Airlaw for Hang Glider and Paraglider Pilots

Rules, Regulations and  Air Law for Stiffies and Floppies

 As Ulf Arndt understands it  in 2006 -  Please enlighten me if I got something wrong here?
Any comments welcome.,

South African air law revolves around the expressions "authority to fly " or " permission to fly".
The Air Navigation Regulations from 1976 state in 1.10 (1) No aircraft shall be flown in the Republic unless - ...
 Means , by default flying is verboten. No person and no man made object is allowed to fly in South Africa.
 Unless you get permission to fly from the government. The SA government is the landowner of the air around us.
Besides getting permission from the landowner for a flying site to use a takeoff and landing area, we also need permission from the government , if we want to fly.
For the SA government the  Department of Transport is in charge of the airspace in South Africa.
 Who delegated  the management of the sky in South Africa to the CAA, the Civil Aviation Authority .
And along with that delegation a new buzz word got created , the "user pay basis", which got introduced in the 1990's..
Out went the  idea of "free flying", but we still got the "free dying", as far as I know. Have not met anyone who came back from the pearly gates complaining that they charge an entrance fee.
The CAA delegated the administration for Hang Gliders and Paragliders in 1991 to AeCSA, the Aero Club of South Africa, a Section 21 company.
This delegation is at the moment based on a Memorandum of Understanding  which gets renewed now and then. Or not. CAA can take it back whenever they feel like it.  See also AIC 22.4

"Neil Thomas" <>
10/05/2006 11:32
Ulf Arndt/South Africa/IBM@IBMZA
"Zelda van Heerden" <>
SAHPA licences

Dear Mr Arndt,

Licences issued by SAHPA are valid if issued through and with the authority of the Aero Club of SA, the CAA does not
issue recreational licences except for a number of exceptions as listed in the regulations.

Best regards

Neil Thomas
SACAA Flight Operations: Part 141

The Aero Club ,  ,consists of various sections.
One of them is the South African Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (SAHPA) which has handled up to now  the administration  on behalf of AeCSA for the permission to fly a stiffy or a floppy.

CAA has produced , and carry on producing,  piles of paper with rules and regulations called Civil Aviation Rules  (CARS). They are on the web at  follow the CARS  or the  CATS   and the Non Type Certified Aircraft  link. Some of them have been  gazetted, some will be gazetted, and some have been put on ice. And some wait for translation into the 2nd official language, what is Zulu.  See AIC 18·23 . Those which have been gazetted can be considered as a law.
And if you do not adhere to a law then you can end up with a criminal court case.
For me it is not quite clear what got gazetted and what not.
Some of those CARS off the CAA website say "Effective from whatever date"  and then I get told that they are not!
And some of what got gazetted is not realistic when it comes to our type of flying.

The CARS that are relevant for Hang Gliding and Paragliding are

  • Part 1 has definitions like what is considered an Accident, Incident, Hazard, or what is Daylight, ... and what the abbreviations like VFR or MSL mean
  • Part 12 defines what has to be reported and by whom, and to where. Like when we got a dead body,  notify the police. And it says there that accidents, incidents and hazards have to be reported.
    • For example 12.02.5 Notification of hazards

(1) Any person involved in an accident or incident, or observing any accident, incident, hazard or discrepancy that may affect aviation safety, may notify the designated body or institution referred in regulation 12.01.2, of such accident, incident, hazard or discrepancy. (
2) Any person who notifies the designated body or institution referred to in regulation 12.01.2 of an accident or incident, shall not be absolved from the duty to notify the Commissioner of such accident or incident in terms of regulation 12.02.1, 12.02.2 or 12.02.3, as the case may be.

  • Part 24  defines our flying machines as non type certified aircraft and that it has to be airworthy to fly.
    •  The airworthiness of the aircraft, classified in sub-groups (h) to (l) in sub-regulation 24.01.1(2), shall be the sole responsibility of the owner or operator in accordance with generally accepted practices for such aircraft or as laid down by the organisation, approved for the purpose in terms of Part 49.
    • Part 24.04.3   defines who can test ...  APPROVED ORGANISATIONS

1.             Test authorities approved for the certification of hang-gliders, paragliders and parachutes
               The following test authorities have been approved by the Commissioner or the organisation designated for the purpose in terms of Part 149, as the case may be, for the certification of hang-gliders, paragliders and parachutes:
*               AFNOR (The French ACPULS certification)
*               AHGF (The Australian Hang Gliding Federation)
*               BCAR (British Civil Aviation Regulations)
*               DHV (The German GUTE SIEGEL certification)
*               DULV (Deutsche Ultraliecht Verein)
*               HMA (US Hang-gliding Manufacturers Association)
*               SAPA (The South African Parachute Association reserve parachute testing procedure
*               SHV (The Swiss Hang Verein certification
*               USHGA (The United States Hang Gliding Association

At the moment it is not clear to me if SAHPA or Aero Club is approved as an organization in terms of Part 149.

