Eye in the Sky July 2006

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Sun 30 Jul 2006

Report by Jon Harvey



Arrived at Eype 9. 30 and saw John P ready to fly. Called Dinks, and a few local pilots, some already aware of the short weather window, likely blown out by lunchtime.

Chris B followed John above the bowl, but light and scratchy, but things began to improve as others arrived. Dinks, Jay, Keith, Ben T, Cathy, to name a few.

Chris attempted to visit GC, scratched on the east side for ages before eventually retiring to Thorncombe. Eventually the wind blew up strong, and kept most of the late arrivals grounded, ( several wessex members) whilst Keith and Chris, made a successful venture to GC, Chris eventually visiting Charmouth and both returned to Eype.

The cloud banks were all around Eype, from Beerhead, and inland from the coast, but we remained a brilliant sunshine. Forecast correct, blown out by 12. 30.

Dinks, Jay, Keith, Ben T, Cathy, Jon, John P, Chris B. to name a few.


Fri 28 Jul 2006

Report by Adrian Coombe

Awake again! – Cowdown. A bit up and downy in the threatening sea breeze but climed out to 3000 ft cloudbase over Cerne Abbas. Got a bit stuck just south of Mark Russell’s farm. The drift was towards Bournemouth Airspace so went towards the Purbecks. – Bad decision cos. the Sea Breeze rushed in and landed me at Tolpuddle Ball. Maybe the magic glide I had yesterday was magic after all… -- No virus found in this outgoing message.

Fri 28 Jul 2006

Report by Sean Staines

Looking out the office window on Friday afternoon at the beautifull friendly cumulus slowly floating by was more than I could stand so I left work early to go flying. The only problem being the nearest westerly free flying site was at least a 2hr drive away. It was time to do an experiment I've been longing to do for some time. Is it possible to use the paramotor as a launch method for free flying? I went to my local launch field and took off around 4pm. 5 minutes later at 300ft ATO I found a good thermal and killed the motor. I then climbed out to 1650ft ATO before leaving the lift to glide back to the take field having proven that it is definitely possible. A nice if brief flight.

Interresting I used my Sigma 6 for this flight rather than my dedicated Action paramotor wing. The Sigma 6 doesn't like power at all and mushed along with a very bad rate of climb but with the engine off thermals well.

Thurs 27 July

Report by Adrian Coombe




Awoke at midday after my night shift to a good looking Sky drifting over the Giant so just had to pop up to Telegraph Hill to have a look. Light cycles coming through –worth a try. I had left my complicated vario at home with map but had a little Sonic sounder on the harness. Peter R arrived so my plan was to follow him! We took off together and I put my plan into action. Later when I landed next to him, pleased with the lovely views we had enjoyed, I asked him where we were.

Peter explained that we were, in fact, at the bottom of the hill! – So much for my cunning Plan…Anyway I needed a walk.

Next cycle took me up and away, all be it a little low. On approaching the Giant I saw a couple of Buzzards rocketing to cloudbase. I have never seen birds going up so quickly so hung on tight. My little vario screamed at a constant pitch and my ears were popping but the canopy didn’t object and delivered me to cloudbase and I was on my way – to Swanage.

I had about four main thermals along the way, got a wave and a waggle by a sailplane over Piddlehinton pig farm and another booming thermal over the tank training area and glider field at Bovington. At this stage I was above some sea breeze front clouds forming below me so went on what I thought would be a Quick death glide into the blue. I thought I would be lucky to reach Wareham, then Corfe Castle, then Harmans Cross but when I got there I knew I would make the Fish and Chip shop in Swanage.

The sea Breeze was a bit Westerly on landing, maybe it, (and the heat) helped my fantastic glide.

Thanks to Peter for the offer of a lift and to Gilly for picking me up and dumping me at work on her way home – then cycling up to Telegraph to rescue my Van!


Sun 23 Jul 2006

Report by Sean Staines

Arrived at Bell around 10:30 and was encouraged to see Gary Mullins trying out a new glider. Flew all day from then on with a few breaks but unable to get above 600ft ATO. Eventually decided to leave the hill in a fairly weak climb around 3 o’clockish with 400ft and worked it up to 1300ft by Turnworth before it petered out. I went on a glide to Durweston to where I thought looked like a good trigger point and found a screemer gaining 250ft in 1 turn before falling out the side and doing an exiting mini SIV course. Went back for a bit more but lost my bottle and glided away to land near Blandford. Cracking Day Grommet.

