This page is intended to encourage
pilots who are put off by the bureaucracy involved in taking a glider to France. These are just some
of the advantages of flying there:
|Its proximity, lying just across the
|Excellent soaring conditions, especially south of
|Few limitations on cross-country
|Spectacular mountain scenery.|
|Wonderful food and wine, to suit all tastes
|Plenty of activities and attractions for
non-flying partners. |
The guidance notes given below
are believed to be valid as of May 24th 2014 and are offered in good faith.
Over the past few years the French have imposed what at first
sight appear to be obstacles designed specifically to keep the Brits away. In
order to understand why they have done this, it must be understood that most,
if not all, EU countries have a system of state-issued licences for
glider pilots - the relevant national aviation authority has a close interest in
keeping control of all its aviators. The UK, on the other hand, is an exception:
historically, the BGA was set up to operate outside the scope and control of the CAA and,
to the great benefit of all UK glider pilots, this situation continues today.
It was expected that transition
to Part-FCL would ease this situation, as all European countries would be
legally bound to accept pilots having the new LAPL and SPL licences and
appropriate medicals. However, French bureaucracy continued to work its magic,
resulting in some clubs stating that they would accept the new rules
immediately, and others saying that they would not.
Approval Options - Latest
As of April 2014, and
after several months of being asked the same question, the French DGAC have
finally confirmed the following options for all French clubs:
|A combination of LAPL(S) and
LAPL medical, or SPL and EU Class 2 medical, is accepted.|
|A French glider pilot's
licence (BPP) with a French or EU Class 2 medical, or (if still valid) a JAR
class 2 medical, is accepted.|
|Pilots who do not have any
of the above combination of options would need to follow the
"equivalence" route, described in more detail here.|
|EASA gliders may be flown in France
provided they have a current ARC and insurance. Annex II UK-registered
gliders must be provided with a French
Permit to Fly. See here for more details.|
Pilots who already meet the
LAPL, SPL or BPP requirements described above do not require a
Pilot Equivalence and this section may be ignored.
This is a means of
pilot validation that results in a document referred to as a Pilot Equivalence,
which confirms to the club your identity and flying experience.
The period of validity of the Pilot Equivalence
is two years.
Collect the following items:
|Two passport-type identity photos|
If your club is unable to process the
documentation for you, the documents referred to above should be sent to the
DGAC at the following address, accompanied by a letter indicating the gliding site from
which you intend to fly and the proposed date and duration of your visit.
Minister de l'Equipement des Transports et du Tourisme
Direction Général de L'Aviation Civile
Délégation Régionale Provence
13727 MARIGNANE - CEDEX
The validation papers will be sent to you after your application has been
approved and payment received.
Two of these items require further
|Equivalence Medical Certificate|
Pilots who already meet
the LAPL, SPL or BPP requirements described above do not require
an equivalence medical certificate and this section may be ignored.
The medical regulations now
require all pilots to undergo an ECG examination in addition to a formal
The medical certificate must be issued by the national aviation authority
and, in the absence of a CAA Glider Pilot's Medical, the least costly route
within the UK is to obtain a JAR or EU Class 2 medical. There are several tame CAA Authorised Medical Examiners in the
country whose charges vary considerably, so if this is your preferred route,
make enquiries first.
An alternative method, and one which we
have used successfully over many years, is to obtain a French
Class 2 Medical
Certificate during a visit to France. The
first step of the new process is to contact the doctor responsible for
providing the ECG and arrange an examination. Having successfully overcome
that hurdle, you will be provided with the electrocardiogram which you must
take to the doctor responsible for conducting the remainder of the medical
examination (the two processes are not necessarily conducted by the same
Assuming that you are
successful, you will be provided with a yellow Glider Pilot's medical
certificate; in addition, you may also be provided with a French Class 2 medical
certificate. The costs at Sisteron during December 2008 were €35 for the ECG
and €60 for the remainder of the medical. The certificate is valid for 2
Most French gliding clubs have details of local
doctors who are able to provide these services. Note that it may no longer be
as straightforward as it used to be to just turn up, do the medical and go and
fly - some care is needed to coordinate the appointments. That said, we are
assured that once the medical certificate is presented to the club, it will be
faxed to the DGAC and then, provided they have your
other details on file, a pilot equivalence will be faxed back to the club
within 24 hours.
