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July 2003


Tuesday 22nd July 2003

Report from Matthew Charlesworth

    John Alder, Ron Smith, Alasdair and I flew at Ringstead on Tuesday. I got there at 11'ish to find Ron nearly finished rigging so got un-loaded asap to get rigged up myself. Half way through rigging, Ron took off and got really high in the bright sunshine so I got ready and dived off as well, just as John and Alasdair arrived.
    The sun went in but I was still above take-off by the time I got to the cliffs and had and hour and a half in smooth lift up to 800ft or so ATO. I got tired so landed just as the sun came out again, and after a quick bite of lunch had another flight in the sunshine, this time, and got higher, 997ft ATO (I just couldn't find the extra three feet) and got back over the landing field with 800ft to spare.
    A fantastic day and as I left everybody was lunching before their second flights, and I guess it was flyable well into the evening.

Sunday 20th July 2003

Report from Alastair Florence

    Another unflyable ish day until 1900 hrs when the wind eased slightly.
    I went up to Knitson and found it blowing 15 - 17 MPH. There was a bit of a wind gradient with height but not to much to worry about. A bit of speed bar soon got me in front of the hill and there I enjoyed an hours airtime.
    Not quite as rough as usual but instead the wind seemed to be twisting around up to about 30° at times. Looking at the valley floor in front of the hill there are a lot of small valleys and hillocks, I reckon these throw the lower wind around a bit and this in turn makes the upper wind peculiar. That's my theory any way.

Tuesday 15th July 2003

Report from Dave Daniels

    A hot one!  click image for animation!

Saturday 12th July 2003

Report from Alastair Florence

    I had previously predicted that Ballard would be flyable by 1300hrs. I went as far as the lower cliffs and found about 2 mph ESE sometimes Knitson strangely seems to work when its like this but Knitson had a good 10 mph Due East ??
    I gave up as I didn't fancy driving to White Horse where RW reckoned it was flyable. So went home to do some DIY to try and keep the Air traffic Controller happy. Little did I realise that Luigi and Brian from Southampton were lurking on Ballard little more than 200 yds apart separated by gorse bushes and not realising each other was there. About an hour later the wind must have picked up as both wings appeared.
    The curtain rod had to wait - much to the wife's disgust.
    Conditions were gentle with mild thermals popping up from the cliff but very pleasant.
    I was surprised to see a Duck on collision course with me. The duck did not seem to be looking where it was going and only took avoiding action 15 metres away, even then it turned left to avoid collision. You can't trust these ducks
    Just before 1800hrs the wind abruptly turned off and the three of us glided out to bottom land. ATC has grounded me tomorrow over the curtain rod incident though.

Friday 11th July 2003

Report from Matthew Charlesworth

    I got to Bell at about 6PM on Friday to find loads of hang-gliders on the hill. Mikes report was right as it had been hang-glidable all day but according to Ron Smith, it had been very lumpy and not too pleasant. You'll have to ask them how it went as the wind had dropped a bit by then so I rigged up and had half an hour in testing but OK conditions. When it was on I got high (800ft ATO), but when it was off we were scratching right in the bowl and were lucky to top land. Somebody did bottom land though, on an old Gyr hang-glider. It was Dave Moores doing his first solo top to bottoms. As I arrived at the hill they were packing up the tandem in the bottom field but I was flying when Dave did his first T2B so missed all the fun.
    I saw him do his second though. He soared well for a few minutes and even did a 360 to show off. The guy is a natural and as I was leaving he was going back up to do yet another flight in the strengthened wind. You must get him to do a report on his progress. Bob Dear was flying and witnessed it all so I can feel an article coming on in the club mag.