Report by Jon Harvey



Eype today.

Arrived 2pm ish and saw Dinks away towards Thorncombe Beacon, and by the time I'd walked to t/o, he was on top of Golden Cap. Only managed Thorncombe Beacon, as did everybody else, but did make one excursion to Seatown with Martyn H, only to find big sink, as wind went west and decayed, so chickened out making further progress west. Very clear skies and wonderfull views from Portland round towards Start Point some 65 miles away.

Happy couple of hours, more relaxing than yesterday. Others flying today. Keith B, Stephen C, Steve Cuddihy, Jerry H, and Garry F.

Report by Alastair Florence


Well I was planning an outing to the as yet unvisited by me Corton Denham but the weather gods had other ideas, a crap looking start to the day probably fooled a lot of people into canning the day. At Corfe I had a NW wind so headed to Bere for a re-think. Dave W was now at Cowdown and reckoned it was on so I headed that way. In Dorchester it was NW so bypassed Cowdown for Telegraph.

Dave soon followed suit. Still overcast but soarable and looking better in front. By 1300 hrs it was not bad at all. Some good climbs but a few big sink holes. It stayed pretty consitent really all day and maybe got more bouyant by late PM although a bit punchy. Not many others there so plenty of space. Most names I'm not sure of but Dave W, late comer Dr C on demo wing, Mark R making two XC's whilst I was there 1st to about an hours walk away, 2nd back home to the farm, then back for a 3rd visit, Pete R disappeared quickly as usual looking like he was Channel islands bound but as mentioned turned up at Bell.

Sun 23 Jul 2006

Report by RW

Arrived at Ringstead to find the wind coming over the back Hmmphh! So much for weather forecasts. Thankfully gaz M advised it was flyable at Bell. On approach I could see Jim C. about a grand above T. O. Ohh! Goody. After rigging up found it to be cyclic and as rough as the badgers bottom. I was told by a visiting "Hangie" it was wave effect, someone asked where were the Mexicans. After several attempts to thermal I eventually got some height but not enough and then a nice assymetric collapse, good old Oasis recovered all on its own, Phew! Espied a gradient Aspen over the aerials and it floated towards Bell with Peter R underneath who asked for a lift back to Telegraph, Cheeky Boy! Anyway it was a short journey to Condor country with several wings in the air including Doctor C & Ali F.

Lots of Pilots at Bell the usual suspects and of course that adrenalin jumper Dave M & his Missus.

Sat 22 Jul 2006

Report by Jon Harvey

Again very strange weather conditions today. Arrived Eype just as Paul H was leaving as wind was too easterly, saying that he was going to visit Branscombe. Wind then began to go S to SW, and seemed to promise a half reasonable wind speed. Soon afterwards joined by Keith B, wind dropped to 5mph. Sean Staines and Charles Campion-Smith ( Wessex members) then arrived. Wind lines approaching slowly, as blue sky developed, then a few signs to indicate wind speed increasing.

Decided to get ready, inflated wing, still believing that insufficient wind, other than for scratching, but no, straight up as I crossed cliff edge, and slowly crept forward on full bar. Decided that big ears was a good bet, but no progress forward nor even descending. Eventually progressed towards the carpark, and somewhat behind cliff edge, where a descent was made, to about 50 ft and amazingly no rotor, then progressed forward over cliffs, and out in front over the sea, where it was possible to fly without any bar.

The others all flew, but went out in front of the cliffs. Keith headed of towards Thorncombe but about half way there hit big sink, but made back to the eastside, as the wind shifted evermore westerly. Sean also made it across the gap, but unable to find any lift, so also returned rather quickly to the east side.

After some 20 mins or so, everybody landed, as wind conditions continued to increase.

All decided that this was one of the shortest weather windows any of us has known, some 30mins from too light to blown out.

Not exactly that which was forecast!

