Eye in the Sky - March 2004

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Tuesday 30 March 2004

Report by John Blessing

After the surprisingly good day yesterday at Whitewool, Pete C. and I decided to go there again despite xcweather.com showing it was top-end and NE.

We arrived to find Simon H. already flying and quickly joined him. Mike S. turned up shortly afterwards. A clear blue sky, but quite hazy near Butser, with the occasional thermal to disturb the otherwise smooth conditions. We had a very pleasant couple of hours before the forecasted increase in wind strength came through.

Monday 29 March 2004

Report by Alastair Florence

At work in Poole there seemed to be a steady SE flow so I was a little surprised I could not see any of the club elders or no-need-to-work normalyers (? - Jb) dangling over Ballard. When cloud base lifted to at least 650ft (I could just see the top of Knitson) I tried a flight off Ballard although it had been SE the moment I launched everything backed a little and with not enough wind for the ridge to work the cliffs were to Westerly for comfort. Scratched 4 mins.

Any way, sometimes Ballard obviously going to work sometimes its obviously not, sometimes it shouldn’t but does. The only way to find out is walk up and launch. Tonight was one of those nights. It shouldn’t have and it didn’t, almost due East by now and light. You could feel little ruffles of rotor off the cliff so I tried the lower cliffs. Better, but still too East to work. Still I managed 5 mins this time! Walking back the wind had picked up another 5mph but time was against me as I had to taxi the kids.

Thanks to Sean L for coaching me through Asymetric tucks yesterday etc.

As I said to Luigi yesterday after our venture to the cliffs nothing ventured nothing gained.

Monday 29 March 2004

Report by Peter Chalmers

Arrived at LHR early this morning to find stable air for a change. After a few hours sleep found it was still very light but John B and I decided to give Whitewool/Mercury a go as we hadn't flown in UK for so long. We were not at all confident we would get our feet off the ground but arrived at Whitewool at 1330 to find Shippo had just arrived and the wind about 8mph on the hill, you never can tell!

Mike S was just behind us so we allowed him the honour of being wind dummy. We were soon convinced, especially as the wind had increased to 10-15 mph so were soon all in the air. Small thermals and some gentle ridge lift were the order of the day with lots of short flights and top landings, great!

Sean Trowsdale & Jan (Sky Surfers) arrived, followed by Paul & Kaye E with tales of daring do at Monks. John and I left to warm up as the latter were preparing to get airborne for the first time since the fateful day.

Sunday 28 March 2004

Report by David Daniels

Saturday had been a day of moping around Dorset, admiring the new stile at Bell, chasing the little wind there was around the northern quadrant of the compass, fielding several "Are you out and about? What's it doing?" phone calls - to the point that I ended up at the Dorset Gliding club near Wool with a view to having something else to do on non-PG weekends. They were grounded too, due to cloud base. So much for that idea. Before I turned in for the night I checked the forecasts and resigned myself to another non-flying weekend.

Waking on Sunday there was not a sound at the caravan. So the light winds forecast had been correct? As soon as I bothered to look out of the window the surface of the sea told me I should be getting out and flying somewhere! At Ringstead (at 8am!) the wind was 9mph smack on - not enough for anything stupendous, but enough to get my feet off the ground and play with my new toy - a Woody Valley X-Over harness! A few scratchy beats and I was off to Kimmeridge in the hopes that I could achieve a longer flight in the conditions. Arriving at Kimmeridge the wind was up to 13mph - superb! A few texts to let the world and his dog know and ...... it was 17.5mph! Then rain! The rain passed, but the wind was now a tad southerly and 16+mph - above my self imposed limit for being the only person flying - so waited for Ali F who said he would be along later.

Having listened to the goings on in Ambridge and a selection of music for someone's fantasy desert island - Ali's wing appeared above me at about 11:30 - since he'd driven up the southern track and launched from there. Within minutes I was in the air with him .... and questioning my self imposed limit. The wind was a bit southerly, but everything was flyable down to where Ali had parked hi van. Sean L and Vicky P arrived soon after, and then Dave T and Nicole B - and the air filled. What a great sight to see after the last few weeks! Word must have got around Luigi arrived soon after closely followed by Dave "4x4" W, Mike D and Roger E. Slowly the wind veered and the ridge became flyable to the southern tip - Luigi crossing to the front cliffs and working his way along ..... until he realised the lift was just not there and landed about as far from t/o as is possible. Ali had been following - saw that Luigi was going down and only just failed to hook back onto the end of the ridge.

