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January 2003

Friday 31st January 2003

Report from RW.

    A brilliant day at BELL HILL !! 
    After a number of phone calls & cloud watching we headed for Bell. On arrival it was top end and people were huddled in cars trying to stay warm as the temperature was definitely " Brass Monkey"
    The assortment of fashions worn against the cold were very interesting to say the least. A lot of new vehicles on the hill - Xmas presents I suspect.
    Anyway the flying. 
    Absolutely fabulous, most reached about 650' above take off and stayed aloft until it was necessary to thaw out with a much welcomed warm drink. At one time I counted 14 wings in the air. A good 3hrs of cold but enjoyable flying with all the regulars:- Dave M, Brian E, Mike A, Gaz M, Sean L, John B, Mark R, Martin H, and several others as well as some visitors.
    See you on the hill!

Report from Mike Bretherton.

    Where was everyone ?
    Went to Monk's Down with Simon Herbert and Dom Schetini to get some flying in after a long break.
    The wind was a bit strong NNW when we arrived but was forecast to drop off at around 3pm. As the wind dropped to PG levels it went a bit more round to the NW but it was still possible to scratch around and fly to the bit between Winkelbury and Monks which worked very well for a time. The wind then died off and I thought I was going to have to walk back, but it came back on enough to just about make it back.
    Then it became very strangely smooth and lifty almost everywhere, even out over the bottom field. The wind was too light and off the hill to maintain the 200ft ATO, so I think it may have been some wave phenomenon, possibly due an approaching weather front or some of the other hills surrounding Monk's. I noticed a seagull just gliding in zero sink for miles out in front of monks at about 500 ft.
    A very enjoyable fly on an empty site.

Report from John Harvey.

    I didn't believe the forecast last night which suggested 8/10 mph northerly. Midday checked XCWeather ,and 10mph northerly @ Yeovilton . so met up others at Batcombe for a couple of hours flying. Conditions varied from very light to just hanging there, heights to 600ft obtained. Jon H, Mike R, Richard S, Harry D, Steve Cuddihy, Paul Browring, Andrew P plus students. An unexpected, cold good afternoon was had by all

Report from Alastair Florence.

    Spent a few hours at Telegraph Hill (Batcombe) this afternoon with Andrew Pearse, and others - mostly Condors (sorry don't know names). Got a soaring flight in. Wind varied from a little strong to a little light and in between just right, but cold. (nothing like a bit of flexi time) I told the boss I'd only be gone 1/2hr.

Sunday 26th January 2003

Report from RW.

    Ventured forth to Batcombe for early afternoon, met with several Condor Members but it was too "top end" on the hill. Group dispersed homewards and to play tennis??? The more circumspect (not circumcised) travelled on to Ringstead where it was on the hill but too light.
    Nonetheless the great Dr Charles C S was attempting to improve his ground handling skills and Sean L, Nicole from S.A. , Steve C of Condors. Andy P & Russell W were watching in admiration of tenacity & optimism!
    Sean & Russell had top to bottom on a Sky Brontes. After a chinwag and watching a marvellous sunset we dispersed to our domestic & other pleasures. We live to fly another day!.

Friday 24th January 2003

Report from Steve Auld.

    Went to Barton, flew with Martin H and Brian M... Luigi had disappeared westward and landed... Had a couple of hours soaring/playing above (sometimes below) the cliffs..

Report from Alastair Florence.

    No reports in from anyone - presumably no one went flying.
    We had some nice coastal soaring with Andrew Pearse at Flying Frenzy School. Got a bit windy later PM. (Reckon Durdle Door might have been nice for those suitably experienced)
(... and not working! D).

Thursday 23rd January 2003

Report from Steve Auld.

    We all had an excellent days flying at Bell on Thursday... Unbelievably, at one time, on a mid-week January afternoon, there were 16 paragliders in the air at once - some getting around 600ftATO in little thermals....

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A perfect day at Bell Hill ...... for January!
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Sean Lovatt

Report from Colin Davies.

