Eye in the Sky - May 2004
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Sun 30th May
Pictures from Ringstead by Luigi Degli-Esposti
Report by David Daniels
What a change! Flying all three days of a bank-holiday weekend!
Saturday started with the wind blowing smack onto Durdle Door at the right speed and in the correct direction - but as so often happens, that produces thick orographic cloud. Bummer! The wind slowly veered and there was a wing scratching at t/o height when I reached White Horse at mid-day, two others sat on the ground, but the conditions improved and remained good until after 7pm - when a lone Steve P was still in the air having arrived as everyone else was leaving exhausted.
Staying up was so reliable, and getting down so easy, conditions made for perfect tandem training flights. Thanks to Jim Coutts for acting as my passenger. Five more flights to log! On the hill were, amongst others whose names I cannot recall, were Sean L, Gary M, Dave Davidson, Luigi D-E, Roger E, Maurice H, Gary P, Don S, Ron S, Martin W, John W, Russell W, Rob P and Peter R.
Sunday looked like a Kimmeridge day - and when I reached t./o Brian M was launching, Dave Davidson and Simon H following in quick order. Alas, a nasty grey mass was approaching that increased the wind before I could launch and the rain was close behind.
After a coffee and a beef (or was that cheese?) sandwich at the Kimmeridge
cafe, the sky brightened and we returned to t/o to find the wind still
strong in the clear blue skies that had followed the rain. Keith W spied
through his bins that there were wings on White Nothe, a couple of phone
calls to check the conditions there, and a convoy of cars set off to the
Reaching Ringstead there was one hangie on the cliffs and a many PG pilots sat on the ground - the wind being a tad strong.
Eventually Russell W made a valiant attempt at launching, but had to abandon when a couple of centre "A"s had the centre of his wing already in a tuck. Ten minutes later the frustration got to Rob P who demonstrated that it was now flyable, and slowly wings filled the air with the conditions eventually improving enough for the cliffs to be adorned with 9 PGs and 3HGs.
Conditions were not ideal - getting to the cliffs was pretty easy, but a wind that changed from light and southerly to strong and westerly created quite a wide scatter pattern of returning wings.
Flight of the day must have been Craig B's - having played about on the ridge during all the activity he eventfully went to the cliffs, followed by Keith W, when the wind died. Keith scratched for his life until gravity won taking him to the beach, but Craig clung on for 15 minutes to the last wafts of lift on White Nothe to be rewarded with some significant lift followed by the highest return of the day!
On the hill were, amongst others whose names I cannot recall, were Nicole B, Gary M, Dave Davidson, Luigi D-E, Don S, Ron S, Richard M, Steven B, Peter S, Brian M, Charles C-S, Matthew J, Vicky P and Dave M..
Monday's predicted gloom was diluted by a rare chance to fly Durdle Door.
Sean L and I were sceptical that there was enough wind as we walked the
50 yards from my caravan to t/o. By the time our wings were above our
heads it was self evident that the wind had strengthened and after 30
minutes - joined mid-way by Paul K, the wind had gone south easterly and
strengthened leaving Sean and myself nothing better to do than play paraglider-dodgems
on t/o until even that was impossible.
23-29th May Mayrhoften, Austria
Report by Peter Chalmers
Arrived in the beautiful Zillertal valley for an x/c course with Kelly Farina of austrianarena.com. Sunday was unflyable but Kelly assured me that the forecast was good for the next few days and sure enough Monday dawned clear and calm.
On the Hohenstrasse launch we were briefed for a 60km cat's cradle task around the valley to launch at 1200, I was already glad I had brought plenty of clothes with me as it was pretty cold even at 2000m. As briefed I launched right behind Kelly and we found plenty of lift pretty quickly and set off round the course with tips from Kelly enroute. The 10kgs of ballast that I put in the back of my harness at Kell's suggestion was making my Mistral 2 handle better but after an hour my neck and shoulders were aching like hell, funny I've not had that problem before. Still I stuck with it even at a very chilly 3100m before bailing out before the last turn point and landing for a well earned beer and massage (I wish) after 50kms in 3:15. Fantastic my previous best was 12kms!
Tuesday was windy aloft but we had a great day thermalling and soaring the valley wind top landing at the Penken launch for lunch, an amazing amount of snow still up there (2000m).I cured my neck ache by moving my ballast to the front, hanging it off the chest strap, what a relief! 2:25 flown.
