A NEW airstrip for model aircraft is being marked out on Epsom Downs. But flyers who break any of the strict safety rules will be banned from using it.
The rules have been drawn up by Walton and Epsom Downs Conservators and Epsom
and Ewell Council after consultation with experts from the British Model Flying
Association (BMFA). And they are being put into practice from next Monday to
ensure no repeat of the tragedy which occurred at Dartford Heath, Kent, when
a young girl was killed by a model aircraft in May this year.
At their recent meeting, the conservators endorsed the fact that they are keen
for model flying enthusiasts to continue to use the Downs for their sport. But
one of the key motivating factors for the safety review was the tragic death
of the young girl, caused by the impact of a model aeroplane. Cllr Jean Smith,
chairman of the conservators, said:
"We believe that this new assessment was vital to the continuing safety of everyone
using the Downs."
"It was particularly helpful to have two experienced BMFA representives to work
with us. Tim Mountain and Roger Marples understood our aims and gave good, constructive
advice for revising the new model flying guidelines."
"We are now confident that our new guidelines will enhance the safety of all
who use the Downs,"
Cllr Smith added.
"The new airstrip is further away from the main pathway across the Downs.
No more than six aircraft must be up in the air at the same time, third party
insurance must be held by all operators, only 35mhz FM and 27 mhz FM can be
operated, with all transmitters showing a frequency pennant. Each operator must
participate in the "peg on" frequency control system. They must also report
to a pit area set up for the aircraft, flight boxes and equipment. A flight
line has been cut, on which pilots should stand, and there must be no flying
behind this mark, over the pits area car park or racecourse.
The major objective behind the rules is to ensure that model aircraft flying
on the Downs is a safe practice and that any unsafe elements are eliminated."