Eye in the Sky

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Friday 31st May 2002

Report from Simon Herbert

    I flew Ringstead on Friday, in a light 13mph breeze, I watched Tim H go to the cliffs and back but I was not convinced that I could get enough lift to go for it. Once Tim landed, he came over to me and said that not only were the cliffs easily reachable but that the wind was round to the south enough to go all the way down to Durdle Door.
    Three minutes later I was off and had the most beautiful flight I have had this year, I was soaring up and down the 6k ridge for 2hrs, much to the delight of the holiday makers on the beach and along the cliffs.
    One guy came up from the beach specifically to ask about the sport, he said that it looked fantastic, I said "No. It was 10 times more fantastic than it looked!" Soon after that he was taking down the details of the nearest flying school.
    It was the first time I had flown down to Durdle door and that day I was the only one to go for it, so I had the whole ridge to myself. I have many times ,whilst down on the beach, looked up at the seagulls and admired and envied their flying ability and lifestyle. This day, looking down on the hikers below struggling to climb up each of the ridges as they watched me sail up the cliff effortlessly made me realise just how smug those seagulls must be!

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Flying east toward Bat's Head
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Durdle Door White Nothe Durdle Door
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Man-o-War Bay Hambury Tout (hill on left) with
Lulworth Cove in the background

Report from Mike Adkins

    Although Bell was working in the morning there was no-one there, so I went to Kimmeridge. Right decision! Fresh sea breeze smack on the hill: Brian (Metcalfe) already in the air and Keith preparing. (John and Flight Culture were away on a trip.)
    By the time I took off - 12:35 - more pilots were arriving and soon there were several wings aloft. I hadn't flown Kimmeridge for a long time and I'd forgotten what a beautiful place it could be - blue sky out to sea with the sea-breeze-front hanging inland and lots of lovely lift.
    I was pretty low over the western end when I had my first ever full frontal tuck. (Yes, I know, Fiona, some experiences have come to me very late in life!) But the Allegra sorted it out without any fuss and when I landed for lunch Brian said he thought it was something I'd done! At that height - you've got to be joking!
    It's so nice to be able to top land in the field behind the cars again: for the last two or three years that field has been in crop and we couldn't.
    Anyway, after lunch the wind had freshened and there was much comparing of anemometers around the windsock, but the final consensus was that it was generally 14 -17mph with an occasional 20. By now there were loadss folk there and, when I took off again at 15:00, the line of cars looked like a train.
(One with no more than 10 carriages, I hope! DD) 
    In the stiff breeze I got enough height to be able to have a good look at Encombe House - it's up for sale, you know, at £15m - but nah: I have enough trouble maintaining our little cottage! Well, after another hour I decided to land and pay my two quid to the Chief Lemming who passed it on to Martin, the Sites Officer (I hope!) and then I packed up and went home, a very happy man!

Sunday 12th May 2002

Report from Sean Staines

    Drove to Beer Head in the hopes of flying the ridge run.
    About 20 other Paraglider pilots and 8 rigged hang gliders waited patiently for the wind to pick up enough to fly.
    Eventually the southerly wind became strong enough and managed to jump the gap across to Branscombe. Flew for two hours and managed to get all the way to Sidmouth (about 8km) Very punchy thermals coming up off the cliffs made for extra fun. Got to 400ft ATO.
    Eventually bombed out on the beach below take off at Beer for a 300ft walk up.
    This is the best coastal site I know of with spectacular views and enough large gaps in the ridge run to keep your concentration.
    An epic day. Can’t wait to get back there!

Report from Mike Bretherton

    Went to Mere, it was lively but only small height gains were made. After half an hour it became crowded and the sky overdeveloped and looked like rain, so we left. I think I should have gone to Bournemouth but was tempted by the prospect of another XC. I don't think I have ever flown 4 consecutive days in the UK before.

Saturday 11th May 2002

Report from Mike Bretherton

    Went to Combe and the conditions were similar to Friday although they gradually got better and I left in a gaggle up to cloudbase at 3200ft ATO.
    I should have stayed under the cloud until it decayed (never leave lift), but I was suckered into following others downwind on a sinky glide. Lost most of my height getting to Hastbourne Tarrant where I caught a very scratchy thermal which allowed me to go a few more kilometres before landing at Middle Wyke 13.3Km.
    I heard of others who flew at Monks Down but it apparently was not so good there.

Saturday 11th / Sunday 12th May 2002

Report from Dave Daniels

    Nobody has sent me anything for the weekend - which is surpisiing considering the amount of flying that was going on - or being attempted, at least.
    Actually - I didn't fly all weekend - I was in "host" mode with a friend visiting for the weekend - but that didn't stop me making the itinerary for their "tour of Dorset" being a "Tour of Wessex Sites". Had I been anywhere where the flying was totally irresistible, the kit was in the boot at all times.
    Saturday I went to Monks - I'd lined up Craig to give my friend a tandem flight which she totally enjoyed .... even though it was best described as a very slow top-to-bottom in the inadequate conditions.
    Others in the hill were Jeremy M, Stuart M, Gary P, Jim C and a few others. Apparently some of these had been to Bell first and found it too northerley - and some of the time at Monks it was too westerly. This is such a great sport!
    Passing by Bell myself a little later I could see several people on the hill, including a rigged HG, and I had seen a HG leaving in his green Jeep Cherokee .... which is interesting since none of our HG members are listed as owning such a vehicle!

