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July 2002 - Part I

Saturday 13th July 2002

Report from Mike Bretherton

    The weather forecast appeared to be epic, so Adrian Lepard, Simon Herbert, Adrian Bishop, Dom Schetini and I went to Combe.
    Adrian Lepard had a very nice flight very early before the rest of us turned up. Then the wind appeared to go west and it went almost dead with very few weak thermal cycles. Adrian Leppard who left at 2:15 was the skygod sacrifice as a boomer came through at about 2:30pm and every man and his dog got away.
    I broke my endurance (3hrs 29mins), distance (78Km), height gain (4950ft) and UK altitude (6000ft) records today, cloudbase was over 5500ft and I made Chichester but I saw several others go even further!
    Left the hill at only 600ft expecting to go only a few Km's, I had a low save at 200ft around Facombe where I climbed out to a couple of grand. Caught another thermal over Hastbourne Tarrent where a Tornado fighter aircraft decided to have a near miss with me and appeared to have to bank to avoid me and the dozen other Xc paragliders, it was going so fast I could not hear it until it had passed. Got to Whitechurch where it went ballistic, over 5m/s constant lift to about 6000ft ! Had to big ear out of cloud and was very worried with a sailplane thermalling close below me in zero viz.
    I thermalled for about an hour in scratchy lift over the A303 and M3 to the Alresford Solent airspace corner. Then I headed towards Butser Hill where I picked up another thermal, then another over Waterloovile. I decided to go for Hayling Island to get max distance but I seemed to catch the sea breeze convergence so I changed track and had a 20Km almost zero sink glide east to land at a Burger King south of Chichester.
    Adrian Bishop made a very respectible 30Km south of Popham and Simon made 12 Km only to land because he was flying in Tshirt and Shorts after he decided there was no chance of going Xc. He was given a lift back to the hill by an X glider pilot who was about 85 who last flew a glider in the second world war. Dom (a new member to Wessex) completed his first ever Xc of 5 Km.
    After landing up to my waist in wheat, Simon and Dom picked me up literally a minute after packing away as I had radio'd them over Butser. Best flying day ever.

(Just a pitty you weren't using a Wessex site - traitors!  DD)

Chichester Cathedral.JPG (137004 bytes) Cloudbase at 6000ft.JPG (65860 bytes)
Chichester and the cathederal.
(I think he superimposes a pic 
of his boots over a scan from a 
postcard - the boots are always
 in the same position! DD)
Smug bugger @ 6,000' cloud base.
Hayling Island.JPG (115736 bytes) Near Chichester.JPG (80607 bytes)
Hayling Island Near Chichester

Report from Dave Daniels

    Another early start to get out and enjoy the glorious weather had me soaring the hill at Bell before 8am! Not surprisingly, it was not very thermic - more surprisingly, it never really boomed - despite the clouds suggesting that it was - and almost 40 card on the hill indicating that this interpretation was not restricted to a few optimists.
    Almost 40 cars prevents me remembering all the names - even if I could remember them - and my skills in the name remembering business are well known. I've seen this number of cars on Bell before - but never seen the sky so full! On previous occasions there were sufficient numbers getting away to keep those stuck on the hill to reasonable numbers - but this time there was a point where there were almost 40 cars and only one person had got away!  (That was me!)
    One name I can remember - Peter Robinson - managing almost 38.3km to Picket Post! There were a few other XCs - but every one of them was eclipsed by Peter, and every one of them eclipsed my 4.8km to the cricket pitch at Winterborne Stickland. However - after almost three years of struggling to achieve an XC in the UK - it felt pretty damned good to me!  Goodness knows what almost 40km feels like!

    The hill had a few new members out for their first Wessex experience - Terrry Brannigan amongst them finding.
    Sunday, I hear, was not so much fun (I was at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in god-father mode) - but that didn't stop Peter vanishing into the distance - ending up even further for 42.7km. Apparently another new pilot managed his first XC, to Wareham. Well done, whoever, write and tell us all about it!

(Peter has written an article for the magazine on these two flights!)

