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June Summer 2001
Sunday 24th June
Report from Steve Auld:
Hot, sunny, high pressure weather again, but the sea breeze was working well...
Took off ok and went up about 150feet. The beach was all jam packed, so no bottom landings possible... But the wind was lovely - very smooth and constant, very slightly off to west. I went all the way up and down to Boscombe pier with hands off, turning like that as well now and again... The Bandit turns better and faster with hands off than any other glider I've flown... Landed next to the take-off spot only to help a guy who's new to the site (John Collie) to take off (pushed him) and then I took off again.
Got some good height again and played about for a while - David Compton-Lowe in the air on his blue Bandit as well now... Saw John quite high at Boscombe pier area and so headed westward to him... He went east when I got there, so I just kept going... The crane jib was pointing out to sea - right in the way, so had to go out more and round it... Passed it just above it's height and continued past Boscombe pier... Arrived B'mth side with plenty of height (wall to wall people down below, watching...) and continued on down to Harry Ramsden's chip shop by B'mth pier.
Came back eastward - well above cliff height, so eased in over the road a bit and used the hotels for a bit of extra lift and then out again. You could go well out over the sea and down a bit, knowing that you'd smoothly go up again as soon as you got near the cliff. Played about between the piers for a while longer and then whizzed back east of Boscombe pier. Landed after an hour or so for an ice cream and rest.
Took off a while later - wind slightly less now, but had some more fun east of take off, where the lift was best. Saw a kestrel hovering, so came slowly up towards it - he didn't seem to mind at all... I found it a little difficult to remain absolutely stationary - could have done with a tad more wind for that. So I was turning away and then back up toward him a few times - then he'd move along the cliff a bit and so I followed him.
After about the third time, he let me get to about 6 feet away from him and I managed to stop and hover beside him and watch him. He certainly knew I was there and yet was totally unconcerned about my being there. When he flew on a bit, it wasn't that he was frightened off, he was just looking down, checking out the next section of cliff for his dinner. And then the wind dropped some more - was down to cliff-top height, so headed back toward takeoff and popped over the top and landed nicely just east of take off. Brilliant day - best flying at Bournemouth I've had for quite a while... And the kestrel was a real magical bonus, not quite like thermalling with Gryffon Vultures 2 feet off your wingtip, but close... So where was everyone else?
Saturday 23rd June
Report from Craig Byrne:
I eventually launched at Southbourne with Adriean (right spelling I think) Adrian Bishops girlfriend..
We had a glorious flight and Adriean was a star passenger weight shifting like she had been flying for many years! And not at all phased by having to scratch so near to the cliff..
We few for nearly half an hour in the increasing scratchy conditions, quite a few others out and having a play. Colin, Adrian, Richard W, Jim (help help here comes the fence) Luigi all had some nice flights before it became to marginal.
Arrived at Barton quite late having picked Emily up from school, Robert D, Colin + Mate, Luigi, Brian, Sean all had some great flights, the wind had gone more east when we took off so we stayed at the golf course headland and had a hoot.. Emily was flying for 40 mins even working up to a few small wingovers, then I had to show her how it was done! Lots of big grins and photos to follow.
Had a great time at Barton on the tandem first with Neil then Model aircraft flyer called Craig (he was so impressed he is booking up a course to try the real thing) then a couple of girlie tourists (this tandem flying is hard but someone has to do it) and finally one of the builders from the site opposite!
All had a hoot so did Robert D, Brian, Graham, Dave (the ferry), Martin (trekking), Luigi in the great conditions, big thank you to all who helped with my take off's :-)
Tuesday 12th to Monday 18th June
Report from Larry Walker:
Landed on Tenerife Tuesday 12.6.01 with the family for a weeks hols.
Disaster 1. My pre-arranged Paragliding guide decided to be on a different Island that week! Inconsiderate or wot. Never mind. I managed to contact another guide who said he would be more than happy to take me out.
Disaster 2. It was too windy on the Wednesday.
Disasters 3, 4, 5, 6, TOO WINDY for Thursday, Friday, Sat, and Sunday. (Don't you just love this sport! Been there and have a house full of the T-Shirts! D)
Woke up at 4am on Monday 18th ( last day of the holiday ) and had to wait 4 long hours before I could phone the guide at 8am.
And his answer in broken English "We fly today, yes". I almost dropped the phone.
That afternoon the guide, myself and another pilot wound our way up the mountain roads in a jeep and ended up at a dirt cliff-top launch pad 3,000ft above the Loro valley with a stunning view of Porto De La Cruz and the sea. We made our preparations and launched out into the valley with a warm 10mph headwind and soared the cliff faces for over an hour before we headed off to land in a tiny field just off the beach.
