Eye in the Sky
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August 2002 - Pat 1
Tuesday 20th August 2002
Report from Martin Beetham
All the forecasts I had seen for the last 18 hours had promising looking NW'ly arrows over Dorset. At noon Compton Wendy agreed with these so at 2.30pm I loaded the car and was about to drive off when I thought I'd just check Wendy again.
N, NNW, N, NNW? What's that all about? I live 10 miles downwind from Combe so turned in the opposite direction at the end of my road.
Some mighty cunimbs all around as I drove up but 3 people airborne when I arrived and another Wessex member, Terry who arrived as I did. Wind was spot on for direction but I took off expecting to be bumped about a bit. And so I was for 45 minutes. I thought I had heard that thermals got wider and less punchy through the summer - this was as rough as anything I'd flown in for a while. Some reasonable height gains but as it didn't look too clever downwind and it looked as if getting back to the hill might be difficult, I left the lift and my first XC to another day.
And enjoyable way to spend the afternoon but I was just a little jealous of the 4 pilots I saw flying just east of Andover the next afternoon.
Saturday 17th August 2002
Report from David Daniels
Did I just miss the best ever day at Durdle Door? Probably.
The forecast had been for the wind to start light SSE and increase and veer to 18mph SW. But when are the forecasts ever correct?
7am it was light and SSE, and by 8 it was strong enough for me to be contemplating flying right there in front of my caravan, but I'd arranged to meet some new members, Gillian and Nick LeGras, at Ballards.
We were all walking up the hill at Ballards, and had I not already experienced the wind at Durdle Door I'd have questioned the logic. There was absolutely no wind on the path and the boats moored beneath the cliffs were showing no signs of there being any wind.
When we were Half way up, Alan B phoned to check where I we had got to since there was no wind for him when he parked up.
We must have been two-thirds the way up before we could feel the breeze, and on tom I could feel it was just perfect - SSE 11mph-ish.
ZZ called a couple of minutes later to check if he should bring paraglider or hang glider with him, since there was nobody in the air to give him an indication.
After doing the "site briefing" bit with Gillian and Nick, having a look at their brand-spanking-new wings and harnesses, I launched to find the air as silky smooth as possible, loads of gentle lift, landing back after a quick sortie to see Nick and Gillian off.
Nick was gone within a few seconds, (another person impressing me with the "A's and D's" method of bringing the wing up!) landing some 15 minutes later with a smile from ear to ear having enjoyed the smooth air and the view on his new wing on his first post-school flight.
The wind was, for a change, following the forecast and Gillian took a couple of attempts to launch (again the "A's and D's" method impressing) in the wind that had increased and being light on her wing with little penetration. She too landed after some 10 minutes displaying a similar smile despite her discomfort with her harness that was obviously needing some adjustment.
Another paraglider flew in from somewhere further to the west down the ridge and flew in and out of the orographic cloud that was getting lower and spreading out further.
ZZ and Alan both had a couple of flights before ZZ lost sight of most things and flew to the beach followed by Alan.
he wind had done SW, stronger and the cloud was low, and Jeremy M confirmed that the conditions were similar at Ringsted. calling back about 20 minutes later to say things gad improved resulting in a convoy heading along the back roads.
When we reached Ringsted a forlorn Jeremy confirmed that the win had picked up and was giving 18mph. ZZ launched and the rest of us went to get a bite to eat as John A was rigging his hang glider.
Coming out from The Smugglers at Osmington, it was obvious that the wind had dropped so Gillian, Nick and I returned there to find ZZ and John packing away. ZZ had managed a flight along to Durdle Door - witnessed by Wessex member - Martin Wareham - who was on the beach with family hoping to fly at Durdle Door himself.
Indeed the wind had dropped and gone back to S/SSW - the lightness making any height gain unlikely and the wind direction making a crossing to the cliffs impossible without the height.
Back to Durdle Door where I launched and had a coupe of my best ever flights there, from the enjoyment aspect -the air was not only silky over the cliffs, but even at take-off - and flying was possible all the way from Lulworth to Bat's head. Being new to the sport, the wind/lift obviously dropping, the tide being in leaving only narrow beaches - Nick and Gillian chose not to fly. The conditions on every other occasion that I've flown there I'd never have suggested a real low air time pilot try flying there - but today it was as perfect as it could ever be.
In retrospect - I should have got up earlier and flown DD from 7am to 11am, had a break and and then flown again from 5pm to 7pm. Instead of that I chased the weather around Dorset!
Sunday 11th August 2002
Report from Gary Dear
I managed 3rd place In the Bognor birdman today with a distance of 23.09meters (And probably got no wetter than me running from car to pub with Alan B! DD)
It was a great day out! The wind was gusting up to 24 mph - so a lot of the people who made their own craft didnít get chance to fly them.
In 2nd was Duncan with 26 metres, he was flying a topless glider, and Ron Freeman came first with 35metres.
Next year I would like to get the Mighty Wessex involved more to promote our club.
Saturday 10th August 2002
Report from Matthew Charlesworth
A bright forecast for later led to a late'ish trip to Bell to find David D and Phil Smith soaring in an overcast sky and lightish wind on their PG's. The promise of being filmed by the Discovery Channel crew, that are doing a documentary of Gary Dears' Bognor Birdman attempt, kept me waiting to do a top to bottom as I didn't think that there was enough wind to soar.
Gary was supposed to come over in the microlight with a camera man onboard, he did come over but not 'til later and that was in the car.
