Eye in the Sky - June 2004
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Tues 29 Jun 2004
Report by Mike Drew
Finished work early and got a text from Roger E saying that Ringstead was promising. I had been to Ringstead plenty of times only to find the wind off or too strong so wasn't in a great hurry. When I did eventually arrive I saw Roger E and Pete C heading for the cliffs and Marcus W already there enjoying himself. "WOW, could this be the day I make the cliffs", I thought! A minute after taking off I was already high enough to go for the cliffs and didn't lose any height at all in getting there. What followed was the smoothest flying I have had for months. The lift band was huge so plenty off space for the four of us! There was plenty of space to practice wingover co-ordination and feeling the "bite" on a spiral. Just the confidence booster I needed after a 3 week lay-off. We all decided to land when orographic cloud seemed to be forming all around us.
Russell W turned up later and flew with Pete C, amusing themselves by playing hide-and-seek in the clouds.
Report by RW
An early start to the day helping "Uncle Albert" on his boat in Weymouth Harbour. A call from Peter C. to say "Where are you?" and to let me know it was flyable at the Ringstead office. I helped Martin F finish one of the jobs & made my excuses to get to Ringstead before it blew out as it had yesterday. I arrived and found Peter C. Roger E. Derek S. & Marcus W. all enjoying lunch after an hour or so of cliff soaring. Not having had any airtime for over two weeks ( Shock Horror ) as I was on holiday in France, I was keen to get some more of "feet off the ground" as I only managed 30mins yesterday!!! Must admit it was quite twitchy as my last time in the air was at Bell when our friend Kiwi Chris had his helicopter ride. I managed an hour in and out of the edge of the orographic and was joined by Peter C. we managed to gain over 500'ATO. An interesting feeling of no sight & sound, but most of the time making sure I could see the sea or ground & eventually getting back before it really came in! Congrats to those who had their first sojourn to the cliffs! Was that you Roger?? Was that you Mike??
Friday 25 June 2004
Despite the forecast for w-sw wind the wind was actually not to far off on Bell this morning and with thermal assistance it was often bang on. Late morning saw Adrian Combe climb out and away and a short while later my brother was also on a good climb . John Pinchin and myself were scratching about on the spur at the Okeford end when we were given the most welcome guidance from a buzzard rapidly thermalling 150yards infront and below us, what a gift. This took us to cloud base and we went our separate ways. The sea breeze was pretty close to the south so I thought it best to see if I could stay north of it. This took me over Shillingstone and then over Hambledon Hill then to the edge of the Cranborne Chase. Each time I topped up my height I would have to end with a slow leg north and another search for lift. From then on it was a case of zigzagging my way up the A354.I was joined by a sailplane at Sixpenny Handley and we climbed to 5,200 asl. He went south but I had reached the edge of my piece of map and the only place I was sure that I would be well clear of air space was to carry on up the A354 sadly into a very wide blue area. Salisbury looked close but at 7 down on the vario the ground soon had me. I landed near Martin.
Report by Roger Edwards
As hoped for Friday dawned looking good but the initial weather reports were confusing - generally westerly as expected but XCW and Compton Wendy showing WNW suggesting Bell, but would it be worth it as forecast to swing to WSW? I plumped for the WSW option and headed out in a Ringstead direction, thinking at least it seems to pull a westerly round onto the ridge (I say that based on admittedly minimal experience of the site so far) . Pete C and John B decided to head for an inland site taking SW in the hopes of getting an XC chance.
Ringstead at 10am (yes, I managed an early start for once) was very westerly. OK, expected that so put plan B into action and visited Flying Frenzy at Swyre and collect some stuff. For those familiar with Swyre they'll know it is rarely soarable for anyone other than featherwaights. Not today, it was working adequately as Ben ? (Condors member) was demonstrating on his new Gradient Golden. Given this we left the hill to the school and dashed back to Ringstead expecting it to now be on. It was, but on the limit so Ben had a test flight but failed to penetrate forwards. Now began another long wait that saw the hangies start to turn up.
