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June 2003 - Part I


Sunday 15th June 2003

Report from Andy Dawson

    There was zero wind forecast so rather than sit on Bell Gary and I went towing at Middle Wallop (to get in practice for next weekend). As we had not done it for two years we were a bit rusty. The our first tow resulted in a quick return to ground and I was dubious about having another go but in the end I thought why not. The second tow was more active on the way up and on release I found a large area of lift that took me up to cloud base. Gary failed to connect to much so couldn't join me. So there I was in the middle of a MATZ above Middle Wallop at 4800 legally. There was no drift so the world was my oyster; do I go North to the Chiltons, south to Romsey or go towards Salisbury then Ringwood hoping to hit the sea breeze front?.
    I decided to go to Salisbury and set off towards a really promising cloud, sinking as I went, and soon realised I was chasing a sailplane who was also going for it. I should have guessed there was no lift as he went straight on - I continued on , in sink. When I got to the cloud there was nothing and there was no other clouds about- just blue. Ahead were just large fields with crop in and therefore I turned back. I just had enough height to fly back to the airbase (I now realised that there was now a SW drift so my return was quite quick). So at best a 8k out and return.
    The consolation was I was the only one to get above the tow and probably the only one in Wessex at cloud base that day.
    Towing does have something going for it!.

Report from Alastair Florence

    It was probably one of those weekends when you were better to forget about flying and go and do something else. Never the less with the family happy to sunbathe in the garden after lunch I thought it was worth a quick look about.
    I had a theory that the gentle Easterly wind should swing SSE and speed up as the land warmed. Unfortunately the wind gods didn't have the same idea. The lower cliffs at Ballard had a limp breath of East still wafting in.
    At home, later, it looked more SW - so next stop was Kimmeridge. 4 or 5 hopefulls were waiting and, although there was a nice steady breeze, it just wasn't quite enough. (they did get up shortly after I could see them scratching from Knitson) Also being quite South, I felt it needed a bit more land in front to add something else to the breeze.
    Rus Whyte was off to check White Horse but I couldn't be bothered to go that far on an off- chance, so headed for Knitson.
    At the ridge top a steady 8-11 mph breeze was flowing. Dave G walked past on his way from Corfe to Swanage (and then back on the train - he claimed to be working!!). After launching I scratched about for a few minutes and got chased off Ailwood Down by a Buzzard with an attitude problem (maybe the lack of wind had stressed him out?). I found the farm and a small field next door were putting up some powerful lift. With the light wind it was possible to circle up some way without going back over the ridge. best height gain was 360 ft ato. Once up you could comfortably cruise out as far as the Naturist camp and then back to the farm for more lift. A brilliant 30 minutes.
    Jacko arrived from a diving trip under Swanage pier and at that moment the lift seemed to die. Jacko had a prolonged top to bottom and I just couldn't find the lift again so gave up.
    After tea I noticed the washing was moving more on the line so went up to Kimmeridge. It was almost there, but not quite - so spent a bit of time ground handling 
    Beautiful evening though, better than watching TV.

    I'm going to miss the Wessex bash due to other commitments so plan to go to Blorenge Party in late July, any one else interested?? Any one else been?? Was it worth it??

Report from Dave Daniels

    Some pics - taken by Nicole B - of Sean L and I doing t-t-bs at Durdle Door.

D_door1.jpg (73221 bytes) D_door2.jpg (38540 bytes) D_door4.jpg (229621 bytes)
Your's T going for (and making!) the beach. Sean L winging over YT sinking fast ... to the beach.

    Pic taken by James Childress - DD @ DD ....

.DD@DD.jpg (119521 bytes)

Thursday 12th June 2003

Report from John Funnell

    Arrived at Ringstead late morning to see John Blessing already soaring the ridge. This was a new site for me so I dug out the site guide as he headed to the cliffs. Russell W arrived and kindly briefed me on the local hazards – then we took to the air. 
    After a top landing and several forays towards the sea, I went for it and crossed to the cliff with plenty of height (avoiding going too close to “that” house). 
    In front of the cliff, we were in superb smooth lift up to 470ft ato. After 2h45 of easy soaring in the sunshine, the lift seemed weaker so we headed back to the take-off ridge. 
    Also there were Sean L, John Ayling, John Alder and Alan. (sorry if I got the names wrong!)