By now there was not a moment that there was not a wing somewhere along the length of the ridge! This was a super day. Thoughts of moving to Ringstead, now that the wind was SW'ly, were scrapped in favour of staying where it was flyable. Mike D had arrived wingless - and managed to borrow wings enough to clock up some good flying time. Roger E's red ribbon had a good airing in conditions that made launching a bit scrappy for us all - and he acquitted himself very well also adding an hour or two to his log book. Domenica L arrived with a friend, Pete - unfortunately she didn't bring her wing with her, but Pete was soon running the length of the ridge.

Witnessing a couple of landings that ended up with wings, bodies, barbed-wire, dry-stone-walls in very close prioximity re-affirmed the reason I have that self imposed limit for being the only pilot flying. Nobody was hurt, but "The Loft" will be a few quid in pocket. Gradually people started to drift away - the lost hour of sleep, a day in the fresh air, lots of flying - and several hungry tummies to blame.

Sunday 28 March 2004

Report by Jon Harvey

Clocks went forward, and despite the dismal forecast yesterday, it seemed promising at 8am Went to Westbay to check, and found that wind strength was 10mph and straight on. Is this a good omen for the next few months? Thorncombe Beacon was clear of clag most of the time, but Golden Cap was in cloud all the time. Several phone calls made, and then started flying, initially to Thorncombe, and in the cloud at 600ft. Eventually needed to change camera batteries so headed back to the Bay and then heard on the radio that others had used the Charmouth takeoff and were now on top of Golden Cap.

Hot drink,etc and away again,and this time over Golden Cap, and to Stonebarrow, then returning, only to get clagged out on the Cap with others. Interesting to say the least. Still everybody just headed out to sea, and lose some height. Most pilots flew the complete ridge to the opposite end then returning, from whichever t/o they had started from. Some 3 hours airtime today.

Despite the low cloud base, this was one of the best days here for a couple of years, and the most wings in the air since the FMD in 2001 (Poss around 20 in total).

Several Wessex members, Jon,& Cathy Harvey, John Pinchin, Mike Richards, Keith Boniface.

Sunday 28 March 2004

Report by RW

I think the expression is "AT LAST", after nearly 2 weeks without free flight I was getting withdrawal symptoms. A few early morning calls & I went to The Ringstead Office to find the wind due South. Gaz M. arrived & we headed to Whitehorse to be met by Allen T.

Drizzle kept us on the ground for 20 mins & then it was up to play with the Herring Gulls, marking the small but reliable thermals. It was good to hear others were flying at Kimmeridge but the conditions were OK for the "Horse". Stranger still others were flying at Ringstead where DerekS. had a maiden flight to the cliffs.

Congratulations to Allen T. for his longest soaring flight ever and a good top landing ( all done to Gaz Ms'good instruction). I could'nt stay more than an hour due to other commitments, but damned good to get the feet off the ground.

Sunday 28 March 2004

Report by Craig Byrne

The Barton Scratchers were out in force today with the whole cliff working well early on, Brian M managed a flight to Milford on sea and back followed by Colin D. Late afternoon the wind dropped right off but Brian M & Martin H were still scratching away when we left! Andy D & Peter S also had some good flights!

Sunday 28 March 2004

Report by Mike Drew

Arrived at Kimmeridge this morning with no wing, having just sold mine, with the intention of getting some fresh air and watching other people fly.

Ali F was soon in the air doing some pilot tasks under the instruction of Sean L which kept us amused for a bit. Once that had finished people started taking to the skys and Sean L offered me the use of his wing to fly with. Had great fun in smooth conditions but landed after a while to give Sean a go!

Dave D then offered me a flight on his wing which I couldn't refuse so off I went again. The whole ridge was now flyable and Ali F and Luigi went to the sea cliffs which I don't think worked that well as they were soon walking back! After a lovely flight I landed to hand Dave's wing back.

After a few minutes I was given a different wing by Sean to try and was soon in the air again. Conditions stayed consistent all day allowing for very relaxing flying. My landing this time was not so good but that's another story.....