Wednesday did not look all that thermic as high cloud was moving in, maybe Angus our third member had got it right deciding to have a day off! On the way up to launch we met several of the local "Cracks" as Kelly calls them, including Tommy Walder who flew a 254Km x/c the previous week. Maybe it was going to be ok after all! After some discussion with them it was decided to go for the "big one" over the Gerlos pass into the Pinzgau and on eastward. Kelly briefed me carefully, the second climb out after crossing the Zillertal valley was the most difficult bit then over the pass with no landing options for about 10km, and by the way don't drink too much it could be a long one! I was trying to be positive but thinking "no way I know I'm going to bomb out after 10km".
We launched at 1130 and got across the valley in good order, as predicted it was difficult to climb out the other side and I was eyeing the few landing options very carefully! I managed to get a good one eventually which took me to base at 3200m and had the novel experience of looking down on Kelly while he struggled to climb out! Eventually he was with me and we were off over the pass and onwards with sailplanes zooming by the other way. After a low save or two we landed near Zell am See after 78kms in 4:05, I could not believe it!
Weather not so good for the final two days but we flew locally on Thursday for a while. Sorry if I have rambled a bit but I just had to share my excitement with you! I can thoroughly recommend Kelly's x/c course at this time of year or if you prefer something a bit mellower go later, it's a fantastic place to fly.
Sat 29th May
Report by Adrian Bishop
Flying the Jurassic Run:
It was looking good on Halo with a steady Southerly gradient wind. Myself and Mike B arrived at the West Bay take off at mid-day. The wind was too light and whilst waiting an increasing crowd of Condors members turned up. Eventually at about 4.30 the wind had risen enough for a take off at the top of the slope and away. Beautiful flying in glass smooth conditions. Flying high above Golden Cap in almost perfect silence, the only sound being the distant roar of the surf breaking on the shingle beach. Too far to the West to cross Lyme Regis, but made it to Charmouth and halfway back before the wind changed forcing a beach landing. A perfect day flying the wild coast in almost ideal conditions.
Report by Roger Edwards
On waking and looking out of the window I could feel myself sliding into another day of para-pessimism - wisps of orographic in the middle of Bournemouth? Thankfully the morning brightened and word came that Kimmeridge and Ringstead were in orographic (grumpy mumbling). The enthusiastic had moved to White Horse and with it being 8mph bang-on things were looking better, so I put my pessimism aside and headed out. After two hours - yes, that's two hours from Bournemouth to White Horse - of grockle wrestling (why can't we have local passes and priority lanes, like first class at the airport) and chalk-track-hunting I arrived to see wings in the air.
My first visit to the Horse so got a site briefing and off I went for what, of late, had become a rare thing - a flight. Conditions were ideal, 12-14mph square on and lifty enough to stay up without much worry. In the distance orographic could be seen still firmly wrapped around Ringstead. Wind increased later in the day as did lift giving all who turned up worthwhile flying time. Among them were Dave D and Jim ? putting in some solid tandem practice, the conditions ideal for working at launch and landings. Others I remember or know were Dr Charles, Russell W, Gary Pk, Peter R, Grant, Sean L, Gary M and other FC folks, Luigi. Lots more but my memory fails me. New member Dave D'son was a happy chappie after finally getting a couple of worthwhile flights, having been frustrated by conditions on his previous days out. Nice one Dave.
Taking a leaf from Dave and Jims book I decided on shorter flights to also get in some launches and landings. The reward of this was discovering that the ground-handling practice I had been putting in on the frankly c**p days we've had of late had paid off. My launches were much cleaner and used up less of the field than usual. Now I have probably brought a curse down upon myslef and fully expect to klutz it all up next time I'm out. Other than one excitingly fast top-landing, which Gary M of FC kindly talked me through afterwards, the day was a great success. Great site, shame the Horse is a bit naff close up.
As much airtime in one day as the rest of the month put together. About bl**dy time.
