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2003 - Part II


Sunday 30th November 2003

Report by Dave Daniels

    Q. "What's the difference between a paraglider pilot and a lunatic?" ........A. "Not a lot!"
    So - the fact that my alarm clock was torturing my brain at 6am, and after only 4 hours sleep, on a cold November's Sunday morning with rain audibly descending in torrents is in no way surprising. Nor, therefore, was it surprising that new member Aidan D was phoning me at 6:20am questioning my prognosis that it ought to be flyable in the morning - but the same rain outside his windows was causing him to question my sanity. My advantage was that the rain had already abated in Winchester and I could see a starry sky.
    Leaving Winchester at 7:15am we were treated to some superlative scenery passing through the New Forest with clear blue sky,  valleys of mist and a 30cm deep carpet of mist clinging to the heather. However, static mist was not a good indicator of the much needed wind.
    A coffee with Nicole B and Dave T and we were soon demonstrating the real reason I bought the tonker toy almost a year ago, since both Aidan's and mine only just managed to climb the track to Kimmeridge.
    The wind was rather southerly, and Ali F and Dave W were reporting easterly at Knitson and White Horse - but Nicole, Dave and myself managed 20 minutes of fun whilst Aidan's 1.5 hours post CP skills made staying up in the imperfect conditions rather difficult .... not surprisingly.   Off to White Horse!
    Dave W had set himself up to launch in the bowl, and Russell W - arriving just after our convoy - joined him. The rest of us, joined by Ali F and Mike D, went to the usual t/o and flew in increasingly SSE'lys for another 20  minutes, departing just before the rain arrived.
    So - 2 sites before the pubs open on a Sunday! Cannot be bad!

Thursday 27th November 2003

Report by Dave Daniels - Eyes in the Office

    OK - Who's out on Bell Hill? Just spoken to Neil Kermode (about the final throws of buying Bell Hill) who is sat in his office on the north side of Blandford watching a wing fly about. Now TWO of us are miffed!
    It's not fair, I tell you! :)

Report by Luigi Degli-Esposti - "Occhio sulla Collina"

    Who's out on bell hill? Well, just the usual work shy. That's who... 
    Strange goings on between Steve Corben and the "French guy" from Lemmings. The bird of prey was pretty bored by the childish behaviour on display.. Aren't we supposed to scare them..?
    Please Dave, tell the 250 Wessex members that there are thermals in November... Russell could not be shot due to said thermals whisking him away out of reach on some very smooth lift... 
    So, another good day at Bell, shame that you had to work....

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Tandem? The "professional" taking a break

Report by Jon Harvey

    Yes many pilots ( probably some doing a sicky) at Bell, or was this because we are now the owners?? (We were/are - but you'd not have been aware of it at the time! DD)
    Sunny, warm gentle thermals, and around 15 of us there :Dave M, Russ W, Martin H, Luigi D, Gary P, Martin F - and Stephen Corben and Derek Saddler of Condors - to name but a few. Sorry if I missed your name from the list.

Report by RW

    A perfectly pleasant day at Bell. 
    On arrival Dave M, Martin H & Keith W  rigging Dave's Hang-glider ( He did not need it)!
    Lots of naughty little November thermals kicking off the farm in front of the bowl, keeping us in the air with only the " Old Fartonians" staying at the top of the stack.
    So many Wessex members on a Thursday - Dave M, Martin H, Brian M, Keith W, Luigi D, John A, Dr Charles C- S, the charming Nix H, the Condor posse of Steve C, Derek S & John H, late arrival Martin F.
    Where were the rest of you? Don't tell me another day in the office. Shame!!.
    Lots of lovely sunshine & flying fun especially the efforts of Luigi to get his car up the track and the low level Acro stunts of Dave M & Steve C the Oasis Posse.

Monday 24th November 2003

Report by RW

    Who said "No thermals in November" ? (Probably all the 250 Wessex members that have to work for a living Mon/Fri, read your reports last week and spent the weekend counting rain-drops slither down the window all weekend? DD)
    At Monks Down, the Gin Oasis Gang were the only ones to monopolise the one thermal of the day. Us lesser mortals were stuck to the ground or occasionally scratching what little lift there was!! Ali F. you missed it again!
    The Hive tomorrow ?  See you there!
(Anyone live in the area who also has a shotgun? :)) )

Thursday 20th November 2003

Report by RW

    I was lucky to fly , once again , at "The Hive".
    Today I was joined by Martin H. who just did not want to land & one of the elder statesmen of the Condors - " Tony B" - in his 76th year! I did not think it would be do-able so many days on the trot but, Hell, I finished the decorating so just reward.