Thu 20 Jul 2006

Report by Alastair Florence



Wind looked strongish WSW as I drove home from work so I took a look at St Aldhelms. With only 12-14mph on take off I kind of felt that conditions looked stronger than that. The only way to find out was launch so I did and yes it was stronger. Fairly pinned with no bar up to about 250ft ato and needing some bar for mobility. Over 400ft I needed full bar to maintain position without going backward. Still had 40 mins or so and then flew back to the car park with the traditional kicking from rotor on the way. Happy days

Report by RW


Ringstead: At last, an opportunity to actually get the feet off the ground. The usual suspects waited patiently for the allotted time, chatting, flying kites and bemoaning the very poor recent conditions. All right if you have the time and patience ( & money) to go to places like Long Mynnd or Pandy where some epic flights were recorded. Several Pilots were obviously watching from a distance because as soon as wings were in the air, arrivals started. Good fun for some, especially Rory L who outflew everyone and a maiden Tandem flight for Nicole, Stuart M's niece. Andy ? from Condors had a maiden flight to the cliffs after an abortive first attempt. A word to the wise, a visting red ribbon ( 3hrs) took off without a Site Briefing, not the done thing.

Please seek a Site briefing on all Sites regardless & do not be worried about talking to other Pilots.

Congratulations to ZZ on his Saturday flight to Beaminster 40K? from Okeford or thereabouts with Richard M & Grant O watching from 3000' AMSL above the Blackmoor Vale.

Wed 19 Jul 2006

Report by Roy Menage

After taking the "Grand Tour of Dorset" trying to find somewhere flyable (Quarr no good - no wind, West Bay right wind direction but have not flown there and no indication of anybody else flying, Portland blown out by all accounts, Ballards no wind!) I ended up back at Barton. Winds were 20mph but straight on. Wandered down to the cafe for a comfort break and returned to find no wind. Arggghhh! This weather is annoying. The wind finally came up enough to sucker me into trying to fly. Ended up on the beach a few seconds later. Eventually, the wind picked up enough for a few briefly sustained flights then it blew out and I landed. Minutes later there was not enough again. New members Paul and Pete were there and decided (wisely) not to fly. Joe M made a very short scratching flight and top-landed again.

15/16th July

Report by Jeremy Mortimer



Pandy: With the local forecast of brisk easterly winds for the Wessex region, SE Wales or the Malvern’s looked like the place to be this weekend. Sean Staines had posted a note on the website saying that he would be at Pandy on Saturday so I decided to head there too.

Sean took off from the Pandy's lower take off at around mid day into a stiff breeze and did a short XC from which he returned around 4pm just in time to see the second paraglider pilot of the day take off as the breeze had dropped somewhat.

An hour later 40 + pilots were flying in buoyant conditions. Hang Gliders also had a good mixing in with an occasional sailplane. Michael and the Southampton university group made the most of the late afternoon conditions flying down the ridge towards Hay - twice. Sean flew another XC later landing near to the campsite at Crickhowell.

Sunday started with a hike to a NE facing part of the Pandy ridge from where we launched around mid day. I worked some weak lift that eventually worked itself into a decent thermal taking me up to the inversion around 1500’ above the hill; as the day progressed the cycles got better and the inversion rose another 1500’ or so. At one stage there were 40+ gliders in the air with probably another 30 on the ground. Pete S joined us on Sunday – where was everybody else?


Sun 16 Jul 2006

Report by Martin Foley


These pictures of Peter Robinson were taken by Martin Foley, whilst breaking through the inversion layer at Malvern on Sunday.

Report by Mike Bretherton


I was in need of a flying fix in this hot and stable period, so I went to Mercury in the hope of a soaring flight. On the way I noticed 2 people flying at Whitewool, so I thought it worth looking in there first. There was a site warden in residence and the other pilot was a Wessex low air timer. It was light and thermic, but the flying was very pleasant with some nice smooth blue thermals.

Wed 12 Jul 2006

Report by David Franklin

This afternoon I was lucky to get away from Bell again. Cloudbase was 4,000ft and cold (in a sweaty tshirt and flying suit). As there was quite abit of west in the drift I thought it worth having a go at getting to Salisbury. Although I ended up well north of Bell I only made just over 10k. Two days in a row, quite a treat.


Report by Alastair Florence



Came home via St.A's again tonight, twas a bit like last Friday in many ways.

Just a bit to strong to launch. Mike D, Rog E and Casey turned up and it wasnt long before the wind eased off to a launchable strength. Only just south of West. we all had a decent fly then the wind dropped quite rapidly and we were all scratching at 40-80ft over the cliff, i was thinking of bailing out when rapidly the wind came back on with avengence. After a bit of speed barring we got ourselves out off the cliff and had a while longer. The wind had also picked up a slight northerly element. 3 of us flew back to car park getting a bit of a kicking on the way whilst Rog couldnt quite get the height back after a final trip the coastguards but put down safely on take off.