    • The SAHPA Operations and Procedure Manual states that all new hang gliders and paragliders sold in South Africa shall have been certified by an approved test Authority and carry a label with the

manufacturers name, a serial number, date of manufacture, quality
controller's signature, pilot mass range and the class rating, and shall be
classified in the Glider Classification Schedule.
This regulation does not ask for DHV or Afnor stickers as such, but that the
glider must have been certified and that all the information of the glider
must be available on the glider. The information must include the DHV or
Afnor rating, or any other test rating that SAHPA has deemed acceptable.

    • It also requires that all gliders that arrives in the country must be

submitted for classification on the Glider Classification Schedule.

    • states that students have to be on a communication system when trained, in our case radios
  •  Part 61 and 62 covers licenses

Part 61 for example states.... Privileges of a paraglider pilot licence
(1) The holder of a paraglider pilot licence shall be entitled to act, but not for remuneration, as pilot-in-command of any
paraglider engaged in a nonrevenue flight, for which the holder is type rated, in VMC by day.
... But according to AeCSA in 2004 Part 61 is not  applicable for us. Confusing?

Part 62 handles licence requirements. Zipped files  or  MS Word Draft originals for Part 62 and Technical Specs  ( Part 62 is expected to be finalized in 2004).
What you have to do to be allowed to fly.... see also Proposed National Pilot's License - Part 62 (May 04)
In August 2006 Part 62 got "finalized" See PART 62 August 2006  for details.

  •  Defines things like the amount of flights for a new  license and renewals
  • This will replace some of the Section 3 and 4 of the SAHPA Operations and Procedure Manual. The SAHPA committee will not any longer change license requirements on an ad hoc basis. If SAHPA decides to change, one will have to motivate it and get it approved by a CARCOM meeting by CAA. And then it has to get into the law making cycle and get gazetted. Means, whatever will be in this Part 62 we will have to live with for quite a while.
  •  Part 62 and Part 24 allow the ARO  (SAHPA) to define some more requirements for pilots and flying equipment. Like that one can only fly a certain glider with a certain experience level is defined in the Glider Classification schedule.
  •  Part 91 are the flight rules of the air for everybody , like
    • right is right
    • landing aircraft got right of way
  •  Part 94 states for example that we
    • have to fly in VFR conditions, not at night , not go into cloud,  and only fly in uncontrolled airspace
    • are allowed  to ridge soar
    • have to wear a helmet
    • have to get landowner permission to fly from a site
    • use for tandem and training only  approved sites which are on the SAHPA site register
    • operate a winch only with a guillotine or hook knife
    • need a  tandem rating to fly a passenger, maximum 2 people on a tandem, and a tandem needs a reserve
  • Part 96 mentions Tandem for reward
    •  For the purpose of sub-regulation (2), tandem operations with hang-gliders, paragliders or parachutes, even if carried out for remuneration or reward, shall not considered to be the providing of an air service as defined in the Air Services Licensing Act of 1990 (Act 115/1990) or International Air Services Act of 1993 (Act 60/1993) nor to be a commercial air transport operation, as defined in Part 1 of these Regulations.
  • Part 106 Operation of Hang Gliders and Paragliders. Repeats what is in the other Parts, like ...
    • you need a license , have to be a member of AeCSA and SAHPA
    • comply with the SAHPA Operations and Procedure Manual
    • have to wear a helmet and fly with a harness.
    • and stay out of clouds and not fly at night
    • fly Tandem and Instruct only from registered sites

But 106 is not active, see AIC18-4 which states  implementation of Parts 61, 66.09.1, 98, 100 through 106, 127, 133, 149 have been postponed in until further notice

  •   Part 185 says that you can get fined and get a prison sentence of up to 10 years for not adhering to any of the CAA regulations  by doing things like ....
    • falsifying your logbook,
    • cheating on your application forms,
    • or flying without a license,
    • or giving your glider to your buddy who is not licensed or has not got the correct rating ( 185.00.1.h .... permits a licence, rating, certificate, permit, approval, authorisation, exemption or other document issued under the Regulations, of which he, she or it is the holder, to be used, or a privilege granted thereby, to be exercised, by any other person;)

