Members of the Petersfield-based Sky Surfing Club have managed to hit the heights, despite the exceptionally wet and windy weather.

Hang glider and paraglider pilots eagerly await the clocks going forward as it usually marks the beginning of the flying season – but not this year.

Russell Winters said: “It’s been a difficult start to the year – it’s not quite the ‘season’ yet. The more I wait, the harder I look for any gap in the weather to offer the slightest glimpse of hope to be at one with the birds again.”

Fellow paraglider pilot and local farmer Jan Henslow made a brief foray to Butser Hill. He said: “It was not a brilliant day. It was quite good soaring early on, then the wind became too light before changing to a south-westerly direction to spoil it.”

A trip to Harting Down proved to be more productive, despite the dull, overcast skies.

Henslow said: “Although the wind was light, there were some very ‘lifty’ spells. One pilot climbed up to cloud-base at 3,000ft, but I could reach only half that height.

“We were very surprised to see a hot air balloon which I realised was landing in one of my fields, so I rushed home to collect the bottle of Champagne.

“Sadly, I was too late – it had already packed up.”

Taking advantage of a small opportunity to fly, Winters rounded off the month with a brief visit to the low cliffs bordering Southampton Water.

He said: “I managed to squeeze 30 minutes of freedom out of the evening. At only 60ft off the ground, over the beautiful Solent with views to Southampton, Gosport and the Isle of Wight, I got to relax and have fun in the setting sun on the horizon.”

Brian Parkins