    After a morning at work looking out of the window, at the wendy windblows and xcweather websites - I could take it no more and charged off into the countryside. The wind direction had been consistently NNW so I chose to be different and went to Marleycombe to fly on my own and exchange greetings with the many locals out walking their dogs.
    A beautiful afternoon with views over the back to the Isle of Wight.
(Glad to see you check the web site before you go out for current site status. Marleycoombe is CLOSED! Did you, per chance bump into the lady manager? DD)

Report from Mike Adkins.

    Another brilliant Bell day - almost a "confetti" day!
    I was driving home from shopping in Yeovil (why the heck had I gone shopping!?) when, in the distance, I could see dozens of wings high in the sky over Bell.
    I didn't get there until about 14:30, was in the air at about 14:45 and had a lovely half hour until it went light and I landed - well, arrived.
(hmmmm! NOT everyone!) was there - Martin H, John A, John B, Steve A, Russell W, Mark R, Brian M, as well as loads of others whom I didn't recognise in their winter garb. I happened to remark to Dave Moores (also there!) that I wished I had arrived earlier to which he responded "Oh you didn't miss much, Mike: we didn't get into the air until half past nine!" (I know that for a fact - I spoke to him at home at 9:30! DD) 
    Fantastic weather for January - let's hope we get some more like that! 

(Incidentally, please would people NOT park in the gateway: I know the gateway was technically left clear, but Mr Yeatman could never have got a tractor and trailer in from down hill, and such parking renders entry and exit dangerous for those vehicles which can negotiate the track. Please park a little further up the lane on the RHS and walk back.).

Saturday 18th January 2003

Report from Craig Byrne.

    In between storms The Barton Scratcher's managed a few flights before a CU-NIM stopped play!
    Conditions were quite west and strong at first but fun, then the wind came more on and sky looked horrible towards Swanage.
    After waiting to see what horrible sky would bring we had a pleasant short hop before feeling the first rain drops.
    Then the fastest top landing ever; before rain, wind, hail & lightning struck.

Thursday 16th January 2003

Report from RW.

    Flying today 16-01-2003 at Ringstead Weymouth.
    Gaz ( Gary Mullin ) first flight following accident at Morzine & of 2003, John Welch flying trip from France, Tim Horsey 1st flight of 2003. Ron & John of Avon ( Hangies ).
    Very light to start and then feisty with a window of about 30mins did not make the cliffs.
    Watched the hangies gain 1,000ft above the cliffs and decided to go home.

Sunday 12th January 2003

Report from Dave Daniels.

    "What's an off-shore breeze, daddy?"
    "Ask WendyWindblows, son!"

WwndyWindblows map @ 7am

Saturday 11th January 2003

Report from Nicole Barnard.

    Where was everyone else?
    On Craig's favourite site, Monks Down!!! Freezing our bits off and getting short bursts of flying in, whenever the wind picked up as it was VERY light. Come to think of it, in the small lift band it was more like dodging everyone else, rather than proper flying really...Definitely not the best site for the day, judging by Craig's posting, but nice to catch up with the gang on the hill, practicing the odd side landing, and having loads of fun while trying to keep the blood flowing into the fingers and toes. Think it was maybe eight or more of us there!
(hmmm - northerly was not the place to be - why  not Bell Hill?  Or too lazy to walk up the track while it's almost impassable to all but the most knobbly-shod 4x4? D)

Report from Craig Byrne.

    After talking to Dave D to see if he was flying this morning he confirmed that Wendy was giving 6 knots E / NE @ Portland,
    I thought what the heck its a nice day and just flyable lets do it!
... (after telling me that he'd not bother! D)
    I expected to see others flying but know one else was mad enough to brave the cold or traffic, with the road works trying to get into Weymouth. A quick call to Coastguard Helicopter to let them know I was intending to fly then a quick visit to Borstal Reception to let them know I would be flying; I was soon stood at take off checking out conditions.
    The seagulls were doing really well topping out at 300ish ATO. The wind was E/ NE 10-14 mph and just a few white horses on the water, I checked out Dave 'The Ferry's' Alto and with a couple of steps was airborne again.. Bloody Wonderful!!!!! I
    spent the next 1.5 hours enjoying some very good soaring conditions even managing to fly down past the North end of the island which I had never managed before, then the usual wingovers, spirals & soaring back up from low to keep myself amused (I still cant manage I hard spiral, just as it bites so do my ribs still). I only landed after I had lost feeling in my fingers!
    Where was everyone else?