We packed away our gliders and waited for the guide to arrive which gave me the chance to chat to the other pilot and ask about his protective headgear which consisted solely of a red and white polka dot hanky which he ceremoniously wrapped around his almost bald head just to protect him from the sun!
The guide arrived and again in broken English "We go upstairs now, yes". (I wonder what the guide says about your Spanish, Larry?) We bundled into the Jeep and once again wound our way up the mountain roads through the tiny villages until the scenery changed to pine forests, and still up and up we went. The pine forests ended and gave way to a barren scrubby mountain top and our launch site at 7,500ft ASL. The landing site was 11km away down by the sea and completely hidden by cloud cover at 3,000ft (see photo). We launched and glided out above the pine forests and down into the valley eventually passing through the cloud cover to reveal the villages below. We then flew east across the valley to soar the mountains and cliff faces and do a bit of tree surgery as I whacked the top of a rather tall fir with the bottom of my harness befor once again landing by the sea. Flight time 2 hours 10 mins and well worth waiting a week for.
Bell Hill won`t seem the same again.
Sunday 17th June
Report from Wayne Bevan:
Having checked with wendy @ Mercury, Devils Dyke & Compton, I opted for Harting as the winds were showing N across the area! [why drive 110miles when Harting is 12 miles from my front door!] (because the conditions were better? D)
Well it was soarable, but I only managed 1000ft ato (ha!) & could only push 1/4mile upwind (ha!) in sink (ha!)! It didn't get any better albeit soarable with minimal height gains of 500ft ato!
Still the last flight was at 7pm in sink! Bottom landing skills still there!
Rob Stokes took off at 7.20pm & gained enough height to top land...
For the record all SSC sites are currently members only & the reciprocal is currently suspended! We will however keep you informed.
Report from David Daniels:
I was half awake when the phone rang - a new member, Derek McC, asked "I've sent on my membership application form, and I realise it's too soon to have had anything back as yet, but can I go and fly Bell today?"
Suddenly I was fully awake! Either the forecast had been very wrong or this new member was having a brainstorm - and being polite to new members (well, one has to try!) I assumed the former and looked out of the window. Certainly the wind was looking pretty good in strength and in direction.
Having told Derek that it would be fine, I hung up and called a couple of Wendys - and Westbury was giving 8-15mph NNW! So I called the new member back, and told him I'd see him on the hill.
Gordon McG - Electron - Bell Hill - Sunday 17th June
Normally I drive from the caravan at Durdle Door to Bell - just a few miles compared to the journey from Winchester (the weather didn't look caravan friendly this weekend!), so as the miles wound up past the 50 mark in my gas guzzler, I was hoping the conditions would make the journey worth while.
Approaching from Ockeford Fitzpaine I was disappointed to see only one hang glider in the air - and judging from his position high in front of the hill, conditions looked great - even if only for hang gliders - so why only one?
On top of the hill there were only two cars, Gordon McG with his paraglider laid out. So - where was everyone?
OK - the wind was a little off to the N, but nowhere as bad as the previous Sunday - and the strength was variable between 12-20mph - so perfect for hangies - and later it dropped to be suitable of paragliding.
Jonathan H, Gordon, Stuart (Reserve) M, Cathy F (another new member) and myself were the only paragliders, Ron S, Derek and one other were the hangie contingency.
All four paragliders managed to hook into one thermal that took us all to 1600ft or more, Gordon and I only leaving it so as not to be taken too far down wind. Stuart and Jonathan made another impressive flight pressing up-wind about 2 miles and reaching 2,000ft in the grey skies with few sunny patches.
All the hangies managed several flights and seemed to enjoy themselves before the wind dropped below limits for us all.
So - where was everyone?
Tuesday 21th June
Report from David Daniels:
Had a phone call from our new member, Gordon McG, checking a couple of details before flying Portland W again.
Sunday 10th June
Report from David Daniels: (come on! how about some fresh input!?!?)
Another early drive to Bell found Lawrence T huddled up in his Land Rover, the wind too northerly and too strong with gusts over 20mph.
General optimism amongst the members was demonstrated as more and more arrived during the day - both para and hang - including Craig B, Stuart M, Rob S, ZZ, Mike B, Matt C, the brothers E, John A.and our new member from Glasgow.
Richard M was the most active pilot making several short flights on his hang glider.
Probably the most notable thing of the day was the number of people that waited on the hill for in excess of six hours waiting for the promised backing of the wind. I was there for 10 hours and had a one minute flight launching behind Rob S but being immediately gusted back along the hill. Much the same happened to others at different times and to different extents.
