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September and October 2000.
September and October 2000.

Sunday 22nd October.

Report from Dave D:
The chart we had been looking at in the pub after Saturday's flying promised light SSE winds in the morning with tightly bunched isobars pushing in from the west in the afternoon and veering to SSW. And for once, they got it right!
Actually, the only thing that was SSE at 8am were the clouds - with a 3mph off-shore breeze following the very cold night and warm sea (well - there were people swimming in it!).
    Some bright sunshine killed the off-shore until eventually, at about about 12:00, there was enough to warrant  getting the kit out of the car and wandering take-off at Durdle Door - just 25 yards in front of the caravan!
50 minutes never making much more than 120ft ato - watching several people swimming in the sea 500ft below - and I decided to land and wait for the stronger winds that were predicted.
    Unfortunately two things happened - (1) I went for a coffee, and (2) the winds increased pretty quickly, now SSW - so things were picking up a touch when I went to launch the second time - indeed, there were one one or two white horses on what had been a mirror finish just three hours earlier - and muggins here experienced being blown back for the first time. Nothing dramatic - I really should have been less impatient and launched from a little down the slope rather than on top.
Just as I was packing up I looked to the east to see a familiar pair of canopies approaching, and Dave M and Stuart M flew past ..... with a smug wave from Dave.
    By the time I drove the few miles round to Ringstead, there was no sight of them, and it was obvious that they had already headed back east. (It's actually quicker to fly a paraglider from DD to Ringstead than even I can drive!) Strangely - there was NOBODY at Ringstead - even though it was flyable for HGs in the 18mph SSWs.
    Rushing back to DD there was no sight of the dynamic duo - but a few minutes later Gary P flew past from W to E - and as I watched him through the binoculars - it was curious to see the beginnings of a water-spout about 8 miles out to sea (I bet G never noticed that!).
    Apparently, the three of them had managed Kimmeridge/Ringstead/Corfe - some 37km.  Well done guys!

Saturday 21st October.

Report from Dave D:
Looking out of the caravan window first thing confirmed my fears - white horses galloping past from the west. Wendy at Portland claimed only 8knts - but this might have been a symptom of it's need to be closed down for repair for the remainder of the weekend. Compton and Westbury were confirming what I could see.
    Whilst on an excursion into Dorchester I realised things were changing - and the two Wendys agreed - reporting N@9mph. A mad dash back to the caravan to collect the kit and off to Monks!
    Chasing Martin H's up the last yards of the lane, Dave M was practicing to see if he could be a member of the Red Arrows next season, and Alan B was arranging his wall prior to launch. Soon the road was looking busy as Jim C ,Gary P, Jonathan ?, Andy D, Richard W, Steve A joined in.
    OK - so there was not a thermal in sight and the lift band on the hill was never more than adequate, but fun was being had - and that must be the most important thing.
    The wind swung NW and the three musketeers (D,R&G) attempted a crossing to Winklebury, others followed by car, and some pretty scratchy flights in the bowl were observed. Others remained on Monks - either too lazy to bother or convinced that the wind would return to N - which it did.
    John A drove past to Winklebury during this time, and as Dave M attempted the return flight, John was to be seen driving past the, in the other direction, on his way home.
    The two remaining Musketeers attempted to fly back to Monks with diminishing success as the lift started to die away.

Friday 13th October.

Report from Mike A:
Martin Hayward and I arrived 11ish and were soon in the air: it was quite brisk: we had recorded a brief second at 20mph! After 20mins I got pushed back and top landed to find that Brian Metcalfe, John Pearson, Peter Robinson, Peter Studzinski, James & Jane, John Alder and others had arrived: as it was still quite fresh we sat around having lunch until Peter R, in his no-nonsense way, took off and disappeared. Most of us got away with some quite respectable distances achieved, although I landed - downwind - after only 3k. (The wind at ground-level was nearly 180 deg different from that at 100ft - it wasn't rotor and there were no markers to warn me! Another lesson learned!)
    On returning to the hill, Richard Mosley was flying John A's HG and a dual was floating happily round the sky. (Sorry - didn't get their names.) John A and I got a further hour's soaring before packing up. A good day! (PS Please may I very politely suggest that those pilots who can't get up the track leave their vehicles further off the edge of the track, so that there is no risk of track-users scraping them!)
(Friday 13th - unlucky for some ...... like the majority of the Wessex membership that was reluctantly slaving away at work! - DD)

Sunday 8th October.

