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March 2003 - I


6th/13th March 2003

Report from Matthew "Hangie" Charlesworth.

    John Alder, myself and Gary Dear and his partner, Sabrina, had a week flying in Lanzarote.
    We stayed at Ray and Josie Coopers house in Femes, which I hugely recommend, and the only problem was that Air 2000 decided to not take my glider. Luckily Ray has plenty so I didn't miss any flying. 
    We flew every day but the last at Macher (very bumpy), Mala (Cloudbase!), Mirador del Rio (awesome but light) and Famara ( smooth as silk into the sunset). A whole report would take up too much space but it was great and I for one will surely be back.
    There should be some photos to admire somewhere near these words to give you a flavour. I even had a few minutes on a tandem with Gary, just to show Sabrina how safe it was before she had her go.
    That's next on the list of things to do. Who did you say has the club tandem? Even if its a bit old it should still be flyable and great fun..

Bernard.jpg (78682 bytes)

Thursday 6th March 2003

Report from Alastair Florence.

    I am currently managing a reed bed and Bittern Habitat creation in Waltham Abbey, there aren't too many hills over that way, Dunstable Downs is the nearest site. I had previously spoken to Dunstable HG &PG club contact and down loaded their site guide. 
The weather looked good for the site so I bunked off and headed for Dunstable. On arrival I found Tanya Ephgrave (Wessex Member and CC) + others wrapping up following some airtime as the wind had increased to around 20 mph. Tanya gave me a site briefing and reckoned the wind would drop later. 
She was right. Had to wait a couple of hours by which time several more Dunstable members had arrived.
    By 3.30 pm it was flyable (apart from one guy who had already been up for at least an hour using plenty of speed bar). By 4.00 pm there where at 10 or 12 of us flying. had an enjoyable day and was made to feel welcome by friendly and helpful Dunstable pilots. 
    London flying club has a busy sailplane launch field directly below the downs (emergency bottom landing is alongside their runway) so it was quite entertaining watching the sailplanes soaring the downs whilst waiting.

Report from Colin Davis.

    Today the good weather caught me by surprise, but I managed to get up to Whitesheet at lunchtime.
    The wind was bang on and about 15 mph yet the only other flyers on the hill were six buzzards. Broken thermals to start with but then a big one came through and I managed to get away. General indecision led me to go cross wind before landing and hitching back to the hill. Still no one else there so I flew for another hour with the buzzards before heading home to earn some daylight brownie points with the family.

Sunday 2nd March 2003

Report from Dave Moores.

    Actually we got 12.4km on Sunday! (I stand corrected. Did you send it to Yacek to kick of the2003 league? DD)
    Not the longest (I hope) flight this year but my first of this season, and a first XC for Jacko on the front.
    Strangely this flight was almost a carbon-copy of my last flight of last year from Bell - same line, same thermals in the same places except on that occasion I landed at the microlight strip at Newton Peveril and Gary Dear flew me back to Bell in his microlight.
    Not quite the Pete Robinson helicopter trick but then I'm only a pup... 
    Thanks for coming to look for us,.

Report from John Harvey.

    Well, the forecasters managed to get it right today. (More like you looked at the one that happened to guess what eventually happened, I think. DD)
    Cath and I arrived at Telegraph Hill around 10:30 and, although straight on, the wind was averaging 20mph , 25 max - so went for a walk.
    On returning to the car park, found Harry and James Lynch (red ribbon) - so went to t/o, and now flyable 15 mph average.
    All flew for ages in lifty conditions and, as these calmed down, others arrived - Stuart Martin, Guy Anderson, Adrian Coombe, and Stephen Corben, Conditions were cyclic, so either everybody flying or grounded.
    Enjoyable afternoon had by all, and flyable from around midday till 4.30pm.
    Joined by Domenica Lopane for an extremely short flight <20 secs> before a classic T/D in a very tall oak tree. She'd obviously been watching a Robin Hood movie recently
(I never knew he could paraglide, too!). No injury, other than pride - and our friendly tree surgeon, Phil Anning (also a Wessex member) came over to prune the tree and recover the wing.

Report from Dave Daniels.