Report by Mike Bretherton
Mike Bretherton, Adrian Bishop and Dom Schettini braved the Bank Holiday
traffic and travelled to West Bay to have a bash at the Jurasic Run. On
arriving the wind was on the cliff but was very light. After several hours
of our favourite sport of parawaiting the wind picked up. Some brave soul
launched but ended up doing a top to bottom. A little later the wind picked
up more on top but was still not that strong on launch. We decided to
take off the slope a little higher up and the extra height helped. Several
of us launched and we were quickly well above the cliffs. Adrian took
the lead on the Jurassic run and I followed. Beautiful smooth sea air,
blue skies, fantastic views all the way and over 1000ft ATO over the Golden
Cap. Eventually we both made Charmouth and met another paraglider coming
the other way. It turned to be our leader Stuart Martin who took off from
Charmouth and made it to West Bay. At Charmouth we realised we did not
have enough groundspeed to make it over Lyme Regis so we decided to make
the return flight. The return leg was faster and we saw a couple of pilots
who took off from Charmouth make it over Golden Cap so we thought it would
be easy. But the wind turned more southerly and myself and Adrian hit
horrible sinky rotor from Golden Cap and we were both forced to land on
the beach, a good 4Km walk to Charmouth. My friend Dom had decided not
to fly, so he came and retrieved us bringing with him Stuart Martin who
had just landed at West Bay.
Wed 26 May 2004
Report by John Blessing
Forecast was for Easterly so I decided to go to Skysurfer's Mercury site. When I arrived there was one pilot at the far end of the hill trying to kite back up in very light conditions. Even at 1030 the sea breeze seemed to be having an effect so I retraced my journey back West to Barton. Wind was perfect strength, a little to the East but not enough to worry about. After the usual "Barton dance" (cliff-top rotor certainly makes take-off interesting), I was away. Robert Dees arrived about an hour later and we both flew for another hour or so.
Report by RW
Whilst walking the promenade I spied the flags flying with a good strength of ESE. I thought well I,ll just take a look at the bowl at Whitehorse. I was joined by Gary ? (new member) followed by The Posse from FCUK, & then Harry D. We all had a waft on the SE arm & things did not really pick up at all. I had a call to say 2 wings were seen at Ballard, Harry D did not need any persuading at all & Gary ? said he'd like to come & look at the site.
On arrival 1 wing was flying ( unknown member )the cliff & Sean L. was just taking off on the beach. I decided to be adventurous & took off just below the stone bench only because I'd had my first lunch of the day. I was surprised as the T.O. was straightforward, Harry D. carried on the long walk to the top, I top landed to ensure Harry had a full briefing & Gary ? had decided to watch proceedings from below as he was committed elsewhere.
The cliff soaring was pretty smooth with a good degree of E so progress was slow but it allowed a tour round to Old Harry with Sean L. being very brave & going miles out to sea ( what about a lifejacket Sean ). Late arrivals were Shippo, Dave ( XC is easy) W. ( XC King ) & Mark P. A text later confirmed Ali F. flew after work.
Many hours of afternoon flying with all landing safely on the beach & I managed a good flight along the Swanage seafront with the grockles waving from the Hotel windows. Congratulations to Harry D. for his maiden flight at Ballard. All in all worth the drive. Happy flying folks.
Mon 24 May 2004
Report by Lawrence Toogood
After leaving work @ 4.30 I headed for the nearest site Bmth, on arrival my observations that afternoon confirmed sea breeze had kicked in, more confirmation once the call was made to ATC south at 6 knots, so where were all the usual suspects? Oh well thanks lads cliffs all to myself 100ft ato hands free enjoying the view, should have took up the paper to read! silky smooth , this is when joe public thinks thats easy & relaxing , & they are not wrong, but then again how would the Alps at midday suit you sir?
Note; I had a kite surfer befriend me intent on buying a secondhand paraglider for the purpose of surfing it in light winds I tried my best to discourage him, so please if you are selling a wing ask a few questions of the buyer the outcome will only be bad press.
Sun 23 May 2004
Report by Neil Harris
Seeing the previous reports of flying on Sunday in various wind directions I thought i'd chip in that I flew at Coombe in a steady thermic Northerly on Sunday.
Fairly light wind with regular thermals coming through. A lot of people on the hill which kept the flying lively but after a while I managed a decent climb to 5000' and the odd blip after this to manage 19k or so to the east of Andover.
Report by Mike Bretherton
Flew the cliffs at Bournemouth today with Simon Herbert, Steve Auld and one other person whom I cannot remember. The wind was slightly off to the west but at a nice constant 12mph. I have never jumped the pier gaps before and I bottled out of the Boscombe one the first time, then having watched someone making, had another attempt. I was kicking the lamp posts on the roundabout before connecting with the next cliff so I nearly needed a change of underwear. I had heard the Bournemouth pier gap was even worse but I did not think the gap between the cliffs was as bad, made that one too, but again only just. Returning was a breeze, flying downwind the pier gaps were no problem. A little later the lift became better and I flew back over both pier gaps and cleared them much more comfortably. In total flew for 2.5 hrs and made it over both pier gaps, both directions twice over.
