Model flying

Gliding over dunstable downs © Paul Hancock

Gliding over dunstable downs

Use of National Trust properties for non-powered model flying is acceptable, largely due to the establishment of licences between the Trust and local clubs.

In 1998 two precedent agreements were established between the Trust and the British Model Flying Association (BMFA) for affiliated and non-affiliated clubs.

Guiding principles

  1. The National Trust welcomes non-powered model flying on its land, recognising that the activity seldom causes significant disturbance, provided particular care is taken with regard to other visitors, livestock and birds.
  2. Licences based upon the precedent agreements prepared jointly by the National Trust and the BMFA will regulate this activity.

Good practice
Provide site information to inform users and other visitors of control mechanisms. Devil's Dyke, Southern

Liaise with local clubs as much as possible and consider the formation of local access groups where participation in airsports is considerable. Ivinghoe Beacon, Thames & Chilterns The Leas, Northumbria: good relationship with local powered fliers, access limited to ten

Assess level of use, number of events, launching and landing points and seasonal restrictions before preparing agreements. Long Mynd, Mercia

Review use regularly to monitor acceptability, particularly the effects on farm tenants, neighbours and other users.

The British Model Flying Association (BMFA) is constantly looking for new flying sites. They are willing to survey sites for suitability if asked.

Discourage flying on areas the Trust wishes to retain as 'remote'.

Membership of the BMFA is thought to be about 25,000.

Possible impacts

  • Danger and disturbance to other visitors.
  • Disturbance to livestock and wildlife, particularly birds.
  • Parking congestion at some sites.
  • Creation of new paths to launching and landing points.
  • Visual intrusion.

Contacts and liaison
British Model Flying Association
Chacksfield House,
31 St Andrews Road,

Tel: 0116 244 0028
Contact: General Secretary

Legislation, codes and agreements
The overall body in charge of airspace rules is the Civil Aviation Authority. Article 51 of the Air Navigation Order (1985) states that:

A person shall not recklessly or negligently cause or permit an aircraft to endanger any person or property.'

This law covers all model flying, whatever the size or weight of the aircraft. The codes of conduct contained in the BMFA Members' Handbook have been developed in response to Article 51. Wherever model flying takes place these codes must be used. Models that are over 7kg are subject to further regulations.

Under sections 58 and 59 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974, local authorities or magistrates' courts may restrict or prohibit flying if the noise caused by the activity amounts to a statutory nuisance.

British Model Flying Association (1995, amended 1997). Members' Handbook. British Model Flying Association, Leicester.

Elson, M.J. (1992). Planning and Provision for Airsports. Facilities Factfile 3. Countryside and Water Recreation, Sports Council, London.