There is a draft on the CAA website to introduce in 2003 spot fines ranging from R1000 to  R75.000 for not adhering to any of the CAA regulations. Those spot fines can be imposed by CAA inspectors.  See also AIC 22.3

So, SA law says, if you want to take off into the air with a Hang Glider or Paraglider,  you need an Aero Club/SAHPA license.
Also as a visitor, with a foreign license.  A foreign license does not entitle you to fly in South Africa. You first have to get a temporary SAHPA membership to fly legal in sunny South Africa.

 Why bother ...


Not adhering to some gazetted law can give you a criminal court case. Something like the state versus you , with a fine and jail sentence. If it is a 100 percent clear cut case.
And if things go wrong you can also get yourself into a civil court case. XYZ versus you, for not adhering to some CAA , SAHPA or local Club rule and now someone is injured or some property is damaged.
Where a judge can reckon that you are liable for a certain  percentage to whatever damage to the other party.
Not adhering to rules, taking chances, and things go wrong , can clean out your bank account.

 Up to now, not adhering to rules in the SAHPA Operations and Procedures or local club site rules only exposes you to a civil court case in case you damaged some other party.

  In future some of the SAHPA Operations and Procedure manual contents will become part of  CARS and get gazetted. Not adhering to something that is gazetted can get you a fine, jail and criminal record.

Instructors and Tandem are the most at risk. With Medical Aids tightening up and the small print either excluding flying related sports, or in accordance with the legislation and regulations, your student or passenger might not be covered. And if you did not adhere to whatever, you might have to foot the bill. Not only for medical expenses. But also any life cover or disability insurance will probably exclude flying.

Here is an example of the small print from an insurance policy excluding

  • an intentional, unlawful act committed by the Life Insured (  which could mean flying without a licence )
  • flying or taking part in any form of airborne aerial activity, except while traveling as a fare-paying passenger on a licensed commercial airliner; (Tandem passengers also invalidate their policies unknowingly)

Possible exposure areas that can be considered as unlawful  ...

  • expired, lapsed rating , better stay current all the time
  • not issuing a temporary student license before a student has his first flight
  • not  using  a registered site,   not using equipment which is part of the classification list,

......   better look up the CAA Regulations at which got gazetted and the SAHPA  Operations and Procedure Manual at

In future, the way it looks like, the training  and tandem equipment will need 6 months checks. Not doing this and someone gets hurt,....   you are exposed.

In 2002, the Discovery  medical aid for example covers Paragliding if it is done on a recreational basis. If you do not make money out of it. Some other medical aids do not cover Hang Gliding and Paragliding  if you read their fine print. Even so the Discovery  fine print excludes injuries sustained during participation in a willful and material violation of the law. I reckon that means fly within the rules and regulations if you want to be covered.
The ordinary pilot, who flies on his own, in his glider, has to have the correct rating for the glider. And that glider has to be listed in the classification list.
A Basic rated pilot crashing in a glider that is rated Sport, and the Medical Aid is awake, can refuse to foot the bill.

Or if the glider is not at all on the list, sorry pal. The glider classification list is part of the Operations and Procedure Manual on the SAHPA and Aero Club website. The Glider Classification list  got published with the SAHPA News in October 2002.
Not complying with the SAHPA Operations and Procedure manual can result in not being covered by the SAHPA 3rd party insurance and CASEVAC.
Maybe time to get that Paragliding Sports licence test over and done with? Then you can fly and crash with your hot glider legally.

Disciplinary structure

Clubs in an area are the eyes and ears of SAHPA. Clubs are in charge of sites and handle the control of sites.
If you do not adhere to site rules or SAHPA rules or CAA regulations, then  the first level is the Club.
Who can warn or ban you from their site.
 First you have to get a hearing and then the Club committee make a decision.
If you are not happy with the outcome, you can take it to the SAHPA committee.
If you are not happy with the SAHPA ruling, take it to Aero Club.
And if the Aero Club ruling does not suit you, take it to CAA, if it revolves around airlaw. Or FAI, if it is competition and record related.

