The Thames Valley Hang Gliding Club goes back many years as a club made up qualified Paragliding and Hang Gliding pilots from the early 1970s. TVHGC is one of the largest recreational BHPA clubs with circa 500+ members mainly from across Thames Valley and the south of England and places a strong emphasis on coaching and safety.
The club's role is mainly to negotiate and maintain access to some lovely flying sites (grassy hills) for its members across Wiltshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire. As with other clubs members will get together for social evenings and meet-ups. The club can provide safety advice to its members and coaching for pilots who have a BHPA CP (Club Pilot) or above rating.
The club does not provide training for unqualified pilots but there are some excellent local schools who have a strong relationship with the club.
The club welcomes visiting pilots from outside Thames Valley who can join the club on a weekly basis.
The club constitution covers the remit of the club and its committee.
Committee Members 2019
Chairman - Matt Rawlins (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Secretary - Andrew Craig (email@example.com)
Treasurer - Tommy Abdy Collins (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Membership - James Hope Lang (email@example.com)
Sites - Fiona Burgess (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Safety - Nick Smith (email@example.com)
Chief Coach - Lee Bligh (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Technical - Jon Appleton (email@example.com)
Comps - Richard Barber
BFR - Frazer Willson
The british distance records have been won over the years from our sites
The UK's best free flying club was founded on 2nd May 1974 when Roy Hill placed a series of advertisements in local newspapers asking for potential hang glider pilots to form a club. Seven people responded (with a total airtime of 23 minutes between them) and the TVHGC was born. Milk Hill, Golden Ball and Uffington were the key sites with the UK’s first hour long soaring flight set in a freezing gale at Milk in December, 1974. The flight was carefully planned with an office chair replacing the glider’s primitive rope seat for added comfort and security. Uffington was the primary training site with the public paying £1 a go to jump from the top of the hill after a 5 minute briefing. The inevitable bent tubes were straightened in the fence posts for the next lemming in line with queues of 50 people regularly forming. It being the 1970’s, Uffington also witnessed the world’s first hang gliding streaker!
In those early days, Combe Gibbet was considered too dangerous to fly with the basic rogallos barely able to clear the bottom trees on a straight glide and the slope too shallow for easy ridge soaring. Thermals were actively avoided as a source of unwelcome turbulence but are now the major reason for Combe’s reputation as one of the best XC sites in the south of England. As well as negotiating the Thames Valley sites, the early members also pioneered Pandy, Hay Bluff, the Blorenge, Westbury, Ringstead and even Mount Snowdon (the first flight from the summit made the 10 o’clock news and generated 5,000 enquiries to the local manufacturer – Birdman Sports in Marlborough).
As hang gliding became more popular membership grew and by the late 1970's the club boasted over 100 members. Monthly meetings were held at Kirton’s Farm Water Ski Centre near Reading. When conditions allowed, gliders would be towed around the lakes behind the ski boats.
In the late 80's paragliders started appearing on the hills. Mike Hibbit pioneered their use at Combe to the astonishment of his hang gliding buddies who believed these ‘primitive parachutes’ would never catch-on.
Over the years many famous names in both hang gliding and paragliding have been TVHGC members including: Roger Daltrey (The Who) who learned to fly at Golden Ball for the film Tommy: Judy Leden MBE, World Hang Gliding and British Paragliding Champion: Tony Hughes, European Hang Gliding Champion: Hugh Miller, first World Air Games Paragliding Champion: Ken Messenger, Darren Arkwright, Roy Hill (club founder, BHGA Chairman and British Team Manager) and many others.
TVHGC is a friendly hang gliding and paragliding club with sites on the Marlborough and Berkshire Downs. To fly within the TVHGC club you must be a member of the BHPA or IPPI card holder with the required insurance cover.
Our club of 500+ members has 10 flying sites within the glourious rolling hills of the Wiltshire downs and Hampshire and Oxfordshire. These are in land flying sites which make excellent sites to paraglide and hang glide for both soaring and cross country flying. We have some of the UK's premier cross country sites that are regularly breaking records for distance flying. Many of these sites are flown all year round.
Our members are the most friendly pilots and very active will be seen regularly flying our sites. The club is blessed to have a great mix of newly qualified pilots through to very experienced pilots and many pilots who complete within local, European and world competitions. We have some of the best pilots in the world who achieve record breaking flights from our local sites.
The club has an active social scene with regular monthly pub meetups and presentations. There is online forums and Facebook social media used for communication purposes amoungst our members.
With the great mix of experience within the club there is a coaching scheme which provides support to all pilots from new to old. This coaching is provided via forums, social evenings, on the hill side.
We have ad-hoc social meet-ups throughout the year and a great way to chat about the flying and meet new faces.
We hope to meet you very soon!