Phil and I got rigged to do a top to bottom on my new (to me) "Xtralite 147". Oh how wrong I was, I'd never have stayed up on my old Calypso but by the time I'd got to the far side of the bowl I was 85ft ATO. Phil followed me out and we had just under two hours of light soaring, interspersed with some patchy but nice thermals in between. We got to about 650ft'ish ATO with David, Gary M and Craig B also up on their paragliders.
The weather got better and better as did the lift, David left a little early (Brother at caravan waiting for bbq! Bummer since it was looking much better than the rest of the day! DD) and then Gary Dear arrived with Lucy, the newest club HG member.
So there we were, at Bell, the sun was out the wind was on the hill (there was a bit of north in it) and there were twice as many HG's there than PG's! I nearly didn't go in the morning but if you don't go , you don't know. Gary D flew Phil's "Topless" for an hour and a bit shouting down from above what a good glider it was. (His old one will be dead by the time you read this after being sacrificed at Bognor.) If he wins though he'll have enough to buy a new one.
I hear that Lucy had an hour and top landed, she'll soon be taking her red ribbon off.
John Alder came as well, I almost forgot to say, and had 45mins on his "Xbow" in the "silky air" (his words) after I left at 7pm.l
Report from Dave Daniels
Compton "Wendy" was giving NNE - but Monks was actually NNW when I got there (I think Compton Wendy is about 30degs out!) and a bunch of crows that were manipulating every feather in their wing-tips to stay in roughly one place indicated that it was not smooth - so I decided to wait for someone else before launching. The rain arrived before any other Wessex member (wimps!) so after sitting in the drizzle for 15 minutes, and with no sign of any brightness behind, I made my way back toward the warmth of my caravan at Durdle Door.
I decided to take the scenic route ... via Bell, and was initially amazed to see that there was a car at the top and someone considering the conditions and decided to find out who the other "Wessex idiot" was. ZZ was in harness with wind sock NNW when I got there - so I was out of the car and kitted up ready to fly within seconds.
Before launching, ZZ had pondered "I wonder who the next person will be on the hill?"
With the wind so far to the N I thought I might have better luck at the northern end of the hill - but the lift failed and a downwind run with a hope to either reach the bowl for some lift, or at least minimise my walk, was cut off by a bunch of horses in the end field that I'd have over-flown by only feet had I tried. Eventually I was forced to land and walked up a very circuitous route so as to not spook the horses. One advantage of all the scrub having been cleared is that one can at least launch with ease from the other end of the ridge.
When I landed back at take off, I suggested to ZZ that our wondering who might be next on the hill was more a desperate attempt for the increasing numbers to dispel our increasing thoughts that we must be crazy. Several scratchy to less scratchy flights were made in conditions that varied from light to not much better with winds from N to NW, but more often nearer N.
At last a more flyable patch arrived when both ZZ and I were at about 200ft ato when Matthew Charlesworth arrived. The rest I'll leave to him,
Matthew Charlesworth showing off his new toy! ZZ launching
Tuesday 6th August 2002
Report from Colin Davis
Arrived at Winklebury at 7pm after work and flew till near sun down. Left the vario off so had a peaceful time in the smooth air with much scudding past my family playing on the hill.
Report from Craig Byrne
Arrived at Coombe just after 2:00 with Robert Dees and bumped into fellow Wessex flyers Peter Studzinski and John Readings.
Conditions were good for ridge soaring but patience was required to get that elusive thermal over the back, we finally found a nice thermal and drifted back with Peter and Pilot X on an Oasis in the buoyant conditions behind take off.
The clouds showed the way quite well and flying with others made it lots more easy to keep finding the best bits of lift, Peter headed of more towards Andover and a nice looking cloud and Pilot X and I headed more East to try and get set up to avoid airspace, clouds kept marking the lift well and we finally made base over Harewood Forest and pushed on. There was now quite a bit of high cloud pushing in stopping the sun and climbs became weaker and more broken, the last part of the flight I was never more than 800ft above the fields and at times down to 300ft. I finally landed at Brockley Warren 25k. Peter headed more East and just missed a low save with Pilot X who was last seen downwind from Popham, landing at I think was around 25k. Robert Dees was now on route driving retrieve (after some nice flights the best being 400ato / 45mins) and we soon had Peter back on the hill where pilots were still flying at 6:45, but I had to head to work! (Forgive me for not feeling sorry for you having to go back to work! DD)
Sat/Mon 3rd/5th August 2002
Report from David Daniels
"Scratch! Scratch! Run for cover! Thunder and Lightning!" - Repeat dosage at frequent intervals.
Chances are my big mistake was not to go to Bell Hill late on Monday after the "Dorset Monsoon" struck. It was only as I was leaving my caravan that I realised, from the kites flying at Durdle Door, there was an absolutely perfect NW @ 14mph blowing.
Friday 2nd August 2002
Report from Jeremy Mortimer
Got to Swanage at 4ish to find Martin Haywards' car parked. ZZ arrived as I was wondering where Martin was. We walked up to to take off to find Martin who had been admiring the view for a couple of hours. After a checking the wind speed several times ZZ took off and flew out without any problems. Martin and I followed.
We had a couple of hours flying out to sea and along to Old Harry and also along the sea front. We were joined for a while by Phil from Swanage. Hunger and the thought of a pint made me land.
Eye in the Sky - July 2002 - Part 2
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