Controlled versus Uncontrolled Airspace

 As a stiffy or floppy driver you can only fly  outside of controlled airspace.
Controlled Airspace means, that some air traffic controller in a control tower or in some dark room in front of a radar screen keeps track of who is flying in that airspace.
And the pilots who fly in controlled airspace do not look outside. They rely completely on the radar eyes of the controller to guide them.
Air traffic controller can not see a floppy or stiffy  on a radar screen.  They assume the airspace is clear and will route the traffic right into you, in case you happen to be there.

So what... They can't see me.  No one will catch me...
Well , this is similar to taking your bicycle at night, without any lights fitted, onto the N1 between Pretoria and Johannesburg.
 Riding on the fast lane in the opposite direction. Sooner or later, something is going to hit you.
That other thing is more massive than you and you go smack. The other thing will have some damage, which will be in the R 1 Million plus range, and someone will have to cough that one up. Not you, you are history, mince meat.....  The press will have a field day of how unsafe the skies are over sunny South Africa. The tourists will cancel their flight bookings....  The pressure will be on to ban all these activities of those idiots who created that havoc.

Controlled airspace, which you have to stay clear off, are places called CTR, TMA, .. on an airspace map.
CTR and TMA you find around the major airports where the big silver birds live. That controlled airspace goes right down to the ground around a major airport.
Further away it lifts and starts at a certain altitude. That is defined by the the 3 degree glide angle to get in or out of these airports. Those big silver birds  sink 1000 ft for every  3 Nautical miles  when their engines fail or are on idle as they glide in. Roughly a 1 in 30 glide ratio, like a basic sailplane.

In case there is a need to fly  in(to) controlled airspace, then you require an air band radio, and you need permission from the air traffic control.

 Danger, Restricted and Prohibited Areas

 Besides the controlled airspace, into which you shall not wander, there are some other aerial mine fields in the sky.

There are Danger areas,  labeled FAD on a map. You can fly there. Normally they are aerobatics areas, or training areas.
 Then there are Restricted areas, FAR. By default, stay out of them. Certain restrictions apply to them. Find out first, by consulting Notams ,
which none of us gets. Or go to an airport or airfield and see if they got the info at hand. Or phone the Aero Club.
FAR can be military training areas, that might be closed at certain times, due to parachute drops, or shooting exercises.
And then we got the FAP. Prohibited areas. Don't even dream to fly in there. Someone in there might be trigger happy to get you down.
Or you might glow in the dark in future from going through that space, thanks to some radiation leftovers from some nuclear tests that never happened there in the first place.

Explanations for FAP, FAR, FAD are defined in Part 91 of the CAA regulations

Slight problem,... the SA airspace maps are never up to date. Even fresh reprints from the Government Printer show outdated ,non existent TMA, FAD, FAP, FAR.
Check with the local pilots. For example Pelindaba near The Dam is marked as a FAP but has been withdrawn years ago. And then it got reintroduced in 2004.

How do I get those ICAO airspace maps. Best place is the Government Printer works in the middle of Pretoria. Otherwise you can try  some of the  the  shops and flying schools at  General Aviation airports like Grand Central.

More on FAR,FAD,CTR,TMA.. see  or Airspace for HG and PG Pilots

VFR - No flying at night and into clouds

CAA Regulations Part 91 states that you can only fly your contraption in VFR conditions.
VFR stands for Visual Flight Rules. VFR is defined in Part 91, and means for us ...

  •  During the day  from sunrise to sunset. Not at night. Use your GPS when sunset happens. More exact   CAA Part 1  says “DAY” means the period of time from 15 minutes before sunrise to 15 minutes after sunset, sunrise and sunset being as given in the publication “Times of Sunrise, Sunset and Local Apparent Noon of the South African Astronomical Observatory” or in a similar publication issued by a recognised astronomical observatory; Got it? Or get a GPS.
  • 5 km visibility
  •  Stay clear of clouds.
  •  And you have to see the ground.

 Radio Licenses

 See Operating a 2m band Radio for Hang Gliding and Paragliding in South Africa .

More on SAHPA, AeCSA, FAI, CIVL,...

  Some  info how SAHPA, AeCSA, CIVL and FAI fit into all of this is located at

and a PowerPoint Presentation  on this subject.

Reference Links

AIC 18·23

CAA Regulations (CARS)

Civil Aviation Technical Standards Documents (CATS)

SAHPA Operations and Procedure Manual  or the 2000 Version of the manual


CAA National Airspace Master Plan in pdf

AeCSA Proposed National Pilot's License - Part 62 (May 04)  or MISASA