Report from Peter R:
Arrived at Bell a bit earlier than I normally would, having learned my lesson on the previous Friday when I only just got away before conditions deteriorated. Nearly midday on Sunday and no-one in the air! Where are you Gary Puhl? But Martin Hayward was there, and Martin Foley, Jim Coutts, and Gary Mullins soon arrived. There were a few newcomers too. 
In the air at 12.00 and already climbing out through 1400ATO by 12.11. It really did seem too early and I started back to the hill but when MH, MF and Gary M climbed out towards me I thought that there's strength in numbers, and we were on our way. 
    MF, MH and I took a couple of short climbs, then MH decided he'd had enough of our company and set off somewhat to the E. We last saw him climbing again, and he worked his way under Soton SRA to land at Lytchett Matravers, well pleased with the trip. 
    Meanwhile MF and I survived a low (600ATO) scratchy period near East Morden, to get in on the ground floor of a big smoothy almost to CB at 4000QNH. A straight glide across Poole Harbour (beautiful!) heading for the BP pumping station at Wytch Farm. This had worked for me on Friday and was much better today. Pumping it was! 
    The rest was easy. Martin and I landed together at Durlston Head at 13.46. Yippee! The sky inland was already dying, but James Ellis made it to Wareham and Gary P (having been delayed by w**k) managed a hop to Winterborne Clenston. Then it rained.

Friday 6th October.

Report from Mike Adkins:
1015 at my cottage - 4&1/2 miles from Bell - it was dead calm: at 1020 came a NW breeze and I went: met Martin Heywood at the top of the track - and by this time it was touching 18mph! We waited for a lull and launched at 1100 and had the ridge to ourselves: but soon there came a biwingual (I love that! A Cunnionism!) who, for some reason, left his car by the side of the track. By this time Martin and I had got real lift and off we went - me, about two fields but Martin got to Winterbourne Stickland. (Experience, you see.) When we got back to the hill it was double parked and half the club was there! Jane & James, Luigi, Brian, David F, Richard W, Robert, Steve A, Pete (Skygod) R, and others: and, finally, Craig. But the sun had long gone, the wind had freshened, and much sitting & chatting was going on: I foolishly tried to relaunch too close to the top and was pounced upon by about 16 beefy pilots intent on protecting their cars - thanks, lads! So round about 1330 I cut my losses, with just Craig gamely playing in the brisk breeze!

Report from Craig B:
    Heading towards Bell I was greeted with the site of 3 gliders thermalling away over Winterboure Stickland, YE HA me thinks (now traveling at warp speed to hill) Arrive at hill to find high cloud pushing in and the wind had picked up, still managed 20mins gale hanging over the road! Martin Hayward, Martin (the fisherman) James E Peter R all managed to get away earlier (I will have to set more than one alarm clock) When I left John Alder + Pilot X were having fun on there hang gliders and as it dropped a bit Nigel S, Richard W and a few others joined them on their paragliders.

Sunday 1st October.

Report from Adam F:
Arrived at Kimmeridge early! Mike M managed 15 minutes (me a little less!) in strong conditions until the wind strengthened and soon stopped play...

Report from Dave D:
    An early start had me flying at Ringstead in steady SSW'lies that provided no lift. A large black cloud, however threatened to provide a little too much lift - so a big-ears to safety ended the 20 minute flight. John ? arrived just before I landed, a visiting pilot a little later, and followed by ZZ.
    After much speculation about the strengthening wind that had now gone SSE to SE, and after watching Nigel S and Jim C flying the cliffs along the coast at Osmington, I took to the air one more only to be pretty much pinned and with little lift ending after some 15 minutes with a top landing in the field.
    The visiting pilot had a similar flight - and soon after the approaching depression had us all heading for home.

Saturday 30th September.

Report from Adam F:
Colin, Mike M and myself decided to try out Mere for a change. Arrived early afternoon with a gentle breeze and odd thermals coming through. Had some good flights, scratchy at times but very smooth! As conditions died down, everyone else left, but we stayed until sunset and managed to snatch an extra 15 minutes or so!

Report from Craig B:
We started at Southbourne but lack of beach and light breeze made us dash back to Barton with Luigi. Once at Barton we had a great day.. Brian, Guiessepe, Richard D + a few others flew from midday till evening, getting good lift and the whole cliff was flyable. On the tandem the lady from the cafe, Robs girlfriend, Emily, Tash & Lucy all had some great flights!