(no mean feat with this wind strength) A fairly peachy evening I thought.

Report by RW



Flying at the Cliffs & Tandeming of a "sort" for new trainee Dave "The Hypnotist" W.

Fun for many, not so for others.

Tuesday 11th july

Report by Matthew Whicher

Arrived at 4pm and took off at about 4:30 on the HG. Although it was blue, a small posse of PGs departed XC so I waited for a lift cycle; - and nearly went straight down!! I managed to scrape up from 70' below and knew then there was going to be plenty of lift. Sure enough I was soon above 1000' and never really got below this height again. I didn't fancy downwind XC so decided to explore Xwind instead. I worked my way over to the hillfort in front of Bulbarrow mast and this was a really reliable lift source. I wandered around and kept returning for a top-up but eventually headed off across towards Luscious Bottom. I got a good one over Little Ansty and had a great view of the Bash site from 3,500' over Melcombe Bingham. I decided to head back to Bell and reckoned I needed 2 climbs to make it. I got half a climb. The spur of Bulbarrow looked awfully big now as I squeaked over it and the run back to was an interesting study of tree-top foliage. I wasn't able to get back up on any of the tempting patches of lift so landed under the hill; 1km short of a 14km O & R. Lovely evening all the same though.

Report by Roger Edwards

Strange not many reports for a busy day, so here's mine:

Having banked a day off I decided that the forecast for today was good enough to make it worth cashing in. An early start got me to Bell first, at 10am, much to the shock of later arrivals. Sadly, my enthusiasm was misplaced as a 20. 5mph average wind speed trapped me in the car with Womens'Hour - I am now an expert on waxing, just in need of practical experience (BC&S is not on the agenda, OK). Never, ever, not never, not ever trust a weatherman. After awhile a drop in speed tempted John W to act as wind dummy on a nice docile (for John) Indepence Dragon III DHV 1-2. On landing I'm sure he used the word 'rough' to describe conditions - now reread the preceeding sentence about a man who usually revels in a DHV2-3 wing. Yes, conditions weren't inspiring.

Slowly the wind calmed down and Pete C was first to give it a go, getting away for his first XC of the day to Winterbourne Kingston. This inspired the odd few there to have go. Erm, we weren't odd, honest, just it was odd that there were only a few of us given the forecast. Conditions still prompted a launch from half way down the hill and once airborne conditions proved just as John had described - frightening, but strangely fun. The thermals seemed sharp edged and broken up, presumably by the wind speed; gaining height was tricky and, given the sensation of being tied to a yoyo, scratching too low was not a comfortable option. No one managed to get any great height let alone get away in the following hour or two.

The next gaggle away were Gaz M, Gill LG and Harry D, all ending up around Winterbourne Stickland. As Pete C, now returned, was finding little height I played the karma card and went on retrieve, only to return to find that three gaggles had left without me. How very dare they! Right, no way I'm not having the day so back up for another go. This time it's blue and still as rough as before - old boots, very old boots, the sort found in a grubby hole and enthused over by Tony Robinson - and I found myself at the back of the bowl in some horribly rough crap but going up, my opportunity to 360 blocked by someone wanting to fly behind me (insert various expletives here, even though they have right-of-way). Couldn't go forwards, didn't want to get drilled into rotary rubbish and decided the safest option was to go with it, so I gritted my teeth left the hill with about 300ft above take-off and no gaurantee that the thermal would last or that I could keep my St. Vitic wing in it. Hell, there's high ground to the west of the woods to aim for if it all goes down like the Titanic, so where's the problem? Repeat this mantra until all worries melt into the enternal void, or you do if it goes horribly wrong.

