Aerial adventure for flying Uckfield family

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THREE MAGNIFICENT men in their flying machines won a coveted trophy in their first attempt at a tough and technically complex competition at the weekend.

Roger Buckingham 55 and his son Tim, 21 from Ridgewood joined friend Mike Parsons from Haywards Heath to navigate themselves around some tricky airspace.

The threesome entered the 41st Guernsey Air Rally and won the Mapleton Trophy for coming runners-up at their first try.

The competition was a 75 nautical mile exercise over France where they had to follow a timed course, identify features and photograph them.

The route took them from Guernsey towards Dinard, on to Passe de la Gaine, St Brieuc, up the coast to Ile de Brehat and back to Guernsey. Pilots Roger and Mike took the controls while Tim had the difficult job of finding the geographical features and taking photographs – making sure they were accurate at a height of 1,000 feet and speeds of about 100 mph.

It was Tim’s first aerial outing after qualifying as a pilot four weeks ago. He funded his training for more than a year, studying at Shoreham Airport’s Sky Leisure and plans to train as a commercial airline pilot.

Roger, who has an eighth share in the aircraft Victor Bravo said: “We’ve been going to Guernsey for years so we decided to have a go at this rally. We thought the weather might prove questionable.

“The Saturday was beautiful but we had fun steering around some large clouds and serious thunderstorms on the way back. We were under radar control the whole way and it was great to see the Red Arrows over Swanage.

“We had to carry so much gear there was hardly room for people. We camped on Guernsey so had two tents, three sleeping bags and other big bags with all our gear in the aircraft.

“Tim has been mad about flying since he was small and he hopes to make it his career. This has been a nice adventure.”

Tim attended St Philips Primary School in Uckfield before studying at St Paul’s, Burgess Hill. Roger works for Rye-based electronics distribution company Top Components Ltd.