Report from Dave D:
Well - if you've been following my wind predictions for the weekend, you'd have seen that the 24hour prediction for mid-day today was spot on. So, unless nearly all of you were at Barton, either you've not been following them, or you ignored them. Either way, there were only 6 people enjoying the gentle southerlies at White Horse today.
    But, stepping back a couple of hours - I had a great 45 minutes flying the same southerlies immediately outside my caravan at Durdle Door - 10mph smooth winds smack on South. Excellent start to the day.
    Others at White Horse were Jim C, Nigel S, Alan B, Peter R (who was just getting away as I arrived - flew to his house just a couple of miles away, I assume?), Garry M, John ? and another pilot that was just packing as I arrived.
    We all enjoyed a good day's flying - bumpy at times, in warm sun shine.
    So ...... Where was everyone else?
    If you read this before Sunday - I'd suggest you all get to bed early and get ready for pleasant SW'lies in the morning. By the end of the day it will be totally blown out for PG and HG - but it looks to be PG friendly until late morning, and HG friendly until mid afternoon.

Saturday 17th September.

Report from Adam Franks :
Arrived at Kimmeridge about 10am in fairly strong conditions. Keith arrived about 10h30, and we talked ourselves into it (cunningly he let me take off first!). Had a good half an hour with loads of lift, but the wind was still picking up so we both bottom landed. As we left, as couple of others turned up to brave the conditions.

Report from Dave D:
Waking early after another night of little sleep from watching the Olympics - checking the WWW (internet) for a forecast and the WW
(Wendy Windblows) and looking out of the Window (I was at the caravan at Durdle Door)  - I was hot foot (or heavy foot, in the RX7) from the caravan around to Ringstead in the hopes of using the WSW'lies before they got too strong.
    Jim C was just about to unpack a demo Bandit as I arrived, and ZZ was only minutes behind us. The winds were light and in the narrow lift band there was only room for two of us at a time. Eventually the high-level cloud pulled back, the sun shone, ZZ and I were scratching about waiting for lift! My canopy pitched a couple of times and with +70ft I headed to the cliffs making it with loads of height
(funny place that Ringstead). Looking over my shoulder ZZ was looking for height to follow, Jim had launched, and soon they were both over on the cliffs also.
    An hour later I scratched over the power lines back on to a low down on a  bumpy ridge. 360-ing from a bigger than usual bump I landed in the top field.
    A HG was rigging, a PG from Sky Surfers launched, another HG/PG pilot flew his PG, Garry M arrived and launched, Jim C was back and forward to the cliffs several times, Nigel S joined in reaching cloud base
(or did the cloud base come down to him?), ZZ returned with hundreds of feet to spare but was prevented from landing up by the gate by a couple of tractors taking in the final hay crop of the year and swapped his PG for his HG, the other HG/PG flew his PG to the bottom, the Sky Surfers PG launched again as things were getting decidedly strong - and then the rest of the afternoon was HGs only. I left leaving ZZ still up there after more than 2 hours with the other HG.

Saturday 16th September.

Report from Adam Franks:
Managed a short flight with John (?) at Butser after waiting for the wind to die down. When it did, it went from too strong to not enough in the space of about 10 minutes!

Report from Dave D:
NW'ly 18 to 22mph when I looked in on Bell at about 11:40am. Sat on the hill in glorious sunshine for 40 mins - no sight of any HGs!
    Returned at about 3:30pm, Craig B and Steve Siuda arrived at the same time as myself. John Alder (hg) + another HG in the air and another HG was rigging, and 2PGs were sat in the warmth of their car when we got to the top of the hill. Wind still in mid to high teens. Steve impressed us PGs in the speed that he rigged and was airbourne! Craig and I got as far as donning flying-suits before calling it a day.

Sunday 10th September.

Report from Dave D:
Perhaps there should be a new club project. One weekend we should all descend on some point picked at random in the Wessex area bringing with us JCBs, bulldozers, picks and shovels - and we could build ourselves a SE facing hill. Time for most of us to get back to work while Dave M and Brian enjoy the weekdays?

Saturday 9th September.

Report from Dave D:
Well - early in the week nice westerlies were forecast - but as the as the weekend approached forecasts predicted  - slack air and cloud cover from the warm front meant no wind and very little sea breeze. Add to that a good helping of sea-mist and orographic cloud from the weak sea breeze that did develop - and I reckon we were probably all grounded. Sunday is looking better - but sod's law probably means we'll have clear skies and gales!

Monday 4th September.