Wednesday 11th June 2003

Report from Russell "I'm so retired all I have to do is fly" Whyte

    I received a call from John B asking was it flyable? I explained I was going to Ringstead to check it out. I arrived to a lonesome ridge with not even a dickie-bird in the sky. I installed the windsocks & thought it a bit top end, so I decided to observe the conditions for 30mins.
    I thought it was still a little strong and was about to walk down the hill when John B arrived from Southampton and It seemed a tad lighter. We walked down the slope to a small platform and I inflated and rose into the sky with good penetration. I worked at it for 30mins before I was confident to make the cliffs avoiding the first bungalow!!!
(A 2 storey bungalow? Sure you have the right house? DD)
    John B followed after a short time. I was out over White Nothe with the vario reading 453M ASL, the views were very good. John was some distance back & below and I skirted around the encroaching cloud (reminded me of being in high expansion foam)
(Whatever turns you on!) and maintained height out over the sea for quite some distance
    I realised the cloud was below and encroaching from east & west so I headed back to t/o after over an hour's enjoyment. I was amazed that I was still maintaining over 400M height so practiced my "big ears". John B was 360ing in front of T.O.. I initiated speed-bar and came down safely in the top field. A short walk back to the vehicle with a student taking video footage of John B & his amusing landing???
    John Alder arrived & I assisted him to launch in his hang-glider, and after a short lunch went home with a smile on my face.

Monday 9th June 2003

Bournemouth Pics by Simon Herbert


    (With the problems at Bournemouth - there may be few chances left to take such pics as these DD)

Report from Alastair Florence

    I hoped to make an early start at work and get off early as the forecast looked promising. However we are due to go on holiday in a week or two and we just found one of my daughters passports had expired so I thought I'd better sort that first. Second thoughts it could have saved me some money leaving one behind, maybe I could have taken the glider in her place. 
    Anyway, at lunchtime, I thought I'd nip down to Durdle Door. I took a no reply from Dave D about the parking at his caravan as "Yes, go on help yourself and enjoy it!" ( I expect he was being sick really).
(Huh? I did reply and it contained things like "Of all the bloody cheek...!")
    The wind was quite east and the cliffs weren't lifting that smoothly so after about 10 mins.
    I went back and finished a tender that had to go today (yes David sometimes I do have to work). Got back to Swanage to see wings over Ballard so I thought I'd better head up there.
    It was a bit easterly - the other 3 wings 2 from TVHGPG and 1 Wessex I believe - were doing ok around the headland.
    My first flight on the South face was a bit scratchy as the wind was not over strong either. On my second flight it was a lot more lifty. The wind had picked up as well. Only problem was this was probably due to some light rain coming in so I made an exit to the bottom. Shame because the showers didn't come to much and the wind seemed to pick up after that.
    Still there's always another day.

Report from RW

    0800 A quick look out the window & the cloud was moving towards me from the SW over the Chesil Bank, so gear into jeep & away to Ringstead. I made a number of calls to other members & on arrival "Coxie" from Wiltshire was rigging for take off. I inserted the windsock at T.O. & thought it was due South, confirmed by John A who arrived determined to fly for an hour between fishing. Phoned Martin F. & Sean L. again to let them know we were on our way to White Horse. 
    Spent an unexpected several hours soaring & thermalling, practicing those top landings.
    Adrian C got a short distance - to Broadmayne - and others flying were John B, Peter B, A Pilot, Sean L & the lovely Nix, Martin F.  Alan C watched with envy from the works van at Whitehorse garage - sending signals with flashing headlights. 
    A good day, again!! Did anyone find my black sunglasses??? 
    Reference Dave F report 2-6-03:- I believe the pilot concerned did manage to stay "almost dry" but dropped his mobile phone at the waters' edge. He was, alas or alack, greeted by a female completely in the buff with the words "Are you alright"? I wonder what she meant!! He also commented there was a naked man lying on the beach making a tent pole! He was retrieved by some friends of Jacko, what a bunch of sports.
(Now I want the report AND the photos!  DD)

Sunday 8th June 2003

Report from Dave Daniels

    I passed by Ringstead at the beginning of the day and again at the end when there were 7 paragliders on the ground. The "forecast" 15/22mph had been 25+ all day - gusting 40 at times. Not a single hang glider flight had taken place and ZZ was packing to go home.
    The "forecast" was to drop to <15mph at about 6pm - but the wind was still hooting when I left the caravan at 7:30.

