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New Year's Eve 2003
Report by Dave Moores (who else!)
Rule one: Watch the forecast. Rule two: ignore the forecast. (Yup - I do those! But you forgot "Rule three: Live close to all the sites" and "Rule four: Have a life style that seems to tie you to absolutely nothing other than the whim to go flying"!)
Even allowing for the fact that I haven't been out a lot this year, today was special. A nasty forecast and thick fog made it all look unlikely but an early decision to try Portland E paid off and we flew near-perfect conditions from 11am to 4pm. It was bang-on, 12mph but a tad chilly, there were even some nice sea-thermals to be climbed (and those out there that doubt they exist need to fly more coastal sites in winter to find them... First frosty day of the year is usually the best, when the sea is at it's warmest).
With only myself and "the pilot-with-no-name" there it was hardly crowded and with a new dhv1 glider to play on we had a fun day in the air. Even the police, prison guards and angry birders stayed away to give us a fun and hassle free day in the sky.
Roll on next year....! (What? Not going to squeeze another flight into 2003? You just managed to demote yourself a couple of rungs down my "Most Determined Pilots League"!)
(Oh - I just thought of a better rule one : Make sure your name and mobile number are on Dave Moores' mobile so that you stand a chance of being let in on these little secrets BEFORE it's way past dusk!)
Report by Alastair Florence
Dave W called at approx 0830hrs to ask if I was already on Ballard. Not quite. I had a job to see the bottom of my garden let alone Ballard through the fog. (But Ballards could have been the OTHER side of the fog?) Still we convinced each other it was going to turn good later before blowing out in the afternoon.
0930hrs still fog.
1030hrs still fog.
I walked up at about 1200hrs (still fog) after meeting "ever-hopeful" Dave W. We arrived at the top and Martin H, who had also been fooled by the forecast, was on his way. The fog began to clear momentarily to give glimpses of the sea, however the wind was still wafting up the back. Eventually Martins fag smoke began to drift slightly in the correct direction (especially when he blew it that way) but it just didn't happen. The direction was OK but just no wind to back it up.
Reports from further down the coast telling us how good it was convinced us we should stay put and wait but by 1530hrs it was obvious we were on a hiding to nothing. The decision was made to Alpine launch in the zero miles per hour head wind and fly down. We were all rusty on the Alpines but Martin managed a smooth inflation then ran like a POW who just got over the wire until airborne. I followed suit after a false inflation following a twisted line. Dave W maybe didn't run quite fast enough (One MUST commit to the front launch!) and ended up with the canopy in the gorse but eventually ended up on the beach with us.
Not the best fly to wait ratio 3 mins flying / 4 hrs waiting (but better than 3hrs for an average ride time of 50secs at Alton Towers!) but that's paragliding and we were amongst the last to fly in 2003 - even if only briefly.
Bring on 2004!!
Christmas Day 2003
Report by Dave Moores
Despite overeating there was enough wind to lift my bloated Xmas self off the ground for an hour on Xmas day, flying "Site Z". Just Richard K and I, but I guess it was flyable at Hive Beach and Brians' secret site too... Here's hoping for the traditional New Year's day flights!
Wednesday 24th December 2003
Report by Dave Winn
Contrary to the popular belief that I only fly when I'm asleep, I pinched myself just to make sure and headed off to Ringstead where Russell W had set himself up with a cup of tea awaiting my & Ali F's arrival.
Russell started ground handling with the wind slightly off to the West at about 14mph and managed a few hops into the air before launching and soaring for a few minutes.
Spurred on by this Ali launched and found the wind too far off to the West to give much ridge lift and more or less echoed Russell's attempts. I decided to have a go myself and managed to get airborne just managing to sit back in the harness before realising that I had to land almost immediately.
We all decided to pack up and just as we were about to leave a hangie by the name of Richard arrived and we handed over the hill to him.
So to summarise we did have a go but the flying was not up to much. Well at least we all got our feet off the ground but without reaching the altitude some white bearded people achieve on Christmas Eve.
Monday 22nd December 2003
Report by Dave Winn
Everything went to plan! Setting out my glider, reverse launch, take off and the perfect gentle lift taking me up above the hill until all the cars that were parked there became little dots.
Thermalling was so easy and the vario was starting to bleep at an increasingly rapid rate.
I headed back over the hill, across the first road and was on my way to my first XC.
It was starting to get cold & my shoulders were feeling the worst of it but I pressed on and was soon at Bere Regis and could just see Corfe castle in the distance.
Then I woke up with the covers off the bed freezing cold!
Report by Mike Adkins
If Dave Winn had got out of bed a bit sharpish, he could have joined us on Our Hill and had a real flight - not just a dream!
This time I was the first PG pilot on the hill although Rod Smith (HG) had arrived at the gate before me and waved me through - what a gentleman!