    A long and cold "mass para-waiting" session was rewarded with some great winter flying.

    But before we get to that .....
    Bell Hill looked more like a meeting of the "Mighty Wessex 4x4 Club" than anything to do with flying and, having recently joined this dubious bunch of individuals, it was interesting to observe the manner in which these vehicles took on the very slippery track.
    Top points in the "This is a doddle" category" go to the diminutive Suzuki 4x4s that were so light that they were prevented from slipping sideways by the ruts already created by the larger Tonker Toys. Top points in the "Point me where you want to go and I'll go there" category goes to a Subaru Legacy 4x4 that completed the top section cocked-off by about 10 degrees resembling a plane on approach for a crosswind landing - but not a slither to be seen.
    Then there are the two wheel classes! Zero points (or even negative points? go to John Welch in his wheel-spinning, mud-steaming, Escort van that needed three people to push (or was that lift?) it the final 50m, and Luigi who almost scored top points for both entertainment and artistic merit performing multiple spins and pirouettes before his dizzy passenger bailed out and walked the remaining yards.
    Top points in the "This is embarrassing" category have to go to Dave Compton-Lowe in his large white van, and Clyntyn Janes in his even larger (and very heavy) camper van - neither of whom made it past the quagmire just inside the gate without the assistance of the Tonker Toys of Pete Robinson and myself, respectively.

    Most impressive in the 2 wheel category were, as always, the Citroens of Mike Adkins (XM) and Sean Lovatt (Xantia) - and I'm sure that, had the track not been blocked by others, Peter Stud's 2CV would have been no less elegant.
    The moral of this off-topic rambling? If it's winter time and it's been pissing with rain half the night - don't bother trying to get up in anything other than a 4x4!!!!!! .... or Citroen!

    First on the hill at a little before 10am was Gary M (Dihatsu Fourtrak), followed a couple of minutes later by myself (Mitsubishi Shogun) with new member Gavin Webb as passenger up the hill. Conclusion on reaching the top - it was windy!  22mph but bang on the hill - sunny and clear skies. And the numbers increased ... Dave M (Suzuki) with Matt J, Nick LeGras, Mike Adkins, Sean L (Xantia),  Nicole B, Charles C-S, Dave C-L (big white van), Peter R (Chevy 4x4 Cab/Pickup), Russell W (Suzuki Jimny 4x4), Luigi D (Prima Ballerina Rover 600), Wolfgang F, John W (Escort  Van), Mark H, Maurice H, Keith W (Land Rover Discovery), John J (I think that was him in the Subaru Legacy), Brian M, Martin H, John R, Phil S, Ron S, Sean S, Pete S, Lawrence T (Land Rover Defender) - plus a load of others who's names/faces escape me. In fact - all jokes apart - it was a good job there were some 4x4s since the parking in the road was at bursting point!
    Whilst the PGs stood in the lee of the larger vehicles, Ron S and ZZ appeared from the track behind the top field and took to the air - followed a little later by John J. All three cruised around in the blue skies gaining considerable height for an early spring day.

    Some time later, Dave M decided that his and Matt J's combined mass on the tandem should be able to penetrate and they lunched, flew around for a while, found some weak thermals, and eventually vanished over the back rather low - but managed some 8km (I think someone said) by making use of a large bonfire. With nothing else to do I drove of to retrieve (leaving my tow-rope for Pete R to play AA man and tow Dave C-L to the top of the hill.) - but they had gone much further than others had suggested.
    On my return, there was a solo wing in the air, and (whilst pulling Clynt out of the mud) others joined in.
    Back on the hill again (about 2:30pm), and there were 3 hangies and 10 paragliders in the air, and soon several more, resulting in some great winter flying with Mike Richards getting away on his red wing - but not far I would estimate.
    As the wind died down to the point that most were either scratching or packing, yours truly started his tandem training in the tutelage of John W - several practices at pulling the wing up and dropping it again followed by a "two beats and a side landing" flight without incident.

Remember - the gate should ALWAYS be closed! If you find it open .. CLOSE IT!

Eye in the Sky - February 2003
Eye in the Sky - January 2003
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