Saturday 7th June 2003

Report from Dave Daniels

    Ringstead was a busy place - once the initial ground level cloud lifted, and in between cycles of intense orographic cloud behind which, and in which, there were often several wings.
    As far as I can tell, the frequent orographic along this part of the coast (Ringstead to Lulworth) is due in part to some wave effect from Portland - although I'm open to other ideas on this one. For sure, in amongst the haze and against a backdrop of higher stratus, one could see a line of Cu streaming from Portland, and on other occasions I have seen a sequence of low static lenticularis wave clouds - with orographic cloud on White Nothe coming and going.
    Anyway - whatever the reason - the damn stuff can appear from almost nowhere in seconds at Ringstead and even experienced pilots have been pinned beyond it waiting for it (and praying for it?) to clear. Rarely does it descend to sea level, so it would be unusual for the beach to be totally obscured - although one might have to push out to sea in front of the cloud an un-nerving distance before one could actually see the beach beneath (NOT to be advised - but better than heading back through it blind!). And - more significantly for hangies - you end up with a cross-wind landing when you do get to the beach.
    In my experience, if you are up at White Nothe - there is usually tell-tale patches of orographic along the cost to the east before it closes in on Ringstead - although I'd not take this as an infallible prediction of what's going to happen at Ringstead.
    On Saturday, once the low cloud (non-orographic) had cleared, I was riding between our chairman's legs .... on the tandem ...., and along as far as Bindon and Rings Hills (Behind Lulworth Cove and Warbarrow Bay respectively) orographic cloud was already evident. Durdle Door vanished from view a few minutes later as another patch of orographic formed, and then (more significantly, perhaps) another patch started forming between White Nothe and Bat's Head (the next headland to the east of White Nothe), but it was forming at between 50ft and 100ft asl. Now - if the humidity of the air is so high that it forms that low - it's humid! And if some of the same air arrives below you at Ringstead you'll be in a white-out before you can get back to land that you can see! That was about the point at which Stuart and I decided we should return to t/o.

    Actually - some time between taking off and deciding to leave the cliffs - the wind had backed some 45+ degrees - so the lift was pretty crap too - and any thought of "Oooo! We're out at White Nothe in a Southerly means a nice ride along to Lulworth - or beyond!"- was orographic-ed out! Bugger!
    We landed (and thank you whoever it was that decided to remove those power-lines immediately to the east of t/o that enabled us to commit to a really low return!), and within a minute White Nothe was totally obscured and soon after pretty much everything else too as we sat in the stuff on t/o.

    On another educational point ....
    Leaving the ridge was not easy on Saturday - there never being significant lift - so at times the ridge was a little busy with paragliders. Hang Gliders, when taking off here (particularly on days of the same light lift that is preventing paragliders to leave the ridge), tend to take off with an instant left turn and fly via the ridge immediately behind the houses just to the east of launch. 
    So - if you are a paraglider on the ridge and you see a hangie preparing to launch - clearing a space in front of their t/o is not enough, and you need to move to their right.
    So - if the aero-modellers are out in force, as they were on Sat - you have to linger in the small space between t/o and the aero-modeller half of the ridge. Hopefully the hangie can get off quick enough that you can still scratch up (well done Adrian B and a couple of others), but equally you may end up going down - so a quick top landing (thank you Jacko!) is another easy option, especially on days of little lift since this can be done in the t/o area and you can be quickly back in the air once the hangie has gone to the cliffs.

    So - ad-hoc training session over  - the flying .....
    As already mentioned, I hitched a ride with Stuart, and later Damian S's girlfriend (oops - forgot name - sorry!) had a much enjoyed tandem ride - landing on the beach along with Alan T when lift just died. Damian S was there, obviously, as was Russell W, Adrian B, Paul K, Sean L, Dave G, Keith W and Ali F
(who, as I am writing this on Monday, has had the cheek to text me to ask if he can skip the parking fee at Durdle Door by parking at my caravan if it's flyable later!).

