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Shrewsbury daredevil Dave champions air acrobatics - with pictures and video

By Thomas Morton | Shrewsbury | News | Published:

Many just like to take to the air using the method of paragliding – but there are others who want to push the boundaries of the sport a little bit further.

A paraglider from Shropshire is now among just a handful in the UK who are championing the art of airborne acrobatics as a member of the recently formed British Acrobatic Paragliding Academy.

And Dave Roberts, from Uffington, near Shrewsbury, can now boast of being one of the first ever UK paragliders to get official accreditation to put on acrobatic displays using his chosen mode of flight.

Dave Roberts Flying at Long Mynd

29-year-old Dave has been paragliding for five years, but before that took part in kite buggying – a sport that involves being pulled along in a light, purpose-built buggy by a huge traction kite similar to a paraglider's wing.

He now splits his time between paragliding and working as a self-employed property developer, and last year banded together with five others from around the UK to form the academy.

The group is for those interested not simply in travelling by paraglider, but putting on dare-devil displays instead.

He said: "There is a small group of acrobatic paragliders in the UK and we're trying to raise the profile and train people in it. It's a lot more popular on the continent than it is here."

Mr Roberts said that the reduced number of participants is down to that fact that acrobatics require a lot of space, and opportunities to launch from really high places are rare in the UK.

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That is largely because while the UK has mountains, the weather is often too bad near the summit.

But on the continent, Mr Roberts said, in places such as Spain and Turkey, there are higher mountains and better weather for it.

"I do tandem flying on the Long Mynd but for the acrobatics we tend to go abroad," he said.

The crew have now reached a landmark as in the past week a number of them have been given official accreditation by the Civil Aviation Authority.

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Dave said: "We had a Civil Aviation Authority accreditor come out to Buttermere in the Lake District and we are now the first British acrobatic paraglider pilots, in free flight with no engines, to get accreditation to allow us to do displays at air shows and so on.

"We've got a couple more bits of paperwork to sort out, we have to have a display co-ordinator so he is sending off paperwork at the moment, and we're looking to start training for the next month or two in Spain."

Following that they should be ready to start doing shows from September, for the autumn season, he said.

Thomas Morton

By Thomas Morton
@tmorton_star

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star

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