Eye in the Sky - Sept 2004
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Thurs 30 Sep 2004
Report by Roger Edwards
Grotty day, uninspiring forecast, nothing for it but to take my visitors out a grockling. By 2:30 the sky had plenty of blue and some rather pleasant clouds forming, even looking, to the optimistic, like they might get one XC. A text from Mike D, who at the moment has nowt better to do than sulk at home nursing a broken toe, bemoaned the fact that Bell was looking likely but he couldn't make it. A bit of grockle herding ensued and I made Bell for 4ish to find Alan W and A.N. Other (apologies) just launching. Had a quick half hour in conditions that weren't especially lifty but at least smoother than Bell has been on recent visits. I shall endeavour to get my aunt and uncle to move to Dorset for next year - they're proving lucky so far and seem to be enjoying the hill top views.
Wed 29 Sep 2004
Report by Jon Harvey
Finished work 5ish and straight down to Westbay, wind 10mph on T/O and straight onto the coast. Called local pilots as only around 1 1/2 hrs daylight remaining. First flight from here this month, and joined by Tony B, Good solid lift along the coast but slow onto Thorncombe. Attempted to top out on Golden Cap but no lift from around midway Seatown to the top. Max height around 900ft asl. Quite murky and a lowering cloudbase late on and landed shortly before 7pm as light faded. Good 1.1/2 flying.
Report by Roger Edwards
Was out and about with elderly relatives on this damp gloomy day and decided to take them for a little tour of the Purbecks, including Kimmeridge village (well, there was a chance of a bit of south-westerly). Down at Kimmeridge beach there was a pleasant breeze 5-9mph so thought what the hell, I've got the gear so let's have a look at hill, the oldies will enjoy the views if nothing else. Arrived to find Gary M's deserted 4x4 already there, him being down the bottom with a student. Wind felt great and was measured at 12-15mph. Perfect. Had half hour floating mostly around 50ft ATO, maxing at 101ft, which was a bit disappointing given the wind strength. Must have been the bit of high pressure we were in. Anyway, it was great to steal an unexpected half hour on a miserable day.
Sunday 26 Sept 2004
Report by Neil Hutchison
Bell Hill filling up with the usual suspects, with the wind light, off
to the West and 100% cloud cover there is no rush to rig. Conditions slowly
improve but wind speed also increases until most flyers have been compressed
out of the lift. I decided to give it a go and found that base was very
disappointingly below 3000ft. Although I was tracking well across the
ground I failed to find a second thermal and with my options diminishing
I landed just short of the Army Camp. Having landed on the grass outside
Regimental HQ on a previous occasion I decided that I would avoid the
hour spent checking that I wasn't a terrorist on a paragliding assault
of the Royal Corps of Signals and landed on the approach road. I returned
to the hill in time to see a couple of unplanned top landings and Ron
having the sky to himself on his HG. 10km in about 5 minutes!
Sun 19 Sept 2004
Report by Matthew Charlesworth
To add some detail to Rogers comments. We actually had 7 HG's rigged and flying in a very un-Ringstead sort of a sky. Off to the west and not as smooth as we've come to expect but good lift all the same. It was going round to the SW all the time but getting stronger as well. There was lift all the way to the cliffs and with the sun out some small clouds were drifting lift towards us. You could hover under the clouds, I even put in a couple of thermal turns, to 1200ft or so above take off. By mid afternoon the wind had stopped play but it was my first flight for ages and it blew the cobwebs well away.
Report by Roger Edwards
Full of optimism or perhaps desperation, not sure which, I headed off to Ringstead for 10:30ish to find Ron S sitting in his car watching a windsock being swung too far to the west by a brisk wind. Slowly the hangies started turning up, the wind came slightly more on and, surprisingly, dropped a bit though still off to west. Richard M and ZZ had, shall we say, interesting flights on their paragliders in the very rough and very westerly breeze. Lots of pitching and popping up and down. ZZ went for the cliffs but got blown back to land in the middle of the cats cradle behind the trees, hitting nothing and looking as though he'd meant to do it all along. Seems my decision to leave my PG in the bag was prudent.
As it had picked up and was slightly more, on the rigging session got into full swing, eventually leaving me to log yet more time watching the hangies and contemplating a conversion course. After making myself useful getting some shots for Neville A of him in action on his super sleek Class 5 Atos I could stand no more torture and slunk off to console myself with a fry-up. It's bad when the only fix you can get is writing about somebody elses flying.