    We had an "incident" at Ringstead on Saturday, too - one that involved the owners of the first house on the cliffs and the "invasion of their privacy". (http://www.streetmap.co.uk/streetmap.dll?G2M?X=376170&Y=81575&A=Y&Z=3)
    This didn't involve any one person on our side - just everybody that went to the cliffs on a day when the conditions were such that reaching the cliffs was not a "given" and everybody hooked into the usual "bowl" by the National Trust hut and then usually took some time to climb past the first house.
    Stuart, Sean and I visited the house at the end of the day and talked things over with the owners.
    There can be few of us that have flown past the house that haven't thought "If only ....!", it being in a fantastic position with a great view and very secluded. Standing in their back (higher) garden one is struck by these attributes - and the terrain is such that their cliff-top garden is overlooked by no-one other than seagulls .... and US! For sure, anyone that buys this house buys it for the obvious attributes - not to be the paragliding equivalent to of Feltham and Heathrow.
    We explained why we fly past their house, how we aim for the lowest suitable part of the cliff and sometimes have the height to cut left and not fly in front of them, and how Saturday was a day with little lift and quite busy.
    Their obvious preference was that they would prefer that we didn't fly there, although this was never said in so many words - and on our side we said that we would pass on their wishes that we would not linger in front of their house, or nearer to it, than conditions and pilot skills permitted.
    So - if you are approaching the cliff with loads if height - cut left and hook into the cliffs to their east and annoy that bigger "grange like" house (Holworth House) - since that's rented for holiday lets (we believe). Thanks.

PS - Don't miss David Fanklin's 2nd June report, below, that's just been received! 

Thursday 5th June 2003

Report from Dave Daniels

    The second I turned into into Southbourne for the meeting I realised it was probably flyable, I - as most others turning up to the monthly meeting -  just hadn't given it a thought and the kit was at home.
    The second I turned into Seward Ave - all I could see was Dave M's wing inflate at the other end of the road and take off. 
    Damn! The FIRST time it's been flyable right outside the monthly meeting since we moved to this venue!
    Brian M flew off to the BIC and back, several people borrowed Dave's kit for a quick flight and Dave took Bob D up on the tandem. Alan B got his wing out and flew too!
    A great evening - if only we had ALL brought our kit and made an impressive sight as 20+ wings took to the sky!
    Next month the wing will be in the car!

Tuesday 3rd June 2003

Report from RW

    I thought I spied a wing in the sky at White Horse after tea! Off I scurried to the launch in the bowl.
    As I was rigging, along came Dave G all smiles saying "I have just had an hour at the Horse!" 
    Conditions were strong but directly on the hill, so off I went ..... backwards to begin, then forward - with a kestrel hovering just below t/o.. Penetrated and stayed on the SW arm, practiced big ears and top landings for 15 mins. 
    We all went home for a rest hoping Thursday will provide better conditions.

Report from Alastair Florence

    All day I had been toiling in the office ("Toiling"! Hahahahaha!) watching cloud move steadily from the SE. I was sure Ballard would be flyable this evening. During the day I bumped into Dave M stocking up on home improvement goods who was also hoping for an evening at Ballard. 
    As I left the office the wind still looked good and the sky clear. As Nine Barrow down came into view it was obvious that Ballard was swamped in low cloud and a pathetically weak wind. Not to be defeated I headed back to Durdle Door where there was a gap in the cloud, wind speed was good, direction a little Easterly. I launched and flew to the cliffs.
    After about 10mins I concluded it was to far east for comfort
(heh! that'll teach you to play on my site!). After a safe landing I headed home. Strangely the wind was now a positive SW - so I went back over Kimmeridge. The sky looked unsettled, so I decided it was best to come back another day. Soon after, it changed again to a pleasant bright evening.
    Bloody weather!