Report by Alistair Florence
I set my alarm for 5 AM this morning working on the theory that there
would be a nice smooth NNE blowing and I would fly Norden until Dads taxi
service started at 9 AM. I looked out at 5 and was probably not to upset
to find all the bushes outside completely still, back to sleep for a bit.
Swopped weather reports with Dave D and both decided that Portland East was probably worth a punt.
On arrival there was not an impressive amount of wind, after a bit it went ESE and picked up a bit. Dave seemed reluctant to wind dummy following doing the honours at Ballard the previous day only to end up on the beach, to rub salt into the wounds literally as he touched down conditions at T/O changed and the remaining four of us enjoyed a reasonable fly for an hour. Dave climbed back up and launched. The final kick in the nuts was the wind dropping 2 mins after his re-launch and all of us ending up at the bottom. Oh well he must have burned off a pie or two.
Any way back to Portland, I launched and had a variable 15mins a cross between scratching and something a bit better, Dave had a go with same result. We both had another session each and called it a day as the wind was going more Southerly.
I had promised to take my wife for a walk PM so was quite pleased when I found she was not bothered. Specially as wings were now flying on Ballard. On the drive over Dave D texted to say White Horse was working. Ballard looked Ok but no one was really setting the world alight. So thought Id try Knitson, sure enough steady wind albeit light, sun, thermals, soaring Buzzards and gulls seemed worth a go. There was enough breeze to stay up and a steady supply of thermals streaming up from the freshly planted fields in front. I had some lovely climbs up to 500ft admiring the beautifull views. Mike D arrived flew and landed complaining it felt rough. This surprised me as it was one of the smoothest days Ive had there. Mike relaunched after mentally preparing for a few bumps and was soon connecting with lift experimenting with working it upward. Plenty of top land practise on the forgiving top area. A really enjoyable afternoon in which I totted up another 2 hours. Why didnt you guys on Ballard come over you dont know what you were missing??
Sat 22nd / Sun 23 May 2004
Report by RW
Okay I have waited long enough for Peter "Bonzo" R. to do his technical report about a magical flight of nearly 50k to Looe in Cornwall!Where is it??
So the call came from Martin " Uncle Albert" F.early in the morning " Get ready! Meet at the Little Chef, Winterbourne Abbas". I arrived & met Bonzo who was chuntering about Uncle Albert not getting up early enough in the morning. Then the drive "Oh, these grockles holding up the traffic, its so stressful" says I !! Bonzo drove all the way without a break and then the walk to the Tor having met Innes P & Malcolm ? What beautiful scenery, just to prove Dorset does not have a monopoly.
On arrival & after a short but comprehensive brief "Hill , heather
, landing field", we were in the sky, 500'ATO, 50'ATO, land, waft
about, the thermals were punchy followed by lots of sink. Bonzo hooked
into one after about an hour & up, up & away he went, I could
just see the glint of yellow in the sunshine an hour later. Uncle Albert
was scratching & after half an hour he hooked into one & was gone,
then there was me!! OH S--T!! massive assymetric, lean left pump right,
OH S--t, double S--T!!!! I am looking at the wing below me, Hands up,
pendulum swing, THANK GOD its sorted itself out. Stay in the air, smile,
compose yourself, check seat of pants, still retro queer colours , its
Another waft up to 1000'ATO & its over the back to land close to the jeep, no great shakes, but I 'm cold so cuppa tea & bun.
Then the first call, " I'm in Looe in Cornwall", "OK Bonzo
stay there I should'nt be too long".
Then the second call " I dont know where I am, somewhere S & W of Pillaton", signal breaks up & its no good I forgot my reading glasses & the map shows just a network of crossroads.Oh double S--T! So it was a drive across the Moor & by sheer luck I found Uncle Albert with a huge grin on his bearded face & babbling about 42K & missing airspace & seeing the Estuary & 2 coastlines, buzz buzz!!!!!
Oh we have to pick up Robin M, so a slight detour & we found Robin & then to Looe for Bonzo. There he was at the Globe Inn enjoying a weel earned rest & pint & it was natter natter, between the Skygods ( a language I must learn ) a pint & then back to the Fort ( Uncle Alberts caravan ) at Ashburton. A meal at the local hostelry & bed Ha Ha!!!. Uncle Albert was sleep walking & talking all night about his new boat & 42K. He woke me wearing his Beast Mask, must be seen to be believed.
