Eye in the Sky
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Saturday 27th/Sunday 28th July 2002
Report from David Daniels
Saturday started with very light winds from the west - and no signal on the mobile from my caravan to (a) see if anyone else had any idea where it was working, and (b) hook up the notebook to check my emails.
Ringstead sorted out (b), but nobody responded to my calls re (a), and 4mph and too westerly meant that Ringstead was not going to be much fun, so perhaps St Alban's head? Nope - incredibly, either in the time it had taken me to drive the 18+ miles or the geography (or sod's law?) had the wind too southerly.
Nobody was visible flying at Kimmeridge when I had driven by, but I decided to have a look on the way past to discover orograpahic cloud about 50ft ato, John Welch and several students, Michael C and a few other members preparing to "give it a go".
One intrepid young lady was first in the air and vanished from sight in the orographic several times, followed by Michael on his stealth wing - an Ozone Vibe in "orographic" grey!
The needs of Flight Culture's students meant that they were busy the whole day through - too southerly and too light meant that the rest of us had scratchy flights, sat in the sunshine, battled with the sea of thistles - or marvelled at the luck of the students who seemed to use every blip of lift as it passed through!
Dave M, Stuart M, Brian M (an "M convention?) were at Ringstead and/or White Horse achieving not much more - other than an afternoon of wing swapping so I was informed.
Sunday started with almost no wind at all - and the Wendys giving directions of between NW and NE at almost nothing.
I drove the scenic route to Monks, via Bell. Nobody at either site - northerly at Bell and every direction at Monk's.
Passing back past Bell I spied one pilot on the hill demonstrating some determination - and found Jim C at the top who, in the very light westerly winds, attempted to launch into a couple of weak thermals - none of which took him as high as take-off, and one of which had some brambles at it's base.
Dave M, Stuart M and Rory L arrived - took one look at the conditions when they, along with myself, decided to go to "Site X" and try it out as ZZ arrived at Bell
I hate walking up to t/o - especially on what the weather people later gave as "the hottest day in the UK for 2002" - so, when Dave and Stuart demonstrated the lack of lift I was wondering if it had been a total waste of time. Rory decided not to even unpack - but the rest of us had flights - none of which were reaching great heights. Last to leave the top of the hill was me - well, "plucked" was more the case - to reach almost 200ft ato before joining the others at the bottom.
Returning, as I had to, to the coast I decided that there must be some sea breeze and to visit Ringstead once more to find clear blue sky, an adequate WSW and Richard M in his van. Trail blazing for the hang glider, I managed to scratch enough height (eventually) to have a stab at crossing to the cliffs. That achieved (just) in the very non-buoyant light slightly westerly wind - a slow scratch up the cliffs ensued.
It was obvious that I was never going to get back to the ridge - so after reaching 200ft ato I decided to fly as far into wind as I could for a landing at the bottom.
The lure of the circles of tents of the annual kids- activity holiday camp was such that I decided to try a landing in the middle of one of nearest circle - but ended up some 25m short to a round of applause from the kids.
As I packed I saw Richard crossing to the cliffs and making eve less height than I had done and then, as I started the walk back up, I recognised ZZ's wing heading for the cliffs! I was astonished that he even tried to get there since I had already demonstrated the lack of lift, further amazed that he actually made the cliffs (only thanks to a thermal blip that got him over the final power cables!) - but not at all surprised that he went out of site immediately after turning left to try and find lift on the cliff. Richard landed in much the same place as myself a little later.
Sunday 21st July 2002
Report from Craig Byrne
Conditions were very rough to start with on the hill, which was surprising with so much spread out and so little sun hitting the valley. A big black looking cloud came over and "hoovered" me up to base where I was able to follow a cloud street almost all the way to Bere Regis topping up as I passed under an active bit, then pushing the bar onto the next really lifty bit. I hit a boomer over the town going into cloud at 1600ft a minute with three sailplanes before moving out to the edge and heading off towards a promising cloud over the forest.
It just seemed to disappear when I arrived so I landed in a caravan park just before Wareham (21K) much to the amazement of the carvaners who were having lunch as I dropped in!.
Saturday 20th / Monday 22nd July 2002
Report from Dave Daniels
Another bunch of "Almost" days.
Saturday saw Bell Hill covered in cars again, although fewer than last weekend - but despite the wind varying between "on the hill" to "slightly northerly" - and despite the sky having clouds that varied in looks between "possible" to "cloud suck warning" - nothing much was going up at all - and getting anything above 500ato was a rarity.
One large cloud managed to lure 4 PGs and ZZ on his HG - scattering the PGs over relatively short distances in comparison to their anticipations - and ZZ managing Lychett Minster school's playing field for 22km. Even Peter R only managed a short flight over the back to Turnworth.
19/08/02 - Neil Hutchison tells me he managed Swanage.
Sunday was even less eventful - despite similarly promising clouds - with Crag B being the only one to make any real distance vanishing under one humungous dark grey cloud to land at Wareham. Peter R managed only a few hundred feet in the 90 mins or so he was trying to find lift.
