Eye in the Sky - April 2005

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Fri 29 April 2005

Report by Alastair Florence

The coast sounded like it was rubbish this afternoon so I came home via Mere Rifle range. As I approached I was pleased to see wings in the air. As I drove up Neil hutch was leaving having decided that it wasn’t XC able. Correct not Xc able but pleasantly soarable for the rest of the evening. I clocked up well over a couple of hours with a couple of climbs over 500ft and plenty of floating around comfortably especially as evening set in. Many native culprits present including Ron S whom I left wafting about on his PG several hundred feet up as if he was being held up on a giant string from above.

Sun 24th April 2005

Report by Mark Fisher


Had good days coastal soaring up in north norfolk at mundesley near cromer on a better day you can fly about 15 miles along the coast.A bit safer than flying with a 1000ft of tow line like i did last week and had to deploy my reserve at 150ft. Jon W in the pics.

Report by Craig Byrne

We had a pleasant day at Mercury today with weak thermals and reasonable conditions for most of the afternoon. Brian M was ripping on the Aspen demo; Sean S was in orbit on his new Sigma 6; Gill & Nickolas LeGras were both getting some good flights in. Loads of Hang Gliders managing some good flying with two making base then disappearing towards Butser then appearing again later which considering the conditions was some pretty amazing flying.

Saturday 23rd April

Report by Roy Menage.

After a fruitless trip to Swanage to see if Ballards had broken through the clouds (no wind and the top 100ft or so in cloud), I decided to take a wander through the Purbeck hills to admire the scenery. Stopped at Kimmeridge with a view to walking up to take in the view but on getting out of the car, I discovered there was a light breeze in the afternoon sunshine.

Lugged the wing up the hill to find Sean L already scratching about in the gentle thermals. So we proceeded to have a bit of flying, mainly ending somewhat below takeoff but just occasionally we made it back to the start point.

About 4:30, the seabreeze stopped and the wind went back to the prevailing SE. So we packed up and made our way home. All in all, a more successful day out than anticipated.

Wed 21 April 2005

Report by Peter Studzinski

Interesting day at Monksdown. I arrived at about 2pm and had just got back from an extreme skiing/flying holiday in Austria, part of which involved messing about with my glider, changing damaged lines etc. so nothing was ready.

I took off for what I thought would be a short ‘test’ flight. It immediately became clear that one brake line was slightly longer than the other and my vario was not working, well it was not making a beeping sound. I tried to lose height to land, but the harder I tried the more I went up. I then found myself in a nice thermal and decided to make the most of it – it was a long time since I’d thermalled without a vario (it is actually very good practice) and the longer brake made it easier to turn in one direction! In no time at all I was over the back with Dave F and then Pete C.

It was clear that they wanted to go XC, but without a vario I was not at all keen and on several occasions I tried to push back to the hill. In the end I decided to give it a go because I had a lot of height and I had two friendly thermal markers. Dave F was struggling and fighting hard throughout most of the flight and never got to cloudbase. I just about got there shortly after Pete C while working the second bit of lift. I do not know how high it was, I’d guess about 2500ft ASL, i.e. not very high. Even so I’ve never got to cloudbase like this without a vario and even though it was hard work I was starting to enjoy myself. As soon as I started to relax I found sink, big sink.

I saw Dave F flying off towards the A354 on what looked like a final glide. He landed just the other side of the road and although I had a bit more height I decided to join him - his wife often does the retrieve thing. Pete C went on a bit further to do about 11km (I think). Thanks to Dave F’s wife for the retrieve, especially since getting to Monks from here is a real pain. An enjoyable, if rather short, XC.

Sun 17th April

report from Lawrence Toogood

The early birds soar with the gulls. Jim coutts and myself arrived at Bmth T/O just after 8am as the forcast was for increasing winds very soon, the wind was top end so without delay we launched into the blue skies and headed off to Bmth having a play along the way. Once at bmth pier (near ) Idecided to turn back as it seemed to be getting a tad stronger. I made it back across boscombe pier only to land on the beach as I had pushed out too far not wanting to be blown back. Jim flew overhead back to T/O where the wind had strenghtened and needed ears in to get down on the beach. So by sailing close to the wind we managed a flight more than the poor souls who had just turned up. Hats off goes to our new local pilot, Owen (Frenchman/luxemberg) who has flown Bmth more than most lately, five days on the trot this week !


Report by Alastair Florence

After a good day at Bell yesterday today did not look to good, bar a possible early window for somewhere SSE ish.

0700hrs no wind, 0730hrs SSSSW picking up. So took a walk up Ballard expecting the direction to go more SSE. Arrived on launch about 0830hrs to find it verging blown out. After getting blown back a couple of times I decided it was blown out so tried launching half way down the hill which worked.

