Good news for riders as low-flying aircraft numbers decrease

  • Riders campaigning for a drop in the hours logged by routine low-flying RAF aircraft have been rewarded by a 14.4 per cent decrease nationwide, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

    The stats reveal that RAF aircraft logging low-flying hours in the UK’s airspace dropped by 8,639 hours in the past year. The number of complaints has fallen by 14.6 per cent.

    When Lincolnshire rider Heather Bell died after falling from her horse, which was spooked by a Chinook in 2003, the British Horse Society (BHS) set up a safety campaign calling for more restrictions on low-flying military aircraft. A 17.6 per cent decrease of low-flying hours was recorded last year over Lincolnshire, a county particularly affected by training aircraft. Correspondingly, the number of complaints has dropped by 30.4 per cent.

    BHS director of safety Mark Weston said: “We realise that the RAF needs to carry out low-flying manoeuvres as part of its training procedure, but from our point of view any reduction in the number of low-flying hours is a positive step forward for the safety of horse riders.”

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