Sunday, 3 May 2015

Mill Hill - A comment from a regular flyer.

As you may or may not be aware, one of the big reasons for starting this blog was to give a voice to RC model flyers enthusiasts and this is still the case. Ralph a regular model flyer at Mill Hill as well as an experienced full size pilot sent me an email with his thoughts and I thought it would be a good idea to get other model flyers idea's and thoughts about model flying at Mill Hill. Feel free to reply to this post (at the bottom of this article) using to 'Comments' link. Any comments are monitored prior to publishing by myself. We must be aware of what we write and publish on the Internet are here for ever and for all to view.

Ralph Writes.......

Hi Paul

Last Thursday morning there was a collision between a foamie and a GRP aircraft approaching Shoreham. I arrived an hour or so after it happened and was given details by another modeller who had been dealing with ATC and the police. Damage was limited to gel coat cracks on the stbd LE apparently. The pilot said he was at 1000' asl and had a video running at the time. Since Mill is 250' asl this means the model was allegedly at 750'.

Couple of thoughts on this before we all assume blame on the part of the modeller.  The height info does not seem credible - I would be surprised of you could even see a foamie at that height. The air was not thermic and the hill lift rarely goes anything like that well. Secondly with a known aerial hazard present why did the pilot route directly over the hill? Lastly models less than 7kg can fly legally at Mill without restriction as per the ANO. The height limit of 400' we have been using is a voluntary agreement with the airport following an airprox last year.
Thank you Ralph for your Input and I look forward to others having some input on how Mill Hill can continue being a popular venue for slope soaring in Sussex.


  1. I would also question the reports of the collision taking place at 1000 feet. Aircraft landing on runway 20 pass over Mill Hill at around 500-600 feet above sea level (yes, the top of the hill seems quite close from the cockpit!). The circuit height at Shoreham is 1100 feet and the standard procedure to join the circuit starts at 2000 feet. That's not to say that the information is incorrect, but it does seem unusual for normal operations at the airport.

  2. Dear all South East Area member/Club,

    I have been in contact with head office and they have spoken to the BMFA
    member involved. The inquiry will take place, which may take some
    months, so until the out come is known we see there is no reason why we
    can not continue to fly at Mill Hill.

    Stuart Willis
    BMFA South East Area Chairman

  3. I agree with the above comments. The top of Mill Hill (the carpark) is one nautical mile from the threshold of runway 20 at Shoreham Airport. (and approx. 30 degrees off the extended centreline). Therefore on a standard three degree glide path an aircraft would normally be at 300ft AGL. However due to the presence of the Mill hill a light aircraft approaching to land on RW 20 would be at approx. 500ft to provide terrain clearance. An aircraft at 1000ft would not be able to land on RW 20 as it would be too high (unless it was a helicopter - the collision was with a fixed wing aircraft).

    Also, slope soaring a foamie (Wild Thing?) at 1000 from Mill Hill? Not unless it was an electric foamie.

    1. Interesting comments and conjecture. Speaking as one of the three flyers airborne at the time of the incident, I can confirm that the light aircraft was nowhere near 1000ft ASL as it crossed the hill. We were combating from the lower footpath at heights varying from ground level to possibly 100 feet, which would put us roughly at the level of the road plus about 50 feet at most. The light aircraft appeared suddenly and quietly over our heads and slightly to the right, roughly over the 'Gully Run' bush where it made contact with a Wildthing. I suspect that the published 1000 ft figure is more to cover ATC than an actual fact. The incident occurred because the pilot did not follow the circuit and approach paths recommended (but not mandatory apparently) as shown on the airport's web site. . Understandable as the pilot was a French visitor. No doubt whatever the facts, the modellers will be found at fault for this incident, but let's hope that Manny at BMFA can put our case positively and defeat my cynicism. On a more positive note, I would respectfully request that we revert to informing ATC when we fly at MH. The tower number is 01273 467377. Pilots should then be warned of our presence and hopefully use the correct circuit procedure avoiding a repeat of this unfortunate incident.

  4. The BMFA has an update