Rob S and Mike B managed a couple of brief flights with some altitude - but even those flights were only about 10 minutes in duration.
Until next weekend ......
Saturday 9th June
Report from David Daniels:
No way was I going to miss out on any flying this weekend - so I was sat up on Bell at 9am, but the wind was off the he SW and rather light. Perfect for some ground handling practice, though - especially since I've ordered a new wing and agreed a trade-in price on the Harmony! :)
Others arrived at a trickle - Jim C, Dave M, Keith W, Rob S, Garry M, Gary P, Richard W, brothers E and Peter O amongst them. Dave tried flying the gust that preceded a heavy rain shower - but only succeeded in demonstrating how fast he could stuff a canopy into the back of Keith's Discovery. A couple of us made some 2 minute scratchy flights before the rain arrived.
I manage to get Alan B to divert to White Horse to check out the conditions there - but he reported it was too westerly before also making his way to Bell.
A passing microlite dropped in for a natter.
Just as Alan B arrived, we were all leaving with a view to double checking White Horse and also checking Portland W.
Alan B, Gary M and myself went to White Horse and managed 15 minutes in the bowl since it was too westerly for the front, and then spied three wings above the Portland outline and moved over there.
Gary P, Jim C, Dave M and Keith W were all there - most had become bored with the silky smooth air and fading lift.
A guy from north of the boarders, Gordon McG, temporarily working in Weymouth joined the club and then joined Gary M and myself for 20 minutes flying before the lift was almost totally gone.
Sunday 3rd June
Report from David Daniels:
Brilliant sun blasting into the caravan at something past five in the morning had me well awake a long time before I had intended - but looking out at a cloudless sky and the wind blowing gently north-ish, soon had me out of my bed and off to the hill.
En-route it had appeared to be a little too N, and this was confirmed when I reached the top of the hill - in fact it was more NNE, albeit at a perfect strength. Had Monk's been open ........
I returned to the carvan and waited for the sea breeze which kicked in at 11:30am as if someone had turned a switch. Alas - varying between 75 and 30 degrees off the cliffs - with more of the 75s than the 30s - I waited.
Phoning round the mobiles had me wondering what was happening - none were responding - people must be flying somewhere. Barton perhaps?
Eventually managing to contact a couple of people who were either heading to Bell or would have could they have got away from whatever they were doing had me back on the road to Bell for another check - and then onto West Bay if there was nothing doing.
As I passed the parking area at Bullbarow I spied canopies - and accelerated to the hill.
Apparently I should have hung about a little longer when I had been there earlier - from 10am it had been a stonking day! Indeed, even when I arrived at about 2:30 it was still a stonking day .. and continued to be so until 6pm or later. Indeed, as I passed by the Okeford t/o on the road behind at 8:30 on my way home from a drink and a bite at the pub with some of the others, there were still two canopies flying the gently evening dynamic. The Italian "Bellisimo" comes to mind.
The flying was incredible, and the concept that "for everything going up there's as much coming down somewhere else" seemed to be absent - just everything was going up!
With no XCs, the sky was full of canopies at every altitude and in every direction. Even flying straight out in front of the hill without a turn too me to 1500ft - with some very impressive lift at times.
Comments like "this was probably the best XC day in the UK that was not flown" were being made, and perhaps they were quite accurate. Richard W and Peter K were flying to all corners of the horizon at 5,500ft - and damned cold it was up there, I was told. Even late in the afternoon there was a little triangular dot way above us as a hang-glider made good use of the endless lift.
Peter R, Richard W, Dave M, Peter and Tracey K, ZZ, Graeme W, Dave C-L, one or two of the Franklins, Craig B were amongst those there - as was Stuart (Chairman) M showing off his brand new purchase that morning - and Edel Reserve, very pretty red and white - deployed nice and quickly and demonstrated a pleasant rate of decent, and created a round of drinks in the pub later.
Saturday 2nd June
Report from David Daniels:
Well, just because you think it's too windy - you gotta check, haven't you - and even watch the hangies. So - with a steady 18mph smack onto the hill - where were they all? I think it was mid-afternoon when I was sat there for about an hour with only the buzzards to watch.
One significant things had changed on the hill since Monday. Five days earlier as I walked up the grass on the track was green and lush, now it was brown and shredded by all the cars that had been up and down in those 5 days of superb weather.
Eye in the Sky - March to May 2001
Eye in the Sky - Feb 2001
Eye in the Sky - September and October 2000
Eye in the Sky - August 2000
Eye in the Sky - July 2000
Eye in the Sky - June 2000
Eye in the Sky - May 2000