The two-day Worthing Birdman event kicked off today (Saturday, August 17), with the serious entrants attempting to fly their hand-crafted or modified machines 100 metres, from a specially-constructed platform on the pier, in a bid to win the £10,000 jackpot.
While none of the nine flyers quite managed the full distance, Ron Freeman, on his modified hang glider, went the furthest, clocking up 85.7 metres in the Geordie Flyer, to the delight of thousands of people lining the pier and shore.
Ron, who drove to Worthing from Newcastle with his family to take part, said: “I was going for the jackpot, but I’m pleased with that.
“The wind was perfect.”
Ron, who was airbourne for 11.97 seconds, now leads the condor, or modified hang gliders, class into tomorrow’s action.
Also in the running are Roger Warren, who achieved 74.97 metres, and was in the air for almost 10 seconds, Tony Hughes, who went 74.29 metres, airbourne for 10.03 seconds and Toby Quantrill, whose distance totalled 64.15 metres, and who was in the air for 9.47 seconds.
Sean Frawley came top in the Leonardo Da Vinci category, for home-built crafts, as he managed 22.3 metres while in the air for three seconds. His Cross Channel Express, though, which was shipped over from Sean’s home in Hong Kong, suffered some damage on landing.
Andrew Jarvis managed 12.2 metres while airbourne for 2.25 seconds, but told the Herald the craft had been destroyed in the process, and so would not be flying tomorrow.
Nicolas Joyce managed 5.5metres in 1.65 seconds, and Tim Sonnex went 2.6 metres in 1.87 seconds
The fun will kick off at 11am tomorrow, with a performance from the Littlehampton Academy Steel Band on the seafront, and the flights taking place between 12.15pm and 2pm.
As well as the serious competitors entering the second round, scores of ordinary people will be dressed up and ready to make the leap, in a bid to raise thousands of pounds for charities.
The Herald will be at the event once again, recording all the action. For reports and a picture special see next week’s paper, on sale Thursday (August 23).