Report from Brian Parkins

    First visit to Bell Hill in many a long time. (I am reminded later why I've stayed away so long ...) A brisk NW with clear skies. Where did that nice-looking Cu disappear to? Forecast is for high pressure to build, so I expected the breeze to be light - and drop through the day. It didn't - wonderful.
    Gorged myself on airtime. Clocked up over 4-hours in just 3-flights. Average height gains to 1,000ft ATO, but reached 2,000ft during one nice spell. Good to meet up with some familiar faces as around a dozen hangies played in the sun. Don't remember anyone going for distance, everyone seemed too busy enjoying themselves investigating the interesting lift patterns and exploring the site. Our very own Editor had a couple of pleasant flights too! I scrounged a 30-min flight on the new Wills Wing U2 160. Very nice - thanks Matt!
    By early evening the wind dropped to a gentler 14-16mph, and the floppies came out to play. Boy, did they swamp the slope!
    The lift cycles became more marked with familiar periods of 'scratching'. I got caught out at the wrong end of the bowl during a particularly severe 'down'. Problem was, PG everywhere - most seemed to be scooting low around the launch area. Why couldn't a few land and give the rest of us some breathing space? I was staggered to see 2 or 3 MORE launch in the weak conditions - aggravating the situation. Don't these people have any consideration? (I'm afraid my annoyance got the better of me - I shouted at 'em. Sorry to spoil the tranquility of the evening.)
    The lift did return, and I did manage to climb back up from below the tree-line - but not before more shouting. (I guess the supine flying position of PG makes it impossible for pilots to look anywhere other than directly in front. Rather worrying when trying to overtake behind. There's gonna be a serious mid-air ....)
    That was enough for me - time to pack up. (Now I remember why I don't visit Bell Hill so often.) Watched Dave M. complete some impressive flights on an old Goldmarque Gyr. Nicely done, Dave. Very pleasant drive home in the cool evening air and setting sun.

Report from Mike "Real Paragliding" Bretherton

    Weather Jack is verging on a 5 star day and a light NW post cold frontal forecast has Simon Herbert, Dom Schetini, Adrian Bishop and myself arriving at Bell for an early start. But its blowing 24mph (not again!) and the hangies are rigging !, Welcome to the world of paragliding or is it para-waiting.
    We phone Wendy for Combe and its NW 4 -14mph, so we all bugger off to Combe, it’s a long way but its better than waiting for it to get stronger on Bell. 
    We get to Andover and phone Wendy again, its now gone WSW, so another change of plan and we are now heading for Olivers. 
    As we get get close we spy a paraglider several Kms from the hill and high, and we accelerate towards Olivers. As we get to take off another two pilots are leaving the hill in almost blue conditions. We prepare to take off, but we are the only pilots there and the wind is blowing from almost nothing to in excess of 20mph. Mmmmmm, might give it time to die down, but Simon launches and is flying nicely out in front with no hint of gale hanging even though the wind occasionally comes blasting through launch at hang-glider speeds.
    As the cycle subsides, Simon lands and I have a go. After a couple of crap take off attempts, I launch and quickly climb to a couple of hundred feet. Its very thermic and I am a little concened about leaving the hill too low but I take a strong one back and I am climbing far more than I am drifting back so I continue with it. It’s the strongest thermal I have ever had in the UK, constant 4m/s and hitting 5m/s at times, yes, yes, yes ! 
    After about 1000ft it petered out to almost nothing but I kept with it. With just a few whisps of cumulus to follow I play with them between 1000ft and 1500ft ATO for about an hour all the way to Pewsey. 
    It was fairly busy up there, sailplane, light aircraft, twin engine aircraft, military transporter, apache attack helecoptor and I had a very close encounter with a military helecoptor (chuga chuga chuga, as I waved at the pilot !). I forgot my airmap
(naughty! DD) and I had to keep looking at my GPS and the ground to make a judgement for where the Danger Area and military airfields were. 
    At Pewsey I nearly lost it but got a nice thermal up to base which was about 3000ft ATO. I decided to take a risk and go for a few down wind glides to get a few more kms in. It worked quite well and I followed some street wisps .... if there is such a thing. 
    Eventually I past near to an airfield which turned out to be Thruxton so I turned away, I checked my GPS afterwards and I just managed to stay out of the Danger Area and the Thruxton ATZ so my dead reckoning was OK. Had trouble getting around Andover so when I got low I landed by a Harvester Pub before I landed in someone's garden.
    2hrs and 37Km from take off. After I landed my friends were already en route for a retrive. Got picked up as I was sunning myself in the beer garden and tucking into a Pint, Burger and Chips, NICE !.
(I'd have happily forgone the PB&C for 37km! Thanks for a real flying report! DD)

