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Flying around London on a paramotor

The email came through from Michel…. “You fancy trying again, with just a small group of us…?” This was another opportunity to try to fly the circumference of London. This was to be without support and a true vol biv adventure over 2 days. The group was Michel Carnet, Laura Turner, myself and my brother Ben. We met at Barry’s field, just outside Guildford and took off at about 5pm. We should have taken off much earlier. It was a beautiful day with light winds and a thermic sky. By this time the air was quite buoyant and the wind had swung around, now blowing from the south, which was good for us because just before Lasham, we headed north and made good ground. We dropped down to follow the Thames over Henley. Low evening flying over the river was QUALITY! Onwards skirting around the airspace at High Wycombe now heading East where we landed for fuel at the dis-used airstrip at Bovington. Ben and I ran down the hill for fuel – Michel and Laura laid out the machines ready for a quick take-off to squeeze in some more kilometres before dark. We tried asking some motorists for a lift back up to the airfield but they were all in a hurry (of course!) and I nearly got beaten up by the boyfriend of the girl I asked – he must have thought I was trying to crack on to her – unlikely as she looked like the back end of a bus! Anyway, we sweated our way back up the hill where Michel and Laura had laid out our gear ready for squeezing in some more kilometres before darkness.

We landed south of Potters Bar in the dark (just inside the legal time!) and slept out under the stars in our sleeping bags and bivi bags. We were tired having flown about 132kms. A big thank you to Andy who met us there with some refreshments and a little fuel. Andy flies locally nearby so knows the area well. Sadly we could not persuade him to join us for a drink in the pub which was conveniently near our chosen landing field.

Up the following morning at 4.30am to get ready. A couple of muesli bars, some water and we laid our wet wings out from the dew. There was nil wind. We had to run fast to take off. We were soon flying into the rising sun above the M25. (The above photo of myself and Ben was taken by Laura)

The world was waking up. Over Epping forest and Stapleford airspace before heading south to Damyns Hall aerodrome. We flew straight over the Thames by the Dartford Bridge and over Dartford. I was shivering with cold – why hadn’t I packed some warmer gear – and I needed a pee! I thought for a brief moment of just wetting myself as I was desperate and thought it might warm me up. Fortunately, I thought better of it and held on… trying to concentrate on the route ahead!

We were flying into a headwind, so we dropped down low leaving Swanley to our right and flew low over the golf courses in a lovely valley. This was fun. We then rejoined up with the M25 and spotted a van that had caught fire and about to explode I think – long traffic jams had jammed up behind and the Police were on the case. We were now flying back towards Guildford but we needed fuel so we landed at Clackett Lane Services and filled up. The wind had now strengthened and launching was easy – a few steps and we were off, flying once again low next to the North Downs – very scenic and a good end to another wonderful adventure, when we landed back at Barry’s field… (total distance flown: 264km) all upon our doorstep! I told you that we would be trying again soon!! We all took photos, and Ben filmed the whole thing, we want to organise a lecture later in the year for St Luke’s Cancer Centre (Laura’s charity). The venue will most likely be in the Guildford area.

Now we are just dreaming of the next vol biv adventure and I have some ideas!

Watch this space and see you in the air…!

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