    Sunday morning I received a call from Gordon McG to say it looked flyable on Portland East - and almost before getting out of his car he had already been harangued by a bird-spotter threatening to call the police if he even thought about flying! His "easterly" report was interesting since from the caravan on top of the cliffs there was almost no wind at all!
    A call from Jerry S a few minutes later informed me that he was at Ringstead and looking at a wing flying over at White Horse - so he was on his way there. I know that Jeremy M was amongst the others that went to White Horse.
    My tour of Dorset took me past Kimmeridge (nobody there), Ballards (4 wings - yellow, red, light blue and darker blue) and Bounemouth where the necks of day-trippers were being bent and pivoted watching two wings (yellow/red and yellow/red) hopping over gap at the pier before flying to the limits of the cliffs and then back again a little later. Had I had the presence of mind I would have gone along the prom with a collecting tin for some fictitious charity in whose benefit I would have claimed the paragliding to be taking place.
    I've been really lazy about getting my Pilot rating - if it's flyable at Bournemouth I'm normally somewhere else flying, so had never really seen it take place here. I'm now going to get the Pilot sorted out ASAP!.

Friday 10th May 2002

Report from Mike Bretherton

    Sneaked out of work for the afternoon (again) and went to Bell. Moderate wind and very lively conditions, it seemed quite difficult to get away at first but eventually several people made it away, mostly only short distances although Peter Robinson made Swanage (Difficult to go much further! DD).
    I made 1100ft ATO and 4.3Km to Winterbourne Stickland.
(And I made another client's accounts balance! DD)

Thursday 9th May 2002

Report from Mike (I don't believe he has a job) Bretherton

    After writing off this week for flying because of the strong winds, I received an email from Adrian Leppard suggesting that Monks might be on in the afternoon.
    I was too busy at work with meetings all day, but at 15:00, my customers left for the day and I sneaked out. We went to Combe, as it was closer and on arriving the wind was 8 - 15 mph smack on North, the only downside being that cloudbase was at hill height and the visibility was dreadful. (You want time off work AND good conditions?! DD)
    I took off at 16:30 and it was smooth with plenty of nice thermals up to 550ft ATO. There were only 4 of us in the air and both Adrian and I had a flight of over 2hrs. At nearly 19:00, there were still good thermals around and we only landed because we were cold and in need of beer. We both had to big ears it for several minutes to get down. Then off to the pub for a beer and curry.

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Misty Coombe

Adrian on his new Airwave Sport

Sunday 5th May 2002

Report from Craig Byrne

    Monk's Down.
    Better conditions today wind more Northerly quite strong and good thermals, rough at times.
    The wind picked up later allowing H/Gs to have some fun but it became to strong even for them in end.
    I managed to work a good thermal over the back as wind increased. It was quite a good drift once past Tollard Royal I had to work very hard in lots of broken stuff till a BOOMER finally came through. Once at base it was quite easy to keep popping in out of clouds getting lift and then went on quite a long glide finding lift over main road just before Blandford Camp. Got back to base here, went on glide to far side of Blandford caught a scrappy one which finally settled down to nice climb but it was taking me towards airspace and had to keep working cross wind a bit.
    Finally landing near East Bloxworth in a field next to farm house the wind strength here was 15-18mph. The people at farmhouse were great making me a cup of tea and giving me a lift back to The Little Chef on the main road where Andy Dawson, Gary Puhl and Dave Moores (thanks for the lift chaps still owe you all more beers) were waiting for me. Then off to the pub to celebrate :o)
    Sorry but no photos it was quite rough and I was concentrating like mad all the way.

Saturday 4th May 2002

Report from Craig Byrne

    Monk's Down.
    Good day managing some nice little flights as thermals came through, wind was well off to the East which made getting away hard as the drift was towards Compton Abbas all the time. Andy Dawson just kept working this and eventually was reward with a short hop over the back to near Tollard Royal.

Friday 3rd May 2002

Report from Mike Bretherton

    Having discounted Combe as too windy with a high risk of showers, I went to Bell were it seemed reasonably on with moderate wind and booming cumulus clouds.
A couple of others were there and they took off first. Sometimes when a pilot is not having a good time you cannot tell from watching from the ground as the canopy looks to be flying OK. Not this time! It looked pretty awful with their canopy pitching and rolling all over the place.
    The prevailing wind was too north so we all packed away and checked out Okeford Hill. The wind was smack on but far too light to risk taking off and going down the bottom.
    After about an hour we packed away again and went to Monk's Down. When we arrived it was dead, but after waiting a little while, some nice thermal cycles came through. Before we got off the ground the wind went due west so we packed up yet again and went to Winklebury.
    Here the wind was a good 8 - 12 smack on to the bowl. We all eventually had some good flights but it was pretty rough at times. As we were packing away the wind went back to north!
    Maybe I should have gone to work after all.
(That would make a change!  :) DD)

Report from Craig Byrne

    Bell Hill ....
    Martin flew in morning but landed as it got rougher.
    Then Dick Mosley made the most of these conditions on his H/G before showing us a great fly on the wall landing down near the gate.
    I was close to taking off then the developing cloud to my left started chucking electricity out so I thought better not!

Eye in the Sky - April 2002 - Part 2
Eye in the Sky - April 2002 - Part 1
Eye in the Sky - March 2002
Eye in the Sky - 2001 roundup
Eye in the Sky - September/November 2001
Eye in the Sky - July/Augsust 2001
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