A former member of the Petersfield-based Sky Surfing Club has enjoyed an epic flight.

Rhal Ssan moved to France in December 2021. He said: “I traded my traditional South Downs hills for ones a bit higher! The mountains were a big factor in me moving.

“However, the charm of the South Downs never leaves me – it’s a calmer, more serene type of flying over a gentler, greener landscape with a tight-knit community of local pilots.”

Ssan keeps in regular contact with his Petersfield-based flying friends, recounting his flying adventures on the continent. One recent flight resulted in unexpected personal bests for distance and duration – covering 128km during five-and-a-half hours in the air.

“I left Lyon the night before and slept a few hours in my car near Grenoble before continuing south to the town of Aspres-sur-Buëch,” said Ssan.

“The lack of sleep coupled with a mediocre forecast dampened my enthusiasm for flying anywhere too far.

“Driving up to the top of the 5,000ft mountain nearby, I noticed the sky had improved, indicating strong thermals were being generated – ideal for staying airborne.”

Ssan soon climbed in the abundant thermals, leaving Aspres behind as he flew north towards his goal of Pic de Bure.

On the way he reached cloud-base at 10,600ft. Ssan changed his flight plan to follow the Dévoluy massif as far as the Bonnet de l’Évêque peak before turning back and heading east towards Pic de Bure.

He continued his journey to Coste Belle, then over the village of Rabou, before skirting Pic de Céüse and passing over the extinct volcano of Montagne de Saint-Genis. The final leg took him across Laragne.

Brian Parkins