Nostalgia: The birdman flies, but not very far...

Dick Clarke hits the water
Dick Clarke hits the water

THE Bognor Regis birdman got off to a flying start 25 years ago, when Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards took the plunge with Bognor’s carnival queen Nadine Mann.

The ski-jumping sensation also jumped in a second time – with Miss Bognor Regis 1988, the youngest competitor Lyn Greenwood, 12.

Antonino Madonia glides over the water

Antonino Madonia glides over the water

“I asked Nadine if she would give me the pleasure of jumping with me,” said Eddie.

“I thought we were going forever before we hit the water.

“With skis on you fly through the air. I didn’t have them with me today, but I’ll bring them next year. But we need a special ramp to get the launch right.”

Nadine said afterwards: “It was fantastic. It’s fulfilled an ambition to be a birdman – I entered the competition before I became carnival queen.

Hitting the water at Birdman in 1988

Hitting the water at Birdman in 1988

Initial figures indicated that year’s birdman raised £5,000 for the Solders, Sailors and Airmen’s Families Association.

Around 40,000 spectators were estimated to have turned up at Bognor seafront on Sunday, August 14, 1988.

The year saw the launch of a new ‘blimp’ class, which was judged by Eddie.

The first winner was Dick Clarke, from Hertfordshire, who the Observer described as ‘accelerating towards the water with his Sinclair C5 Special’.

Flying conditions were 
difficult that year, with crosswinds of 15 knots.

The £1,000 prize for furthest distance travelled was won by Clemens Kock, from Freiburg, with a distance of 53.5m.

He defeated his compatriot Antonino Madonia, also from Freiburg, who had won the previous two years, but was only able to travel a distance of 45.5m this time round.