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Sunday 29th February 2004

Report by Alastair Florence

    Call me a glutton for punishment (Ali's a glutton for punishment! DD) but today saw me back at Norden.
    After a difficult launch I found the air absolutely horrible. After going down to the spur above the castle I tracked back West and flew for 20 mins - but, after the 2nd 50% tuck, decided enough was enough and opted for a bottom land which went surprisingly well.
    Whilst flying I was overtaken by a Peregrine Falcon and saw I pigeon taken on the wing by some other bird of prey.
    I might wait for some smoother conditions before going back here.
(Middle of the night might be OK!?)

Report by Simon Cory-Wright

    What a top weekend! I had a great time and once again thanks for you help and advice, it's very much appreciated.
    Thought you might like to put the attached video clips on Eye in the Sky. The paragliding one (750kb) is from Saturday and the hang gliding one (1.5mb) of Ron from Sunday. Not sure who the paraglider is, I'm sure you'll be able to work it out though
(Gary M, I think. DD).

Report by Dave Daniels

    Sunday was less fun! A forecast of lighter winds was proven to understate reality - Dave M managed a much longer flight with a top-landing in his HG, as did Ron S.
    Paragliding didn't take place until after all the PGs went to Compton for lunch.
    Whilst passable to most vehicles - Charles C-S astonished everyone by arriving on his rocket of a motor-bike, and also proved how little grip the tyres offered him.
    The wind eased in stages - with some "nasty strong bits" passing through - all the time the wind pretty much smack on the hill. As the final band of clouds passed overhead the wind eased a fair bit, but kicked a good 45degs to the east ending any real fun almost before it had got underway.
    The para-boredom was again eased by the puerile use of snow...

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    ... with much frivolity being had by the "Harvey" contingent who acted as never having seen snow in their lives before! :)
    On the hill were (for varying amounts of time and flying) Nicole B, Dave M, John and Cath H, Daniel C, Simon C-W, Simon H, Luigi D-E, Robert P, Lawrence T, Jerry S, Julian P (in PG mode) and John R.

Saturday 28th February 2004

Report by Alastair Florence

    On Friday evening it looked like it might have been quite pleasant but I was stuck diving for silt samples until 1800hrs in harbour. Lovely! Hence I was eager to get out on Saturday.
    First stop was Norden. After a little work with my Silkie saw on the gorse I vastly improved the take off. Wind was nicely on and fairly strong. Although early, there was a bit of thermal activity making a flight of 30mins vary from smooth and pleasant to downright scary. Whilst pushing back west from the Castle end the wind suddenly went several degrees West and picked up a couple of notches. No option to bar out and bottom land at that point but as I started getting blown back, this was not an option anyway. I ended up top landing smoothly but with the wind at 45’ to the hill.
    This backs up my last comments on the site not being for the faint hearted. That was enough!
    By the sound of it you needed a snow plough to get onto Monks - so Maiden Castle was next stop. Mr W was inevitably already on site as was an ill Roger E. Flying soon commenced and carried on all day with only one break due to strong winds. During this period Charles C-S entertained with one of his trade mark launch when to strong for everyone else. The launch nearly ended with the glider making another visit to Aerofix but a typically skillfull drag by Charles saved the day. Others present where Mike D, Jacko, Peter R and Martin F. Peter and Russell got the best thermal of the day although the thermic action was pretty steady all day if  punchy at times.
    The most consistent day of the year for me so far I think.

Report by Dave Daniels

    The forecasts fell into the "can I really be bothered" category. After all - I didn't even have a harness. John W had been out walking the dog in Dorchester and reported it to be very windy - everything on the internet only confused (why was the Wendy @ Compton showing 15kts where there was not another in S England over 10? - Answers on an email to Rod Buck!). Damn it! What the hell! A quick drive to Monks to prove it was not flyable and home again! - no need to take any warming coffee of food - I'd be home in a couple of hours.
    All week there's been almost no snow between home in Winchester and work in Godalming - and driving down the M27 was much the same until one reached the edge of where it had fallen (New Forest) and then there was just a moderate amount in the verges and hedges. At Tollard Royal I decided to "play" and drove the "Tonker Toy" up the track to Monks - and still there was little snow about - but when I turned onto the road past t/o - it was everywhere - 2ft deep in placed and almost untouched by vehicle!

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    The fact that I was the only one there was even less surprising when I heard from Nicole B that she had been thwarted in her attempt to drive up the hill at the western end of the road -and even more when she only managed to arrive via Berwick St.John courtesy of the passenger seat in Martin H's Tonker. The road has never been so quiet! Messages went out to the "2 wheel drive" people known to be converging onto Monks that they'd not make it up the hill - but with Martin's help we managed to ferry several people to t/o - other than that it was only the other 4x4 that made it, plus Luigi who wished he'd not made it when he had to be towed out of the snow!
    Whilst "flyable", the conditions were top whack for a paraglider first thing - so Dave M was the first person to get airborne on his HG for a quick top-to-bottom (nice t/o, Dave!) - but soon the air was a busy place with Nicole, Maja S, Brian M, Dave M, Gary M, Colin D, Robert P, Rory L, Simon C-W, Luigi D-E, John B and Martin H all enjoying some superb conditions with the added beauty of the place being on snow. Gary M kindly allowed me to borrow his kit since John W was unable to make it to the hill with a harness for me to borrow. (The new one arrives in a week or so!)

