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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 August 2005, 15:23 GMT 16:23 UK
Bognor birdman makes it a record
Ron Freeman flies off Bognor Pier
The seven times champion launches himself off Bognor pier
Birdman veteran Ron "Bald Eagle" Freeman has flapped his way into the record books after flying nearly 80m off the end of Bognor Pier.

Bizarrely dressed competitors from across the world took part in the annual Bognor Birdman contest.

Mr Freeman of Northumberland, a former hand-gliding world champion, took the title for a record seventh time.

But he failed to win the top prize of 25,000, on offer to anyone who went 100m or more in a human-powered flight.

Northerly winds on Saturday saw some competitors delay jumps until Sunday, hopeful of better weather.

The six-year reign of Mr Freeman was broken last year by newcomer Tony Hughes, from Marlborough, who flew 82.5m.

To date the 100m target has not been broken but modern technology makes almost anything possible
Competition spokesman

But Mr Hughes, a microlight flying instructor and former RAF pilot, failed to jump during his allotted time slot on Saturday.

Organisers said he had spent "hours and hours" each week building his craft - The X Plane II, an advanced glider with modifications from his 2004 design, including special wing tips.

Meanwhile Mr Freeman, spent eight months putting together his Geordie Flyer "behind closed doors", according to the organisers.

Australian flyer Izaak Connaughton launches himself off Bognor Pier
Izaak Connaughton came from Australia to take part in the contest

The event's record still stands at a mighty 89.2m, set by local student David Bradshaw as long ago as 1992.

Before the competition a spokesman said: "This year the International Bognor Birdman competition promises to be one of the most exciting as these two contestants fight for supremacy with contestants from eight other countries.

"To date the 100m target has not been broken but modern technology makes almost anything possible."

The 25,000 top prize for a 100m flight was not the only award on offer.

Other prizes included the Leonardo da Vinci class for the most unique craft design - with 250 up for grabs.

The event is expected to have raised thousands of pounds for various charities.

In pictures: Bognor Birdmen
20 Aug 05 |  In Pictures
Bognor birdmen fail to win prize
04 Jul 04 |  Southern Counties

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