I was only able to penetrate slowly but felt happy with the conditions so carried on. With the sniff of west of south the cliffs were not really working so I concentrated on the downs back toward the obelisk. Knitson may have been better but almost certainly would have been un launchably strong.

After about half an hour averaging 200ft ato some decent thermic bits started to blow through and by 0915hrs I was comfortable at 400 – 600ft ato with the odd climb higher and pushing out well in front. I had my airmap with me and when I hit 900ft something possessed me to go XC. I suppose not many people bother from here for 2 good reasons

(1) max distance to airspace or Poole harbour is about 7km.

(2) after the effort of walking up the hill you would have to be stupid to fly off of it.

There were no clouds forming behind me so I guessed I wasn’t going to gain much height over the back. I peaked out at about 1384ft amsl and from there took a glide toward the chain ferry which ended just North of the Nudist colony on Studland beach.

I was even more surprised when my wife offered to come and retrieve me.

Sat 16th April

Report by Mike Bretherton


Flew at Bell Today. Looked really crap on the journey over but it ended up being the dogs bollocks. After taking off I went Xc within about a minute, but bombed out about 3 Km over the back. A local drove me back to the hill and I soon went Xc again, this time a much better distance at 28.7Km near Corfe Castle. Walked a couple of miles, then hitched to Warham, then a £50 taxi ride via the Worlds End pub to pick Simon Herbert up before we returned to the hill about 6pm and there were still wings soaring away.

Fri 15 April 2005

Report by Mike Bretherton

Flew at Combe Gibbet today, it was extremely overcast and eventually it started raining. But I had a great hour of flying doing loads of take offs and top landings in smooth lifty conditions. And only about 4 wings in the air.

Tues 12 April 2005

Report by Pete Chalmers

Arrived Ringstead to find it a bit W, top end with the cliffs in orographic cloud. Russell W and I gave it a go but only lasted 10 mins as it was very lumpy.

Waited with Phil V, Marcus W Gaz, Gill LG, Keith W and John W. After a while it brighten up and moderated a little so I gave it another try. This time made the cliffs and played in front of the cloud in smooth air followed by Russell, Marcus and Keith.

Third day on the trot, all very different but all great.

Mon 11 April 2005

Report by Pete Chalmers

Arrived Bell at 1045 to find it shrouded in fog wind NW/5-8. Joined Flight Culture, John B, Russell W, Gill LG, Steve P, Marcus W and a few new faces and waited patiently.

After about an hour the fog cleared enough for John and Gaz to lob their students off on top to bottoms, still too light to soar. Martin F, John P and others arrived. Martin tried to defy gravity but ended up getting plenty of exercise.

The cycles got a little stronger and when a black cloud appeared in front there was a flurry of launching on the next cycle at 1430.

John B and I managed to catch the large, gentle thermal to base at 4000' amsl.

I then decided to go off on a glide and leave the cloud (mistake 1!) and head towards a promising looking cloud over Blandford (mistake 2) as the wind seemed to have a lot of West in it. It soon became apparent when I had left the cloud's influences that I was punching well crosswind and should have been heading further South. Instead of turning downwind at this stage (mistake 3) I carried on towards Blandford but was got decked in a ploughed field at Langton Stud near the B3082/A354 roundabout. I was very politely asked by the landowner not to land here in future as he had "very valuable" horses. John P offered a retrieve but before he got to me I was picked up by a passing Ali F on his way to Bell. 10.3kms, yes I know suspiciously just over the 10km mark but it is true!

John B made none of the above mistakes, stayed with the cloud until it ran out of puff and almost made Wareham for 22.8kms. Well done.

Report by Roger (the Hook) Edwards

Some excitement seemed to be building that today might prove XCable, and despite my current predicament it even got to me. After a relatively pain free weekend I thought Monday might be a good day to see if the NHS really had provided me with a 6 million dollar wrist - better, faster, stronger than before, well, only if you believe the fantasies of the current political imcumbents. (Collar me on the hill sometime if you are sad enough to want a first hand - literally - report on the piteous state of provision provided by the NHS.)

