On this day in history : 12th July 1989 – Judy Leden becomes the first woman to cross the English Channel by hang glider – after being dropped from a hot air balloon 13,500ft above Dover….

Judy Leden MBE – Image credit : Tip.Stall – own work CC BY-SA 3.0

Judy’s flying career had begun whilst she was at university in Cardiff in 1979…. She started competing in 1982, turning professional in 1988 – making her the only woman to earn her living through hang gliding and paragliding…. Her work included films and film stunts, flying displays, teaching and writing…. She was to become the Women’s World Hang Gliding Champion….

In 1989, at the age of 29, she became the first woman to hang glide across the English Channel….a feat first completed in 1977, by Ken Messenger, as the first person ever to do so….

Judy’s flight began at dawn – it was something she had waited a long time to realise as the flight had been postponed for almost a year…. Facing a wind chill factor of -87 degrees centigrade she was launched from a hot air balloon and then made a smooth 30 minute flight across the Channel…. It could be said Judy belongs to a very exclusive club because following her successful crossing the Civil Aviation Authority stated that due to safety reasons it would not allow any further attempts….

Judy is now retired from competitive flying…. In 1989 she was awarded an MBE for services to hang gliding….

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