Flying over Butser

Sunday 17th February, dawned a perfect day for some paramotoring practice! That morning, Di, Sebastian and I went for a lovely walk around Sheepwash Lane and around Denmead Golf course and into Creech woods. Cold, frosty and crisp with ice on the ponds. We just needed permission to take off from a local field…
While I was out, Ben spoke to the local farmer and he very kindly allowed us to take off from the field infront of his house near Denmead. I fluffed my first take-off, Ben then took off and flew for half an hour or so while I was trying to work out where the wind was coming from – it was so light and the sock was all over the place. Eventually I was airbourne, narrowly missing a large oak tree! I wriggled into my seat and soon was flying with Ben trying to break through the inversion layer. I had stupidly forgotten my radio so we had no radio contact at all but we had a basic flight plan… I had always wanted to fly over Closewood House, before we knew it, Ben and I were flying above the pig farm next to Closewood and surrounding area – what pure joy!
10 miles away, I could see the Radio mast on top of Butser… so, I put my Dudek ReAction wing onto fast trimmers and pointed that way… following the familiar roads, cutting corners where I could… Flew over the Warrens – did not look like they were home, past Catherington (where we used to tobbogan when we were small) over Clanfield and on to Butser. The wind was stronger up here and I was on full speed bar checking my ground speed. I saw them walking dogs and stopping to look up at me in this strange flying contraption! What a feeling! Something I have wanted to do for a long long time.
By the time I had returned to the farm, still airbourne, Ben had landed as he was cold – he was laying his wing out a second time and I watched him take off again from the air. I saw him head off towards Droxford so I followed and we flew together for a while, over the Griffiths’ house where they were playing tennis! I wonder if they saw us? Over Hambledon and the church where we got married, on to Droxford over the Slaters’ and then over the fields until we were over the Wilson-Youngs! The sun was setting in the distance, the engine was purring and we were LOVING this! Our first XC on a paramotor. My winter flying suit kept me warm but I could have done with some warmer gloves. My fingers are prone to the cold having previously had frostbite before in several finger tips.

Ben flies a lot slower than me due to his wing (APCO Karma) and he was making slow headway but I flew back over Creech woods to the golf course where we had walked that morning then did a low pass over Closewood again before flying back to the farmer’s field. Ben landed first and then I came in rather fast; frighteningly fast actually. I turned to avoid Ben and ended up doing a downwind landing… luckily the ground was soft and I got away with it but I did fall flat on my face! I was more worried about my new machine!! What a day. Ben came over with a massive grin on his face… “I can’t believe you forgot your radio” he said! I had been airbourne for about two and a half hours and only used 7 litres of fuel! These Bailey 4-strokes really do just ‘sip’ fuel!

Thanks to brother Ben who had remembered his camera up there! Great shots!! Thank you also, VERY MUCH, to the extremely kind farmer! You know who you are! No names on the internet in case you get inundated with noise and other pilots choosing to land in your lovely field! And, Thank you to my lovely wife Diana, who was waiting patiently at home with Sebastian – next time we will try not to be so long!!!!