THIS WEEK IN 2000: Paul will jump to it in paper plane thanks to young Gemma

Paul Burrows poses with his papier-mch flying machine designed by a seven-year-old.
Paul Burrows poses with his papier-mch flying machine designed by a seven-year-old.

Some would’ve called him brave, others bird-brained, but Paul Burrows decided to put his trust in a papier-mâché flying machine designed by seven-year-old Gemma Ford. 

The social worker unveiled the design at Fratton Park and pledged to fly as far as possible to raise cash for charity. 

The winning design was picked from primary school entries to carry Paul, 38, of St Michael’s Road, Bedhampton, across the sea at Bognos Regis’s International Birdman Rally the following month. 

Paul had been afraid of heights since a young boy but thought his fundraising attempt was worth it. 

Even its architect, Gemma Ford, seven, of Crookhorn, didn’t expect her creation to bear her pilot’s weight when he jumped off Bognor pier. 

She said: ‘I do not think it will fly and I would not try it.

‘But I am going to watch the rally and I can’t wait to see it built.’

Her wood, corrugated plastic, tissue paper and PVA glue plane had an 18-foot wingspan and nine feet of fuselage. 

Bets were on as to how far the birdman would, alongside sponsorship from Afasic Hampshire, a support group for children with communication problems.