Those present included Sean L, Dave D, Ali F, Roger E, Dave W, Luigi D and
Nicole B. I cant thank Dave D and Sean L enough for allowing me to get in
the air and all the others for helping me out on my last landing.
At the end of the day I had flown over 2 hours on 3 different wings! A
brilliant day.

Friday 26 March 2004

Report by Craig Byrne

Monksdown was good fun today in-between the dark clouds the wind eased and everyone managed some nice flights.

Still quite thermic considering the amount of cloud cover but very hard to work and broken, also a good deal of east in it when you climbed above 400ft.

Richard Mosley had a good flight on his HG, but top of the stack award goes to Bertie Grotrian on his HG who was in orbit for ages reaching over 2000ft.

Tuesday 16th March 2004

Report by Mike Drew

    Finished work today at 11.30 am and went through the normal process of checking to see if anywhere would be flyable. It did not look good, as it hasn't for the last 10 days, so went home and feel asleep watching daytime TV. I got up at 5 pm and Ali F called 5 minutes later asking if I fancied checking out Knitson or Ballards. A quick look out of the window confirmed the wind had dropped a bit so we both headed for Ballards.
    After a hike up we found the wind to the south and promising. Ali launched first and headed to the cliffs. I took off about 5 minutes later only to find Ali was already on the beach. Even though conditions felt good on top, I found no lift at all and was soon parked next to Ali on the beach.
    I must admit, I was a bit confused as to why it didn't work at all but it was nice to get in the air. Most important thing I learnt today was that to never give up on being able to fly, especially with the longer evenings coming! Roll on summer......

Sunday 7th March 2004

Report by Kaye Escott

    I thought I would mail my experience of the tree because, feeling such a plank, I am sure there is learning in this for everyone.
    I hit the tree fairly high up after deploying my reserve very low. I hit it fast as the wind had got so strong (estimated to be 30 mph). My reserve continued flying over the tree so, as the book says, I protected my head and grabbed a large branch (near the trunk) and hung on.
    Because my reserve was still flying, I began to get dragged up the tree. And this was the mistake ..... I hung onto the tree with one arm, and released first one leg, then my chest strap. With hindsight it is obvious what was going to happen ....
    As soon as I had released the chest strap, I lost control of the harness which shot up the tree, trying to take my other leg and me with it. I could not then reach my harness to either get my knife out to cut myself away or to continue to try to release. I was pinned, head down, being dragged upwards by a still flying reserve that I could not disarm.
    Fortunately I was in a tree that Simon and Dave Moore could climb, with 2 experienced people who ignored my advice - "Just cut the F***ing thing off of me". They had rope, a knife, and the foresight to tie me on before releasing me from not only the harness but the upside down position, where I was in danger of taking out Simon as well if they had just cut me loose. They got me to the ground using the rope (I'm not sure I could have climbed it!) and then saw to the rest of the kit.
    I used to have a saw in the car but I had needed it in the garden and so it's not in the car anymore. I have never carried any rope with me. Fortunately we did not need a first aid kit.
    On my next day off I am going to buy some rope. I am also going to buy some dental floss (fortunately this tree was climbable) and I am going to replace the saw. Next time I will be prepared, and I am truly thankful that someone else was this time.
    Cheers again Simon and Dave.