Martin H and Tony B

Wednesday 19th November 2003

Report by RW

    I do not wish to be boring BUT! (ZZZZzzzzzz!)
    Back to the Hive this morning for an hour of low cliff soaring, other Wessex Members were invited but they went to Barton! Anyway - to cut a long story short - I was encouraged to leave the Hive for West Bay & boyo was I glad I went. After a full briefing from Steve Corben it was up, up & away, we went to the Beacon above Thorncombe & got 800' ato in cloudy conditions. This was beautiful coastal soaring in pleasant company for 2 hours with time out for lunch back at t/o.
    Wessex it isn't but it is in Dorset. Wessex Members please pay this site a visit, you will not be disappointed!!!
(Even in a northerly? DD)

Tuesday 18th November 2003

Report by RW

    "The Hive" @ Burton Bradstock was the place to be!!
    I spied a gap in the cloud & the sunshine tempted me to the beach at the Hive. I called the local expert " Steve Corben" and other members of the "Old Fartonians" sub culture of the Mighty Wessex.
    Martin H & Luigi E arrived to enjoy cliff soaring over West Bay. It was a little off to the west but did not spoil the unexpected fun. Beware the cloying grey mud as it adds kilos to the all up weight. Steve showed us the tricks of beach launching, marvellous to watch.

Sunday 16th November 2003

Report by Gary Dear

    What a fabulous clear sunny Sunday!
    I was given a ride with ZZ on his La Mouette Sphinx. Had a good half an hour at bell on what I think will be one of the few remaining clear and bright flying days of 2003. Tony Blackburn, Matthew Charlesworth, Duncan Edwards, Jon Alder, Steve Adam’s, Kevin Byrne were, to name but a few, supporting the hang-gliding contingency,
    The wind subsided around 1530hrs which paved the way to a spectacular number of paragliders with all good height gains.

ZZ flies the Tandem with Gary Dear as passenger.
John Alder
Photos by Matthew Charlesworth.    Click here for 3.5mb video of the tandem launching.

Report by Dave Winn

    Well I think I can safely say everyone that turned up to do some flying and rid themselves of the ' oh no, not another day I can't fly blues' should have gone home happy with a couple of hours to their credit. There was one of those in-between sessions where everyone looked up and secretly cursed the hangies ( I know I did ) but hey, the hangies that don't paraglide must think the same when the wind is light.
    Altogether a very satisfying day in which I was pleased of the advice given to me a few weeks before to ' use the c risers on landing' returning home without any bumps or scrapes.
    A few more days like Sunday and spring will be upon us before you know it..

Report by Dave Daniels

    What a blast! The hill was almost as busy as a good summer's Sunday - and, with no PGs getting away and a relatively small lift band, the air was pretty busy at times too. Even at 4:30pm there were 15 wings in the sunset lit sky.
    Early starter was "gotta get home early" Ali F,  closely followed by Dave W - and then myself and new member Aidan D. The wind was light and westerly to start with, but gradually came nicely onto the hill and increased. A couple of hours of PG flying and the hill was handed over to the hangies for a couple of hours, with Duncan E and Steve A going XC to Winterborne Stickland.
    Eventually the patience of the remaining 18 to 20 PGs was rewarded with some great flying, if slightly pinned in a fresh wind at times. Flying continued until well after sunset and almost into darkness.
    More winter days like today would be most welcome!

David_D-The night-rider.JPG (128085 bytes)

Photo of me by Luigi ....

Saturday 15th November 2003

Report by Alastair Florence

    Yes - my midweek wings may have been clipped (temporarily) by pressures of a new job but not totally folded. It was my choice I suppose. As someone cheekily mentioned, my last employer has probably not noticed that I've left.
    Rendezvoued with Russell W, and Steve C from Condors at Cowdown. Jacko followed but went up the wrong hill. The sky looked quiet. A walk up confirmed that it was quiet. When the wind picked up it was coming from NW. Jon H joined the group and we headed off to Batcombe as we were nearer there than Bell. We arrived to find several parked cars but no wings in the air. Most of the cars belonged to Flying Frenzy school as Andrew P had a training session underway. It was light but as a couple of pupils were maintaining height. We quickly launched.
    The wind picked up a little and was sufficiently thermic to give all of us height gains of up to 700 ft for brief periods. Jacko found us again and joined in. Several other wings were now also airborne. I couldn't see any one on Bell although it must have been on there, did anyone fly there ? After about an hour the wind switched off and we all landed. After a bit Jacko was press ganged into wind dummying, he disappeared low behind the trees and shortly reappeared in the bottom landing field. The rest of us waited, but it never got any better, still never mind the hour was good. Disturbingly one member of our posse was spotted ( and photographed clipping in wearing nothing but a helmet and strategically placed airmap ). Less said the better ! they say the further West you go the stranger they get.

Report by Dave Daniels

    I had to go down to Dorset - so I went early in case it was also flyable. Ended up getting to Bell at about 10:30.
    The wind was light - so entertained myself with some ground-handling until I got bored with that - sat on the ground and dozed off only to be awakened by the sound of a buzzard climbing out above the bowl. I was in the air and after it making 160ft and back to t/o before the lift died.
    Cycles came through that coaxed me out to make flight around the "magic tree" and back to t/o a few times - reaching 160ft or so.
    Even this was getting boring - and I was about to land and make my way home when Rob P arrived and kept me company making similar flights for another hour before a few others came along - Nikki H, Dave C-L, Steve V, Richard E & Russell E. Everyone managed a few flights - one good cycle came through giving us 200ft or so, and then a final cycle just before dusk after which everyone packed.
    One hangie rigged in the hopes that there would be more wind - but was de-rigging as we all started to leave.
    Not a fantastic day - but enjoyable all the same.

