HANG GLIDERS and paragliders are looking forward to more flights in Quinns Rocks and Jindalee following a Wanneroo city council decision to approve a formal launch site.
The Hang Gliding Association of WA (HGAWA) welcomed the council’s July 25 decision to approve its development application for an artificial turf launch pad in crown land north of Waterland Point.
Member David Leith said pilots of the non-motorised aircraft had been using the site informally for about 30 years, with about 30 of the association’s 260 members regularly taking off there.
“It means we can continue to fly safely at Quinns,” he said.
“It’s not frequent that it’s flyable there, (but) when conditions are right, it’s a wonderful site to fly.
“There are very few places where the winds and hill shape allow us to take off and fly.
“It’s renowned across Australia for being a very good site.”
Dr Leith said it suited licensed pilots of all standards, unlike the other coastal metropolitan site at Cottesloe, which was “reserved for the most advanced pilots”.
He has been flying since 1980 and said HGAWA members ranged in age from 20 to some in their 70s.
“It’s a sport that everyone can participate in at almost any age,” Dr Leith said.
Dr Leith gave a deputation prior to the council meeting last month, as did Quinns Rocks Environmental Group spokeswoman Renata Zelinova.
Ms Zelinova said the group did not object to the proposal, but wanted to ensure fauna were not harmed during clearing of the 100sq m launch site.
“What we would like to ensure is that the development of the site doesn’t result in further degradation,” she said. “The coastal foreshore dunes are important for lizards and could be quenda habitat.”
She also asked that consideration be given to the type of artificial turf used, recommending it be made from recycled materials, and to the product’s whole life cycle, including how it would eventually be disposed of.
“There were some good suggestions – we can work with them to fulfil the suggestions,” Dr Leith said.
“There is some work to be done – I would hope within two months it would be up and running.”
That work includes obtaining a clearing permit and negotiating an indemnity agreement with the Cit ythat would protect the local government from liability.
During his deputation, Dr Leith raised concerns about whether the council’s conditions might affect the insurance that covers all HGAWA pilots, such as requiring a spotter.
He said they would need to define the term “spotter” and clarify whether that role would require training and whether the pilot or spotter would be legally responsible.
“Pilots exercise sole discrimination as to where to fly to and land,” he said.
“The rules of flight place the onus on the pilot, and the inclusion of spotters effectively dilutes or spreads that onus.”
The City’s planning and sustainability director Mark Dickson said the proposed spotters would help advise pilots if there were any people in the area, including on the path below the launch site.
Dr Leith said the association could discuss the appropriate terms with the City’s administration through discussions on the indemnity agreement. .
Councillor Linda Aitken moved the decision to approve the application, saying it ratified the recreational activity at the site, and seconder Cr Glynis Parker said she enjoyed watching the gliders.
William Vo, of Shenton Park, said the turf would make it easier for take-offs without snagging parachutes and lines on trees.
“Hang-gliders don’t come here much because it’s not easy for them to set up,” the paraglider said.
“For us paragliders, we just carry a backpack, then we walk up a sand dune.
“We lay out the chute – it’s like a super-big kite.”
Mr Vo said paragliders would get into their harness and take off when the air was stable, everything was ready and it was safe.