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James May glides into Ilfracombe

PUBLISHED: 10:18 26 September 2012 | UPDATED: 10:18 26 September 2012

James May and the Toy Stories crew head out to sea at Ilfracombe during filming in the town on Friday and Saturday. Picture: Jane Perrin.

James May and the Toy Stories crew head out to sea at Ilfracombe during filming in the town on Friday and Saturday. Picture: Jane Perrin.

Jane Perrin

Television presenter filming for one off special of James May’s Toy Stories.

A model James May ready for take off, captured by Bob Walker. A model James May ready for take off, captured by Bob Walker.

TOP Gear presenter James May was back in North Devon at the weekend – and this time he swapped model trains for gliders.

The BBC presenter was in Ilfracombe filming as new instalment of James May’s Toy Stories at the town Rugby Club and down at the harbour.

A constant buzzing of two helicopters around the rugby club area on Friday and Saturday had the town equally abuzz and curious to find out what was going on.

In fact the challenge this time around was to carry out an unmanned glider flight across 20 miles of open sea to the Welsh coast in a bid to break the current record.

George Slade managed to capture the scene on Facebook. George Slade managed to capture the scene on Facebook.

“They wanted to do it from Dover to Calais but apparently the French would not let them land,” explained club committee member Carl Perrin.

“So the next stretch was from here to Oxwich Bay in Wales. But the cloud cover was too heavy on Friday and then on Saturday the wind direction changed.

“So they flew the 20 miles to Lundy instead and landed on the island.”

The wait for the glider to be retrieved by boat from Lundy led to the odd double take when people called in at the rugby club on Saturday lunchtime to see James May sitting at the bar.

James May in Ilfracombe. Picture: Dave Gussin. James May in Ilfracombe. Picture: Dave Gussin.

“He was telling me he quite likes working in North Devon,” added Carl.

“I believe his parents live out this way somewhere and he’s a fairly frequent visitor to the South West.”

He said the television company Plum Pictures had initially contacted him in the early summer to ask if they could use the rugby pitch to land helicopters on for a TV series.

“Anything that gets television companies to pick up the area can only be a good thing,” he added.

The one off special is expected to be aired this December.

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