Tuesday 12th November 2003

Report by RW

    Wessex it isn't - but an invite from the West Bay Flyers had me at the West Bay Bowl (Westerly) flying in dynamic lift for 30mins with Steve C. Dave T. & Steve C.( Cuddles ) with a landing on the new man-made beach. Thanks to the Condors for the friendly advice & Site Brief.

Monday 11th November 2003

Report by RW

    A call to Martin H. confirmed to rendezvous to be the "Bench" below Ballard Down. On arrival John B. was taking an early lunch (additional ballast before the walk up). Martin H & I made a start up the path closely followed by John B. At the top we could not believe how perfect the wind turned out to be, smack on t/o. We did not take long to get airborne. It was smooth & dynamic with lots of lift everywhere. We ventured out over Swanage Town and back up to the top, then along the ridge to the gap & back. First flight was nearly an hour followed by a swift lunch at t/o. then back to smooth flying with Brian M. & Luigi E. I called Alli F. who was seething with envy as he had been watching us from his new workplace " Christchurch", "No midweek flying" was his ( through the teeth ) answer. The wind died off at about 1430hrs & it was down to the beach for some beachcombing!!! 

Saturday 1st November 2003

Report by Dave Daniels

    Summer has gone - long live winter!
    OK! No conveyor belts to the coast - but still close on 9 hours of flying by someone.
    The forecasts were varies and none of them good - but that didn't stop me rolling over for my phone at shortly past 6am to get the Compton Wendy report .... and I was out of bed! The only common thread had been "probably blown out (for PGs) with a lighter patch at the beginning of the day and again at the end of the day" - so NW @ 4 to 10kts was confirming the early day conditions. Winter has come and the caravan has closed for 4 months, so it's from Winchester it's a longer slog for me than I'm used to
. Driving up to the top of Bell Hill at (8:10am!) I found Dave W already there.
    The few whispy clouds at about 100ft were scooting across the sky far faster than the 10mph on t/o - so something was happening overhead. Taking off confirmed it - just 30ft ato I was going backward and the air was really moving about. A bad case of "wind sheer" was happening, the cold air in the low ground in front being totally static and the wind above hooting!. I managed to stay low for about 5 mins, and then a blast of lift had be in the fast stuff and I was back over the top field in a trice for a fast backward running landing as Ron S and George S were driving up the track.
    Dave W and I stood about for a few minutes as ZZ, Mike A, Sean L, Nicole B, Russell W, Martin H and Brian M turned up and, with the wind still feeling strong, watched Ireland jsut loose out to Australia in the Rugby and the hangies flew.
    Julian P arrived with his Atos and took it into the top field to rig it for his first flight with it.
    Charles C-S arrived and, seemingly oblivious to our state of caution, launched ... and climbed .... and penetrated .... in smooth(-ish) air. So - it had improved, and gradually the paragliders returned to the air and, on the first day of the new XC league year, Peter R and Sean L vanished over the back with Gary M in pursuit. Sean and Gary made the outskirts of Winterborne Stickland, Peter just managing to cross the A354 south of Blandford.
    The wind picked up again, and Julian launched the Atos and seemed to reach all corners of Dorset in his first flight, such was the speed of the "stealth wing", and some PGs decided the day would now stay too windy    Wrong decision guys.
    Until about 4pm, when the wind did die down (as forecast!), the rest of the day saw many people flying in close to limiting wind conditions that had intermittent spells where all the wings (PG) were pinned into wind and anyone too close to the hill being forced to top land.

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    Nicole B went for a tandem flight on ZZs hang-glider, and flying went on until it was getting dark - and a few HGs must have been completing their de-rigging in the light from their car's headlights!
    Also on the hill were Simon (where's that membership form!) H, Ali F, Mike D, John A, Helen A, Martin F, Jeff Davies, Russell E, Jonathan H, Nikki H, Mark H, Maurice H (who arrived and left when it was windy and should have stayed!), and a few more who's names escape me. Who'd have thought it was so difficult to remember 250 names!.
    So - those that didn't bother .... why not?
    I also owe a partial apology to newly CPd member Aidan D. Aidan called me when I first got to Bell and I said "come on down!" and then called him in the first period of being blown out to say "save the petrol - it's blown out!". And then we flew all day. Well - it was windy, and I decided it was not really "first out-of-school flight" conditions .... until the very end of the afternoon. I hope he forgives me when he reads this.

Eye in the Sky - November 2003 - Part I
Eye in the Sky - October 2003
Eye in the Sky - September 2003 - Part III
Eye in the Sky - September 2003 - Part II
Eye in the Sky - September 2003 - Part I
Eye in the Sky - August 2003 - Part III
Eye in the Sky - August 2003 - Part II
Eye in the Sky - August 2003 - Part I
Eye in the Sky - July 2003
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