Simon on Olivers.jpg (40093 bytes) Mike at Base.jpg (34189 bytes)
Simon on Olivers Mike @ Base
Booty over Pewsey.jpg (124980 bytes) Pewesy.jpg (98123 bytes)

Thursday 10th July 2003

Report from Alastair Florence

    Belated thanks to Dave D for the retrieve from the field outside Sean L's house last Sunday. Dave often seems to spend as much time helping the rest of us fly as flying himself, good man (creep creep).
    Yesterday I tried Kimmeridge at lunchtime but found it a bit light to fly properly and performed some acrobatic rolls whilst going through gorse and nettles instead. Then tried Knitson in the evening, that was too light and too West (there's no pleasing some people).
    I resisted the temptation to take another short lunch break today and instead went to Kimmeridge on the way home. A new pilot (who's name I didn't catch) and Phil "ZZ" were already there. The wind was light-ish but looked flyable. We were soon in the air as we expected the wind to drop to nothing before long. There was enough lift and enough punchy thermals to make things interesting. After nearly an hour the sea, which had been glassy, was being ruffled by something. Within the space of 2 or 3 minutes the gentle breeze had become nearly 20 mph. Phil was by the mid spur and got back to T/O without too much bother, I was at Swyre Head and had to make a series of speed bar tacks to get back for a safe landing.
    The wind soon subsided and became pleasant again with Dave G and Alan B arriving to enjoy the evening until the wind died.

Monday 5th July 2003

Report from RW

    Another great day at the office!! John B, John F, & Alli F all supposed to be at work, we all like competition for airtime!!
    After a lovely day on Sunday at Ringstead it was much the same today just different wings & faces. Even XC King Matt R came along - although only to say Hello. 
    Height gains of 600' ATO and some smooth air whilst Kimmeridge was "blown out". 
    Hours of fabulous soaring and top landings, such pleasant flying. In attendance:- Luigi, Shippo, Peter C, John B, John F, Keith ?, Brian M, Martin W, Ron S, Alli F, local photographer Ian Koenig who has some good shots if you want.

Sunday 6th July 2003

Report from Matthew Charlesworth

    Managed to get a flight in at Ringstead this Sunday. The forecast was for sea-breezes so I left it until after lunch, having spoken to ZZ at Bell earlier that morning. There was no wind there but he called me from Ringstead later (as I was half way to Bell) to say that it was light but on the hill. As I got to Ringstead Richard Mosesley launched and had a shortish flight and, as I was rigging, Ron Smith took off and seemed to be doing well out on the cliffs even though there didn't seem to be too much lift on the way out there. I followed out and was under cliff height when I got there but managed to claw my way up to 450ft ATO. There were several PGer's up including ZZ and Stuart M was doing tandems with a group of girls! (And he won the Bell raffle! What does a guy have to do to get that much luck?)
    Anyway, the conditions were coming and going a bit so when I lost 100ft in one beat up the White Nothe I decided to head back to landing field. Typically as I was de-rigging the wind started to pick up again and both Richard and Ron went for 2nd flights 
    A quick hop then, but worth it all the same and it's given me my 'fix' for the week.

Report from Mike Bretherton

    After a reasonable time on Friday 4th July at Bell Hill where I managed 7Km after an hour in the air and having a crap time at Combe on Saturday I went to the Festival of Flight at Kemble Airfield near Cirencester.
    At 11am the sky looked epic and I was rubbing my hands at the thought of a long XC though unrestricted airspace in a light South Westerly, .but by the time the winch launching commenced at midday, the sky overdeveloped again for the third day running and I had 3 winch launches only to about 400ft. 
    On one launch, I managed to climb up to 1,500ft in very weak lift and floated around for about 30mins, nice while it lasted.

