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Sunday 11th August
Report from David Daniels:
Arriving at the caravan at 12:45am in totally still air, and knowing that the forecast had been a force 4 SW for Saturday - it seemed logical that before that wind arrived there must be a time where it would be flyable.
Awaking at 5:30am, and detecting the wind was about 5mph from the SW, I drove around to Ringstead. It's strange to be the only car along the whole length of the ridge.
I had expected to have to sit in the car for a while until there was sufficient wind, but when I got out of the car it seemed just adequate to start unpacking.
To be in the air at 5:50am is not something I intend making a habit - but the clear sky, recently risen sun, and silky smooth air made it a very enjoyable experience.
A 10 minute scratch followed by another 10 minutes in ever increasing lift before venturing toward the cliff. The silky smooth air was great, and with the wind still light, I managed the reach the cliff with untypical ease, and made my way to White Nothe.
What a flight! A total of 3 hours, stopping only once to call Shaun Parsloe to tell him it was flyable, but not for long, I thought, and then back into the air for another hour.
During this hour, I noticed the first white-horses of the aquatic type, and, despite having fun on the cliff decided to return to land. Hmmm. Should have made that move a little earlier - flying above the wind-swept launch that was still populated by just one red car (mine) - for a rather awkward landing.
Awkward it was - but what a fantastic flight! One of those every month, please!
The rest of the weekend was a total loss (did any HGs fly later on Saturday?) other than a very enjoyable barbecue on Saturday evening, thanks to Tracey King for having organised it.
Sunday 5th Augusts
Report from David Daniels:
A paraglider's lot is not an easy lot!
WSW and a tad drafty! Gary M called me as he was leaving the 'Bill to see what I was doing. I was sat in the caravan thinking it was a tad too W and perhaps he had just driven past eh best site - Portland West. Gary said he was heading toward Ringstead and would call me when he got there.
A little later the phone rang again, and Gary told me that something yellow was out over the cliffs!
By the time I got there (within 15 minutes) Jim C (yellow Bandit), Gary M (blue Electron) and Keith W (purple G Sport) were out over the cliffs.
As I started to unpack, nursing a sprained ankle resulting from running down the steps to the beach at Durdle Door at about 11pm the previous night and discovering an invisible hole in the process!), Jim C flew back to t/o and made a couple of attempts to land in what were obviously "fresh" conditions. He gave up and returned to the cliffs. I declined to launch.
After another 25 minutes, all three had returned and landed in varying styles - Gary and I leaping to grab Keith's wing.
A typical hillside discussion ensued with Jim suggesting White Horse might be flyable. Martin F arrived on his bike, as did Peter R (in response to my telling him there were 3 on the cliff when he had phoned me a little earlier - oops!).
Alan B, who had been in the Blandford area, phoned me after he had called into Bell to tell me it was too westerly there - and he offered to scout out White Horse before we all headed over that way.
Alan called to say it was a bit windy but flyable, and everyone set off in instalments to White Horse, collecting John R in the progress as he had just that minutes arrived.
I've always wondered which is the quicker route between these two sites, and when I saw John take the Broadmayne route when we reached the main road enabled me to get and answer to this one. It's quicker via Sutton Pointz!
When I reached the horse, a couple of canopies were out, Jim was climbing out over the fence out of the field behind the site having made an XC of some 150 yards, and a couple were unpacked and contemplating whether to bother.
Discussions as to whether it was worth trying West Bay and the meaning of life ensued, the bikers (Martin and Peter) went off the WB, I returned to the caravan bumping into James Mallalieu half way down the track on my way, leaving Gary and John on the hill.
Ninety minutes later Gary called to say he and John were about to launch at Ringstead, and withing 15 minutes I was there also, just unpacking as Gary lead the way to the cliffs for John's first flight over White Nothe. I managed a quick out-and-back (quite an efficient flight according to the GPS log!) and landed, not wanting to be the only one there with my strapped and painful ankle.
July 15th to 22nd
Report from David Daniels:
It's been kind of quiet in here - so time to post a couple of items.
During the above dates, I had a trip to France staying at Last Resort just outside Le Grand Bournand and La Clusaz.
The reason for the trip was for a thermalling course - but thermals were few and far between, two days being un-flyable due to rain, and one due to high winds. Such is paragliding.
Obviously Last Resort cannot be blamed for the weather, and in every other respect I'd recommend them for your flying in the Alps.
Friday July 14th
Report from Lawrence Toogood:
OK I give up where were you all!
You didn't let a few cu-nibms put you off, this is an X-treme sport, he who dares & all that!
So this is what you missed.....
Arrived at Bell 4pm nobody to be seen, wind strength/ direction ok, lets fly, first 15mins touch & goes next 30mins nice if a little bumpy thermal flying.
Still no-one on the hill! OK, lets land, flying on your own is not always a good idea, then as I landed Mark Russell (white subaru) arrived speeding to the top of the hill, & equally as fast unpacking his glider. A man possessed!
We had a short chat and both agreed the sky had a classic look about it, and the wind was due to pickup, with this I launched in the straight up mode followed by Mark - it was stronger than my previous flight! With in minutes both of us were on serious climb outs going over the back of Bell, Mark was soon at cloud base, and I was getting near under my chosen cloud. I must admit I was nervous, my wing felt like someone had hold of it pulling it skywards, & I still cannot get Stuarts incident out of my head (sorry Stuart, not your fault). It's something I have to overcome.
