A Ferring grandfather will be among the entrants vying to win this weekend’s Worthing Birdman competition in a bid to raise £5,000 for Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance.
Retired Worthing Hospital orthopedic surgeon Andrew Jarvis, 65, will launch himself off the pier in a 30ft wingspan glider called Vulture.
He will be among the eccentric inventors’ class aiming to be the first-ever contestant to reach a distance of 100 metres.
If he wins the £10,000 prize money, he plans to donate half to the life-saving charity which relies almost entirely on public donations and receives no statutory Government funding.
He said: “I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with this contest and first entered it in 1974 when it was held at Selsey. I didn’t get very far and just plummeted into the water.
‘“I entered last year but the wind was too strong and I didn’t think it was worth wrecking. It sounds crazy but if it’s too windy the problem is holding the thing down as it’s intended for light winds only.
“I’m adding a water ballast tank which will hold five gallons and the plan is for the water to drain out over the first 10 seconds of the flight once I’ve hurled myself off the launch platform.”
Alan has spent countless hours building the glider which weighs 70lbs and is made from aluminium, carbon fibre and timber covered in heat-shrink polythene.
The garage at his home in Elverlands Close has been turned into a makeshift hangar and he is planning to take it on a test flight at Parham where he is a member of the Southdown Gliding Club.
In May, the Air Ambulance doctor and critical care paramedic were called there after an accident involving a glider.
Andrew added: “I’ve been a glider pilot since I was 16 and I’m aware that if it goes wrong I may well need the helicopter’s assistance one day.”