It was bitterly cold and I measured the wind at nudging 14mph. Having put on so much clothing that I had to slacken my shoulder straps to get into my harness, I finally launched and had the air to myself while Rod rigged below me. My vario told me it was 1degC and after only 20 minutes I was so cold I had to land for a hot drink. Others had begun to arrive and before long there was a good crowd: I won't do the names bit - I'm bound to miss someone out.
Once I was warm again I re-launched and this time had to fly quite carefully as there were so many wings in the air.
At around about 13:15 God switched the wind off and we all came down. Hopefuls were still arriving (did you get to fly, Brian?) but I'd got another 3/4 of an hour in my logbook and decided to pack up and go home.!
Photo by RW
Thursday 18th December 2003
Report by Peter Chalmers
I have just flown for the third day running in the UK!!! Met Russell W by the seat on the path up to Ballard, he was contemplating launching from just below it on the low "cliff" but decided against it. Was it my expression?
We made it to the top and found it bang on the hill but surprisingly strong, top end for me. Russell launched and shot skywards in a huge lift band, I decided to wait for a while with John H who had just joined me.
After a little while we launched much lower down in a nice grassy patch amongst the gorse having been joined by several others including Martin H and Brian M apologies to the rest I am awful at names!
Lots of top landings including bum ones from me before it slowly weakened and we made for the beach at about 3pm.
Spare a thought for Mike who works in Swanage and had watched us flying for the last two days. He arrived at the top just as we started to land on the beach. At least he got to fly his local site for the first time even if it was a top to bottom!
WARNING : the area just below the flat grassy area at the top has been mowed and contains lots of loose bits of gorse. Launching there involves a lot of work removing it from lines!
Tuesday 16th December 2003
Report by Alastair Florence
Most of our workforce seemed to be off sick with broken limbs or flu or using up holidays so it seemed a good day to finish early and sort a few things out at home.
The weather didn't look to bad - and with a Southerly wind developing with a hint of east - Ballard seemed the place to try. On take off the wind was generally blowing at 14-16 mph, however regular blasts of 17-20 mph put me off launching. It looked like the sort of day with a wind gradient as well as the clouds were moving a bit.
I figured that Knitson, at 200ft higher (you learn something every day! DD), would either be totally blown out or maybe not. It was strong but not quite as feisty as Ballard and the sky looked brighter now. After packing 4 KG of weight into the harness I launched and had 2 enjoyable flights totalling well over an hour.
Knitson was typically rough - although the weights certainly muffle the effects ( I think they probably prevented a few tucks ). Mike D arrived as I was about to land after spotting a bank of dark looking cloud heading my way. The wind had picked up by now and not wishing to be blown over the back of the ridge I experimented with a special somersault drag landing which worked fine. (cow **it really is a good pilot to ground lubricant).
The gusts were now around 17-21mph so Mike never did get to fly, there's always tomorrow.
Monday 15th December 2003
Report by Mike Adkins
When the breeze finally went NW, as I guessed from the lying forecast that it would, I rushed off to Bell only to find Luigi and two others already in the air! How is it that I, who live almost at the foot of Bell, find people have come from miles away and are flying before I get there?! And how is it that as soon as I arrive the wind drops and everyone comes down? (That could be why they get there before you? DD) This has happened to me more than once!
Anyway, there was a group of the regulars, Luigi, Martin H, Robert - now almost entirely in red and inevitably dubbed The Red Baron - Sean L, white van man (whose name I have forgotten) Russell W, Keith W, and others, but no-one managed any sensible flying until there came a slight breeze at 14:35 which allowed a group of us 20 mins in the air: you could hardly call it soaring - more like tree-top scratching: but it was fun and made the day worthwhile.
Report by RW
A sunny day in high pressure with several forays over the magic tree at Bell. These were in thermic cycles of short duration, "Sky God" Sean L. achieving the best height gains due to his recent loss of weight. Other mid-winter flyers:- Luigi D, Dr C C-S, Derek S, Brian M, "The Red Baron", Keith W, Russell E, Martin H. et al. ('s funnny! Thought Al B was in Bahrain!? :) DD)
Tuesday 9th November 2003
Report by RW
A confirmation call to "Old Fartonian" Martin H, followed by a wake up call to John B (already heading to Ballard) and a call from Sean L. to say he was also "on his way" left me in no doubt that Ballard was the place to be!
On arrival Mike ( Sky Surfer ) was soaring the cliff & Sean L. was flying the lower cliffs above the bench. John B. & I struggled up the long & winding path followed by Martin H. & Brian M.
A pleasant flying session ensued with only one minor hiccup, I got dumped on the spur end on the way to Old Harry when the wind "switched off", close save in the grass at the edge. I clambered to the top and spied several flyers "beachcombing" so I thought it wise to follow suit.
All in all a good day.!
Eye in the Sky - November 2003 - Part II
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