Wed 15 Sept 2004
Photos by Philip Venn
Report by Neil Kermode
Well it all looked so promising on the forecast, this was to be the day
I went XC for the first time. All psyched up and ready to go over the
Arrived at Bell at 10:00 to find 3 cars on top, one containing the gently snoring form of Keith, and one that had recently held a HG who was rigged when I arrived and took off seconds later.
Wendywindblows for Compton Abbas was reporting 5 -14 kts WNW averaging 9kts. (i.e 6 - 16mph) It was spot on the hill, but was between 11mph and 20mph, and pretty gusty. There was a solid procession of hang gliders coming up the hill, and then flying off.... I didn't realise they actually flew up!
Over the next 5 hours a large proportion of the paragliding side of the club turned up and sat in cars, or huddled together around phones and other toys mumbling about the wind/forecast. In the end there were around 30 people all watching 4 things:
1. The wind sock and Metcheck on assorted meters/WAP phones/Laptops
2. The hang glider/ sailplane interaction as they scratched over Bell for lift.
3. Cloud formation and movement
4. Peter Robinson quietly getting ready and moving further down the hill to take off.
Out of the 4 the last one seems to be the most reliable indicator of perfect conditions, so after Peter soared away there was a mad flurry of canopies and up most people went.
The wind was still on the strong side, but by 4pm it had dropped enough to let some less experienced members safely up. At this point Metcheck was showing it at 6mph, on the hill it was 12 ish, and less gusty.
By 5 pm the sky was almost cloud free in front of the hill and in the end the thermals had petered out too much for me to go XC and I couldn't get the height. Or maybe I didn't know when I hit a thermal, and wasn't up to it, but anyway it was not the day for the big one...... yet.... but it was another hour or so in the air and worth every minute.
Anyway, it was a beautiful day, good company, good sky and even some flying in between the driving up and down. Can't be bad.
Lesson of the day: Don't be conned when Luigi says 'Stand there I want to take a photo.........'
PS Does anybody in this club have a real job? 30 people all day on Bell Hill on a Wednesday. As someone commented 'No wonder the country is in a state... no bugger is working!'
Report by Pete Chalmers
Hooray, a reasonable forecast at last so off to Bell with John B to join the quickly increasing number of parawaiters (see Luigi's photos). It was very strong and gusty so hangies only until about 1400 when the intrepid Peter R followed by Martin F and Grant detected a slight drop(??) and went for it. Not much penetration and obviously rough so I decided to chill and wait for the lighter winds forecast for the afternoon.
We watched Peter, Martin and Grant disappear over the back then, Sean L entertained us with his backwards/risers twisted tandem launch which also involved an attractive blonde and a parked hanglider! The puffing band of rescuers, Dave D in the lead, managed to tame the wing just before cars/fences/bullocks also joined in. Phil V's wife has a video clip to entertain us later.
The wind eventually dropped to a reasonable strength at 1530 and I launched at 1600 scratching initially then picking up the odd thermal. I eyed a reasonable looking cloud drifting towards the hill which started to give me a nice climb so drifted over the back with a hangie and a pg I did not recognise.
They both decided to head back so I was on my own until I saw John B much lower but going for it also, he was not going to let me get away on my own again! I lost it at not much more than 1000' ato but good drift and zeros initially saw me descending towards the Winterborne Stickland cricket pitch. I had more or less resigned myself to landing there and watching John overfly me when I hooked into some lift over the T-junction in the centre of Stickland. A slow climb saw me drifting past him as he landed near the A354. I didn't get much further, landing about 3kms NNE of Winterborne Kingston for 11.1kms. My reward was a walk of 4kms to the A31!
Pictures by Luigi Degli-Esposti
Sunday 5 Sept 2004
Report by Sean Staines
Having spent Saturday in Beer hoping in vain for the sea breeze to kick in I planned an epic motorised flight in the light easterly forecast for Sunday.
After much delay waiting for morning fog to clear, and a change of canopy due to the first one getting soaked in morning dew from numerous failed take off attempts, I eventually got away from the take off at Hook at 10:30 AM. The first part of the flight past Basingstoke towards Kingsclear was in heavily inverted conditions with a thick dark band across the sky marking the inversion.
By Highclere castle the inversion was beginning to break up and the thermal activity was kicking in.By Coombe Gibbett I started using the thermic activity to take some 3-4m/s climbs on idle. From Coombe I headed for the windmill and pumping station that marked the position where I joined the route of the Kennet and Avon Canal. By then the thermic activity made the areas of sinking and rising air quite pronounced and all the theory of where the sink and lift was to be found were put into practice.
