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Sunday 1st February 2004
Report by Gary Mullins
25 Jan - 1 Feb. Courchevel. Flyable, only on the last 2 days. Too much snow. Glad I didn't take glider.
Friday 30th January 2004
Report by Dave Daniels
On the last day of our skiing holiday (Alan B, John R, Ian O and myself) in Plan Peisey (part of the Les-Arcs area), the weather eventually became paraglider friendly and I managed a quick top-to-bottom (2,280m to 710m) ending in a silky smooth landing on skis in a large field of 4 feet deep snow. If only every landing was so easy!
The skiing was superb - with 7 days of fantastic snow, even if 2 of the days were a tad white-out.
Climax of the week was a ride in a 4-man bob-sleigh! If you've never done it - go and do it now! Most incredible 63secs in my life - even at £1 per sec! Course record is 57secs for four athletes pushing like mad at the start - but we did it in about 6secs more with just a nudge to get us moving.
The gang of four shortly before I flew. DD mid ski launch - photo by John R.. Alan B and John R get ready for the ride of their lives!
Sunday 25th January 2004
Report by Roger Edwards
After a very blown-out Saturday at Bell Hill, where I at least got to meet some of the club members, Sunday dawned to an eerie calm. A quick confab with Mike Drew led to me volunteering to go and have a look at Bell as the forecast was hinting it might be on. Meanwhile he would keep an eye on the Purbeck end of the world. Bell was dead, if anything a very gentle breeze coming over from the back. At least the view was good with the mist pooling in the distant valleys making it all look a little ethereal. Not wanting to miss an opportunity I adjourned to the Blandford Gorge Café for a scrumptious lunch of liver, bacon, chips and gravy. This sport is starting to grow on me, literally if this carries on.
Post lunch rumours of a south-easterly at Swanage led me to meander in that direction. Reaching Wareham I was informed by Mike that Ali Florence was on his way to Ballard so, with Mike collected, off we headed. As we drove along the Swanage front we saw Ali ground handling and then, most encouragingly, launch and maintain height well. On the way up we were geed on by seeing Brian Metcalf also soaring adequately. Arriving at the top of the down I nervously unpacked whilst considering my first post CP flight, nerves compounded by knowing that this is graded a CP +10 site. Ali and Brian gave me a thorough site analysis and a run down of the current conditions , reassuring me greatly. I consciously wasted no time so as not to have time to worry and with a hop, a skip and jump down the gentle slope I was airborne. Sadly Mike was gliderless, it being in for a service, but don't sympathise too much - he's off to Greolieres in Feb.
As the guys described the flying was smooth, with a considerable easterly component and steady but not strong lift. These conditions were ideal for me, offering no surprises and no struggle thus giving me time to sift through the various voices that were flitting through my head. Andrew Pearse's, my erstwhile instructor, reminding me of what seemed a thousand things I should be thinking about. Ali's saying "stay out in front of the cliff for best lift". And my own urging "relax, breath deep, you know you can do this". I hadn't set my vario at take off and glancing at it showed that I was maintaining an ominous altitude of 666ft. Do a beat. Glance again. Damn! Still 666ft. After awhile I got better at working the lift and climbed away from the beastly altitude. I played it unadventurously, not straying too near the point, too far in front of the cliff or too far inland and started to enjoy myself and the views despite the cold that began creeping into my hands.
Conditions slowly picked up, so much so that after fluffing my first attempt to top land I needed my speed bar to penetrate back out to the cliff. Still not liking the look of the beach I gained height and came in for a second top landing that left me rather pleased with myself. - until the wing got tugged backwards by the compression. A quick check of the vario showed 45mins airborne. Cue silly grin. 15mins up on my previous best and a very satisfying start to my flying career. Not to mention my first use of speed bar in anger.
My thanks to Ali and Brian for their sound advice - they both probably got an hours flying in themselves and I did my best to stay out of their way as I'm sure they did for me. Thanks also to Mike for keeping me informed and for photos - better luck next time mate. I have learnt a number of things from this weekend: i) I must collect some more telephone numbers; ii) I still like driving around Dorset - useful that; iii) I need some warmer gloves; and iv) the traits you need most in this sport, in the UK at least, are persistence and determination.