After a morning of treatment and a call of encouragement from Pete C (cheers) I loaded the car with a neglected wing and chose Telegraph (Batcombe) as the best option - nice flat field to ground-handle in and a half-decent (for Dorset only, I must qualify) top-to-bottom if I was feeling brave. Conditions were weak when I arrived at 2ish but better than the fog that was reported to have been there in the morning, though most people managed to milk the lift and maintain enough to get in to the top again. I sort of kicked around, plugged wing into harness and got ready for the first test - can I kite a wing? With Sean spotting in case tugging a brake was too much I lofted the wing overhead and hoiked it down again. Great stuff! Hurts a bit but no real problems. As the afternoon progressed conditions picked up; temptation overcame caution and I decided to fly. With the wind slightly off to the north no wind dummies were forthcoming to show me the way (<place favourite caustic comment about others here>), so I decided/was persuaded to go for it. Nervous? Only if I thought about it. With a few reminders of the basics Neil H helped shove me off and I just wafted nicely up, turning along the ridge to play at turning in lift and moving fast through sink. It paid off and with a whoop I found myself doing OK, for a while.

The cycle weakened and I felt myself drifting downwards, but I found a thermal that gave me enough height to get back in. The landing was done with baited breath and I found that you can come in with your hands tucked firmly out of harms way - if you're frightened enough. Feet down, another little whoop of joy, or perhaps relief, and then the realisation that ten minutes flying is enough to make a tender wrist hurt almost as much as physiotherapy. Funny, didn't feel a thing up in the air.

In leaving, Neil H and Stuart M had made the necessary sacrifice and conditions steadily impoved, becoming colder but very bouyant in a restitutional (but not) way. Sean's theory was that the cold air coming in had displaced the warmer air in an upwards direction (correct me if I'm wrong, Sean). An hour or so of good height, to 500ft, was had by those still flying.

Also present were Mark R, Condor John, Flying Frenzy and a couple of unknowns to me. My thanks to all for encouragement and especially Sean and Neil for help when it was needed. And as for that ethereal bastard who's had it in for me lately - thanks for losing my nice, not cheap, polarised Oakley shades.

It's nice to be back.

Sun 10 April 2005

Report by Richard Barber

As a Wessex and a SHGC member stuck up in London I decided to gamble on Sussex rather than Dorset on Sunday, (the wind was forecast to be lighter and the journey is half the time)…

I arrived at about 9.30am without my retrieval driver, who decide that sleep was preferable to being “dutiful girlfriend”, initially I thought that this was a stroke of luck as the conditions were not too great 20mph of wind, overcast and no wings out of their bags. I then popped off to the local shop to buy a new speedbar for the harness I had bought a few weeks back. I then set it up and as I went to pay for it, I could see a couple of wings flying over Firle. I then drove (raced) up the hill, got my wing out and then waited a couple of minutes before launching as it was a little top end and the wings that were flying were getting a little bit of a battering. After a few minutes, having seen no one land ashen faced, I took off and immediately found a thermal that took me 100M above launch. The day then was punctuated by ridge soaring, with about 10 other gliders sharing a ridge of 100 metres or so. Intermingled with the prevailing wind were some quite strong small thermals and some fairly serious sink. After a couple of hours of flying and 4 hours at the site I gave up to head home.

As I headed back towards the A23 I could see a few wings in the air over devils dyke, so thought it might be worth a little look. I arrived to see about 20 paragliders in the air and a bunch of hang gliders heading down to bottom land (at least they wouldn’t get in the way). I quickly whipped out my glider, took off just as a cycle was coming through, I then played in some small thermals before getting established in a big strong one (up 3.9 on the averager) with two others that took me up to 400M above take off, I assumed I would then be heading XC with the other two gliders, but sadly they turned back and having left my map, phone in the car and my retrieval driver at home I followed suit. I landed buzzing, having had a day beyond expectation and headed home, trying to get back to London for evensong… I missed it, but I still said a few prayers of thanks.

Report by Jeremy Mortimer


Having left home early to fly before it got too windy I arrived to find ZZ and Ron rigging Hang Gliders in a brisk 20mph+ wind. They enjoyed several long flights during the morning and afternoon and were joined later by Richard Mosley and a low airtime Hang/Paraglider pilot (sorry forgotten name). Many hours of Para-waiting were passed before the wind eased off at 6pm. Sean Staines led the way with his fast Para-motor reflex wing. The rest of us followed and flew in smooth conditions until the sun set.

Fri 8 April 2005

Report by Steve Bamlett

Just a few words to say Hi to everyone and to let you know that I am alive.

Enjoyed 10 day Flying in Germany / Austria weather was good and had 8/10 days . Then back to sunny scotland where you can fly anywhere really due to the right to roam act so with all those hills and Lochs flying is always a go if the wind is not to strong. The pic of my feet is me flying along the Ocals Range in scotland it runs from Striling to Doller a good run via a place called Tullibody which you can see below. Having a great time flying around the world (Thanks Queenie) will see you all soon I hope on the Hill.


