A brief sunny interlude was sufficient to tempt members of the Petersfield-based Sky Surfing Club to take the opportunity for a flight with their hang glider or paraglider wings.

A light easterly breeze focused attention on Wether Down – overlooking the village of East Meon – for pilots Justin Needham and Neil Atkinson.

By midday Needham was airborne. He said: “Climbing up from Wether Down, my chosen track took me to the south side of the South Downs over Clanfield, reaching an altitude of about 5,000ft. The clear air provided fantastic views out over Portsmouth Harbour.

“A few sailplanes darted about between the crispy cauliflower cumulus clouds, but on a hang glider it was not such easy going. The sinking air was extreme in several places as I fought my way upwind, like a high-speed elevator going the wrong way.

“My route took me back over the north side of the downs, approaching the village of Cocking. The sun had disappeared behind a heavy sheet of decaying grey cloud with cold air tumbling out. I was descending fast and had very few options other than a landing.

“However, I found what we optimistically call a ‘blob’, and clawed my way back in this thermal, almost to the clouds again over Uppark House.

“This allowed me to glide over to Petersfield before a sore neck forced me to head back to Wether Down.”

Atkinson had to watch from the ground because of the light conditions – but he managed some time in the air a few days later from Wether Down and was joined by Jose Pinto.

On this occasion conditions were at the opposite extreme with a stiff breeze and small, strong and rough thermals.

Brian Parkins