Report by Alastair Florence
The paupers of the club who couldn't run to a week in the Alps had to make do with an hour and a half on the cliffs. (As of updating this page (Thur 29th) - that's more flying than we would appear to be going to get! But the snow is awesome! DD)
Early morning had smoke drifting aimlessly in 4 different directions at the same time. The weather forecasts had cried wolf once to often and despite BBC, Halo and Metcheck showing SE only Brian M and Martin H appear to have believed them. St Aldhems had a WNW about 0.005 mph early so I gave up for the morning and had roast lunch with the family. After lunch whilst drying up I noticed the bushes in the garden twitching a bit, a glance at bonfire smoke over the valley confirmed a light ESE. I made my way to Ballards.
On the way up it was obvious there was a dominant Easterly element - pretty light though. With my wing back from a service I wanted a top to bottom if nothing else. (I thoroughly recommend Aerofix, 4days from collection to return for full glider service and reserve repack!). Brian M was at the top eating lunch, it felt pretty quiet (especially in the lee of a gorse bush). I think with the east element the top is in shelter and can be deceptive, you've just got to launch and hope for the best (or the beach).
After ground handling for a bit I thought it was time for a make or break launch. Shortly after launch I gained height, I looked back to see Brian unpacking. Martin didn't walk up, shame 'cos it turned into a good late afternoon session. No mega height gains but conditions improved as the afternoon went on. The lower cliffs were working nicely. New member Roger had a good 45mins mostly on the downs and sensibly top landed whilst Mike D watched enviously after sending his wing for a service to somewhere with a slower turn around. Brian made Old Harry and back although the East cliffs were not working as well as I would have expected. Low tide gave ample beach to land although the shingle is pushed right back at the moment which would leave a narrow strip on high tides!.
Wednesday 21st January 2004
Report by RW
Telegraph Hill, Batcombe - A window of opportunity in a light North Westerly, I was heading to Bell but got waylaid by the Condor posse & their kind offer of morning tea. The conditions were scratchy but after a walk up from the bottom we managed an hour of ridge soaring in grey skies. Kindly others:- Steve C, Mike R & John H.
Sunday 18th January 2004
Report by Mike Bretherton
Did some more flying today at Middle Wallop Army Air Training Camp. Took my new Sport 2 tow launching, did 5 flights up to approx 1000ft to perform some more radical manoeuvres. Had loads of fun doing Wingovers, Spiral Dive, B Line Stall, Full Speed Bar, Symetric and Asymetric collapses. Someone even brought their eagle with them !
Report by Dave Daniels
8am - Meridian TV weather forecast for the whole day - NE @ 10mph.
8am - WendyWindblows @ Compton - NNE @ 5-8kts
9am - Dave Daniels and Simon C-W @ Monks Down - wind WNW @ 8mph
9:15am - driving past Compton - Wendy says NNE @ 8kts - planes are taking off toward the west.
9:30am - Bell Hill - WNW @ 5mph
The rest of the day - wind between NW and W - mainly about 8mph - but for an enthralling hour or so - 10mph WITH THERMALS! Loads of people had their long (and very cold) wait rewarded with 400+ato! Several top-to-bottoms were done to break the boredom - with 4x4 retrieves being done by Jim C (in his recently acquired Disco), Martin H, Gary M and myself.
Sub-zero temps rendered the track firm and easily negotiated by any vehicle - proving that ice is less slippery than mud!
Dave W, Jim C, Rory L, Nicky R, Vicky P, Gary M, Simon C-R, Alastair F, Russell W, John W, Sean L, Jon H, Cath H, Tony H, Jacko, Craig B, Charles C-S, Luigi D-E and Brian M were also there having fun..
Saturday 17th January 2004
Report by Mike Bretherton
There was some great flying today at Monks Down, half a dozen paragliders flew for over an hour before the wind increased and forced some bottom landings. Then the hangies took over for the rest of the day.
Flew my new Airwave Sport 2 for the first time, the supplier warned me that it was so new, Airwave have not produced the manual yet and they had not had time to test fly it. After about 5 appalling attempts at taking off (I blame the new wing or maybe its because I have not flown for months !) I was airborne and it seems to fly OK.
The only problem I had was getting down !
There were some great thermals around up to 400ft ATO and I later decided to play it safe and land on the bottom rather than big ears on the slope.
Roll on the XC season.
New wing! New boots! Aiden D, Simon C-W and
Colin D in view.