Report by Paul Escott

    After the wind swung at Bell we left to go home but drove past Monks, initially to show the site to Steve Evans (IOW member with 45 hours, travelling with Kaye and I). This was very late afternoon, the castilina cloud was long gone. From Monks Down, the sky was clear, there were some ragged clouds, but no developed or developing cu nimbs. The showers had past and the wind was a steady 10mph just about square on. Several others had the same idea, including us there was I think 9 people at the hill. I don't know everyone but included were Steve, Dave Moores, Dr Charles, Simon Hopkins, and a "bi-wingwal" chap I've met a couple of times, but whose name eludes me. After a few minutes wait we took off and boated about for 15 minutes or so. The air was not smooth but not very turbulent either (I had been happily swinging about doing small wingovers at the western end while the others had been circuiting to the east).
    Unexpectedly the wind became very strong. Later Dave told us it went to about 30mph within moments. At this time 4 pilots were in the air (Kaye, Steve, Charles & I) and Simon was in the process of launching. (Sorry you got dragged and wrapped, I too was in the Loft Monday!). All 4 in the air went onto full speed bar and big ears. I made negative penetration. I'm not sure exactly what happened with the others but I lost count of the collapses I took in the minute or so it took to come down. When I 'landed' hard I could see Kaye had deployed and was going backwards toward the trees. Kaye later told me her wing took a major collapse and went into a spin at low level. I called "I'm OK" to Dave who was running toward me. He turned and ran to his car and drove off toward where Kaye had disappeared. She had come to rest upside down in the crown of a tree. Charles landed in the area behind the trees, Steve landed downwind just short of the next valley.
    This tale is, of course, one of pilot error; we did not see the squall gust coming. There was a reasonable amount of experience among many of us on that hill and we got caught out. We have spoken with Gary Puhl and he was very helpful in going through the circumstances leading up to the incidents. We're told many would probably flown in the conditions and some have been caught at Monks the same way. Though there is a chance that come Christmas there may be some sort of award for tree-nesting. We're hoping there will be no other contenders .......... Honest, we are!
    Many many thanks to Dave M and the other chap who climbed the tree to rescue Kaye, and to the farmer who drove out to Steve when he saw him come down.

Report by Matthew Charlesworth

    Having missed Saturdays flying (it was a bit light for Hang gliding) I got to Bell expecting to shower dodge for a while. And I did.
    It had been strong earlier when Dave Moores got there and had been flying but had dropped off a bit by the time I arrived. Dave had had a couple of short flights so I quickly rigged, with one eye looking upwind to some ominous clouds. I managed to get half an hour or so at 400ft to 500ft ATO, watching others arrive underneath me.
    The nasty clouds started dropping some nasty stuff as they edged closer so I landed early to avoid any nasty surprises and although I hung around it hailed and rained and went off to the north - so dinner with mother-in-law beckoned
(It got THAT nasty? DD).
    I gather that people then went off to Monks and flew, but it all got a bit hairy, with a reserve being thrown and people ending up in trees. I guess somebody else will give the full details by a separate report.

Report by Simon Hopkins

    I was never going to make Saturday - but my novice interpretation thought that Sunday would be as good (or better) so off I went to Bell on Sunday with a clearer head.
    It was good to chat with everyone, Dave M,  Matthew C and John (thanks for the lift up the hill Phil from Gosport) and sit in the dry when the two squalls went over. I learnt about latent heat, self sustaining clouds and gust fronts inside a nice warm Merc! 
    All clear and it went northerly so Monks it was. Four wings above t/o, I'd just fluffed two launches (because I misread the low airspeed!) when DM pointed at an identical, but blue, electron being blown back and pitching. I could barely hear him over the wind in the trees! So - now I'm trying to stay on my feet, get fistfuls of brake and wing tip and with Dave's help only my wing
(My ex-wing! DD) went into the barbed wire. He shot off to help the others, I made my wing safe then headed out too. Everyone OK, one in the field, one out the back and one tree landing, the latter from what was called ' a well judged and fast reserve deployment'. Nice one Kay! And all out safely.
    Inspection at home means that after this cup of coffee I'm driving over to The Loft to get the 'barbed-wire-vents' removed from my electron (sorry DD!).
    Yes, it sounds like Saturday was better!

Report by Dave D

    It was Ali F's turn with the dawn call - only to tell me that "Bell is a bit top endy- 15-20 ish" That'd be why the caravan was shaking a bit then! Back to sleep ... until the series of calls from all-and-sundry came in for a weather check.
    Dave M reached BH a bit later, and confirmed 25mph - but the forecast was for it to ease as the high pressure came in from the west.
    Aidan D reached my caravan at 12 - shortly after I'd had a call from Dave to say that it was indeed easing. But, as I approached Bell, there was a significant large black monster in the sky to the NW of the hill, and Sean L and Vicky P were seen scurrying in the opposite direction, giving up on the day.
    The cloud, although gargantuan, did promise better weather behind (wait for DM's photos to fill "Readers' Clouds" in a future issue of XC Mag!)  - so Aidan and I proceeded with the Australian GP to watch on TV whilst the "monster" passed by. In the end the ball of cloud swung to the south of Bell, the wind behind did ease, and also swung through more than 45 degrees resulting in those that had not decided to give up to head off to Monks.
    Aidan and I stopped at Compton Abbas for a mug of coffee and bite to eat since (a) we were hungry and (b) there were some other airborne monsters in the Monks direction. The Wendy screen at Compton was giving 12kts - we hurried our food. On departure I had another look - 14kts - and just as I was about to walk away 24kts then 27kts.  We went home.
    However - this same dramatic rush of wind had some pretty significant impact to those that were flying at Monks!  More from them elsewhere.