Sunday 7th July 2002

Report from David Daniels

    Anyone loose a helmet on Ringstead on Saturday?  Give me a call!  D

    Thick mist/orographic covered Durdle Door and Ringstead first thing in the morning with 10mph wind from the SW. Typical! And as it cleared and the sun broke through ..... the wind picked up to 16 mpg gusting 20. Even more typical! :)
    Later the wind eased off ... or at least the gusts did, giving a steady 16mph. Flyable, yes - but too near the limit for me.
    John Dakin arrived with two friends who launched and reached the cliffs using large amounts of speed-bar with almost no loss of height, and John following on in more cautious mode a few minutes later.
    Ron S, Tony M and John A each had flights and landed as the cloud-base became lower and the orographic more significant, returning to the hill as what looked like a band of rain approached.
    At the same time the three paragliders returned from their second flights to the cliffs and the vis. dropped to less than 100m in the thick orographic.
    Gordon M arrived in the hopes of airing his crinkly new, and un-flown Ozone Vibe - but the only flying he manages was with his Ozone kite before he and I retired to the pub.

Saturday 6th July 2002

Report from Jon Harvey

    Westbay midmorning wind s/w 12/16 mph and steady. Phoned reasonably local pilots as shipping forecast was to pick up force 4/5 afternoon.
    Only two pilots myself and an Essex (calls himself local) pilot, Keith Boniface.
    Flew Westbay to Seatown (Chideock) many times and as wind picked up reaching 1000 ft asl above Thornecombe Beacon but unfortunately unable to penetrate Golden Cap due to wind direction which was going westerly. On last return from Thornecombe made Westbay in 3m30s (just over 2.5kms) and with over 600ft crossed the Harbour to fly the east cliffs to wards Burton Bradstock returning to land on east beach at Westbay wind speed now around 17/20 sea level, after 2hrs30minsairtime.
    The ridge from Westbay to Charmouth is just under 10 kms and the other direction to Burton Bradstock is approx 3.5 kms so if you want a good coastal run why not visit us in the west.
    Unfortunately Charmouth is OOB (t/o and supposedly landings) from the third week July to end of of first week Sept (the school holiday period) but there isn't any restrictions from Westbay.
    So come on down west!

Report from David Daniels

    Thank the sky gods for Ringstead!
    The forecasts had 9mph NW at 7am strengthening and backing to 14mph SW - so an early start and a call to Wendy was telling of NE/NNE at 10mph! Weather forecasters - don't ya love 'em?
    By 8am I'd already had several flights in very scratchy NNEs at Monks - including one to 350ft - then the wind just switched off.
    Dave M, Colin D, Craig B and Martin H arrived and it was soon obvious that what wind there was had already become NW - so we decamped to Bell.
    At Bell there were a few more familiar faces - Peter S, Sean S, Keith W and Brian M amongst them - most of whom unpacked and waited in harnesses for a thermal to pluck us from the ground and take us to clod base.  But the wind went even more westerly and the thermals were almost non existent.
    Brian had heard from Ian O that he was at Ringstead and that it was flyable - so after an hour or so of the waiting game, Keith, Martin, Brian, Sean and I shot off there.
    Ian was over White Nothe so as soon as I was out of the car I was in the air! The wind felt smooth and about 12mph on launch - but the launch felt like 16mph! No real problem - but I realised a launch from even lower down the slope than I had made would have been more sensible.
    A couple of beats and I'd made no height to speak of, and I saw Gary M arriving - then "bang" - 300ft came from nowhere. The flight to the cliffs lost almost no flight until the last 50m making a pass way over the houses on the cliff at considerable height.
    From White Nothe I could see Sean, Martin and Brian follow me out, I could see Alan B arriving - then I noticed a wing in the bushes back on take-off and a little later Keith W flew out to the cliffs. Several other wings were to be seen back on launch ready for flight - but nobody else flew to the cliffs.
    At the cliffs the air was it's usual silky smooth and we were all cruising up and down at up to some 720ft ato.
    Orographic cloud came and went a couple of times below us - first time that's happened when I've been flying - and made an interesting view of the cliffs to the east and toward takeoff.
    We all had flights of around 2 hours landing in strong conditions.
    Apparently only minutes after I had launched the wind had picked up and had even caused one paraglider to launch by itself and fly the harness back into the fence.

    I gather others flew at Whitesheet in the westerlies

Thursday 4th July 2002

Report from Neil Weymouth

    The weather report was westerly but as I reached St Aldhems it was definitely SW, but decided to have a go anyway.
    The initial run out to the main cliff was therefore rather slow but once there 600ft ato and able to penetrate well out to sea.
    Had an hours flying before having to return to work, by which time the wind at take off had increased needing speed bar to prevent being blown back.
    St Aldhems is an enjoyable
(unofficial!) site well worth trying if you haven't been there.

Eye in the Sky - June 2002 - Part 3
Eye in the Sky - June 2002 - Part 2
Eye in the Sky - June 2002 - Part 1
Eye in the Sky - May 2002
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