Page last updated at 15:21 GMT, Sunday, 14 June 2009 16:21 UK

Tenor to contest birdman flight

Birdman competition
The contest was first staged in Worthing in 2008

More than 40 competitors, including former G4 tenor Jonathan Ansell, will take part in this year's Worthing International Birdman contest.

The organisers said entry had been closed and 48 aviators would throw themselves off Worthing Pier in August.

Thousands of people are expected to watch contestants attempt mechanically unaided flight off the end of the pier.

It was moved to Worthing in 2008 after Bognor pier was shortened by 80ft (24m), making it unsafe for flyers.

Ansell, who embarked on a solo career after the X-factor group G4 split up, has been named as the event's benchmark flyer, the competitor who sets the distance that determines whether other contestants have flown or flopped.

'Obviously terrified'

On a Justgiving website, Ansell said: "The thought of leading the way as the benchmark flyer in front of 25,000 people is obviously terrifying, but it is going to be a lot of fun and, most importantly, a brilliant opportunity for me to raise funds for Breast Cancer Care, a charity that is very close to my heart."

The organisers said it was a real honour to have him in this year's contest.

A spokeswoman for Worthing Council said: "Jonathan is a local lad who was brought up in Bognor, the previous home of the Birdman, and as a daredevil has had a desire to take part for a long time.

"We are very fortunate that Jonathan will be breaking off from a series of summer shows to take part in the Worthing Birdman this year."

A £30,000 prize is on offer to anyone who can fly the furthest distance over 328ft (100m).

The contest raises thousands of pounds for charity every year and has attracted interest from around the world, even inspiring a similar event in China.

The first contest was held in 1971 at the nearby resort of Selsey with a £1,000 prize fund, rising later to £3,000, for a flight of 150ft (46m).



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SEE ALSO
Rough seas end Birdman contest
06 Jul 08 |  Sussex
Modified glider wins pier flight
05 Jul 08 |  Sussex
Crocodile birdman to raise funds
30 Jun 08 |  Sussex
New venue saves Birdman contest
09 May 08 |  Sussex
Council gives 15,000 for Birdman
07 May 08 |  Sussex
Bognor Birdman contest cancelled
09 Apr 08 |  Sussex

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