Tuesday 20 March 2018

Winning 'birdman' flight on camera

Ron Freeman jumps in the annual Worthing Birdman competition
Ron Freeman jumps in the annual Worthing Birdman competition
Tony Hughes jumps in the annual Worthing Birdman competition
The Rainbows Children Hospice competitors including BBC presenter Holly Walsh leap off the pier at the Worthing International Birdman competition

The winner of a £10,000 prize for a record-breaking "birdman" flight over the sea captured his daring gliding attempts on camera.

After 31 years of failed attempts, two competitors managed to achieve the goal of flying for more than 100m unassisted in a modified glider at the Worthing International Birdman competition.

The two-day event saw people throw themselves off the Sussex seaside town's pier in machines and costumes of varying airworthiness in a range of competitions.

But it was Ron Freeman who took home the jackpot with a straight distance of 159.4m, pushing Tony Hughes' 117.1m flight in to second place.

Mr Freeman filmed one bold attempt with a GoPro camera attached to his helmet, capturing him soaring through the sky before he skimmed the surface of the water and crashed into the waves.

The hang gliding teacher, who has attempted to win the prize for 17 years, said: "I'm blown away, I just can't believe how the glider worked.

"It was a perfect flight. It was getting a bit scary up there.

"Right from a young age Peter Pan was my hero. I've been hooked on flying since."

His long-term friend Mr Hughes took home the £1,000 prize for the longest flight in any direction, on a blustery day which carried him for 205.5m around the coastline.

They were among 25 competitors taking part, ranging from the serious to the wacky, including one who jumped off dressed as a Minion from the cartoon film Despicable Me.

The organisers, who won a court case earlier this year after a competitor argued that his 99.86m flight in 2009 should have won the £10,000 prize money, said they were delighted to hand over the money.

"It was a fantastic weekend, the competitors broke every single record going.

"We couldn't believe it when two people broke the 100m mark.

"We've got some very, very good pilots and their crafts are improving and we also had some very good weather conditions so together it helped them to achieve those incredible distances."

Press Association

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