A Beginners XC: Hang gliding along the South Downs

A short review of Charlie King's cross country flight from Harting Down.

As I progress with flying a hang glider, I always want to fly higher and further. The next natural step for me it seems, is going cross country.

Flying XC in a hang glider is both challenging and exciting. Starting to fly XC is already improving my flying skills, enabling me to more accurately judge where a thermal may be kicking off and pushing me out of my comfort zone a km at a time.

At the end of March I flew a short cross country along the South Downs, Starting at Harting Down and flying towards Cocking Gap. This route is a line of ridges with numerous small gaps and depressions filled with woods, meaning if you get low ridge soaring is an option. The take off takes a North- Easterly wind, which is often unstable air – good for thermals.

The slightly strong spring air meant staying up wasn’t too difficult, and the bubbling clouds were able to help show strong thermals taking me up to 2000ft. Red Kites were also helping to show where the lift was, which is a definite plus point to flying at Harting! Some of the footage from my flight can be seen here, which more accurately illustrates the beautiful views along the South Downs.

On return to take-off, there is both top and bottom landing options, with bottom landing options in-front of the ridge the whole stretch of the flight. After executing a perfect landing, I was feeling very pleased with myself.

There is the potential to Fly all the way along to Devils Dyke from Harting, although I may need a little bit more practice before I mange that flight!

Charlie was inspired to take up hang-gliding at 16 by her dad. After just a week of training she began flying with a club and five years on is now taking part in the British open series competition and expanding her cross-country experience. She aims to encourage young people to try the sport, and prove that it’s possible to juggle work, study and flying!

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