ABOUT

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 800+ 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.

The Committee

All the members of the committee aim to make the TVHGC
the friendliest and most helpful club to its members in the country.

The Committee

All the members of the committee aim to make the TVHGC
the friendliest and most helpful club to its members in the country.

Richard Barber
Chairman

Richard has been flying since 2004 and has also been qualified to fly planes and sailplanes, but for now sticks to flying duvets. As Chairman, his goal is to try to make the club more of a club and is excited by the opportunities the committee has come up with for members in 2021.

Tommy Abdy Collins
Treasurer

Tommy started hang gliding in 1984, taking part in 1st World Championships in 1985. After retiring, in 2009, from >40yrs of military and corporate aviation in rotary and fixed wing, including 10yrs of bush flying with last professional flying being the Thames Valley Air Ambulance helicopter, he took up paragliding.

Andrew Craig
Secretary

Andrew has been very slowly been getting better at paragliding since 2000. He lives at Pewsey, within cycling distance of most of our sites. After many years at the BBC, he occasionally works (but not on five-star cross-country days) as a copy editor and film extra. He flies a Nova Phantom and a Gin Yeti 4.

Fiona Burgess
Sites

Fi is Sites Officer and is an aviation fanatic. Ex-RAF, she has been paragliding for quite a few years and is joint patron of local flying school Cloudbase Paragliding.

Mike Byfield
Chief Coach

He started flying hang gliders in 1991 with Lejair, moving on to become a league pilot from 97. Flown in many parts of the world, including the US, several European countries, South Africa and Australia. After a period without flying between 2007 and 2009 he started paragliding in 2010.

Tim Bishop
Safety Officer

Tim served as helicopter aircrew in the Royal Navy, in ASW and SAR roles and as a flight instructor. He has held private and commercial pilot's licences and passed CP in Wales in 1994. He started flying paragliders in earnest in 2007 whilst in Iceland and moved to the UK in 2015.  He is a Club Coach and certified parachute re-packer.

James Hope-Lang
Membership

Started flying 8 years ago. Enjoy XC and Hike and Fly, particularly in Alps and Pyrenees. Based in Sussex but love the Thames Valley sites for their cross country potential.

Frazer Wilson
Big fat repack

Frazer started flying PG in Austria in 2005, before the Milk Massif forced a complete rewiring in 2009. Landing a first UK XC in the beer-garden of a Welsh pub lead to Grand Mastery in negotiating pink tickets. Repeated BFR pilgrimages paid off at an early Alpine comp, and he took on running that event in 2016 by way of a small thank you.

Jim Mallinson
dep. Sites

Jim Mallinson has been flying since 1995. Early on he was a keen competition pilot, flying for the British team in the Bleriot Cup, competing in the PWC and winning the UK British Open in 2006. He has since focused on cross country flying in the UK and vol-bivouac in the Himalayas. Jim lives at the foot of Milk Hill.

Toby Chaloner
dep. Safety

Toby built his first hangglider at 11. Fortunately he wasn't allowed to test fly it.  He returned to aviation and flew taildragger microlights from the age of 26.  He achieved his German IPPI3 paragliding rating in 2014, BHPA CP in 2015, German IPPI4 in 2016 and has done SIV training in Annecy, France. He has extensive experience flying in the central alps.

Gary Williams
Comps & Events

Gary has always had a passion for travel and flying, both as passenger and pilot. Having held both UK and Australian PPLs this passion has had wings. In recent years paragliding has provided the ideal way of living out the lifelong recurring dream of free flight.

Sasha Cipkalo
Webmaster

Started paragliding in 2005 in Peru. Recreational pilot for years until he decided that it would be cool to share the experience with others. In 2015 created paragliding.community and few years later started commercial tandem operation to share the experience of flying with others. Flown at many places, (most of the 41 countries visited), speaks 6 languages.

OUR CLUB

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 glorious 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.
 

We hope to meet you very soon!

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 meet-ups and presentations.  There is online forums and Facebook social media used for communication purposes amongst 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.

OUR HISTORY

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.