Monday 2nd June 2003

Report from David Fanklin

    Not a position you want to be in to often! I didnt get the splashy bit that came next as I was rather concerned as to whether I was up to running half a mile on shingle. (Would the pilot like to own up and give HIS account? DD)

Ringstead Splash.jpg (103553 bytes)

Monday 2nd June 2003

Report from Simon Herbert

    I had the Monday off and woke up to cloudy overcast weather and didn’t even dare to think it would be a flying day. 1pm came and out came the sun, checked Wendy and it was on for Ringstead, chucked the gear in the car and raced from Fareham to the bay. 
    When I got there at around 3pm I heard that a Hang Glider and two Paragliders had gone for the cliffs and dropped down out of view - much to the concern of the other pilots still on the hill. The conditions looked perfect so I took off, and after gaining 120ft, headed for the cliffs, half expecting to be dumped on route as usual, but was pleasantly surprised to find stacks of lift on the way allowing me to bypass the first house and go straight for the next in line. Once there I expected to need to do a few beats to get more height as usual, but today not the case, I headed straight for the cliffs and once there looked down to check out the guys who had landed on the beach. They all seemed to be OK so onward to Lulworth. 
The wind was quite southerly so 100% perfect for the run down to Durdle Door. I have done the run down to the Door before but not made it back, although the incentive then was not so great as I had buddies with me who could retrieve me. This time I didn’t have that luxury which kind of focuses the mind when you know you could have a 7km trek back!. 
    Whilst at Durdle Door I had a little play to see if I could get the neck stretching tourists to do the same as the penguins and fall over backwards as they starred aloft. Needless to say I had little success so headed back to take off after taking a few moments to admire the crystal clear blue sea below. It was at this point I realised I had not put any media in the camera Doh!. 
    On the way back I could see the Orographic cloud was starting to build and so I cut my flight short and headed straight for takeoff whilst I could still see it. I don’t think anyone else made it to the Door that day, shame, it was perfect, and with out a doubt the most enjoyable flight I have had this year.

Sunday 1st June 2003

Report from Martin Beetham

    Gentle pressure to take my usual place in a scratch team for a very informal annual cricket match in Nottingham on Saturday afternoon followed by a bbq in Derbyshire saw me at Rushup (Derbyshire site) on Sunday morning.
    Light wind but picking up nicely as frequent thermals came through. 2 gliders in the air quickly became about 20. About 2 hours fun flying with plenty of thermals to play in, up to about 1000ft ato (no one else seemed to get any higher so was satisfied with that).
    As the morning went on it became rougher, wing pitching more than I remember it doing before in this country, vario finding its higher notes in some very tight cores. Then realised my groundspeed away from the ridge was much lower than it had been so took my place in the line of pilots heading for the bottom landing field (we walk up before flying in Derbyshire!) and a chat with various others there. These included another Wessex member, Fiona D enjoying her first day flying in Britain for 6 months.
    Early finish even allowed me time to go climbing in the afternoon, just to finish off any muscles which weren't already aching from the cricket.

Report from Sean Staines

    Andrea and I took the campervan to Beer head for the weekend. 
    An excellent Condors coastal site. Saturday was too light to gain height above takeoff but Sunday proved to be an excellent day after an unpromising drizzly start. 
    Managed two 18km out and returns stopping just before Sidmouth and one 25km out and return to Big Picket Rock beyond Sidmouth.
    Crossing Sidmouth looks an impossible gap requiring about a 2km glide crossing the promenade and hotels on the seafront. Awesome.

Report from Dave Daniels

    What I think about weather forecasters is well know - I now think even less of them.
    Every forecast was giving S/SSE 10/12mph for Sunday - so it was to be a mega Durdle Door day!. Pah!
    Hours of waiting and nothing happend - 6mph was the best the assembled throng of para-waiters had. There was some flying at Ballards and White Horse - but in the end Sean L, Nicola B, Kris B and I just had to fly - so it was a couple of beach landings and walk back up for us (well - Kris claimed he HAD to get back to London and avoided the second flight .... er, walk!)
    Actually - it was great fun!  The beaches were quiet and the wind almost nil on them. To think I've sat at the top in a sulk so many times!  T-t-Bs are now going to be an important part of my early morning and late evening flying!

Eye in the Sky - May 2003 - Part 2
Eye in the Sky - May 2003 - Part 1
Eye in the Sky - April 2003
Eye in the Sky - March 2003 - II
Eye in the Sky - March 2003 - I
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