Bonzo was up early & off to the Magic Garden what a marvellous & mystical place that is, well worth the trip alone.I was still trying to come to terms with my sphincter from the previous flight and insisted on a fried breakfast as I had retrieved the Skygods.After same it was off to Beardown Tor where I thought what have I done to upset these guys??? All around take off were these big rocks, what was the brief Uncle Albert? " Take off & familiarise yourself with the site & don't land near the rocks!" Yeah Right!! I followed them into the air & was being bumped around all over the place until Bonzo let up the cry " The conditions aren't right, I'm not flying here"!!!
Well what an experience in the presence of these merry fellows. A weekend
in Dartmoor is not to be missed, if you get the chance go! All joking
aside these two guys make the trip well worthwhile. I'll retrieve any
time Uncle Albert & Bonzo.
Report by David Daniels
Yet another paragliding unfriendly weekend in Wessex - not that that killed the determination of the few, but I'm sure the Stock Exchange listings for the mobile phone companies will have opened a few clicks higher this morning on the back of inter-member communications!
An early text from Gary M stopped me in my Portland East tracks before they started, apparently it was a little strong. (No surprise there, then!) On the coast the wind gradually veered from NE to ESE and the myriad of text messages and phone calls showed a slow draw toward Ballards. Being chauffeured by Paul K we arrived in Ballard Way seconds after Ali F and at the same time as Simon J and Dave T - but the wind on Ballard Green was not encouraging. Tangible determination, wishful thinking and will-power convinced us that it was "about to be flyable", so the slog to the top commenced - followed by a long wait with the wing wafting up the back when it was not straight along the top of the ridge, and only the occasional weak thermal off the cliffs bringing anything up the front.
Impatience eventually had me lobbing off with the hopes that the easterly was adequate for some flying on the low cliffs - but at the same moment that I discovered there was none, I also realised that there were about eight fishing rods with their lines taught and high across the beach just in the region I had hoped to land. Rapid change of flight plan and a perfect spot landing at the end of a tight 270 in an area that was not ideal - between the beach groins! Worried that the others might be about to follow - a phone call was made to those on top ...... and then I saw them, one by one, launch and stay up. Hmmmm.
Another climb to the top, launch, about 8 beats to the end of the White
Cliffs and the lift was fading fast taking us all to the beach.
Sunday started much the same - but the NE was a little lighter. Reaching Portland E 15 minutes before Ali, I found the wind light but still NE. Slowly a line of little Cu were forming at about 4/5,000ft all along the Dorset coast - easily visible in the crystal clear air (see pics) that even made the outline of the Isle of Wight just visible - indicating a sea breeze was trying to establish itself. Slowly the wind on Portland E veered to SE and then began to strengthen to the point that Ali volunteered (or was that pushed?) to be today's wind-dummy flying the SE facing cliffs at t/o.
The lift band was narrow and shallow - to the extent that even had the wind been more NE we'd not have made the "100ft clear of the cliffs" necessary where the Peregrines live. Nor was the band adequate for two wings at a time,. Ali and I taking turns to make a couple of flights each - each taking advantage of a blip of lift amongst cliff-top beats to make a top landing - fearful that the next beat would be one too many resulting in mind focusing landings and sweaty walks back up.
Again the coffers of Orange/Vodafone/One2One/et.al. were being enhanced by the accumulated frustration of recent weekends - and, on my way to Ballards (why not?) I stopped opposite White Horse to watch what, if anything, was happening there. Paul K was having a brief low flight landing down the horse - three others were kiting or sun-bathing, John R was phoning/texting a range of contradictory thoughts about Ballards - he being in Swanage looking up at an empty t/o.
At almost the same instance there was positive activity on White Horse, and John R and Ali F advised me that there were wings in the air at Ballards. I was minutes from White Horse, this might be a ten minute wonder - so the choice was (relatively) obvious.
To say the flying was fantastic would be a fib - after so long without any serious flying it just FELT fantastic. Adrian B and Steve P managed to ride out most of the lulls that had the rest of us pretending that we'd landed for a well earned rest - Sean L, Damian S, Dave T were amongst the others that managed to fly intermittently until everything died away at about 6pm.
Thurs 20 May 2004
Report by RW
An early morning call from Martin F. to enquire if I was available for flying! " Is the Pope a Catholic?". "Of course old boy!! I'll take you." Thank God, no petrol expenditure today.