The wind did pick up & both of us need the use of big ears to scrub off the height.
Once landed, Mark had the facts & figures for the day (as I don't have a vario) - 4,500ft me a little lower but not much (3,500ft?) and in 12 up climbs at 7pm.
I was just glad to be down in the end, sad I know.
Just a quick note for those of you who left the hill 4.30 on Sunday just as i arrived saying it was all over, Mark & passenger (Kathrine?) myself & one other where flying within the hour in some frisky air making reasonable height gains.
A lucky two days or what!?
Report from Mike Adkins:
I have just returned to Dorset after about a month in Alsace (a MONTH! Gosh! D) where I spent the first week (10th - 16th June) flying with my ex-Wessex mate, Johan the baker, and his brother.
None of us had flown for at least six months so we were all a little cautious at first, but we soon became at ease with the wonderful flying conditions which prevail in Alsace.
This seems to be a little known area of Europe - at least as far as the Brits are concerned - and yet is only one and a half days' drive away (with caravan) from Dorset including the Dover - Calais Super Sea Cat crossing. Once there, in an area much smaller than Dorset, there are at least 7 sites catering for practically all wind directions, most within reach of designated LZs and all under the enlightened control of the French Federation of Vol Libre (FFVL).
We are talking of the Vosges Mountains which are not as high nor as jagged and menacing as the Alps, and yet which provide take-offs in the 1200 metre range (asl) with about a 2000 ft sleigh-ride to the valley floor. The mountains are densely wooded in the main, with the tops rounded and green - perfect launch sites! And although there are so many trees, there always seems to be a little green patch just big enough to get down in, should you run out of lift.
Conditions varied: the first time we flew from the most popular site, Le Treh, (part of a height known as Le Markstein) it was cold (9degC) with a low cloud-base and a 17kph breeze but Johan and I made plenty of height ato and stayed up for the best part of an hour. By the end of my stay there (and long after Johan and his brother had gone back to Holland) it was 40degC with NO wind (very difficult take-offs but atomic thermals!) and, really, it was just too hot! Even when I finally got off, my vario was telling me the air temperature was 35degC!
I shall not go into detail here because I hope to put a piece in Bob's newspaper about it - and I don't know if my photos are any good yet - but suffice it to say that Johan now flies his Futura with considerable skill and panache: on one occasion he just missed a thermal as he launched and began the inevitable stone-into-the-pond flight, scratching at everything as he went: he finally disappeared into the valley and I knew he could only be about 50m above the LZ: then, much to my astonishment, his distinctive yellow-with-a-blue-blob Futura re-appeared making tiny circles but undoubtedly going UP. Before long he was at launch height and not much later he was at base! He attempted an XC but could not clear the Col de Bussang and had to return. (Apparently pilots make very good XCs from Le Treh: one guy on the campsite told me his brother had done 63k on his first launch!) I'll tell you more in the magazine.
Sunday 1st July
Report from Dave Daniels:
An annoying high pressure creeping up the English channel made the weather predictably unpredictable with Wendy's giving anything you wanted, and lots one didn't want, depending upon which one you called.
Getting out of bed is always a good start (not according to Peter S, later in the day) and - being at the caravan on the cliff tops - getting out of the caravan to see what was actually happening was the second step. I was eager to fly having in my possession one very new Electron collected from High Adventure in a quay-side exchange for the old harmony and credit card number.
An anemometer on a caravan just three away from mine was showing WSW - and spinning at about an 8mph speed - so it was off to Ringstead initially even if only for some ground handling of the new wing. However when I got there, although the wind was smack onto the ridge, being about 4mph even the aero-modelers were struggling and resorting to an electric motors for upward assistance.
Another call to Wendy and she was giving NW 8-12kts at both Compton and Westbury - so it was off to Bell Hill. Approaching from the south I was disappointed not to see anything flying, nor could I see any vehicles. Reaching the top of the hill, however, Graeme W, Sean S, Peter R and Mark R were surveying the lack of wind - sufficiently so that Peter packed and left soon after. Indeed, there was a 45 minute period where it was not even worth getting the new wing out of the bag.
Luckily I had a yellow wing before, and before there were so many about, so my new yellow wing was not me following the apparent fashion - Peter, Sean, Graeme and Maurice H all having yellow!
Whilst those on the hill thought we were suffering from an over-dose of optimism, Sean H arrived with his hang glider atop a shiny Ford Maverick (I only mention the car since it made me think that it's a far more practical vehicle for sites like Bell than my RX7 or my next ground-hugging car due in about 5 weeks!), watched us do some ground handling and small flights, and then left.
The wind continued to be either light or too westerly - or, more often, both. Eventually the skies brightened, the wind strengthened, even came on to the hill from time to time, and some flights were made - but nothing that really excited - just sufficient for us to claim a justification for having sat on the hill all day.
Others there were Dave C (who never even got out of his car!), Alan B, Simon H, and a couple of other's who's names escape me .... (Daniel C ?).
Sean S clocked up about an hour of flying in about 40 flights - practicing his "kiting back up the hill" skills over and over again to point that I was totally exhausted watching him, and quite repulsed when he wrung a pint of sweat out of the spongy innards of his helmet!
Oh - the new wing - yup - in the little I flew it I liked it. Turns a lot more easily, doesn't twitch and yaw so much, better penetration. In two weeks I can really check it out when I'm in Le Grand Bournand.
Eye in the Sky - June 2001
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