Hangies prepare! New members, Aidan D and Simon C-W,
enjoy their first flight at Monks
Report by Dave Daniels
Hands up those that reckon the weather forecasters do a great job and are spookily accurate! ..... As I thought.
Forecasts of N @ 10mph came right eventually (well done www.metcheck.com for being the first to suggest this on Thursday evening), but others on Friday morning suggested anything from SW to E at anything from 3mph to 20mph (BBC South weather, Meridian weather, Halo and www.weather.co.uk). By the end of Friday - they ALL agreed - N @ 10mph from about 6am onward. Meridian TV weather at 11:30pm agreed! However .... on Sat at 6am the Wendys at Compton and Westbury were both giving WSW @ 5mph.
New members Simon Cory-Wright headed from Teddington to my house early, and Aidan Donegan arrived from Medstead - and at 9:30am we all headed off towards Bell Hill. Having scoured the internet for predictions - this seemed to be the place to be when (and "if") the wind picked up. Driving down I thought we were all mad - there was almost no wind anywhere around! Approaching Blandford I called Wendy @ Compton that was now giving NNE @ 5kts and then Martin H (who I knew had headed toward Bell earlier) who said there was nothing there - so we diverted to Monks.
The road at the top of the hill was like an ice-rink when we got there - all 4 new knobbly tyres finding zero friction on the icy road in the sub-zero temperature, there was almost no wind at t/o - but what wind there was blew smack onto the hill. Within 15mins there was a detectable increase, and the five of us (now also joined by Martin H and John W) readied ourselves. John, Martin and I launched whilst the red-ribbons took the time to see how it looked - and soon joined us in the air.
Others to put in an appearance and fly were Lawrence T (with the fastest ever unpack, launch, land and re-pack ever!), Mike B, Colin D, John R - those that arrived a little too late were Sean L, Vikki P, Harry D and Gary M.
Most of the PGs landed and went to the pub and left the hangies (Richard M, Rod S and one other) to enjoy the superb conditions.
Back to forecasters - just watched the Meridian forecast for Sunday - high pressure to the SW and low to the NE - apparently there'll be a NE'ly wind! Hmmmmmm.
Of course, there MAY be a NE'ly wind - but not with that configuration of weather systems! Surely someone must have told them wind flows from areas of high pressure to low, and that the Coriolis Effect does NOT turn it through 180degs!? Perhaps not - and that's why the forecasts are so poor.
Anyway - pet gripes aside - it was damned great to get my feet off the ground for the first time in just over 2 months, great to see several wings in the air under clear blue skies and in bright sunshine, great to see two new red-ribbons each add more than an hour to their log books!
Thursday 15th January 2004
Report by RW
0830hrs on the hill at Ringstead. A swift half an hour of "exciting" flying before the weather front really pushed through. Half speed bar most of the time & "big ears" to get down. Top end but good practice for those occasions when one may truly need to use tactics!
After nearly a week of no feet off the ground it was useful. (I'm sure you'll survive - most of the membership have been grounded for over two months! DD)
Friday 2nd January 2004
Report by Craig Byrne
Happy New Year & all that...
You missed a good day at Monks Down today.
Ron had some very good height on his HG, I could see his silhouette high over Monks while driving up from Tollard Royal.
The wind eventually dropped right off enabling Dave M to have a TTB on his HG.
Everyone else had a good afternoon in the weak thermals managing some reasonable height gains amongst the short hops. (Sorry I cant remember all the names, I have a mind like a sieve and still suffering with a hang over.)
What a nice way to start 2004 :o)
Report by Alastair Florence
What a dilemma! The jungle drums at Monks were beating late lunchtime. Could I be bothered to take the chance on a drive up to see if it was still working? Answer was "Yes!" - then, suddenly, as I drove through Corfe I thought "Why not try Norden Hill?" So I did.
I had flown there in light conditions but never enough to stay up and, due to a fringe of trees at the bottom of the hill and no slope landing option, you need to decide to bale out sooner rather than later.
Launch options are limited but no problem. Top land is OK but with no option for a blow back or drag of any distance. Over the wood seemed quite smooth with reliable lift and I managed 20mins before the wind went more NE and the lift band shrunk dramatically.
Bottom landing was a little snotty due to trees everywhere and could be nasty in a stronger wind.
Had my fly and went home to do some more plumbing.
Eye in the Sky - Deceember 2003
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