South Devon Hang Gliding & Paragliding Club

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The South Devon Hang Gliding and Paragliding Club possesses an unique combination of awesome coastal sites and moorland hills  which promise 20 to90 mile cross-country flights on a good day. From Dizzard Point in the north to Whitsand Bay in the south, and the whole of Dartmoor in between, the club can accommodate both the mellow coastal floater and psychotic XC freak.http://

Whitsand Bay from the air. Tregantle is in the middle distance

The club started life as the spectacularly named Rank Radio International Hang Gliding Club, founded on   the 28th of October 1974 by Ken Lang, Dave Lyne and Douge Robertson. This brave band and their single Rogallo later expanded operations and became the Western Counties Hang Gliding Club, based in Plymouth, and subsequently the South Devon Hang Gliding Club. A couple of months after the SE Wales Club amalgamated with Paragliding, we did the same, making a conscious effort to welcome the new fraternity. We haven't looked back since.

Because of the remoteness from you lot 'up the line', overcrowding is rarely a problem here and on most flyable days you are guaranteed lots of big, blue, empty sky. Our two best inland sites are Corn Ridge ( NW - NNE ) and King Tor ( NE ) - both on Dartmoor. The former has a 30+ mile potential to the south coastland the latter 90 miles to Lands End. Ah, to dream.... A 20 mile out-and-return is available in a good SSW breeze at Whitsand Bay, our most popular site. With a couple of interesting gaps to jump, it's a thoroughly enjoyable jaunt from Rame in the east to Looe in the west. Best club distances include Bob Tremblett and Paul Squance's 80 odd miles from King Tor to Penzance a couple of years ago. In true South Devon tradition Bob made the trip using a borrowed upright from a different make of glider to his own, bolted into place whilst on the hill! Big Blue Empty Sky over Corn Ridge

We are a small club (average height: 5' 6") with around 30 active members, although these tend to become increasingly inactive towards the end of most of our club meetings at the Bridge Inn, Ivybridge.[ Now at the London Inn, South Brent] Our surviving founder member is Bill Arkle, tireless Sites Officer and owner of a succession of mentally unbalanced dogs.Another old hand is that legendary supporter of the BHPA and all things organised, Mike Atkinson, he is our guru, globe-trotting microlight star and CFI, responsible for teaching many - if not most - of the Hang Glider pilots in the south-west how to fly and for upsetting many - if not most - of the staff of the BHPA.

Our list of ex-league pilots includes Bob Tremblett, Paul Squance, Pete Bridson and Colin Graham, only one of whom, Pete Bridson, is still active in the club, having recently converted to Paragliders. Other notable lilo merchants include Derek Bridson (Pete's dad), Robin Mogridge and John Owen-Jones, who between them have clocked up some decent miles this year. There is a healthy blend of youth and experience within the membership with many pilots having ten or more years in the trade and a large influx of new blood (mainly lilo - inclined) over the last two or three years in particular.

We make a point of recognising the achievements of our members. Coveted club trophies include the 'Longest Pilot-less Flight' currently held by Mark Nicol after failing to adequately secure hiss Kiss in a 35 mph wind, and 'Club Botanist' awarded to a pilot who gains the most intimate knowledge of the local flora and fauna whilst executing a landing. This currently has pride of place in the home of David barker after he cartwheeled into a very large gorse bush and, on another occasion, communed with the crabs in the rock pools below Dizzard Point.

Our local competition brings together our much-loved neighbours, the Kernow, the Devon and Somerset Condors ( a.k.a 'Condoms') and North Devon clubs, as well as (for some reason long since lost in the midst of time) the Long Mynd club. These events are almost always won by us, partly due to the 'creative adjudication' of our Competition Officer and partly due to the raw flying genius of some of the young upstarts currently making their mark in the club. Needless to say, one or two Kaliber shandies are purchased in the celebrations which always follow, serving to bring us that much closer to our fellow West Country pilots.

we have well attended and sometimes 'lively' club meetings at the aforementioned Bridge Inn, and publish a newsletter (imaginatively entitled ' The Newsletter ') every month. Our meetings sometimes include talks by visiting pilots, e.g. Phipps and Scott, slide shows by the likes of Steve Wills, and parachute repack by our resident reserve specialist, Andy Farrow. All are greatly appreciated - thanks chaps. 'The Newsletter' sometimes features interesting cross-country stories, Safety articles and hotly contested Hang Gliding and Paragliding leagues, but more often than not it contents itself with petty, libellous slander, mainly in the form of our own version of 'SKYWINGS' Pilot Profiles.

The link with the Long Mynd mentioned earlier means that we have reciprocal visits most years which are always good fun, if only because of the Mynd pilots almost unfathomable accents. Martin Kells saying ' Garoi, brin tha f***in' oopright 'n stoof owvareer willya!' apparently translates as, "Gary, could you help me reassemble my glider as I appear to have had another heavy landing."

Karl Sweeney gets away at Whitsand BayAnyway, that's South Devon. You may have detected a certain attitude to our flying in all of this which could, I suppose, be surmised as: Above all else (except safety), have a good time. If that's what you're about then you'll always be welcome on our sites - just give  [ Contact Member ]  Bill Arkle a call on 01752 407366 and let us know you're coming. See you on the hill.

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Tamar Dell  Metherell  Cornwall  PL17 8DB