Combe Gibbet - paragliding and hang gliding
Combe Gibbet is OPEN
New airspace restrictions: Farnborough airspace has been extended, our altitude limit near Basingstoke and beyond has been lowered to 4500ft. Ensure you study an up to date air map if you are intending on flying XC.
Combe Gibbet is available for HG and PG on 2nd February and is closed from 1st September. First pilot on the hill for the season please turn the sign on the gate to open.
The definitive status is on the gate at the site. Please check the notice on the gate before flying. It is used for pheasant rearing and shooting the rest of the year. The site will be lost if you fly outside these times.
Wind Direction / Details
NW-N (note its a narrow wind direction)
1km ridge, 95m high.
This site is suitable for all levels of pilot.
This is one of the best XC sites in the South of England. Pilots of all experiences love to fly here. The site is of great value to the land owner because of the pheasant shooting and is closed from 1st September to 1st February. If the notice on the gates says closed then do not fly it. Please ask anyone who is ignoring the sign to stop flying immediately.
Try to avoid flying east of the Gibbet, as this is designated for use by model flyers.
OS Grid Ref SU 362 623, Landranger 173, Pathfinder 1186.
What3Words: ///included.success.overdrive (https://what3words.com/included.success.overdrive)
BHPA Site Ref: 1.002 (for notifying mid week flying).
Leave M4 at Junction 14. Take A338 towards Hungerford. At first mini roundabout turn right. Straight over the second. Turn left at the third into Hungerford High Street. Take the first left, half way up the High Street, after going under the railway bridge. Drive onto Hungerford Common and take the first right. After 4km along a country road you will come to a T junction. Turn right then immediately left. Follow this road to the top of Combe. Turn right at the top of the hill onto the ridge track.
Park your car on the track either before or after the Gibbet. Park clear of the gate and styles – leaving space both next to and opposite the gate for emergency vehicles to turn.
Through the gate next to the west side of the Gibbet. Do not climb the fence.
Approximate elevation 270m/886’ AMSL.
Hang gliders take off on the lip of the hill in front of the Gibbet; Paragliders take off l00m to the West. Rig on top, but paragliders should take off at the 'break' in the slope to avoid being pulled onto the fence and damaging it.
Note the areas being used for take off on the day and avoid flying in front of them.
In a NW win direction use the NW west launch.
The ridge is huge. There is ample room for top landing both hang gliders and paragliders. Hang gliders should approach from the East in a North Westerly and from the West in a Northerly.
This ridge is one of the easiest places to slope-land a Paraglider and you should rarely need to use the bottom landing field. However the bottom landing field is available to both hang gliders and paragliders at any time.
The bottom landing field is the grass strip with a small barn at the end, which is at the foot of the hill in front of the Gibbet. Do not park any vehicles on the landing field. Park only in the lay-by next to the barn. Only park there whilst retrieving gliders/pilots.
The wind on Combe often changes direction to become more westerly later in the day due to the airflow channeled down the vale of Pewsey and Thames Valley, beware of this when flying.
If bottom landing; pilots should note trees, slope of field (especially in a North Westerly), proximity of road, hedges, lines and other pilots!
Ridge soaring close to the ground can be dangerous on a thermic site such as Combe.
Rotor is reliably found within l00m of the large trees at the end of the main ridge in a NW wind direction.
Do not fly Combe on strong thermic days in a WNW wind direction. Thermals in that direction roll along the ridge and often trigger at the point of the gorse bushes to the west of the north launch, this becomes a major hazard for pilots who launch at the east end and has caught some pilots out. In a NW wind direction use the NW launch to the west of the hill.
The site is rough in any wind east of north. It can be flown in such conditions but only by very experienced pilots with at least Pilot rating. There is a bowl to the right of the east launch where the road runs up, this is partly the cause.
The site can produce some nice evening restitution air when its been sunny all day owning to the northerly colder wind. The copses of trees and wide open fields store up heat and this is released. This can happen late on usually for an hour or so before sunset. This produces some nice evening soaring and could even be after the wind had become very light.
Thermals usually stream off the hill in three places; the nose directly in front of the Gibbet, the nose to the west that is becoming covered in gorse and thorn bushes, and further west where the takeoff field meets the old woodland.
When you leave the hill it is better to fly along one of the two spurs that run either side of the valley rather than over the villages of Combe and Faccombe.
In a northerly or north-westerly wind, fly towards the east side of Andover. You can usually find a thermal to top up your height over the woods as the ground rises to the south of Hurstborne Tarrant. Avoid Linkenholt (Sinkenholt)! Follow that ridge East alongside a splendid valley to Whitchurch.
Just before Whitchurch and the A34 there is a very obvious pig farm which has proved to mark a very reliable thermal source. The pig farm is on the south west side of a wooded hill, it works because it is sheltered in a Northerly, and aimed at the sun.
After that the next thermal is usually found somewhere south of Popham. There are large wooded areas there and the thermals tend to trip from the fields upwind of the woods. The area around the junction of the A34 and the A303 also seems to be a reliable thermal source, but be careful you are close to Solent CTA.
At this point in the flight you should be aiming for Butser, which is a conspicuous hill on the horizon if you are low. The best route sticks to the high ground because it is chalky and dry - so the thermals are better. Fly around the NE corner of Solent CTA, east of New Alresford.
New Alresford has the obvious pond and is also conspicuous because the south-south-east side of the town is limited by a main road so the town has a straight edge there. This area appears to be a reliable thermal source.
Carry on past Petersfield and on towards the coast. If your timing is right you can pick up the sea breeze convergence and fly to Brighton! On light wind days it is possible to fly forward towards Hungerford or to the east or west along the ridge.