Eye in the Sky - Jan 2005

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Mon 31 Jan 2005

Report by Alastair Florence

And yet another lunch break on Westbury Horse. Ron had already had the PG out and also had his Hanglider rigged. Wind strength was reasonable but not particularly lifty due to an overcast sky. nevertheless I enjoyed my lunch break, so much so that I went back for more after work as well. Nice the evenings are drawing out a bit. Ironic though: spend all day on Bell yesterday for 1 hr 20mins airtime, today pop out for lunch then stop on my way home and end up with 1hr 30 mins! That's paragliding.

I reckon we ought to convince Mr Yeatman to convert his farm into a cement works as at Westbury. The works have massive kilns inside which burn clinker before grinding into cement, this process generates alot of heat leading to potential thermals. Plus the chimmeny is an ideal wind direction/strength indicator. Whilst working at Southam, Rugby cement works I looked inside one of the furnaces using a welders mask, the inferno inside is quite awesome. Only kidding as I suspect the locals might not be so keen.

Sun 30 Jan 2005

Report by Mark Fisher


Thought we`d check out the renowned `Devils dyke` the worlds largest deepest dry valley, this weekend. Only a 2 hour drive instead of the usual 4 from Suffolk to Dorset. Arrived 10.30 wind a bit off and light so had breakfast in the pub on site by which time wind had picked up only 2 wings in air and about 20 pilots hanging around all wondering why no one else was
flying. Got half an hour eventually but quite strong and lifty. On Sunday checked the Devils Dyke webcam at 9am to find wings in the air so got down there sharpish very busy day about 30-40 pilots there with always about 20 flying we flew all day on and off till it got dark it was an excellent day on a lovely site apparently the best days flying they have had this year.

Report by Alastair Florence, photos by Simon Cory-Wright


After dropping one of my daughters at work for 7:30am there seemed little point in going home so I headed for Bell. Things looked promising at 8:15 with 10-11mph on the hill with some mist and cloud clearing nicely. As the sky cleared the wind dropped off to result in an unscratchable strength not helped by being off to the North a little.

Others arrived and attempted to scratch without much success although Neil H did manage about 10 mins at one stage. Around lunch time things switched on nicely and after about 3/4 hour pilots where dropping out as the wind got a bit strong. I landed for more ballast and carried on now with only 2 or 3 others in the air. Those who spring to mind as present were: Neil H, Steve B (who was suprised I got there before even him) Martin H, Brian M, Dr Charles + new dog, Russell W, Simon (yellow electron), Mark P, Gary P, Gary M + Flight Culture school, Andy D, Roger E and I'm sure a few others I have missed. Some late comers who had been at Monks included Dave M, Nicole and Dave W.

A good afternoon was had by all marred only by Roger E who unfortunately suffered an obviously broken Wrist and was driven to Hospital by Neil. I'm sure he will tell the story if he is right handed.


Report by Mike Bretherton


Arrived at Monks at about midday with Simon Herbert and Dom Schettini. There were already about 4 wings in the air so soon launched. It was very overcast but there were some nice thermals about. Flew for about half an hour when the wind picked up, it always seems to here. Slope landed and several people left. The wind was not that strong (max about 17mph) so we waited a while. A little later Simon took off and it seemed ok. Spent the next 2 hours having several very nice soaring flights. It was so lifty is was hard to get down but with no real risk of being blown back. On occasions the air felt quite peculiar, not quite thermic, not quite ridge lift either. I have experienced this effect at Monks several times now and I suspect that when there is a decent wind blowing, especially in winter you get some sort of wave effect. Whatever it is, quite an enjoyable day on an almost empty site.

Wed 26 Jan 05

Report by Alastair Florence

Another nice looking day for a change so took lunch on the hill at Westbury, or rather in the air. Lovely bright conditions.

Wind off to the East a bit but ok and enough to stay up with some pleasant and useable thermals about. Its not only Wessex members that never seem to be at work, the Avon sky tribe were out in force too. The air was certainly cold though.

I had a meeting in the afternoon so had to leave which came hard with conditions improving and the natives pushing out further and higher all the time as I wrapped up.

Sun 23 Jan 2005

Report by Matthew Charlesworth

A snowy Monks Down found me, Gary Dear, John Alder, Rod Smith and Phil Smith waiting to fly on Sunday morning. Gary had rigged his damp glider earlier only to see it ice up before his eyes and was waiting for it to thaw out. Rod was wrapped to to a level that would have embarrassed an Eskimo and didn't fly but John, Phil and I, all had good fLights in cold but sunny conditions.

There were a few bubbles of lift coming through to make it worth turning but no real thermals to speak of. I only flew for 40 mins or so, the others a little longer but when I landed I could barley feel my fingers! The snow in the shaded parts was still there when I left in the afternoon and Gary's glider never did thaw out so he didn't fly.

