Saturday was a beautiful sunny day, and Michelle and I wandered down to the seafront for day one of the Worthing Birdman Competition. There are three classes of flyer, the most serious being the Condor class, who usually have hangliders, sometimes specially modified for the competition. The second group is the Leonardo Da Vinci class, who have more homemade contraptions, but still with the potential to fly a significant distance. Both of these classes would be competing on Saturday, but the third class, in which I had entered, the Kingfishers, would not be “flying” until Sunday.
So I could happily enjoy the day as a spectator. And what a lovely day it was. The sun was out, the beach was packed, big screens were set up for viewing the action, and the whole place had a great carnival atmosphere.
We watched a couple of flights from the beach, and then wandered out along the pier. We were surprised at how close we could get to the action, and eventually headed up the stairs to the bar on the second floor in the pavillion at the end of the pier, where the balcony offered an excellent vantage point.
The wind was in the right direction for the flyers, blowing straight onto the platform, and there were some spectacular flights. The most amazing was by Steve Elkins, who flew an incredible 99.87 metres, easily beating the previous record. He must have been very disappointed to fall 13cm short of the target distance of 100m, which would have won the £30,000 prize that is on offer!
Later on in the evening, Michelle dropped me in Brighton, and I met up with Martin and Rachel, who had come down to show support for my flight the next afternoon, and were out and about on the town with friends Rob aand Suzanne. A great evening, although I went steady with the beer – a big day the next day! The flyers’ platform certainly looked unnervingly high, but I am looking forward to my own “flight” from it.
You can read a BBC news article about the day here (thanks to Gillian for sending me the link to the article):-