"I think we ought to go via Portesham to Monks" said Martin I said it will be quicker via Dorchester Oh Dear! Fatal accident had us snaking the country roads. Peter R. phoned at Winterbourne Whitechurch to say he was leaving Monks for Bell. So a quick turn up past Milton Abbas & soon enough we were there. Only to find someone had jumbled the numbers on the lock & I did not have my glasses & Martin was shouting " Cut it with the bolt croppers" ( just one number out will do bonny lads ).
It was on & off the hill N. & N.W.. The thermals started to come on & we were in the air 1000' ATO I marked the thermal & Peter R & Martin F were almost away. awalk back from 2 fields behind had me cursing as Peter & Martin ( Wessex XC Kings, apologies Adrian C.,) were heading for Badbury Rings.
I realised why Martin had insisted on driving me to Bell, guess who picked them up??? Yupp! We arrived back to find people en route home & only the hangies wafting in the late afternoon. We went for it again with Craig B. staying out in front & Peter & Martin went for it again. Hey Ho I ended up retrieve again. I have to say it was worth all the effort because conversing & observing these Sky Gods gives one some insight, even though Dave W. says thermalling " Is easy", just watching them is a pleasure in itself. I was a happy bunny with over 1800' showing on the vario & knowing that it was almost there, gives me hope for the next time.
Others on the hill, Gaz M + student, Dave & Neil F., Richard M., Peter C., Craig B.,Martin H., Derek S., Ron S.,Roger E,. plus some I did not recognise.
Sunday 16th May 2004
Luckily this did not occur on a Wessex Site, but this incident happened last Sunday afternoon on Clee Hill in Shropshire. The unlucky pilot managed to escape, I believe unharmed because he did a runner and managed to remove their harness before the authorities turned up. I think its a very graphic illustration why power lines and paragliders dont mix.
Report by Jerry Siddle
Sunday was a typically high pressure with almost non existent breeze in Salisbury. The only option was to follow J Mortimer's lead and try Ballard or else go towing at Middle Wallop. As time was getting on I opted for Middle Wallop as it is only 12 miles up the road. Conditions did not look promising with nil wind and what few clouds there were looking very flat. The first tow was totally uneventful, only 600ft high at end of tow and so straight back to launch point with no blips on the vario at all, which was identical to what was happening with everybody else - flight time approx 2 minutes once off the tow. The second flight looked to be heading the same way but just before I released I flew through a small thermal which I went hunting for once off the line. I was eventually rewarded with a small bleep on the vario and found that I could just about maintain height when 360ing. Things slowly improved until after 20 minutes I was at a height of 1300ft i.e. about 600ft above my release height. I had ever so slowly also drifted away from the airfield and was on the edge of the Porton Down danger area, which I knew I couldn't enter, leaving the option of heading down the road to Salisbury open. (My airmap, glider bag, flying suit and lunch were all safely back at launch). However, by this stage what little drift there was had stopped, my almost non existant thermal had also given up the ghost so I ended up landing by the side of the road after 30 minutes - a massive 4.5 kms from launch. Not exactly an impressive flight, but my first XC from a tow launch (and on a DHV 1 as well). I even got a lift from a police car who took pity on me!
Thurs 20 April 2004
Report by Mike Drew
First of all I would like to say a BIG thank you to all the people who lent me their wings to get me in to the air whilst I was waiting for my new wing. You will be pleased to know that its now arrived so I wont be begging any more!! Please grab me on the hill and I will be more than happy to return the favour. Now for the flying....
Wind early a.m was light NE so drove down to Eggardon only to find it
had swung round to the NW. Telegraph (Batcombe) is a lot closer than Bell
so headed off there. Wind was light at this stage but thermals were popping
through to give some lift. A couple of flights put me in the bottom field
simply because I was too stubborn to give up the search for lift! The
wind then picked up a bit and the sky looked wonderful so off I went again.
Air was a lot more turbulent this time but for some reason I enjoyed it??
Found a decent thermal and set off over the back, only to fall out of
it again. I kept searching around but couldn't find it again. I then decided
to head back for the ridge and start again. At about 600ft and over a
field back I found I had no ground speed so reached for the bar, only
to remember I didn't have it!! At this point the vario was off the scale
downwards so needed to find a landing field fast. The only non-cropped
field was below so headed down for that and aimed for the downwind hedge
line as there were a line of trees on the upwind side. At about 50ft everything
went a bit mental with the rotor from the trees but I managed to sort
it out and landed safely, if not a bit hard. The whole flight gave me
a big smile on my face which I still had when I eventually managed to
walk back to take off. More for tomorrow please!!!
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