Swindon is the UK hub for microlight flying; if you find those loud buzzing Lawnmowers flying overhead on a quiet day annoying then this area is NOT the place for you.

Redlands Airfield may soon be no more. In 2016 the owner agreed a deal with a developer to build on the site and put up 370 houses. However until this day comes Wanborough and north Wiltshire will continue to be afflicted with noise from this local small business menace.

Clearprop! of Swindon has microlight training which causes a severe noise nuisance for some people living near Redlands Airfield in Wanborough.

What is our MP, Robert James Buckland QC Member of Parliament for Swindon South doing about it? Nothing! It’s  a SCANDAL. He is the current Solicitor General for England and Wales! Regarding the noise problem from Redlands Airfield, he said “What can I do about it? I am only an MP.” It seems Mr Buckland just doesn’t want to find a solution to help his constituents. He’s not being a very sympathetic or helpful MP.  Previous incumbents, Julia Drown MP and Anne Snelgrove MP put some effort into trying to help. Mr Buckland just isn’t interested. Local issues of noise nuisance are obviously not important to him.

Why do some commercial businesses cause a problem for other business owners and residents without the possibility of legal redress? Unlike a normal commercial business which can be prosecuted if the noise it generates causes a nuisance to others, aviation business owners who cause noise nuisance from flying in the air can’t be prosecuted.  Why should plane owners get special treatment under the legal system?

Most homeowners subjected to the aviation noise from Redlands were living in the area before the airfield opened.

Microlights are aeroplanes. They come in three types,  3-axis (or fixed wing), the flexwing type and powered parachutes.  All these types of microlights are incredibly noisy. As they are generally slower in flight than a light aircraft, this means that the noise they produce is spread over a large area for longer. Microlights fly at low altitudes, at slow speeds, with great views of the ground.   Microlight flying is a sport, but it causes a nuisance for those unwilling participants subject to it!  That’s something that’s not very sporting!

Microlight training, undertaken by Clearprop at Redlands Airfield in Wanborough in the Borough of Swindon, causes a particular problem for some residents of Wanborough and the nearby Swindon Parish of Covingham. The nature of training a microlight pilot means that many circular flights around the airfield are required. These circuits last for about half an hour per pilot per session and several microlights can be flying at the same time. This pattern of behaviour can go on for hours , morning and afternoon, and even takes place in the evening. The circuits mean that planes fly around a private house and a Children’s Day Nursery at low height.  The microlights also fly close to houses in nearby Covingham on the other side of the A419 trunk road. Not only are these properties subject to the noise of this commercial activity, the loss of privacy from being overflown at low height (under 500 feet) is unacceptable. These properties have also been overflown at low height on take-off and landing as well as during circuit training. The nuisance has continued despite different people being responsible for microlight flying at Redlands Airfield.   Both the Microlight Training School and the Redlands Microlight Club flyers have been spotted overflying nearby properties at low height doing circuits and otherwise, despite the large amount of unoccupied farmland in the area. This sort of flying is very disrespectful, inconsiderate and rude. A “first class microlight club” as it is described on the www.redlandsairfield.co.uk   website would not cause so much nuisance to local residents. It’s certainly first class for pilots…

Is it really necessary to have a training school in Swindon so close houses when there are so many other microlight training schools in Wiltshire and Berkshire?

Just why are there so many small airfields doing microlight pilot training?

Well,  it’s illegal to offer commercial flights such as sightseeing trips in microlights, so the only way to make money from microlight flying is to train other pilots or sell microlight aircraft and flying equipment or provide hangarage for a storage fee.  Landing fees are generally low so this does not generate much income for an airfield owner.  Have you seen those Groupon or Wowcher ads offering microlight flights?  You will notice that they always specify somewhere in the ad that they area taster session for aspiring pilots.  One Microlight Flying School offers 20, 30 or 60 minutes experience flights over the scenic Peak District. It’s not immediately obvious that this experience is actually a flying lesson.

Sailing close to the wind…..

The Wiltshire Microlight Centre at Yatesbury near Cherhill was offering a Groupon £65 “flight class” (note they don’t say pilot training) in January 2015 in a noisy flex wing or 3-Axis microlight which would allow customers a grand view of Avebury (a World Heritage Site whose guardians discourage overflying ) & Silbury Hill. Boasting that they fly over the downs & the Vale of Pewsey, quiet Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), is just irresponsible.

Let’s not be confused here, microlight training is a business, it’s a commercial activity to make profit for the owner, it’s not a sport.

Microlight training can, and does, cause considerable nuisance to other people.

The noise can be heard inside houses not just in the garden. The noise can drown out a TV or a phone call or make it impossible to concentrate when working.

The noise causes harm.

Certain types of microlights are loud.

The loudest are the flexwing type.

G-BYPB 2014-09-29 11.49.17
Clearprop Microlight G-BYPB

Why isn’t the noise level regulated properly in the UK?

Is the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to blame?

Is the British Microlight Association (BMAA) responsible?

No! No one is responsible for aeroplane noise in the air.

Why is it OK for an aeroplane to fly and create a noise nuisance when a vehicle being driven on the ground can’t legally do so?

Why is there a double standard? Why are aeroplane owners given preferential treatment to car & road vehicle owners?

Why don’t aeroplanes pay a tax similar to road tax?

Why is aviation immune from both prosecution for noise nuisance and taxation?

If Local Council’s can’t control Aviation Noise then the CAA shouldn’t be passing the buck.  It needs to step in and be pro-active to find a solution.  Aviation Law will need to be changed.

It isn’t “if”,  but when……

With increasing plane ownership the problem is only going to get worse.

The selfish activities of the few engaged in, for example,  Microlight sports aviation, ruin the lives of many people and spoil the quiet enjoyment of the countryside and towns.

It’s time the Government and the EU stopped protecting private aviation at all costs.

If you thought flying in a microlight is safe, think again! They are more unsafe than light aircraft, which in turn are more unsafe than jet aircraft.

Just a few of the crashes associated with Redlands…

11 NOV 2012 16.20
Gemini Flash IIA, G-MWWK
Pilot gave AAIB two different accounts of the crash.
1. He landed behind another aircraft which performed a go-around and the air wash tipped his plane over.
2. He was taxiing on the ground and wind caught his wing. Plane tipped over.
Pilot unable to explain the two versions!
Damaged beyond repair

6 SEPT 2012 17.00

21 February 2009
MW7 Microlight
Field near Bishopstone
Pilot 40
Owned by Duncan Alexander Couchman of Bradley Road, Swindon.
Flying from airfield near Winchester, landed to re-fuel & took off. At 1,000 feet lost power and emergency landing made.

9 March 2005 15.30
76424-50A Flexwing
Crashed on landing. Pilot airlifted to hospital by the air Ambulance at very great expense to the public. Presumed head, neck and back injuries.
Member of the flying school.

10 July 2005 11.32
Skyranger 912(2), G-CCXM
Pilot 49
Extensive damage attempting starting the take-off.

9 March 2005 Wednesday afternoon.
Two injured in microlight crash in a field on the boundary of Redlands Airfield while attempting to land.
One man was taken by air ambulance to the Great Western Hospital Swindon. Police said he was suffering from neck, chest and head injuries.
All three emergency services were called out at very great expense to the public purse.