warning - all of these sites have seen serious and potentially fatal accidents over the years - don't become a statistic!
If you think the 50-hour rule is for wimps, watch this video:
If you or your canopy (or wing) ends up in the water (even just at the edge)
it can be fatal.
Killiney (Co. Dublin)
This coastal site has a difficult launch (for both PG and HG) facing directly out to sea. The landing zone is on Killiney beach, some kilometres to the right of take off, and can be very narrow when the tide is in. Landing on the beach must sometimes be accomplished in a cross-wind whilst avoiding large numbers of other beach users. Please also note that Killiney is inside the Dublin Air Traffic Controll Zone. Pilots wishing to fly here MUST contact Dublin ATC on 01 8144601 and ask for the Data Assistant before and after flying. This site may ONLY be flown by current members of the IHPA or by visitors and guests flying in the company of an IHPA member. This specific condition was stipulated by Dublin ATC when permission was first granted to fly sites inside Dublin airspace.
Bray Head (Co. Wicklow)
This coastal site faces directly out to sea and has no easy bottom landing area within easy reach. Pilots are required to either top-land or fly several kilometres towards Bray beach or Greystones to bottom land. Landing at Bray beach will always be in a cross-wind and on a busy, narrow strip that is bounded by power lines and flag poles. Greystones beach is very narrow at the best of times and slopes steeply towards the sea. The fields above the beach are small and steeply sloped. It is possible to be caught out if the wind changes direction or switches off while you are somewhere half-way along Bray Head and not be able to make either of the bottom landing areas or to top-land. Your only option then is to slope-land (down-wind) or end up in the sea.
Mt. Leinster (Co. Wexford/Carlow) - South-East bowl
Whilst all the other flying sites on Mt. Leinster are relatively safe and easy, the SE-bowl presents a different set of dangers. There is no easy landing area directly out in front of take-off (only small up-slope / cross-wind paddocks) and pilots must fly over a ridge and around the side of the mountain to be able to land in the Diamond field. It is very easy to get dumped when the wind drops and be unable to get over the ridge between the bowl and the Diamond field. The emergency LZ is unpleasant to say the least. Another danger arises at this site when there is a low-level high-pressure inversion layer present. Winds blowing from the SE are prevented from blowing up the slope of the mountain by the inversion layer and are instead funneled through the Scullogue Gap to form violently changing winds and vortices in the area of the Diamond field. There have been a number of near-fatal incidents in these conditions with very strong winds below the inversion layer changing direction by 180 degrees in seconds, despite there being no wind at take-off. Do not fly the SE-bowl when there is a low-level high-pressure inversion layer.
Skerries (Co. Dublin)
This coastal site has a tricky launch (backing on to a main road, then power lines, then a railway line) and does not have any safe landing area directly out in front unless the tide is fully out. A pilot, flying at take-off height was turned towards the hill and impacted a low wall. His leg was nearly severed. There is a significant danger at this site of flying too far back when top-landing and into the path of traffic on the road. Also, this site must not be flown by more than four or five pilots at any one time as the area of lift can be very short and narrow depending on the wind strength and direction. Under no circumstances should pilots perform radical or high-energy manoeuvres or wing-overs at this site.
Kinsale (Co. Cork)
All flying sites in and around Kinsale harbour (including the Old Head) are hazardous coastal launches with no easy or safe bottom landing areas. Pilots wishing to fly any of these sites MUST contact Cork Tower on (021) 4329623 and ask for permission to fly as this area is inside airspace controlled by Cork ATC.
Glen of Imaal (Co. Wicklow)
Pilots wishing to fly XC over the Glen of Imaal must consider this airspace as an active Military Operating Area and are required to receive permission from the Glen of Imaal Army Warden Office (+353 45 404653) before flying. As with any other restricted airspace, flights that infringe the Glen of Imaal MOA are disqualified from the XC League and any Comps. Never enter the military area (by road or air!) when the red flags are flying.