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Marin H arrives
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Martin and Nicole @ t/o Someone finds t/o a bit of a drag! :)
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Martin and Nicole fly into a winter wonderland

    It was cold, for sure - so after a spates of flying most indulged in a  vast amount of snowball throwing ..... especially at passing paraglider pilots when the lift prevented them from staying out of range! :)
    Everyone thought this to be a great fun day with some pretty good flying ...... for any time of the year let alone Feb!

Sunday 15th February 2004

Report by Alastair Florence

    With a light northerly looking slightly promising - but not a dead cert - I opted for a trip to Norden Hill again.
    Reports where coming in that Monks was flyable. Norden was 9 -12 mph on the hill, much the same as Monks by the sound of it. After a bit of ground handling I tried a launch and although a bit scratchy had a good 10 mins and top landed. Launched again and found conditions better. Managed a climb to 150ft over t/o averaging 80ft and found the ridge flyable from the spur west of Corfe Castle to the west side of the wood toward Steeple. Mostly fairly smooth air but the odd broken up bits of sort of thermals were at times worryingly rough (the tumble dryer effect).
    Swanage Railway had a 'Thomas the Tank engine' weekend in full swing with the steam trains providing excellent wind markers (and maybe the broken thermals).
    Certainly not the place to relax too deeply but pleasantly flyable. Similar rough bits to Knitson so good practice for Spring thermals. I've sussed a safe-ish bottom landing - now for a planned landing, although unplanned would still be a bit hit and miss.
    I would not advise low airtime pilots - or any one not happy with rapid decision making - to fly the site owing to the landing options. Most of the bottom fields are in some degree of rotor or full of Llama's and other odd things. Top land is OK but on a relatively narrow strip.
    Around 1400hrs the wind dropped off and my third launch resulted in a bottom land. I couldn't be bothered to go to Monks and the thought of roast lunch dragged me home (shame none of my daughters had finished the drying up before I got back though! )

Report by Dave Daniels

    The forecasts were pretty dismal - and looking out of the window no better. Slowly Wendy started to show an increase suitable for Monks - and Nicole B sent me a text to say that Dave M was clipping in and about to fly - although the visibility was crap.
    I really had some work to do - and the thought 105 miles round trip just not worth a "possible" flight. Aidan D had said he might be interested - so I decided that were he going then I would too. No answer from his phones - so - bugger - I'll go anyway!
    Reaching Monks there was 5 wings in the air with a couple making some 150ft beneath 400ft cloud bases - and I discovered that Dave M had headed off down wind already, and Nikky R had just laded after 1:30 on her new wing!. The wind eased - those in the air landed and the remainder of the afternoon was taken up by everyone hopping off for the odd 10 minutes here and 10mintues there.
    Not the greatest flying in the world - but it is only Feb - and it was enjoyable for all that.
    Also on the hill were Craig B, Richard K, Jim C, Dave T, Ron S, Richard M, Charles C-S, Roger E (first flight at Monks!) and Luigi D-E.

7th - 14th February 2004

Report by Mike Drew

    Fed up the lack of flying in the English winter, I booked myself on trip with Andrew Pearse of Flying Frenzy, staying at Bruce Goldsmith's Chateau de Max.
    Conditions in the region for the week were fantastic, myself flying 6 out of the 7 days. We flew at both the massive Greolieres ridge and at Monaco which in itself is an experience.
    Conditions were light at the start of the week but gradually became more thermic and rough! I had my first ever thermals at Monaco which were a gentle 300ft/min up, taking me up to the inversion at around 2700ft. It was most interesting looking down on all the local pilots struggling to stay up!
    Conditions got stronger at Greolieres later in the week which gave me my best flight to date. The wind at take off was gusting due to strong thermals coming through but I did eventually take off (after being slammed back on the ground a couple of times!) and almost immediately gained 200ft. The ride was extremely bumpy and it proved very hard work. After about 1 hour I had worked my way up to just below the main ridge at 1800ft ato but came away as was getting thrown around too much. After a 5 minute breather I had another go, having to gain the height I had just lost. At just below the ridge, I hit a thermal which threw my wing right behind me, giving me a brief moment of slack lines and zero G, followed by a huge surge which put my wing directly in front of me!! Not pleasant. However, the thermal was going up at 1400ft/min so I soon saw the ridge disappearing underneath and the far Alps coming in to view. Stunning!! I was up there with only one other British flyer and it was great to be looking down on the French pilots again!
    By this time I was exhausted so came down after 1hr 40mins. I thoroughly recommend the area for both low airtime and experienced pilots and I shall definitely be going back. After all, it was the place I finally got rid of my red ribbon!.
(Ripped off by the thermal, I presume? DD)

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Flying toward the gaggle at Monaco Gary Pockock at Greolieres Take Off.

Tuesday 10th February 2004

Report by RW

    A dull & scratchy day at the Ringstead office, several short flights with a lot of West in it!! Congratulations to Mark Hill for actually managing a few beats & top landing breaking the spell of inactivity!! John W cruising on the " Widowmaker" staying up & making it look easy. Others in attendance:- Stuart M, the lovely Monica, Gaz M, Derek S, Harry D, & Sean L.
    Some were actually flying at Kimmeridge with Martin H.
    Perhaps it will be better later in the week.

Monday 9th February 2004

Report by Dave Daniels


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Eye in the Sky - January 2004
Eye in the Sky - December 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

Eye in the Sky - 2001 and before