Both Eastbourne lifeboats were launched as darkness fell on Saturday evening (November 15) to rescue three people cut off by the tide near the Beachy Head lighthouse.
Two paragliders were enjoying a current of warm air above the cliffs at Beachy Head until one of the pair lost lift and was forced to make a controlled landing on the beach below.
The other paraglider landed on the cliff-top and made contact with Dover Coastguard by dialling 999 on his mobile phone.
While aloft, the paragliding pair had already spotted two other people on the beach below who appeared to be cut off by the very high tide.
Initially, Eastbourne’s inshore lifeboat (ILB) was launched but with darkness closing in swiftly, and three casualties to be extracted from the beach, back-up was requested by Eastbourne’s all-weather lifeboat (ALB).
With both boats on scene, the casualties were ferried from the beach by the ILB and transferred to the ALB. They were then taken to Sovereign Harbour, where they were met by local Coastguard officers.
Only two months ago, on September 7, eight people were rescued by Eastbourne RNLI after being cut off by the rising tide below the cliffs at Beachy Head. The group, including five children, had planned their expedition and consulted tide tables but seriously underestimated the terrain and the type of footwear and clothing they would require, with some of the group wearing flip-flops.
Understandably, their progress was extremely slow and with less than half of the route covered, they found themselves cut off by the rising tide and darkness beginning to fall. Unable to use mobile phones to request assistance because of the lack of signal below the cliffs, they realised their plight was becoming desperate.
With little alternative, they sought the highest ground possible and waited while one of the adults scrambled over the rocks and headed towards Holywell hoping to pick up a signal on his phone.
Eventually, he was successful and frantically dialled 999 and alerted Dover Coastguard.
When the all-weather lifeboat arrived on the scene, the walkers were ferried to the ALB by the inshore lifeboat where their medical condition was assessed.
With all well, the party was then taken to Sovereign Harbour, where they were met by local coastguards and police officers.