With the arrival of the new year, thoughts turn to adventures yet to unfold for paragliding and hang gliding members of the Petersfield-based Sky Surfing Club: exotic locations, new horizons, improvements to personal “bests” and enjoyment of unpowered, foot-launched free flight.

One location rediscovered last year was the Isle of Wight; not perhaps the most exotic place to fly but nonetheless offering unique opportunities and challenges.

In late October a small group of paraglider pilots comprising Russell Winters, Andy Ruff, Jon Stockley, Frazer Wilson and Rafal Tupolev Talarek teamed up for an excursion to the island.

Russell recounted: “The weather gods set up a beautiful day of long-distance coastal flights and amazing views over the English Channel.”

Another road trip to the Isle of Wight was essential to make the most of the weather; where the mainland conditions looked poor the island would deliver once again.

We boarded an early ferry to get to the south-west coast in time for the famous Blackgang run. Heights from 336 metres all the way down to two metres above the ground, at speeds up to 64kph, make it an exciting and challenging flight for pilots of all levels.

Some made it back but others had the misfortune to land on the beach at Brook and were forced to trek back to their cars. After a short break, a second flight saw us crossing Freshwater Bay, connecting with lift Tennyson Down all the way to the Needles.

Russell summed up his two flights: “What a day! Exciting, challenging, beautiful fun flights. The island always delivers.”

Brian Parkins