Report from Craig B:
No epic XC flights to report, but the "Kindergarten Paragliding Club" had a good day at Barton today! Francesca, Becky and Michel all enjoyed their first flights (+ Emily - the sky god - who wanted to be higher the whole flight!) only landing because I had to go to work.. Shippo, Brian, Luigi all enjoying the good conditions.
A word of caution ........ the house next to the cafe where Mr Angry lives now has a professionally made banner hanging on the cliff with the words "Private Property Please Keep Away". I suggest that we all do this and not fly near his place.

Saturday 2nd to Sunday 3rd September.

Report from Dave D:
So - who cares if summer HAS ended if the rest of the year continued like Sunday!?
    Anyway - Saturday first ....
    Wendy was giving contradictory info depending upon which one you phoned
(and wind speeds of over 100mph at Westbury!) - more than could be explained away by just their geographical separation, that is. But they all agreed in one respect - it was hang-glider weather, not paraglider. So I lingered in the caravan at Durdle Door and even started doing some work (well - I had taken a "sickey" on Tuesday in the hopes of flying, hadn't I?) - until checking outside at about 1:30pm when the wind seemed to be easing a little, and now all the Wendys and the clouds were confirming a NW had set in - still a little strong for paragliding - but the forecasts and synoptic charts had been predicting that the wind would ease ... so off to Bell!
    As I neared the hill I was amazed not to be seeing the sky full of hang-gliders - and perhaps a couple of the more intrepid paragliders too!
    Reaching the top of the hill there just John Alder sitting in his car, hang-glider still on the roof-rack. John had just returned from holiday and was just as bemused as myself  as to why there was nobody else there - he even wondered if we'd lost the use of the hill! Luckily this was not the case - just one of those weekends when nobody seems to look outside again after their early morning weather check. John had made a couple of adjustments to his hang glider and was reluctant to fly without someone on the hill.
    The wind did eased, Alan Booth and a couple of new paraglider members arrived - several other "hangies" arrived, Dave M arrived and got away. John launched, Alan and I waited for some gustiness under Dave's big black cloud to subside before launching. After 10 minutes of pleasant flying, the hill just became too  buoyant and we both went for the world big-ears endurance record! Eventually we got down - the wind relaxed and all the PGs were up in the air for a while. Another PG that had been holed up in his shiny red RAV whilst all this had been going on  emerged only to discover two things - (1) as a Sky Surfer member there is no reciprocal agreement for using Bell and - after he had been sat there so patiently for so long I said he may as well have a flight - (2) he had missed the last of the lift as the wind dropped and went NNE. I armed him with an associate membership application form for which he almost gave me the money on the spot.
    As I recall only one of the hang gliders managed a top landing - but all 6 of them flew to some extent. Should get up and out earlier guys!

    After all that rambling about a pretty uneventful day ..... on to Sunday
Well - if you weren't at Monks Down on Sunday, either you're not interested in hang-gliding OR paragliding - or your name's Richard Westgate!
    I awoke at the caravan - looked out the door - bolted down a bowl of corn-flakes - and headed to Monks.
(Heading out early was a good thing - since at least you avoided the traffic congestion resulting from the annual Dorset Steam Rally just north of Blandford.) Reaching Monks  not long after 9am, the cool wind was smack on to the hill with the blue sky, beyond the edge of the high cloud shrouding the sun, moving slowly closer. Shortly after extinguishing a fire under my car (I was sat with the engine running for the heater and the hot cat-converter set light to the grass!) Craig Byrne arrived and we were both in the air as the clouds moved back and enjoying some great flying with gentle thermals. It was so good I AMLOST did my first XC!
    It's impossible to record all the activity of the day - LOADS of flying - by both paragliders and hang-gliders - all the way through until 6:30pm when jut Gary P and Brian were "flying the trees" as the late evening smooth airs was going over them rather than through them. It looked more like a "deciduous Barton cliff"!
    At one point there were 41 cars parked all along the road
(OK  - two of those were spectators, one of whom had brought Craig back) and several cars had brought more than one pilot!
    Several new members and low air-time PGs had good flights after conquering the gusty launch conditions.
People were getting away all the time, although most not so far - but Peter R reached Portesham - some 48k!
Bad luck, though Peter, and getting back to Mr Westgate - Cheltenham to Andover - 86k!
    What is really interesting is if you take out a map and plot those two simultaneous XCs - they are almost 90 degrees apart!

    Summer is dead!  Long live the autumn!

Eye in the Sky - August 2000
Eye in the Sky - July 2000
Eye in the Sky - June 2000
Eye in the Sky - May 2000