To fly like a bird is a dream many of us have – and it’s one paraglider and hang glider pilots are lucky enough to emulate with their unpowered wings.
Nestor Londono, a member of the Sky Surfing Club which flies from hills surrounding Petersfield, took the dream one step further.
Recently he was able ‘to fly with a bird’ while airborne on his hang glider above Wether Down, overlooking East Meon.
It is not uncommon to encounter avian life when airborne in a hang glider or paraglider; swifts and martins, crows, seagulls, raptors – including white-tailed eagles on their way to and from the Isle of Wight – all fly at similar altitudes.
Nestor’s encounter was with a red kite, increasingly common along the South Downs since their reintroduction in 1989.
Nestor was joined by fellow hang glider pilots including Maciej Wolaniecki, Neil Atkinson, Ian Parker, Grant Crossingham, Malcolm Beard and Nigel Bray.
Maciej said: “It was not the greatest ever day at Wether Down – we all launched a little late, the lift was better at the beginning of the day.
“Grant launched first and managed to climb high; I followed with less-impressive results, gaining only 320ft above the hill.”
And as the day wore on, conditions deteriorated.
Maciej said: “More people joined us in the air but we were like tadpoles in a drying puddle.”
Pilots began landing one by one, but Maciej found himself too low to land back on top and ended up in the fields below, having achieved more than 30 minutes of flight time.
He added: “We need more sunshine to heat up the ground, and birds to mark the thermals for us.”
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