All in all a lovely day that blew away a few cobwebs and on my birthday as well! There was a lone floppy flying earlier but it was too windy I think. He'd packed up as I got there at 12'ish. Others passed by whilst we were rigging but none braved the conditions. Roll on springtime.

Fri 21 Jan 05

Report by Alastair Florence

Another hit on Avon. I had a look on Westbury mid morning but a group of hangies were already mumbling about it being strong so went back to site. Late PM the wind had eased in warminster so I went home via the horse. On arrival there was 1 hangie + 1 PG flying, I got my tackle out by which time a gust front had come in halting things. After 1/2 hour it eased down enough and me and two Avon guys had a pleasant enough 30 mins before dark.

Wednesday 19th Jan 2005

Report By Steve Bamlett

The day started well and by 10 am the sky over Pompey was clear and the wind had dropped a little. A quick call to windy at Mercury and it said 10-14 average 12 and West.
So it was down tools and of to Buster Hill .

Arrived at about 11am and there was only one other person there who had just passed his CP and was not sure to fly or not. At times it was a bit Gusty but I was soon up in the air and playing around on the ridge.

The New CP felt his ground handling skills needed to be better so he was happy to do that. It was on the limit and at times the wind did gust at 15 .

The sky slower turned from blue to black and there was a rain front moving in so it was time to go. I was greatful of small mercies and the fact that it was a west wind which allowed my to get in the air not far from were I live.

All in all a nice 45 mins Hope to see you all soon. ( Friday Bell !!!!!???) ;-)


Sunday 16th Jan 05

Report by Rod Smith

Ringstead.wind S.W. 20mph to 28mph windy on my arrival at Ringstead..so we waited and Phil Smith arrived,then Richard Mosley the wind eased the sun came out and there was a frantic move to rig the hangies.Two more Condors pilots and two from Avon club arrived. Soon there were seven hangies out on the cliffs at heights of 1300 to1400' ato. Good time had by all ,no bent metal or nasty incidents clocked up one half hours airtime.

15th Jan 2005.

Report by Roger Edwards

I guess like most of you good folk I have of late got out of the habit of hoping tomorrow will bring a flyable day. A late night and a good lie-in meant it was already nye on midday before I found a text saying someone was flying at Ballard - not Ali this time but a mystery wing which, being yellow, was mistaken for him. Didn't fancy the bowl at White Horse, which I had heard was working, so across the ferry to Ballard. Once through Studland I found a very promising sight - a wing high over the Down.

By the time I started on my way up there was no wing in the air and, more worryingly, very little indication of wind for most of the way up. Had I missed it? No such bad luck today - got to the top to find it 12-15mph and a bit SE. Hurrah! The mystery pilot turned out to be Neil W who'd already had a couple of hours! It stayed on all afternoon allowing gentle, relaxing boating about, conditions even giving the confidence to take a couple of breaks in the faith that it wasn't going to switch off, round or blow out.

I think Neil took one tour too many of the lower cliff and couldn't make it back up, either that or he felt two and a half hours enough for one day.

(JB: Actually, it was Neil Harris and he tells me he landed because he was cold!)

My day ended when it finally did start to pick up and prudence won out over valour. One and a half hours for myself, and I even had my first sneak around the corner: not far and, I have to say, it's bloody scary round there, but damned impressive too. And that was it, just the two of us. I believe word was out and before anybody shouts at me, I didn't have a useful signal up on the Down until gone 3pm.

Report by Steve Bamlett

The forcast was for SSE moving to S and maybe SSW later on so I took a gamble and headed to white horse to have a look. Arrived to find it was drizzel and gloomy so a quick call to Russell W and around his place for a cup of tea. By the time I got there it started to clear up and at one point blue sky could be seen over portland.

Anyway Russell and I set of to White Horse and there was still abit of East in the wind so we decided to have a play in the Bowl. A coulple of calls found people at verious sites and someone was flyimg Ballard? Russell and I had a good hour just playing around the bowl although it was a bit bumpy at times.

For me it was my first real flight since deploying my reserve at Ringstead but soon got back into the swing of things.Two other flyers turned up who had drove 4hours to get here and as they arrived the wind started to do some crazy things.
First it died then it swung around and at one point was coming over the back of the hill!

All in all not to bad given the weather over the past week or so. Then it was all back to the Lanny for a cup of tea and Shortbread thanks to Russell.

Special Message for Dave W ( tomorrow at Ringstead remember where you heard it first)!

13 Jan 2005

Report by Neil Kermode

Well arrived at Kimmeridge alone again (Not that I am paranoid about getting the forecast wrong of course), and the view as always took my breath away.

The wind was pretty feeble and due westerly, but the forecast on Metcheck was for it to go SSW and even SW during the day, so started to unpack. Gary ? and a non flying colleague turned up from their job Lulworth Castle, and shortly afterwards Keith Wright turned up having come from St Albans by 4WD!