I was fortunate and managed to hang in with it, though only managing a paltry 900ft ATO before it petered out. Hunting didn't find anything else so a quick glide over the only uncropped field on high ground seemed a good option, and it nearly was as I spent a good five minutes bobbing up and down like a buoy in a swell but not quite being able to make more than half a turn in whatever was bubbling through. Unable to get further I ended up just short of the Winterbourne Stickland cricket ground, which I decided was not an option in the strong wind and possible rotor, he says lying as I didn't actually spot it until I was on the ground. The night before I'd psyched myself up for breaking a record, and I did - two! My shortest ever XC, at about 4. 5km, and also the lowest I've ever left a hill. Can't be bad, can it? Other noticable performances were Pete C's second XC to Verwood (25km), and Craig B, Marcus W and the Franklin brothers getting near to airspace. The moral of this is that on a blue day, in fact any day, you're much better off going with gaggle so you can spread out and use each other as markers.

Wot? No photos! Look, it was rough. Trust me on this.

Report by david franklin

Craig B, Neill F,MarcusW and myself all got awayfrom Bell in blue conditions at about the same time 4.00ish, and had a pleasant hour wending our way down to various points along the edge of airspace.It was fun flying with a good" gaggle".

Report by Marcus Webster



Sun 09 Jul 2006

Report by GAIL OTTON





A good morning for paragliders. A good windy afternoon for hangliders.

Report by adrian&gilly coombe




The weather looked promising on my way home from work so I planned an early look at Cowdown and get some sleep later.

On the way up to the hill with Gilly I thought it may be too strong, but on arrival at the top found it to be flyable with a good looking sky. Launched 10:20 but as normal the south west dominance was increasing minute by minute.(and the strength picking up too) Grabbed the first decent thermal and was soon 2800ft above the ridge. Think I wasn’t patient enough – got low onto the Cerne Valley/ Old Sherborne Road ridge but then got a booming lee side thermal on the Buckland Newton side. Up towards Cloudbase again. Went along well for a while but the clouds I was trying to work didn’t seem to have much suck. At least that’s my excuse! Anyway made a bad judgment and went on a long glide towards a cloud over Bullbarrow.The sink was working well though and I was soon packing up in happy little meadow in the middle of the boonies a mile or so in front of Bell Hill – with a Buzzard mewing and circling overhead… Gilly picked me up and we enjoyed a nice cup of tea at Dave Franklin’s place nearby We watched the wind gradually pick up over the next couple of hours. so perhaps the Buzzard was saying wise things after all.

Anyway all in all a nice one and 11 miles (sounds further than 17 Km) with about an hour and 15mins in the Buzzards kingdom.

Fri 07 Jul 2006

Report by Alastair Florence

At last, a half decent flight after an evening or two of wasted time or cliff edge scratching. Went home via St Aldhelms and found it a bit strong for a change. Things calmed down after a bit and became launchable. With a fair bit of SW in the wind the coastguard lookout end was the best, giving about 650-700ft amsl over Ring Bum gardens (dont blame me thats what its called) As a matter of interest other quarries along the coast back toward Dancing Ledge are called such things as Scratch Arse and Shit Yallery Hole, the old quarrymen where quite imaginative.

Any way after a bit the wind began to pick up again, i was now joined by Jacko and a couple of chaps visiting whilst on holiday. Orographic cloud was now forming behind the cliff and with wind streaks on the sea I was spending more time on full bar than off just to maintain position. I bailed out to the car park closely followed by the others. Good for the craick and the best fly i've had for a couple of weeks.


Mon 03 Jul 2006

Email from by Oliver Moffatt

Browsing on a boring day at work I was surprised to see this in Steve Bamlett’s report on Ager in February 2006: “...anyway this place is a jewel and is only just starting to become a regular place for flyers but it wont be long...” Ager was a mecca for HG in the ‘80s and ‘90s and was very popular for PG as well, many of whom were day trippers from Barcelona. There were at least two schools there at that time. I flew my hang glider there for a total of three weeks in 1992 and 1993, flying every single day and getting to 10,000 feet on most flights. The HG worlds were held there in about ’94 or ’96 under the auspices of a local Irish emigree called Declan Doyle who ran a bar in the town called the Speed Bar (a hang gliding pun at that time now applicable to PGs as well, I suppose). The British HG nationals have been there at least twice too. Declan subsequently moved on. It was a Google search for “Speed Bar Ager” which led me to your website; I was trying to find out what had happened to it.

Maybe you might like to tell Steve! Nice to see pictures on your site reports. I grew up at Helwarden, which is the grey house just below and to the left of takeoff at Ringstead. My uncle lives there now. It was watching the hang gliders flying over our garden that let me to the sport.

All the best, Oliver

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