Horse riders from across Anglesey and North Wales visited RAF Valley recently to promote horse rider safety. The riders - including local BHS members alongside BHS Director of Safety Alan Hiscox and BHS National Manager for Wales Jan Roche - were at the base to meet with rotary and fast jet aircrew to discuss the safety benefits of wearing hi-visibility clothing whilst riding.
The use of high visibility clothing by horses and riders is acknowledged as a key factor in reducing accidents on the road, but it is also a factor in helping aviators see and avoid horses and riders from the air. Personnel from RAF Valley based 202(R) Squadron, a mountains and maritime helicopter training unit explained how hi-visibility clothing can be spotted from a distance and appropriate action taken.
Petty Officer Geraint Morris from 202(R) Squadron explained “If riders are wearing hi-visibility clothing we can see them from a distance, especially if everyone in the group is wearing them. Often, it’s less noisy for a helicopter to reduce power and fly over the riders rather than make a sharp, noisy turn before we reach them. Sessions like these are really important so that we can explain to riders how seriously we take their safety, but they have to help us by wearing the right kit”.
The riders visited 202(R) Squadron to see the Griffin helicopters first hand, and also paid a visit to the Hawk T2’s of IV(R) Squadron. They were also given a complimentary set of RAF Valley branded hi-visibility kit; hat band, tabard and horse quarter-sheet. The next Horse Rider Awareness session is being held at RAF Valley on 28 February 2018, and places are limited. If you would like to attend, please email VAL-SptWgECO@mod.uk or call 01407 762241 ext 7314.
The MoD website has information published with any planned training exercises with low flying elements and the time when the Tactical Training Areas are active. Another source of information is the RAF Valley Facebook and Twitter page – this gives information on night flying, any exercises being held at RAF Valley – which may have unusual aircraft such as Apache or Chinook operating from the base.
The first link below is to the MoD planned exercises involving low flying, the second link is to the tactical (operational) low flying link.
Military low flying: MOD sponsored air exercises - GOV.UK
Military low flying: RAF operational low flying training timetable - GOV.UK
For a large equestrian event there is the possibility of requesting what is called a NOTAM to request military aircraft avoid the area. Please see the details below on how to apply for this, but be aware it may not be approved for some locations. Please note for those based on Anglesey – the whole island is in what is called a ‘Military Air Traffic Zone’ and this means any request for avoids for events will come directly through the station rather than the MoD.
You can apply to have low flying stopped temporarily in your area, for example if you’re holding an agricultural or horse show. Contact the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to apply. They will grant your request if it doesn’t significantly disturb the low flying training.
When applying, make sure you include the:
• name and nature of the event
• location and ordnance survey grid reference
• contact details for the people holding the event
• date and time when you would like low flying to be stopped
Currently all BE events and most county show type activities are already avoids for military aircraft. Please encourage use of this request for large activities, particularly when horses are coming from other areas of the UK who may not be so used to low flying aircraft.
Thank you to all at RAF Valley for their hospitality and ongoing hard work to keep horses and riders safe!