Pilots intending to fly from Sisteron, the following contact information may be
|| 22 avenue de la Libération (next to Toyota garage
on main road south of town centre)
4 92 61 13 80
4 92 61 18 91
| Please click
entering 04 or 05 in the postcode section, for a list of local
The Flight Test is mandatory
for pilots new to the area. The test lasts a
minimum of one hour and is intended to help pilots to orientate themselves
with respect to the local mountains, to illustrate field landing options and
to check general glider handling skills. The test is no more demanding than that one would
expect in the UK but be warned that for pilots who clearly do not handle the glider
safely or do not keep an adequate lookout (particularly important with the
number of gliders to be expected in the Alps), the check flight will be far from a
formality and further two-seater training will be offered and should be
The Flight Test would normally need to be repeated
every year unless the pilot can prove (by means of a logbook) that he or she
has flown more than 5 hours (yes, five) in the previous 12 months. This should
not be a problem - any pilot unable to meet this requirement is likely to
benefit considerably from a further check flight.
Bear in mind that the club needs our business
and will do everything it can to enable us to fly. A visitor's glider sitting in its
trailer is of no use to the club. We have always found the
local authorities to be nothing less than helpful and understanding in dealing
with and, on occasion, re-interpreting the rules. They are on our side.
2) Pilot Approval -
French Glider Pilot's Licence (BPP)
It is expected that with the
recent acceptance by the French DGAC of LAPL and SPL qualifications, it is
unlikely that anyone will now choose the BPP route in order to fly in France, so
this section has now been removed.
that have undergone the transition process are permitted to fly on
presentation of its C of A, ARC and details of its insurance.|
Annex II gliders
are required to undergo a validation procedure, which requires a copy of the glider's
BGA C of A. a fee of 50 euros and a note indicating where the glider is to be based and the relevant dates. Please click
here for an application form
and further information.
All French Alpine clubs require Flarm devices to be fitted to all gliders that fly from
their airfields, including those of visitors. Flarm is an electronic
device that warns of potential collisions and it works by
interrogating Flarm units of nearby gliders and other aircraft. Any
glider that does not carry Flarm will be 'invisible' to other Flarm
units. Be aware that on a good soaring day, many gliders will be using
the same ridge routes at high speed and, however good the visibility
and however rigorous the pilot's lookout, they will not all be seen.
for more details on Flarm.
It is mandatory for all gliders flying from French Alpine clubs to carry high-visibility
An on-site shop offers self-adhesive marking strips
for purchase by visiting pilots whose gliders are not adequately
marked. Personal experience indicates 30 minutes should be allowed for
fixing the marking strips. Pilots may also consider bringing
with them an adequate stock of tape in advance of their holiday, in
case local supplies run out.
It is strongly
recommended that pilots intending to fly in the Alps bring some form
of Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT), Personal Locator Beacon (PLB),
or similar, whether fixed or portable. It is very difficult to see a
glider against mountain snow, even in the areas most visited by other
gliders, and the use of a distress beacon will reduce considerably the search
time for a downed pilot. To be injured and benighted at altitude on a
mountainside is a life-threatening situation.
John McCullagh has
kindly prepared this invaluable and comprehensive guide to the nuts and
bolts of flying from Sisteron and offers more general advice on what to
look out for when flying in the mountains:
Please take a look at this
excellent document, prepared by Pierre Lemaire from the CNVV at St Auban,
based on 70 years' worth of experience accumulated by St Auban instructors.
If you have never flown in the mountains, or you have but wonder why you are
still alive, it is essential reading.
From July 1st 2012 all vehicles driven in
France must carry a breathalyser kit that meets French NF (French
Laboratory) approval. It is recommended that a minimum of two kits should be
carried: one to allow self-testing and the other unused one to comply with
the regulations. Failure to carry an unused tube may result in a fine. You
have been warned!
High-visibility jackets are required to be carried and easily accessible
in the event of vehicle breakdown - one for each person in the vehicle.
Is there anything else?
Not really - just bring the
necessary documents as described earlier, along with any other pilot documentation
that you might have.
The booking-in process at the club lasts 15 minutes and then there is little
left to do but rig, have lunch, and fly!