Hillend and the Pentland Hills are two popular flying sites close to Edinburgh. Both are inside the controlled airspace associated with Edinburgh Airport and can only be flown with permission from Edinburgh air traffic control. There is a long standing Letter of Agreement between Edinburgh NATS and the Scottish Mountain Paraglidng Club that defines the limits of the areas that can be flown, and the procedures for requesting permission.
Moorfoots is a popular soaring site in uncontrolled airspace below the Edinburgh CTA. To facilitate XC flights from the Moorfoots, a zone now including the Moorfoots ridge itelf, providing additional vertical clearance, has been agreed as part of the same Letter of Agreement.
The contact number for Edinburgh ATC is 0131 348 4829.
Click here for the latest information on landing areas at Hillend (PDF).
This agreement gives us privileges not rights. Please don't abuse it or contravene it as we want it to continue (it is annually renewable and reviewable by agreement).
Procedure for activation:
- YOU MUST ACTIVATE THE ZONE by phoning Edinburgh ATC Watch Manager (on the number shown above) to request activation.
- Identify the zone you wish to activate by using its designation, e.g. 'Pentland Hills Paragliding Zone'.
- ATC may refuse, but this is unlikely. ATC will advise altitude clearance if this differs from the agreement.
- ATC will request a contact number. Give them your number or the number of a representative at the hill who can answer this phone. This is for use in the event that ATC require to suspend paraglider operations due to some emergency. You or a representative must be in a position to take this call and must be able to clear the air of gliders.
- Once all flying within the zone has ceased YOU MUST DEACTIVATE THE ZONE by phone call to ATC.
- If you do not deactivate the zone, you will get an angry phone call from ATC and endanger the agreement for all pilots. Please be responsible.
Hillend (non-XC flights)
Designation: Hillend Paragliding Zone
Lateral limits (click here for SUA file):
Formal delimitation - Hillend is that part of the Edinburgh Control Zone enclosed by a circle of radius 1 NM centred on 55:52:59 N 003:13:19 W (NT236662), the summit of Caerketton Hill above Hillend Ski Centre.
Plain English - not over the bypass, not further than Dreghorn junction to NW, not further than Lothianburn junction to NE, not further than A703 to E, not further than Boghall Farm to SE, not further than Castle Law Hill to SW, not further than Capelaw Summit to W.
SFC - 3000 ft Edinburgh QNH when runway 06 operational (usual in NE wind).
SFC - 2000 ft Edinburgh QNH when runway 24 operational (usual in W wind).
ATC advise altitude clearance during the telephone call to activate the zone. Default request clearance to 3000 ft Edinburgh QNH.
Designation: Pentland Hills Paragliding Zone
Lateral limits (click here for SUA file):
Formal delimitation - Pentland Hills Paragliding Zone is that part of the Edinburgh Control Zone extending from:
55:53:44 N 003:14:31 W
thence clockwise by the arc of a circle of radius 1 nm centred on 55:52:59 N 003:13:19 W to
55:52:30 N 003:11:45 W - 55:47:08 N 003:19:27 W;
thence clockwise by the arc of a circle of radius 10 nm centred on 55:57:00 N 003:22:21 W to
55:47:41 N 003:28:48 W - 55:53:44 N 003:14:31 W
Plain English - a 1 NM radius semi-circle to the NE around the summit of Caerketton Hill (same visual guides as for Hillend Paragliding Zone). A widening corridor leading to the SW down the Pentland Hills ridge with a straight-line boundary on the SE side of the hills parallel to the A702 to the point just past Carlops where the CTR ends. The northern boundary is a straight line just to the lee of the Pentland summits to the point where the CTR ends (Stay above or to the SE of the summits).
SFC - 3000 ft Edinburgh QNH when runway 06 operational.
SFC - 2000 ft Edinburgh QNH when runway 24 operational.
ATC to advise altitude clearance during the telephone call activate the zone. Default request clearance to 3000 ft Edinburgh QNH.
Designation: Moorfoots Paragliding Zone
The Moorfoot Hills Paragliding Zone (Moorfoot PZ) is that part of the Edinburgh CTA extending from:
55.690278, -2.919444 (point 500m SE of Gately Rig / 3.3km W of Stow railway station) to
55.69115, -3.2131 (Milkeston Toll, point on A703 500m NE of Cringletie Estate) to
55.712292, -3.206523 (Eddleston, junction of A68 and Old Manse Rd) to follow A703
55.74766, -3.20462 (Falla Toll, point on A703, 600m SE of Cowieslinn Quarry) to
55.81516, -3.00279 (Junction of B7007 and A7, 1.5km east of North Middleton) to
55.8159, -2.8763 (Soutre Aisle, point on B6368 2km north of Gilston)
55.690278, -2.919444 (point 500m SE of Gately Rig / 3.3km W of Stow railway station).
Between 3500ft AMSL and 4500ft AMSL (based on the Edinburgh QNH).
Plain English - I am pleased to announce, on behalf of the SMPC, that we have negotiated a change to our Letter of Agreement with Edinburgh ATC for the Moorfoots flying site. Until now we have been a little hampered in our XC attempts by the ceiling imposed by the Edinburgh Airport Control Zone at the start of any flight. The Moorfoots ridge itself, and the area immediately behind and downwind, fall within controlled airspace, so the limitation in that area is a ceiling of 3,500ft, based on Edinburgh QNH. That makes starting an XC from there quite tricky, given the hight of the terrain. The original LoA increased that ceiling, when the Moorfoots Paragliding Zone was activated, but only by 500ft. Additionally, the extra height did not apply until you were some kms behind ( i.e. downwind of) the ridge and the take offs; tricky to judge accurately when busy thermalling.
The new L of A, which applies from 1st March 2021, changes that, so that when activated, the Moorfoots Paragliding Zone now extends to well in front (upwind) of the ridge, so any thermal can be taken without concern from anywhere on the ridge up to the new ceiling of 4,500 ft, which applies basically until you get past Stow, when it rises to a ceiling of 5,500ft .
SFC - 4500 ft Edinburgh QNH
YOU MUST SET YOUR ALTIMETER TO EDINBURGH AIRPORT QNH. It is NOT good enough to set your altimeter to an accurate ground reference. That may be absolutely accurate and you'll know exactly how high you are off the ground. However, the jets you wish to avoid crashing into have their altimeters set to notional pressure altitude - Edinburgh QNH. You must too. It's separation that counts. If you are not familiar with the concept of QNH, ask for advice from a club coach or advanced pilot and consider upgrading your rating to Pilot or Advanced Pilot. Edinburgh Air Traffic Information Service broadcasts QNH on airband 131.35 MHz, or alternatively you can listen to a recorded ATIS message including the same info by phoning 0131 333 6216.