Glider pilot ‘a bit stiff’ after completing seven-hour flight feat

Steve Jarvis sitting in the front seat of one of the club’s two-seat gliders with the chairman, Mich

Steve Jarvis sitting in the front seat of one of the club’s two-seat gliders with the chairman, Michael Muir. Picture: SEAN NAISBY - Credit: Archant

A glider pilot from Ramsey flew his aircraft continuously for more than seven hours without landing, using nothing but hot-air thermals to stay airborne.

Steve Jarvis, from Ramsey St Mary, completed the feat on July 15, with more than 310 miles covered in a single stint, a feat described as “significant” by his fellow Nene Valley Gliding Club members.

Mr Jarvis is the club’s chief flying instructor and carried out the flight using his DG300 sailplane. He was described as being “rather stiff” after finally landing at the club’s base in Upwood.

A spokesman for the club said: “To fly 500km without landing and staying aloft by the use of hot-air thermals is a significant sporting achievement.”

From a 1,200ft winch launch at Upwood, Steve’s route was first to the former Second World War airbase at Rattlesden, near Bury St Edmunds.

The second leg was from Rattlesden to Bicester, which is north of Oxford, and, during this leg, some restricted airspace had to be avoided.

After turning at Bicester, he started the longest leg of the flight to Kirton-in-Lindsey, near Gainsborough, Lincolnshire.

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From there it remained just to fly back to Upwood.

A club spokesman said: “With the end of the day approaching the thermals became less prevalent and harder to find. Just north of Peterborough, Steve said that he got quite low and feared he would have to find somewhere to land short of his desired destination, but he was fortunate to find a good thermal which enabled him to climb back to over 4,000ft and make a straight final glide back to Upwood and thus complete the 500km task.

“To achieve a 500km flight is indeed a notable achievement and Steve is to be congratulated on his significant effort. To fly across the country in an engine-less aircraft, using only the upward currents of hot air to stay airborne whilst staying on-track towards the next turning point is one of the joys of gliding. It is also a great challenge and is what the sport of gliding is about.

“All the members of the Nene Valley Gliding Club are very proud of their chief instructor and fellow member.”