Hangies Ron, Chris and Ian all arrived, rigged and flew much to the frustration of PGs Paul K, Graham H, Steve ?, and another (apologies) who'd come from Kimmeridge where it was also blown out. ZZ turned up with his tandem HG and Paul jumped at the chance to get his first HG experience in. Sadly they didn't managed to make height at the cliffs and ended up on the beach after about 5 mins. Ben had decided to go back to Swyre and later reported he'd had a couple of ridge runs whilst we were sitting at Ringstead.
All the PG fervently wished for a drop of about 3mph, which finally came
at about 6pm allowing all to get to the cliffs to enjoy the smooth conditions.
Great for me as this took me over the ten hour threshold at last, not
that I'll be rushing to throw the ribbon away yet, I definitely want it
for those scarily busy weekend days at least.
Mon 21 June 2004
Report by Nicole Barnard
Rushed home to find Dave T eating his tea and asked him whether he wanted
to go flying. Jumped in the car and drove to Kimmeridge to find it a bit
gusty and windy and a tad off to the west, but realised we were at the
right site as Ali F drove up and parked behind us. At around 8:15pm Ali
grabbed his bag and climbed over the fence as the wind died off a tad
and turned the flying into a "maybe". Ali launched a few minutes
later and headed off to the end of the ridge, closely followed by myself
and Dave T. I thought south westerly winds were supposed to be warm...
not yesterday - needed my winter gloves after a while!! Soared Kimmeridge
until the sun disappeared behind the wall of cloud when everything seemed
to turn into shades of red and pink. We landed smiling and happy and freezing
- always a great end to a working day!
Report by Roger Edwards
Maintaining my consistent record of late starts I was prompted by a text from Ali F saying that Kimmeridge was working and with impeccable timing I got there just as was getting strong. Ali had faced up to his responsibilities and finally landed and gone to work but Pete C was in the air. On landing he reported it being feisty but OK, but given the stronger conditions at launch we decided it was now blown out. We decided to give Ringstead a go and arrived to find Gary M, John W, Vikki P and Marcus W had been flying, along with Ron on his HG. John and Vikki were leaving for some strange reason, allegedly involving preparations for a school trip to sunnier climes - I wish them more consistent conditions than we've had here of late.
Wind 12-15 with a small amount of W to it and reports of 500ft gains out at the cliffs encouraged Pete to get going pronto. Meanwhile I took advantage of Gary's knowledge to help finally rid my reserve set up of material-material connections. Again, thanks for the help Gary, much appreciated. Pete was doing well so with a good briefing from Gary, who sadly had no wing so couldn't fly, I set off with every intention of making the cliffs myself. The lift was effortless to use and with about two hundred feet ATO I headed off and made the cliffs easily, then began my first ride of the legendary elevator to the top. Fantastic flying - peachy smooth, effortless lift, always at least 200ft ATO and great visibility. I have to say this must be the most picturesque of the Wessex sites, at least of the ones I have flown so far. Not to mention that there were only three of us in the air which made a pleasant change from the neck-swivelling busyness (sic) of recent weekends. After a while Marcus made it out to the front as well.
Later in the day the wind on launch picked up, putting me off as I had the wing flying full speed but still got pushed backwards towards the cars, ending in another drag - at least there were no fresh cow pats to slide through this time. That didn't stop the more experienced hands on faster wings who turned up later in the day from getting good flights in - Ali F, Paul K, James ?, and a visit from Eddie C. Eagle-eyed Ron claimed spotting the nudists but can't say I did - why didn't anyone brief me about that? Dr Charles turned up just as we were leaving - hope you got a good flight in Charles.
I decided to follow Ali over to Kimmeridge thinking that conditions might
have started to drop by the time we got there. I say follow but it was
more of a rally through the Dorset lanes and then he embarrassed me by
beating my 4x4 up the Kimmerigde track in his Fiesta van (I think). My
only defence is that he was driving someone elses vehicle and didn't have
two hoots to give about it. Nicole B and David C were optimistically waiting
for a drop in the still strong conditions. Giving in to my pessimism fuelled
by a strong need for curry I left them all on the hill, only to get a
a text later on from Ali telling me conditions dropped shortly after I
left and they had some peachy air time. Damn. The moral of today is clearly
get up early and be a dirty stop out.