It soon became apparent that the idea of flying along the canal was a bad one as I was getting drilled by the sink. Heading for the high ground I passed Pewsey & Milk hill with some great thermalling along the way above the stubble fields.
Passing devizes, the ground beyond opened up into a large flat plain flanked by the downland of Salisbury plain in the distance and the cement works in front of the Westbury White horse visible in the distance.
Just beyone Melksham the inevitable finally happened and the engine stopped with all of the fuel used up so I glided in.
After 2:30Hrs airtime the GPS distance logged a flight of 100km (admittedly they count 360s as well).
I feel that the opportunity to go looking for the lift and learning where to expect the sink will definitely help with the free flying as at least when I got it wrong it wasnt game over.
All in all a superb flight on a day when free flying didnt look possible.
Friday 3 Sept 2004
Report by Steve Bamlett.
Arrived at Ringstead to find Russell, Kay, Debbie, and others who were just about to unpack and fly. The condition were good and all were looking forward to a good day. The wind was slighty of to the west but not much this however would be good for the cliffs once there. Although a bit breezy it was steady and height was soon made on the ridge to allow the transit to the cliffs.
Others arrived Pete, Shippo, Grant, Roger, and many other who I forget (sorry) soon the cliffs was decorated with the colour of wings set beneath a blue sky. Perfect!!
Whilst out on the cliffs there was good height to be had this of course led to lots of spirals and wing overs. As the breeze increased it possiable to sit there and enjoy the view slowly coasting up and down.
The only hiccup was the tree land by some one (don't know who) just before the power line en-route to the cliff. However all was well both pilot and wing were ok and flew later that day.
There was so much air time to be had today I was glad I had my camara. The day was brought to an end in style when Peter said he had some cold beer in his car, so we stood and chatted and drank Pete's beer. (and Cake))) ( Cheers Pete )
Report by Roger Edwards
Another great day at Ringstead with many people at the cliffs, most managing
to get an hour or so in the air. Bit off to the west, pleasantly strong and
working well most of the afternoon. Went bit more west and strengthened,
requiring speed bar for some of us on lower performance wings, but all got
back, or very nearly back, OK. Too many people to mention - have none of us
jobs or are we all inveterate skivers?
Given the recent discussions of Ringstead a couple of my photos have
educational value for those who haven't made the cliffs yet.
Pictures by Jeremy Mortimer
Wed 1 Sept 2004
Report by Roger Edwards
It was a light start to the day but the general concensus seemed to be White Horse. I arrived about 12 o'clock to see wings in the air so hurried up to check it out. There was a nice soarable breeze and a lot of thermic activity with the odd bit of cloud forming overhead. Conditions stayed this way until about 4:30 making it the perfect day to play with thermals. They were quite broken and often punchy and you had to work them hard to make any height gains, 800ft seeming to be the common max for people. Though rough, collapses were rare, Russell W being the only person to report a few nasty ones so he was probably just unlucky.
A few people managed to make a break for it. Neil H got as far as Broadmayne as did Mike D. Pete C was exploring the ridge to the west before losing it. Adrian C got past Broadmayne, I believe, and Neil got away again to get past Dorchester, which was a great effort given the inconsistency of the thermals. I had a go for it but lost my thermal on my way over the back, decided it was prudent not to go anywhere near the powerlines and ended up being drilled into the back field, unable to push back to the ridge.
Others there enjoying the thermal fighting were Gaz M, Kay E and her friend Debbie (I think) who had her first flight since an accident and thoroughly enjoyed it, John B, Alan W, newish member Phil V and a two or three others I don't know (apologies).
Report by Lawrence Toogood
First day of the new season @ Bmth, summer has returned to the beaches, forecast 8-10 southerly, a little on the light side, going down today was not an option so i had to wait until the crowds thinned.
Around 4.30 landing areas(emergency) were available, as I arrived Steve Auld was just making off on his bike so not sure if he flew or not. An uneventful takeoff followed by 10 mins of scratching in the end a beach landing beckoned much to the delight of some young families who then surrounded me firing me with 20 questions most of all wanting me to do it again. So back to take off, only Ii was not going down again.
Had to wait a little while for the wind to be strong enough, much to the annoyance of the young onlookers who were shouting abuse "go on mister jump". Kids don't you just love them. Well i got off only to fly the cliff east of take off as this was working best. Now to find a couple making out in the long grass the other side of the fence, I covered my eyes, but had to pass several times as this was the only place working. We all were laughing, but i cut them some slack and landed, may as well let someone have some fun as scratching is not ( sorry no pics available , before someone asks!) .
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