Members OnlyBefore flying here ring Rochester Airport Control. Login to get the phone number, or contact a committee member.
Direction: SSW - WSW (190°-230°)
Map ref: OS TQ 805 584
Coordinates: N 51° 17’ 31”; E 0° 35’ 20”
Nearest phone: Black Horse Pub when open, or in Detling, 100 m from the end of the Pilgrims Way, outside the Post Office, or at the end of Thurnham Lane in Bearsted.
Pilot rating: PG = CP+10 hrs (must be able to slope land), or CP with Club Coach supervising. HG = Pilot when field is in crop. CP must have check flight with club coach attending if no crop.
Site description: Thurnham/Castle Hill is part of the North Downs between Hollingbourne and Bluebell Hill, close to Maidstone.
Take Off Altitude: 170 m (560 ft)
TTB: 35 m (115 ft)
Access: Castle Hill, North of the Black Horse pub in Thurnham. The only parking must be accessed from the A249. From the M20 J7, head north on the A249 towards Sittingbourne for 4km then take the U-Turn at Hucking. On the return trip the entrance to the car park is on the left, about 300 metres after the petrol station and is sign posted "White Horse Wood". From the car park walk South, cross the track, walk through the narrow grassed area then bear left across the field to the road. Walk down the hill for 100m and then take the footpath on the right.
Parking: Parking for this site is in the Council car park in White Horse Woods. There is a daily payment of £1.20 (£1.50 weekends). A season ticket can be purchased from Maidstone Council. DO NOT park in Castle Lane and NEVER block access to the gate by the footpath, it could cost us the site.
Take Off: Anywhere below the public footpath. Please do not block the footpath, leave room for walkers to pass.
Flying the site: Ridge runs are difficult due to the small size and shallow gradient of the site. It can get quite turbulent due to upwind topography. During the summer thermal activity gets strong and the wind tends to pick up as midday approaches. Cross-country flights need to take into account the new area of trees planted behind the field behind take off.
XC potential: This site can be thermic but is a challenge to get away from. The land slopes away behind White Horse Wood, and therefore does not trigger well. Airspace at 3,500 ft AMSL means that climbs will have to be left before base on some days. The short distance to the coast means that some crosswind flying is necessary to do a decent distance. Be very aware of the airspace restrictions.
Landing: There is NO official top landing at this site. The field behind take off is not part of the site and is council land, and is only used in an emergency. DO NOT climb the fence if you have to land there, use the stile. Paragliders must land on the slope. Hang gliders must land in the bowl, cross wind and upslope, unless there are no crops and landing has been agreed. In an emergency land on the public footpath through the crop. It's a £10 fine if you do to the club treasurer.
Restrictions: Members only. Air traffic control at Rochester Airport must be notified prior to flying this site. Airspace 3500ft AMSL. No training or commercial activity is permitted here. Before you fly tandem please check with the Sites Officer what the current permission is for this. No flying West of the two trees in the bowl below 500ft during the Shooting Season. Do not overfly the houses to the West of bowl.
Hazards: Detling Hill has a VOR/DME beacon, which is 1 mile downwind of the site. This is a way point so beware of powered aircraft. There is a radio installation at Frindsbury, 1 mile NE of the site. There is a horse paddock to the left of take-off, behind the houses. Avoid this, as the horses can get twitchy. The site is shared with model flyers. Unlike some other shared sites you might be aware of Thurnham is too small for an exclusive modellers’ bowl. Speak to the modellers before you take off. Flying on the West side of the bowl can be affected by rotor from the two lone trees on the main slope.
Other remarks: Please pay all fines to club treasurer. During the shooting season (Oct-March) the site may be closed on certain weekend days. Times when the site is closed for shooting are posted on the club’s website as well as a warning on WhatsApp. A notice at the entrance to site will generally have the affected dates, but even without prior warning you must be prepared to leave if requested to.