A Brief History.
lthough club members were involved in Hang Gliding in East Anglia long before the SCFHGC was formed, the first time a Suffolk club was suggested was at a meeting of 14 pilots on May 4th 1979 at The Admirals Head at Great Bealings.
The club became official on 1st June 1979. During its first year monthly meetings were held at various pubs around Suffolk and the membership quickly grew to 47 by May 1980. Initially club fees were set at £1
The first flying meet was held on 25th July 1979 at Thorpeness cliffs, the highlight of the day being a display by David Cook (Club President) on his powered VJ23. This was the same hang glider that made the first powered crossing of the English Channel.
The first national tow meet, set up to enable different clubs to demonstrate available static towing techniques, was held in 1979, near Little Snoring, in Norfolk, and was hosted by the Norfolk Hang Gliding Club.
At an EGM on 13th February 1982 the main discussion was obtaining a license to fly Flexistowe and permission to fly Bawdsey. Long standing club member Peter Bowden was in the process of making a static winch.
During August 1982 Bob Wooltorton, obtained his instructors certificate and the club purchased a Wasp Falcon 3 as a training glider. Training regularly took place at Reydon, a small hill near Hadleigh, with maximum flight durations of 15 seconds! This continued until Bob's death from a heart attack several years later.
In June 1983, with winch building stopped, Sean Myles and Paul Whiteley attended a towing seminar in Germany and brought back a video on towing methods used there.
Aerotowing was discussed as early as March 1983 but at that time the Microlights available were too fast for the purpose.
On the 9th July 1986 the BHGA (later to become the BHPA) were informed of our purchase of a winch from the Lomond club and bridles from Tony Webb and Mike Lake. Approval was confirmed in a letter on September 9th 1986 by Mark Dale. At the time there were 12 fully approved and 5 probational tow groups in the country. With the CAA under considerable pressure from commercial groups to ban tow launching it was only with regulation by the BHPA that saved the day.
Towing was then established at Metfield, near Harleston, which is still a club site to this day. Annual August bank holiday competitons were also held, at Banham Zoo, from at least 1987 through to the final one, in 1996, when a change in land use put a stop to flying. These were fun weekend campovers with a Wrinklies (old pilots) v Smoothies (young pilots) competition and the occassional dropping of penguins (stuffed) to raise money for charity
Mendlesham became available as a tow site in the summer of 1993 after various planning enquiries and permissions were sought and approval gained
Over the years the club has acquired and used several winches. The first was a single drum winch, from Scotland, followed shortly after by a dual drum winch which is still in use today. A Koch winch was at some point acquired, only to be blown up in a fireball by Richard Hunt on the day of the club Christmas party in 1997. The club then acquired two Koch winch replicas which are still in use today