Tues 5th April 2005

Report by Rod Smith

RINGSTEAD -wind on arrival was 14-16 mph two paras were about to launch. Rigged my hangie while the PGs went out to the cliffs. Took off on the hangie and went straight out to the cliffs in smooth silky air. The paras passed me comming back to launch, made almost 900 ft ato and had good float around for hour and fifteen minutes. Wish I had taken up my camera as a square rigged sailing ship went up the coast towards Lulworth about mile off the coast. Made top landing, found the wind about 20mph on landing, nice morning .Sorry did not get the paras names.

Mon 4 April 2005

Report by Marcus Webster

Arrived at Bell just before 3.00pm to find the place deserted and thinking I must have got it badly wrong! The windsock was showing bang on the hill and the wind speed was varying between 8 and 16MPH as the cycles came through.

As I laid out my kit I found myself wishing there was an experienced wind dummy in attendance as some of the white fluffy thing out front indicated the potential for some lively flying. Within minutes Dave Davidson arrived followed by Paul K, my prayers were answered and Paul got airborne, so I followed and enjoyed some lively flying up to 350`ATO.

Just before 5.00pm the wind backed in to the west and eased to 6MPH, shortly afterwards a convoy of three cars headed back down the hill.

Sun 3 April 2005

Report by Pete Chalmers

Thought an early start was called for as it looked like being blown out later. Made Barton by 0930 (that is early for me!). Robert D was just preparing to launch in a SSE/12-15 so flyable but strong. A quick call to John B (clearly still in bed) and Brian M (on the way) and into the air with Rob. Well off to the E and strong so crept along E at about 5kph. Robert found it too strong on his slower wing but I was happy so stayed up for an hour before top landing after a slight moderation.

Brian, John R, Colin D and Peter S had by now arrived so we all launched along with Robert who had unpacked his wing again! Very pleasant but not that lifty, unable to cross the first gap to the E but Brian and I managed to scrape along to the caravan site to the W and back.

Surprisingly it got very light at about 1330 with John last down just scraping in. An afternoon of parawaiting ensued with bold attempts at aviation made by Joe M, Neil H, Mike B and Dave C-L, with little success. Dave W arrived having flown the low cliff at Swanage on his own. John B dragged himself out of bed, completed the painting and went horse riding before arriving! Wind stayed much the same , too E and too light but sunny.

Report by Lawrence Toogood

7.45am quick check of the actuals on the net, 8mph south bmth call ATC & town hall arrrive at T/O 8.15 pop the wing up, take off nothing remarkable in that you might say, oh yes there is for the last 3 months i have been working within half a mile of T/O & flown Bmth once . So nice to be the early bird cliffs all to myself forecast was for it to strenghten so I was suprised not to see the now local N&D (where were you guys?) then yes it happened - the wind stopped, so beach suck. Ithen had to wait about an hour and a half for the next flyable cycle much to the dismay of the ever growing onlookers. I had the wing above my head for a good 10 mins then T/O for another 10 min flight before more beach suck. Got back to takeoff only to find the wind (what there was) had gone more East so Ipacked up just as Keith & Adrian had turned up. So I filled them in on conditions and left. So now up to you guys what happened next? Soarable for hours? yea yea

Sat 2nd April 2005

Pictures by Don Shipton


Friday 1st April

Report by Gary Mullins

Pitched up at the White Horse bowl at lunchtime with John Welch. Hot and sunny with the wind a bit off to the east. (As forecast). Both had a waft on the spur. Thermic, but nicely so. Soon joined by Steve Phillips. Vertical separation was good, so three was not too much of a crowd. Buzzards circling well over the valley etc. so John decided to try his luck and join them. And the gamble paid off and up he went. And up, and up. Steve and myself didn't want to left out, so we joined him. And up we went. Conditions were ideal. We could see the orographic cloud on the cliffs but, luckily for us, it didn't reach us and spoil the fun. It was a shame that there weren't more of the club members here because John brought along Skys new competition glider. "The Snake". There are two different types. The full-on one, for comp. pilots only, and the one we had at the bowl today, which can be flown by anybody with at least a CP rating. Both gliders are exactly the same. They both have the new "Sky" innovation. A helium filled tube attached all along the leading edge. This makes thermalling an absolute doddle. There is one slight drawback. The leading edge does have a tendency to rise, thus increasing the angle of attack. But with judicious use of the speed system, level flight is easily achieved. Landing is so simple too, just release the speed bar at the right moment and the glider flares by itself. As Steve quite rightly said "This glider is the NUTS !" Next time you see the school on the hill ask for a ride on John's "Snake" !


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Eye in the Sky - Mar 2005
Eye in the Sky - Feb 2005
Eye in the Sky - Jan 2005
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