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James May revs up to top gear for latest coastal challenge

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: September 27, 2012

  • PLANNING STRATEGY: James May and the television crew at Brimlands playing fields. @ Dave Bocock

  • PLAYING SAFE: James May with mechanic Leigh Hanks while on a visit to Ilfracombe Lifeboat Station.

  • James May and the television crew at Brimlands playing fields. @ Dave Bocock

  • James May spotted leaving Ilfracombe in his yellow Ferrari. PHOTO: Jacquie Watson

  • A miniature James May in a model glider at Brimlands in Ilfracombe. Photo : Bob Walker

  • James May stops for a photo with Ilfracombe Rugby Club treasurer Danny Turton and his wife Kerry Ann Turton.

  • James May and the television crew at Brimlands playing fields. @ Dave Bocock

  • Photo@ Dave Bocock

  • James May and the television crew at Brimlands playing fields. @ Dave Bocock

  • James May and the television crew at Brimlands playing fields. @ Dave Bocock

  • James May and the television crew at Brimlands playing fields. @ Dave Bocock

  • James May and the television crew at Brimlands playing fields. @ Dave Bocock

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TELEVISION presenter James May brought his latest crazy challenge to North Devon last week as he attempted to fly a remote controlled glider from Ilfracombe to Swansea.

Top Gear's Captain Slow was spotted at Ilfracombe Rugby Club and the seafront last Friday and Saturday filming scenes for his latest BBC series of James May's Toy Stories.

The floppy-haired presenter, who has previously filmed two Toy Stories episodes in North Devon, was also seen on a boat around Ilfracombe Harbour.

He was also spotted driving around the town in a bright yellow Ferrari 458 Italia, estimated to be worth more than £150,000.

Mr May's latest challenge saw him attempt to guide a remote controlled glider plane, complete with a miniature James May model pilot wearing a flowery shirt, across the Bristol Channel.

Ilfracombe resident Dave Bocock saw a lot of activity on Brimlands playing field on Friday afternoon and spoke to one of the programme's producers. He said: "The object of the exercise was to fly a standard remote controlled glider across the Bristol Channel.

"This involved suspending the glider from a specially built cage slung underneath a helicopter and taken to a height of approximately 11,000ft before being released.

"A second helicopter contained a camera crew and the glider operator.

"In the meantime James May and his crew rushed off to the harbour to follow progress in a speedboat and recover the glider if necessary.

"On Friday the cloud cover meant they only got to 3,000ft so the first attempt was not entirely successful.

"However the weather window on Saturday was much better." It is not known whether the attempt was successful.

Dave added: "James was very busy but I did notice that he always made time for local children turning up for autographs and photos throughout the two days."

James May also paid a visit to Ilfracombe lifeboat station where he spoke to RNLI mechanic and deputy coxswain Leigh Hanks.

Mr May told the crew they did a wonderful job but said he hoped not to see them again over the next few days.

He said: "I still have some filming at sea to do and I wouldn't want to meet the lifeboat crew professionally."

It is understood the programme will be aired on the BBC some time before Christmas.

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  • Tappit333  |  December 23 2012, 11:21PM

    My father and I enjoyed the show, he is now 80, and had been building model gliders since he was a kid, he often entered them in freeflight competitions at Beaulieu in The New forest, to reduce the height of the glider, a slow burning wick would burn through an eleastic band that would eventually flip the tailplain, sending the glider in a slow spiral back home, quite often, this simple device would fail, and the glider would rise in a thermal, several of his gliders would be lost, but two were returned in the post, one was found in a trawlers net in the north sea, and another came down in the streets of Paris, a shame he did not enter them in the Guinness records

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  • Stork  |  September 27 2012, 11:47AM

    This should be interesting. Full size gliders often have a glide ratio of as much as 1:45, they can glide for 45 miles for every one mile they are above the ground. Theoretically, crossing the Bristol Channel's 25 or so mile width at this point, should be achievable.

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