Saturday 6th March 2004

Report by Dave Franklin

    Today was my third day out on the new gear, which I'm finding a bit of a handful on the ground. So if anybody was wondering about the loony with the slightly gay coloured glider half way down the hill today it was me trying to master the "Mitsos" launch technique.
    Despite this I think everybody had a good day and I fared better once airborne - getting my first XC of the year 8.2k to Whatcombe (earliest in the year I have ever done that).

Report by Craig Byrne

    Bell was the place to be today with everyone having some excellent flights and a few small XC hops.
    The red ribbon pilots were flying very well and top of the stack most of the time, Alastair was also in orbit as usual along with Dave D suitably attired for the freezing conditions.
    The wind picked up late in the day allowing Richard M to fly all the way down to the masts and Dave M to practice lots of take off's & landings. When a massive black cloud came through we all thought Dave was off but he just kept taking off & landing!
    Lets hope Sunday is so much fun!

Report by Dave Winn

    Arriving at Monks Down at 7.30 I checked the wind speed and direction and then sent texts to let everyone else know what was happening there. After talking with DD I decided to meet him at Bell Hill.
    The wind was light at 8.00 (only 5mph) but when David arrived we had a coffee and waited. Russel W turned up & brought a slightly stronger breeze with him so with that I came in a close second to Russell in getting off the hill.
    Well - what a day it was! Lots of thermals in between the scratchy bits and plenty of height in places (even giving myself the chance of viewing the top of Ali H's paraglider at one point!
Me too! DD) and also plenty of paragliders as the morning went on. But unfortunately some people arrived a bit late when the wind tipped 20 mph and the sane amongst us gave up & left the sky to that dangly kite thingy with which Dave M impresses everyone more each time he flies.(I did notice the sky clearing of wings just after he took off though!).
    So with nearly 4 hrs flying time I could do with a few more days like that one.

Report by Dave Daniels

    Oh whoopee!
    Two Saturday on the trot with fantastic flying to be had!
    John P and another managed to get most of the way to Blandford - so the XC season has been officially opened!
    Nothing better than finding your own personal thermal when all others are back near t/o height - and mine took me to a chilly 900ft ato. I could have done with wearing personal thermals! Note to self: "Must remember to take my flying suit!".
    Mind - when it was buoyant - it was buoyant everywhere - managed a push out in front to be 450ft ato over the lake by the farm - followed by a rapid flight down wind back to the hill.
    32 cars were counted on the hill - another three in the road, and another three parked in the track at the back of the top field. The lift band was large in height and depth enabling red-ribbons to fly with comfort - even when 20 wings in the air were counted at one point! Notable red ribbons doing very well were Simon C-W and Steve V - and at one point I thought Steve was going to follow me up in my thermal! Next time, Steve!
    Far too many people on the hill to be certain of remembering all names - but included were : Mike A, Craig B, Simon C-W, Jim C, Colin D, Luigi D-E, Mike D, Russell & Richard E, Ali F, Dave F, Martin H, Mark H, Sean L, Rory L, Brian M, Dave M, Jeremy M, Richard M, Gary M, Vicky P, Julian P, John P, Jerry (I can still remember how to thermal!) S, Sean S, Peter S, Steve V, John W, Russell W, Keith W. (Sorry for those I forget - I'm impressed I could manage all those by late Sunday evening!)

DSCN1636.jpg (104584 bytes) DSCN1637.jpg (50299 bytes)
The beginnings of a great day! Dave M - another impressive landing, ....
and another, and another ....

Tuesday 2nd March 2004

Report by Dave Franklin

    The conditions were very good today and I was able to reach the cliffs at Holworth with more height than usual. Very cold though!
    The wind gradually swung more southerly so White horse was then the better option - I had to be elsewhere so I can't say how it was.
    Some others at Ringstead were Martin H and Sean L.

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Eye in the Sky - February 2004
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