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Cliff Soaring in Cornwall

Mike  Shellim, May 1997

Soaring from sea cliffs has its own special delights, as I discovered during a holiday in Cornwall, UK in April 1997.

St Agnes Head

Above: St Agnes Head

Sea and spring flowers provide a perfect backdrop for flying.

Above: coast near Newquay

Cornwall has coastal sites suitable for every wind direction.

With a small model, you can do a bit of walking as well.

Other attractions include Trinity Lighthouse and Goonhilly Earth Station

Photo at right was taken at Lizard Point, Englands Southern-most tip.

Lizard Point


Top Five Cliff Soaring Tips

1. Know your model
Be totally confident with your model before you even think of cliff soaring.
A smallish manoeuvrable model with good handling characteristics is ideal. You may have to land in some pretty difficult spots so ailerons are essential.
A small model is easier to carry around, so you can enjoy some hiking as well as flying.
2. Get a good map
OS 50,000 series are fine, showing just sufficient detail yet covering a reasonable area. Four maps cover the whole of Cornwall.
3. Know the "real wind"
Cliffs have a habit of apparently "bending" the real wind direction. Only launch if the wind is straight on the cliff. Watch the gulls - are they really soaring or just riding turbulence? Look at the clouds and listen to the weather forecast for extra clues.
4. Work out your landing approach before you launch
The last thing you want is to discover a vertical cliff behind you as well as in front... Often your landing area will be restricted and careful planning is important. Take a look around before launching.
5. Use common sense
Keep a look out for other modellers and never switch on without announcing yourself first. Observe the country code and National Trust by-laws. If in doubt, don't launch.
All pages copyright M. Shellim except where noted. Pages may not be copied without express permission (except for private personal use only).