Use of Radios


Ochils Paragliding Sites

When paragliding; the use of a radio is highly recommended.

Formal air-to-air/ground (aeronautic frequencies) sets are expensive; thus while not complying with the current legal requirements, the use of land mobile frequencies [143 - 144 MHz] are tolerated on dedicated values.


In Scotland two frequencies are used for paragliding/hang-gliding. These are 143.750 and 143.675MHz (the latter being the most common with paraglider pilots).

The acquisition of a '2m VHF' radio transceiver set (today about 30.00) provides access and usage of these frequencies, and (see table below) some other useful frequencies in the event of 'rescue' [please note, the latter have not been tested and are guidelines only].



In the VHF range, transmission can only be made in direct line-of-sight - and further, relating to the power of the transmitter, over a short distance; the use of these radios is therefore very local and can be used only within a 2 to 3 km range. (Although in some favourable conditions you may hear a transmission from a source much further away - do not expect to be able to reply!)


Know how to use the radios properly


Simple enough, but many people don't seem to know their equipment. Read your set manual or find someone that can give you a tutorial (the Internet is a good source too).

Check that the antenna (aerial) is correctly fitted. At very close range the radio will probably still receive/transmit without an antenna; but this will not work over distance; and a set with no antenna may be damaged during transmission.

Set the operating frequency and 'lock' your set, set the squelch and volume levels correctly; we can't expect you to adjust the radio in the air.

Press the PTT (press-to-talk) button and 'pause' before speaking; if you press and speak at the same time the first part of the message can be lost.

Do a 'radio-check' with nearby pilots before take-off. This is a good time to check volume and that others understand you.


Make sure everyone knows who the message is intended for


Call-signs are widely used to avoid confusion by most regular users. This probably isn't appropriate for us because it would entail more training and we will get it wrong; it is probably better to stick to names.

So the drill is: press PTT - pause - YourName to X'sName - your message - release PTT.

A good way of doing the pause is to say: 'errrr' for the pause - it will take the correct amount of time and if it does transmit, listeners will be aware that a message is coming and pay attention.


Make sure the message gets through


Speak clearly and slowly - in difficult circumstances the transmission will do a good job in 'garbling' your message, give it a chance to go through as well as possible; having to repeat the message takes more time too.

The use of: 'over' 'roger' 'out' and 'copy' should not be necessary - most people get them mixed anyway - for info:
- Over - is to be used when you finish a message and expect a reply.
- Roger - is to be used to acknowledge having heard and comprehended the message given.
    (If you have doubt about the message given say: Repeat please, or: I didn't get that!).
- Out - is to be used when you finish a 'conversation' - no reply required/expected.
- Copy - is when a third-party to the conversation is queried to (or volunteers to) acknowledge the action/content of the conversation heard.


If reception is poor (for whatever reasons) - repeat within your message; for example: - "Kevin, Turn left, Turn left now" or "Kevin, Turn left now, Turn left now". It could even be "Kevin, Kevin, Turn left, Turn left now" etc. - only slight variations but make sure the recipient knows what to expect.

Keep it simple and concise: "Kevin turn left" is definitely easier to understand than "OK then Kev it's probably about time that we started thinking about getting you to turn towards that yellowish bit".

Speak at constant level volume and at mid-pitch - Keep an even volume, if you need to increase the volume of your voice, do it progressively. Too low a pitch doesn't transmit well; generally female voices are best on the radio; gentlemen should pitch their voices a little higher than normal (Donald Duck voices are not good either!!).

The above can be resumed in a simple mnemonic: R S V P.

OPC photo

It stands for:

. Rhythm: Basically you should keep the rhythm of speech steady; do not stop and start during the message.
. Speed: Keep an even speed; don't speed up and slow down during the message. Keep it slightly slower than normal speech.
. Volume: Keep an even volume, if you need to increase the volume of your voice, do it progressively.
. Pitch: Too low a pitch doesn't transmit well.


In conclusion:


- Know the equipment
- Test the equipment
- Keep calm and collected
- Keep it brief
- Keep it simple


  Radio Frequencies Table


UK Flying


Scotland SHPF - a


Scotland SHPF - b


MRT (Mountain Rescue Teams)


MRT (Mountain Rescue Teams)


SAR (Search & Rescue)


Ground to Air


Ch16 (Maritime Distress)


SAR (Search & Rescue)


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Ochils Paragliding Sites

Central Scotland