Saturday 19 June 2004
Report by David Daniels
Not exactly in the sky - but whilst everyone else was littering the route from Bell Hill to Swanage, Nicole B, Dave M, Bob D and myself were manning the clubs stand at the Berwick St John Fête.
The fête was really busy - and, compared to two years ago when we all sheltered from the rain and used the gazebo to pack everything away in the relative dry, the weather was perfect!
Thanks to Aidan D for all the bits he supplied to make our patch very colourful and create such interest.
Report by Adrian Bishop
The sky was epic, and arriving at Coombe, I could almost smell the excitement as onlookers gazed on and photographed the pilots climbing out. I'd had a stressful week, so no pressure today, this was flying strictly for fun. Took off about 11.15 and pretty much climbed straight to base. The clean clear air giving the most stunning views with Basingstoke, Newbury, Andover, and the coast all clearly visible. I had decided I wasn't going to be bothered with numbers, just to be there and enjoy myself.
Circling at base in one's and two's - skimming the base of the clouds, and for once feeling totally comfortable and in control. Flying around the edge of the Blue Hole over Whitchurch I kept thinking of the song by Natalie Imbruglia,
"Did you ever feel sunlight on your face?
Did you ever taste clouds?
Did you ever touch space?
Did you ever feel sunlight on your face?
Did you ever truly live?"
Landed at East Stratton nr Micheldever. About two hours and 29k. All smiles.
Report by Adrian Leppard
An early start paid dividends on Saturday at Combe, with the wind starting NNW and forecast to pick and turn Westerly, which is exactly what it did at 2pm by all accounts.
The ridge was soarable from 9am and thermals were coming through from about 10am ish. I managed to get away with a gaggle of about a dozen glider just before 11am with a moderate climb to base.
A glide to Hurstbourne Tarrant and then another fairly weak thermal. In fact all the thermals I found were fairly weak and you had to work them until about 2'500 when they found a better pace.
Cloudbase started off at about 3'500 and developed by another 1000 ft as the morning progressed. Others climbs at Whitchurch and then Preston took me within a glide of Lasham. The scenery was superb (English countryside is the best view in the world I reckon) and being joined by a couple of sailplanes added to the enjoyment of the flight.
My last climb near Petersfield and I made a poor decision to go for distance rather than stay with a good cloud, which saw me on the deck just passed Rogate. 59.9km after about 3hrs. I had been tracking a red/yellow Gin Zoom and could see it making off in the distance (Good luck).
A couple of pints to celebrate in the local pub and joining in the village wedding made the day. Huge respect for Mike Bretherton who turned in a round 100 mile journey to pick me up. Real Flying friendship.... Thanks mate.
Report by Craig Byrne
I finally managed to arrive at the Bell Hill early for once (well 12:00) and already lots of pilots some getting to varying heights ato, the clouds were looking good very good, Buzzards are now in orbit looks like a go day!
After getting a good kicking for a while quite low I managed some height and then a brilliant thermal came though hovering Sean L Gary P Myself and a few others up up and away.
I worked this all the way into cloud and then some more finally spiralling out of cloud before heading off under the cloud over the Winterbournes, Gary was over Winterbourne Whitchurch as I glided towards him then he catches a boomer and is spiralling up towards the forming cloud and I nip in under him to take a climb back into the white stuff.
Gary now heads off more towards Bere Regis and I can now see Sean out in front and Andy D low but climbing over Wareham Forest, Keith W is also climbing well over the Winterbournes now, and pilot X on a Windtech is heading more off towards the coast.
The views were stunning and lift almost everywhere with some very buoyant glides and even better climbs as the day went on, I hooked a weak climb over Wareham that Sean had marked but should have followed him more towards the coast as you could see the sea breeze setting in, I ended up getting decked as I could not make it over the back of Kingston so landed near Kingswood Farm in a quite fresh sea breeze. Sean nipped along the ridge and made Swanage! Andy D Gary Keith and Jeremy all made it to near Harmans cross I think?
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