WHAT EXACTLY IS SLOPE SOARING?
Slope soaring involves flying radio control model gliders on hillsides. The small, light-weight models have no motors and are silent. They ride the rising air at hillsides, just like birds do. Flying model gliders is a pleasant way to enjoy the natural outdoors. It is a low-impact open air recreational pursuit, causing less wear and tear on the natural environment than common activities such as dog-walking or cycling. The activity is recognised by organisations that help preserve these areas such as the National Trust:
"The National Trust welcomes non-powered model flying on its land,
recognising that the activity seldom causes significant disturbance,
provided particular care is taken with regard to
other visitors, livestock and birds."
HISTORY OF SLOPE SOARING
Radio control gliders were first flown on many of the slopes featured on this website in the 1960s. The number of participants peaked in the 1980s. There has been a bit of a decline since then, presumably due to the arrival of computer games and other such diversions!
Before the arrival of radio control, free flight gliders (which simply went where the wind took them) were popular. There was a craze for these in Edwardian times due to the excitement generated by the early pioneers of flight such as Bleriot crossing the English Channel. A century ago these early model gliders were a common sight on the South Downs.
South Downs, 1922
WHO OR WHAT IS SLOPEHUNTER?
Basically we're just a few guys living in the southeast who enjoy slope soaring radio control planes. Slopehunter is not a commercial website, it's just a little 'labour of love' to help fellow flyers find good slope soaring spots. 'Aeronaut' Gary is one of the main guys contributing to the Slopehunter website, abetted by various flying buddies: Tony who loves a foamy, Del who flies low as hell, Paul whose videos enthral, Jason who likes plane chasin' ... plus many others who have kindly provided photos and site tips.
Some of the guys who fly at these slopes arrange sessions through the online forum rcmf.co.uk. You can get details in the 'Regional Gliding' section under the 'Gliders & Gliding' heading. Some of these flying adventures also get reported on the Goodwind Soaring blog.
To contact Slopehunter please use this email address: pick any word as the first part of the address (such as 'mail') then add the usual '@' sign, then add 'slopehunter.co.uk'. Please send details of new sites, photographs, and further information on sites already in the guide.
WHAT AREA DOES SLOPEHUNTER COVER?
This website lists model glider flying slopes in England and Wales. At the moment there is more detail on flying sites in the southeast of England. Sites in the rest of England are covered, but so far mainly in the form of shorter descriptions on the map: Slope Soaring Sites Map
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind, I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
This poem almost seems as though it could have been written about slope soaring. In fact it was written during World War Two by Spitfire pilot John Gillespie Magee, who was killed a few months after writing it, aged just 19.