Over Kemble Airfield.jpg (51357 bytes)
Over Kemble Airfield

Report from Simon Jones

    What a day yesterday - my first proper day on the hill with the Wessex crew and I now see what all the fuss was about! Here is my report which you are free to use on the Eye in the Sky but apologies as I don't know everyone's names just yet... 

    Arrived at Kimmeridge at midday with Dave Thomas to see 3 or 4 wings in the air. We sensed Nicole giggling from on high as we trudged up the bridle path and she circled effortlessly above in the classic dynamic conditions. I had two thoughts - would I make it up the hill and would I complete my CP?
    I met Dave Daniels at the top and Adrian Bull then turned up and pointed out the regular faces (Alistair 'how high?' Florence etc...) although some were already familiar from the Bash.
    Launching under the eye of John Welch I had great fun in the increasingly strong conditions and saw Adrian and Dave T launch beneath me - Adrian impressive as ever on the Firebird Z-One, clocking well over an hour cruising to the end of the ridge and back and getting some good height gain ATO. I chose my moment to come in and completed a clean top landing which left one more to do. Conditions strengthened for a couple of hours but John encouraged me off the hill once more - the thought of that green CP sign off sheet was ever-present as I span around and got away cleanly on the trusty Atom. By now, some thermic gusts were coming through and I was getting higher with every beat but conscious that I had to top land and the sooner the better - no big ears required though and I touched down to complete my CP - hurrah!
    Alistair Florence got away and almost made Corfe Castle - one day I'll work out how to get so high so quickly! - and everyone enjoyed themselves. Later Brian and Luigi turned up and also had some airtime in the smooth evening air. It was my first day on the hill since joining Wessex three months ago and everyone was very friendly and encouraging, especially Nicole 'Noodles' who said it was nice to see some young blood on the hill (I think she meant Dave T!)...all in all a great day, lovely flying and thanks to Dave Daniels for the Jaffa cakes. Can't wait till next time!".

3 wings at Kimmeridge.jpg (49561 bytes) Ali Florence climbing away.jpg (29289 bytes)
Arriving at Kimmeridge Ali starts his flight ....
Go on Ali - go to Corfe!.jpg (23254 bytes) Noodles soaring.jpg (31446 bytes)
... and climbs away! Nicole soars in the smooth evening air.

Saturday 5th July 2003

Report from Dave Daniels

    This was most certainly not the weather that had been in the exciting forecasts for the past 4 days! "Naff" would be an over statement with "top-to-bottoms" being the order of the day for the frustrated paraglider pilots assembled at Bell Hill.
    The only good use for the day was to do a couple of front-launch take-offs on the tandem as part of my tandem training with John Welch.

Friday 4th July 2003

Report from David Franklin

    This was Bell on Friday. Not quite the weather we had been hoping for, but it was still good enough to escape the prowling insurance salesman who insisted "you lot must be hurting and injuring yourselves all the time".

DFranlin-20030704.jpg (96163 bytes)

Tuesday 1st July 2003

Report from RW

    A look out of the bedroom window at 0930hrs ( I had been up for 3 hours) and I saw an unfamiliar wing flying at Ringstead. 10 mins later & a call from Dave G. to confirm it was his good self on his new wing & I was mobile to the hill.
    The weather looked abysmal with huge dark grey clouds looming behind the ridge at Dorchester & coming from the west. No problem, the sun was shining at Ringstead & it was smack on! An hour of bumbling around with nothing higher than a hundred feet and it started to spot with rain, a dash to the jeep & lunch and it cleared away. Forward into some little thermals and some additional height gain and it was a no go to the cliffs as the wind was definitely veering westerly. Another small shower & Gaz M. arrived for a look see! "Oh! there's a nice thermal" he exclaimed & I launched & started to get hoovered up, still no go to the cliffs as it was definitely, definitely going west; So in went the " big ears" and a good clean landing back at T.O. to a compliment from Gaz & the words " Good decision". Enough said.

Eye in the Sky - June 2003 - Part 2
Eye in the Sky - June 2003 - Part 1
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