Suffolk Coastal Floaters - those Magnificent Men

Suffolk Coastal Floaters - those Magnificent Men

I must have joined SCFHGC back soon after its formation in 1979, having acquired my Scorpion. My log book records two attempts to fly at Bawdsey (20 seconds and 30 seconds duration respectively - about enough time to drop from the stones at the top of the tiny cliff to the piles of stones at the bottom). Undoubtedly this would have been in the company of the likes of Peter Bowden, the Wooleys, Terry and Mel (maybe?). Later experiences attempting to fly the beach huts at Felixstowe (with beach groynes like a D-day film set), and other impossible sites (e.g. Corton in 5 mph wind) contributed to the unforgettable delights of my early days hang gliding. I owe a lot to these generous guys, and of course these remarks apply equally well to the NHGC veterans and Norfolk sites. As far as I was concerned we were all East Anglians in search of the near-unattainable.
Wooster and I attended SCFHGC meetings - was it in the Airport Flying Club at Ipswich? - when we could all shoot the breeze about our various hopes and dreams. Do you remember the great artificial hill proposal …? Peter Bowden (and others) had this idea: build a bl**dy great s-shaped ridge, one mile long and 500' high in Suffolk - then we could launch hang gliders and ridge soar in any wind direction! And how would the hill be built? No problem! - Greater London generated millions of tons of garbage and had nowhere to put it; they would pay to bring it to Suffolk! - right?! - Right!! - Brilliant!!! etc. After my trip to France (from which I returned with four boxes of slides, you will recall), Peter and Bob were kind enough to invite me to give a slide show at the Club (in competition with the pool tables and slot machines) which I did with the same enjoyment as sharing the above coastal slides (and no small boost to my ego, no doubt).

Yes, yes, we need more pictures …

Raydon Cowpat Trophy - full horror revealed


This was an SCFHGC "Derby" held annually at one (the only?) inland site of minuscule proportions. The pictures were from 1984 - my first (and last) attendance. On a double surface machine, my options on approaching the hedge were (a) crash into the top of it, or (b) crash into the bottom of it. As it turned out, after two attempts, I didn't even manage to reach the hedge. Ego took a slight dent.
"Those cows are sheep!"
Left: Safety inspection
Middle: Judges requiring money (Bob and Pete)
Right: Big Dave receives the trophy.
How does Pete get himself into all the pictures?


What's more, if any of you have not yet suffered a surfeit of EA HG history, then you should look at Terry's page here:


During the winter months of 1983/4 I flew the coast whenever I could, and in the dark winter evenings I sharpened up my slide rule, played around with Delta-T's new computer, and constructed an "Angle of Attack Indicator" for my kite. My log book on p8 shows some entries for testing this gizmo, and in March 1984 it records that I tested out my banana connection for the first time. I will endeavour to explain the evolution of these devices on a separate page Ed Potter's Instrumentation and Aerodynamics - never fear, it will be highly technical. By April I had become so frustrated with winter weather and coastal flying in East Anglia that I took some holiday and headed for the Isle of Wight - then the location of Airwave Gliders, makers of the Magic I - their copy of the UP (American) Comet.


Why swap one pathetic bit of coast for another? you might say. The ulterior motive was to get Airwave to thoroughly overhaul my kite, because - in fit of knee-shaking bravado - I had signed up for a trip to India in May: The first ever Grand Himalayan World Hang Gliding Rally. I was desperate too for as much flying experience as I could pack in, before the event. When I told the organisers that I was merely a club standard pilot with just 100 hours flying time, they said Yes! absolutely fine! There'll be some Indian Army pilots there with much less experience than that. So that was okay, wasn't it!? The picture on the left (taken with my feet firmly on the ground) is the Isle of Wight's "Blackgang run" - a picturesque 10-mile stretch of coastal cliffs. I didn't get to fly it.


The weather wasn't co-operative and after accumulating only 3 hours flying in a week, I took the ferry back to the mainland and headed for Crickhowell in South Wales. For two days there was no wind there either. I went to look at Rhossili. The picture is taken with my feet on the ground. I didn't fly. The next day was Sunday, the wind was in the East, the sky was blue, I went to Pandy and flew. For eight successive days, I went to Pandy and flew. The sky remained clear. The wind was always "on".


I did three modest XC's in the mountains (my first in the UK); failed to cross "the gap" once; broke three uprights; had another kite land on my wing and puncture the sail in two places, and added 14 hours flying time to my log book (see p9). Fantastic (for the UK)! Pictures at left are Mrs Clayton's farm at the top of Pandy (near the kites), and the dreaded "gap" in the Pandy ridge - a mile across, to the spur in the middle of the picture.

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