Matthew Charlesworth launching at Bell Hill
Format 56k Modem ADSL RealPlayer 212kb 586kb QuickTime 533kb 1.236mb MPEG 9.53b
Taking Monday off work to make use of the day that had been forecast on Friday was a case of ignoring my typical scepticism in the forecasterss since the NW@9mph and bright sunshine ended up as 6mph from the west under high level thin stratus that managed to create a strong on-shore breeze after several hot days giving it a hand but creating very sparce thermals in the 3 hours I was at Bell.
Craig B arrived and got as far as lifting his kit from the back of his car before tales of better conditions at Cow Down had us driving (by Craig's intriguing route!) over there arriving only in time to see Adrian C and Martin F walking down from the sea-breezed hill.
After a coffee at Adrian's beautiful home in Cerne Abbas I went to Ringstead to see of the sea breeze might fade enough for me to,only to find Wayne B trying out his new harness. James Tawse sat in his car along side me - both of us decided it was just too near the limit to be any fun. Eventually the breeze did die - but leaving the westerly wind in place - evidenced, as I write this, by a radio-controlled glider flying the west face of the hill above Durdle Door.
Tuesday 16th July 2002
OK - so what did you lucky people that don't have to work manage with this?
Report from Peter Robinson
Things didn't improve until late in the day, after a move from monks to Bell. Martin Foley and I tried to get away too early and blew it. Before we got back a whole bunch of people including some of John Welch's ex-students were hoovered off Bell at 4.30..
Wednesday 17th July 2002
Report from Matthew Charlesworth
Flying was had on Wednesday 17th in the afternoon and evening at Bell.
John Alder - as ever - got to the hill in the afternoon where it was a little light and dull/overcast. He says that he had 2.5 hours or so of very nice flying getting over 200m ATO before landing as the sky cleared and the sun came out.
I got off work early (well I had been late on Tuesday evening!) and got to the hill at 7'ish to have half an hour on his Xbow topless; the first time that I've flown such a hyper-glider. It felt very different but all went OK, and we left the hill at 9 o'clock watching a stunning sunset.
I really is a great sport isn't it?
Monday 15th July 2002
Report from Peter Robinson
Richard W managed 30km from Monk's, Martin Foley and myself 30km and 37km respectivbely. Ilanded 3km short of my house - damn!. Mark Russell and Simon ?, a visiting flier, reached Kimmeridge for 42km. On the same day Mike Bretherton, that rapidly improving flier, flew 46km from Coombe Gibbet.
Report from Colin Davies
On Monday I arrived at Monks Down at 2pm to find half a dozen pilots sitting on the hill in gusty conditions in front of a mainly blue sky.
Hearing that several had already left the hill I had to have a go. I and several others demonstrated that it was pretty rough without any bits that felt formed enough to convincingly 360 in
It was not until Craig had returned to the hill from his XC, waved and driven off that I managed to get away myself. It took a very long time and about 4 miles to get above 1000' ATO. Once there the confidence grew. The air was a lot more hazy at 4000' ASL than the day before and there was noticeably more air traffic around, including a plane that chose to fly pretty close, passing straight through the centre of a thermal I was turning in.
Several climbs later I had a decision to make and for some now unknown reason decided to head slightly cross wind towards Wareham again. Even with the strange decision it was over 30k and another new personal best!.
Report from Mike Adkins
Arrived at Okeford Hill 2ish to find no-one there but apparently perfectly flyable: phoned Martin H who said they were grounded at Monk's Down by strong wind: they would come over.
So as not to fly alone, SWMBO offered to come and sit on the hill. I flew and was immediately warned off by a buzzard. (Don't know what it is about me and birds!) Martin H, Brian M, Ian O, Luigi & Shippo all arrived.
Martin had the long sweaty walk: Brian and Ian got high but not away: Shippo had fun; and Luigi weighed the job up.
The wind freshened: I launched again followed by Ian who went down and got lost in the jungle. Richard (HG) now flew but the wind had gone a little to the west and everyone but me went to Bell. (I went home!).
Sunday 14th July 2002
Report from Colin Davies
Arrived at Bell on Sunday at around 2pm to find a dozen well roasted pilots sitting on the hill in still conditions in front of a mainly blue sky.
Seeing people get just above the hill in a couple of small bubbles enticed me to remove the canopy from the car and join the wait. Fortunately, in my first launch I encountered the thermal that let Peter R, ZZ and myself leave the hill.
I flew very cautiously staying in all lift and zeroes for as long as possible. The eventual reward was the fantastic view from over 5000' ASL! It really was stunningly clear.
Although I could see Peter off to the East I went with the drift towards the seabreeze front, hoping (dreaming) to connect and turn west for a monster triangle! By the time I got to Wareham the front was less obvious and before I knew it I had passed into the strong SW breeze to sink out and land at Ridge.
Views to remember and a personal best distance.
Eye in the Sky - July 2002 - Part 1
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