As predicted the wind moved to the SSW and the ridge began to work. It was a bit scratchy, but the bowl down at Swire Head and the silage clamps in the farm below seemed to be chucking up some lift. Interestingly there seems to have been quite a lot of gorse and bramble clearance along the face of the grassy area immediately above the cultivated fields which increases landing options quite a bit.

The sky didn't get too crowded as there were only about 5 gliders in the air at any one time. The latter ones joining being Pete Chalmers, Martin Hayward and Marcus who all beat the ridge for some good flights..

After an hour or so it all dropped off a bit, and we waited expectantly for the forecast later blow to arrive. Pete, Marcus & Keith did some excellent and optimistic scratching in the lull, but even they were eventually beaten by the calm that descended. Roger Edwards & new member Roy turned up a bit later, the former intent on playing with boys toys, the latter making frequent and determined top to bottoms. (It made me feel tired just watching!)

Unfortunately the sky had not read the Metcheck forecast, so the increasing wind didn't arrive on time, and we sat and watched the scenery as the afternoon wore on. So in the end the day gently wound down as the sun disappeared behind the approaching (but too slowly) cloud bank, and everybody dispersed after what, for me at least, was why I took up this sport. Good flying in a beautiful place with good company......... Thanks


PS. Thanks Martin for the lift down in the 4WD!

Report by Pete Chalmers

Having picked up the demo Gin Zoom from Neil H I set off for Kimmeridge as it had been reported as light sw by Keith W. Luckily hooked up with Martin H for a lift up the track (thanks!).

Arrived to find Keith plus Gary? and Neil K in various stages of walking up, WSW and light! By the time I was dressed and organised it had picked up a little. Found the Zoom ground handled better than my mistral2 and was off with a v.quick eastward beat. It worked well down towards Swyre Head with small smooth thermals.

After landing for lunch it dropped progressively through the afternoon but the Zoom came into its own enabling me to stay up when everyone else was dropping out, including Roger E, Marcus W and Roy who had by now arrived. Inevitably I ended up slope landing when it dropped a little too much.

A great hour in the air on a very nice wing, thanks Neil.

PS you Ringstead boys should have invested £2 with Mr Hole!

Report by Alastair Florence

Today as I’m sure everyone noticed was the first settled day for a couple of weeks now, so it seemed a shame to let it go without trying to get a fly.

Still working in Warminster, it was logical to take a long lunch break. I headed for Avon Clubs Cowards Bowl, a SW site. 2 other paragliders had just arrived and a paramotorist appeared to be under tuition.

The wind was light but on the hill. After a chat the wind was beginning to develop into flyable weak thermic cycles. I managed a couple of scratchy 10 minute sessions culminating in hooking a weak thermal which gave a climb to a heady 80ft before it bumbled off over the back of the hill. I decided that lunch was over and headed back to Warminster after at least achieving my first flight of 2005.

Thurs 6 Jan 2005

Report by Roger Edwards

It was the second early start to another day of seemingly foolish optimism in the hunt for a low-wind window to allow some feet-off-ground activity. Yesterday myself and Ali F had made a pact to see if we could take advantage of a potentially flyable morning before the wind returned to gale force, but our site hopping was all to no avail. The forecasts for today proffered a similar promise (or taunt) and things were looking feasible. At 0830hrs at Ringstead I found a 10mph wind but 40deg off to the west, wind-streaks on the sea suggesting it was even more west out there. Damn.

I thought Ali had cried off but I had a message from him saying it was 25mph on the Purbecks. Strange, it was still only 12mph here but, teasingly, gently coming round onto the ridge. Half an hour later it was on but getting stronger. OK, I'm all ready, there's no crud coming in, it'll get stronger so don't even think about the cliffs, just grab five minutes on the ridge with a nice big field behind if it goes a little awry. Wing up, not going backwards so push forwards and gently rise. A dabble right, a beat left, turn to go back and - what's this, hardly going forward? The windsock was now pointing along the ridge - b*****d thing hadn't done that all the while I'd been watching it, but as soon as my back was turned ... Crept forwards and got in OK with the best part of, oh, let's see, all of two minutes in the air.

Yes, a great achievement - a muddy harness, a soggy wing and another small contribution to global warming. Surely 'Great' Britain is an ironic name for this isle of ours?


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Eye in the Sky - Dec 2004
Eye in the Sky - Nov 2004
Eye in the Sky - Oct 2004
Eye in the Sky - Sep 2004
Eye in the Sky - Aug 2004
Eye in the Sky - July 2004
Eye in the Sky - June 2004 - Part 2
Eye in the Sky - June 2004 - Part 1
Eye in the Sky - May 2004 - Part 2
Eye in the Sky - May 2004 - Part 1
Eye in the Sky - April 2004 - Part 2

Eye in the Sky - April 2004 - Part 1
Eye in the Sky - March 2004
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