Summary of flying for Sunday 9 June 2024
Total Hours1h 11m
Best Height Gain700 feet
Total Flights1

I had last flown in May 2022 and since then, many things had changed, most notable, a move from West Sussex to Somerset. Family commitments had to take precedence and my hang glider went into storage during the months up to and after the move. In 2023 after the move, building work, bad weather, work, health issues and family commitments, all conspired to make it my first non-flying year since I'd qualified! I had been hopeful that being in a new part of the country would open more flying opportunities and had joined both the Avon and North Devon Hang Gliding Clubs in that pursuit.

Like previous years, 2024 began to slowly slip away and by May I realised if I left it much longer, I would probably contribute to the statistics of hang glider pilots exiting the sport. I had certainly contemplated it and in recent months, had been in touch with Fly Pure Air regarding the purchase of a used Wills Wing Falcon as something fun and benign to get me back into the air. The telltale look from the wife with her logical reasoning of 'why I needed a second glider when I had a perfectly good one in the garage not being used', spoke volume! I did try to explain but failed!

Electric Vehicles?

In 2023 I purchased a used electric car; while this was great for running the kids backwards and forwards to school, clubs and parties, I hadn't considered the implications when wanting to fly distant sites. For some time, I had considered flying Woolacombe in North Devon. I had flown there way back in 2009 and regretted immensely not filming or getting any photographs. This was something I hoped to remedy.

Woolacombe, being a coastal site, should provide perfect soaring conditions for a rusty pilot returning to the sport. It's approximately a 115 mile trip door to hill, that's a 230 mile round trip for an electric car with a hang glider on the roof dragging through the air! With the car fully charged and with a claimed 314 mile range, I considered it would be a challenge and had noted a few EV charge destinations should I need to call upon one.

I set off just after 9.30am and leisurely drove to Woolacombe and arrived just after noon. Most importantly, with 62% charge left in the battery with an estimated range of 183 miles for my return journey, I didn't experience the notorious range anxiety most attribute with owning an electric vehicle.

On the hill, some of the pilots already there gave me a site brief then one by one, they took to the air. After I had extensively checked and double checked my glider, I clipped in, self-hang checked, and moved towards the 'launch-ramp'.


It was much windier and rough on the ground than I had anticipated and several times I battled keeping the wings level; I assumed the strong breeze was stirred up horribly by the gorse bushes that littered the hill. I struggled with control of the glider until I transferred my hands to the base bar; as soon as I did, the glider became easier to handle and I set off down the hill. Initially, the glider wanted to rocket upwards, but I pulled the bar in and ran a few extra steps for that extra safety margin before letting the glider float upwards and away from the hill.

Almost instantly, things calmed, and I settled into my harness, retracted my legs and zipped up. I spent the first 5 minutes remembering how to fly; but as they say, it's just like riding a bike and it all came back naturally. Fortunately, Woolacombe is a huge site and those already in the air were either high up above or somewhere else where I couldn't see them. I had plenty of space to play and get reacquainted with my glider.

Gradually as I became more confident, I pushed away from the hill towards the town of Woolacombe. The rigid gliders were doing this easily, but I was much more cautious on my flex wing and after a few attempts, made it over the town. I used my vario as a reference, once I had dropped to less than 150 feet above my take-off height, I would return to the hill for a height top-up. I didn't work it out at the time, but my vario appeared to be massively out as 150 feet looked to be a significant distance above the hilltop!

After an hour I was notably cold having flown in only a t-shirt, so headed to the top landing. Before I took off, I discussed the landing options with those on the hill. With cattle [with large horns] and an electric fence erected to keep the cattle away from parked cars, it was suggested that I should land in the adjacent field. At 200 feet above the hill-top and climbing, I watched a hang glider beneath land; I initially considered their approach was too low then suddenly realised that the 200 feet reported by my vario was actually meters! My vario, after a significant period of non-use, had reset and now read everything in its default factory units! Everything now made sense and my visual cues that had conflicted with my instrumentation were remedied!


The air over the top landing field was lovely and smooth and as I slowly eased the glider over the back of the hill it began to lose height. Still high, I turned and followed the wall that runs along the back of the top landing field towards the adjacent field where I lined up into wind and climbed up onto the uprights.

The grass in this field was long and revealed the patterns of wind as they flexed in the breeze. The descent was lovely and smooth right up to the last 20 feet where the glider began to be tossed around then was suddenly dumped towards the ground unexpectedly. I flared as best I could to lessen the impact but in doing so, was unable to get my feet under me and with a gentle belly flop into a cushion of long hilltop grass, I had landed.

I was safely down and the glider un-damaged; I had completed my first flight in over 2 years [yes, I had to double check, I last flew on the 29 May 2022]. A few muscles in my body protested as they'd not been exercised in this way for a while, but I buzzed with excitement and accomplishment – Woolacombe is a truly lovely site and I will be returning again soon!

It's really nice to meet people on the hill and to discover they follow my write-ups on this website; say a hello if you see me and if you want a mention, let me know! Also, a big thanks to all the new pilots I met on the hill for giving me tips and making me feel so welcome; I hope to see you all again soon.

Moments after I 'landed' while I walked my glider across the field, I heard a short beep from my camera which indicated that the memory card was full. I had timed my flight perfectly and managed to capture its entirely. Here is the video highlights of this flight.

Flying Log(s)

TypeHill Launch
DateSun, 09 Jun 2024 - 14:07
GliderWills Wing U2 160
Duration01h 11m
CommentsWNW; 15-20 mph; wind bang on the hill; self hang-checked and launched. Top landed with a graceful belly flop as got caught out in rotor.
Height Gain700 ft
Total Hours99h 40m

Total Flying Statistics

The total flying statistics up to and including 09 Jun 2024:

Total Hours99h 40m
Longest Flight2h 25m
Gliders Flown5
Unique Sites Flown21
Best Height Gain3,000 feet
Total Distance70.9 km
Furthest Flown13.5 km
Total Flights292
Hill Launches162
Winch Launches106
Aerotow Launches24