Saturday 4th January 2003

Report from Craig Byrne - or "Bird in the Tree" report.

    Had a fantastic day at Monk's Down flying in hour shifts then warming my hands at 'Costa Dave Daniels Coffee Emporium'.
    Then another flight; more coffee; hand warming...
    It was one of the best winter flying days I have ever had at Monk's, nice little 3 up thermals that you could manage a couple of turns on, and great fun thermaling with friends.
    Then at the end of the day I did what I have always said to others NOT to do!
    I took a thermal back just over the tree line and then tried pushing back out in front of the hill using full speed bar - also way to low!  WHACK! Big tuck! Even when backing off the bar it had already done 3 * 360's locking the risers, I tried in vain to untwist the risers and was too low for the reserve!
    I was VERY lucky to hit the trees as, if I had not, I don't think I would be writing this report today. They really slowed my impact and, as I suspected, have bruised some rib's.
    The glider looks not that bad - hopefully - and Dave 'The Ferry' Jones has been kind enough to lend me his old Alto until I sort out my wing.

    In summary - it was totally my fault!
    Don't put yourself in that position in the first place.

    If you find you are caught pinned above the tree line there (or anywhere!), do as I have often done and just fly back as far behind the trees as possible. (This often has a bit of rotor but manageable, so be upright in your harness ready for a PLF)
    Now I am really looking forward to the Xmas Meal 2003! I have managed not to win an award for crashing into things for over a year now so I guess it had to happen, really :-)

    My thanks to all those that shinned up trees, loaned ladders and bow saws, undid risers from lines, recovered my wing from the tops of the tree, etc., etc., with no additional damage beyond that already incurred during the "landing".

Report from Dave Daniels

    The best signs that Saturday was looking good were the four phone calls I received on Friday evening asking for my prognosis -the gist of which was "Cold!". Whilst the forecast was looking possible for the day, it also indicated that the wind would veer through almost180 degrees on Saturday evening which indicated that some systems were tracking past in close proximity to the Wessex sites. A slight speeding up/slowing down or track change could make a lot of difference.
    Alarm set to 7am and the early-morning Wendy reports were looking good with Westbury giving 9mph from the north (Compton Abbas is currently out of service), so when Nick LeGras called at 8am it was "get your skates on - it could blow out later!" and he was outside my house almost before the thermos had been filled with gallons of hot coffee.
    Reaching Monks by 9:30 we found Gary Dear rigging and Craig Byrne arrived within seconds, and - by later in the day - the parked cars resembled a good weekend in August!
    The wind was 13/14 gusting 16/17, with patches in the day where it was either lower or higher - but by the time we left at about 3:45pm, John Alder was rigging his hang-glider and there had not been a minute when the sky was devoid of a wing.
    Also making up the paraglider "team" included Daniel Capelin, Colin Davies, Robert Fish, Jon Harvey, Martin Hayward, Domenica Lopane, Rory Lynch and Stuart Martin (both launching again as I left), John Readings, Sean Staines, Peter Studzinski, Keith Wright - plus several others who's names escape me. Others in the hang-glider "team" were Phil Smith, Richard Mosley and Ron Smith.

    I gather that aviation was also committed at Bell Hill on Friday, too - so that's 2 out of 4 days flyable in 2003!  Let's hope the same ratio can be claimed in 361 days time!

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Craig Byrne
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Richard takes off.

Eye in the Sky - November/December 2002
Eye in the Sky - October 2002
Eye in the Sky - September 2002
Eye in the Sky - August 2002 - Part 2
Eye in the Sky - August 2002 - Part 1
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 and before