Eye in the Sky - Oct 2007

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Wed 31 Oct 2007

Report by Paul Hawkins

Having missed the best part of the fun at Bell yesterday I was determined to fly today after work. A text message to Russell at mid day proved fruitful as a verbal reply from him which was mainly wind noise and something about in the air at Portland west gave me the idea for St A's.

I tried to coax Ali out but he was working lates. ( I thought he worked normal hours for living?!) So it was just me for an hour. 500ft ato at best, busied myself doing asymmetric collapse's until I dislodged the piece of twig that I had picked up on launch which was stuck in my upper lines. Headed back for a landing next to the car park as it was getting dark and the lift was fading.

Tue 30 Oct 2007

Report by David Franklin


I got to Bell late morning to find quite a crowd of pilots keen to make the most of the late season flying. Conditions were good considering the time of year with small thermals coming through most of the time. My first attempt to follow a climb back ended with me trying to get back to the hill on 75% speed bar,only to be dumped in the back field. My next try took me on a scratchy slow climb to 2,200ft. I had a lovely flight in the clear cold air which involved a lot of clinging on to very weak thermals. I landed just short of Winterborne Kingston after a surprisingly long time airboune. It seems the season still hasn't quite ended. David Franklin.

Mon 29 Oct 2007

Report by John Alder

Bell Hill. Arrived mid afternoon to find two Condors, Guy and Bob, having just landed and reporting that it was a bit strong for their liking. I decided to rig anyway and, for once, was lucky in that the wind dropped of to about 16mph by the time I was ready. Didn’t get much height (+/- 500ft), but enough to be looking down on a RAF Hercules that happened by! A pleasant flight truncated by the need to see what I was doing when packing up!

Sun 21 Oct 2007

Report by Martin Butcher

A great days flying was had by many pilots. I arrived about 10:30 to find a no one flying but the local school was there and had been flying and said it was OK. A quick rig and I was off into about 15mph.

At this time of day it was still quite cold still with not that much lift about but a bit gusty. After about an hour’s flying people started turning up and the wind dropped slightly but thermals started developing and I was able to get up to about 500 feet. Gradually throughout the afternoon thermals increased, wind dropped and number of pilots increased. This lead to things getting a little interesting at times but I had 3 ½ hours of wonderfully flying, just wish I had the camera.

Report by Jon Harvey


BeerHead this afternoon was working well, good height and complete ridge runs to Sidmouth and return, were the order of the day. Many Condors and several Wessex pilots, together with 6 or so HGs. What a sight to see so many in the air spread out along this 7 mile ridge. Even a couple of PGs were seen above the remains of the Napoli.

Report by Mark Fisher






Can't remember a day like this for a couple of years, flyable from 12. 30 for pg`s, hg`s already in the air when we got there.

Flights made to Sidmouth and back throughout the afternoon. Around 25 pilots flying on and off from Beer and Branscombe. Much nicer than the day before at Sandy Bay. We left at 4. 30 and pilots were still turning up. Wessex members present Derek S,Paul E, Jon W.

Report by Neville Almond



My best day ever at Ballard Down (in 28 years!). Arrived to see it would be nicely soarable, and after an hour or so of fun took a thermal and toyed with it for a few hundred feet, and it simply kept going to 2500ft, to the outskirts of Pool Harbour. Travelling around in the light wind, then on return to the hill some 20 minutes later hit the same again, this time sharing the thermal with Ali F. Worked back up wind (with Ali flying well just below), and a few climbs/glides later found myself 2400ft over Swanage Town centre! From here, an easy glide to Durlston Head, then back to Ballard (it was the wrong day to risk landing out). What a corking winter day, see attached photos: #22 – Over Studland Heath, looking South towards Ballard (from 2500ft you can just make out a parked HG on the hill!) #25 – Over Studland Heath, looking North over Poole Harbour #31 – Over Swanage, looking North towards Ballard #32 – Durltson head, South of Swanage

Report by Alastair Florence

Today was one of those days with unsually good conditions that stick in your memory for a long time. Shame the lense broke off my camera though.

Started light and scratchy soon got pretty strong then settled back to strongish but ok then slowly eased off to nothing. What made it special ? the cliff and ridge being flyable together and plenty of big soft thermals coming up off Swanage allowing up to 1000ft ato in the morning and a comfy 500-600ft ato afternoon, lift right out over new Swanage, i've never had so much height out in front here before. Pretty much SSE to almost South so lower cliffs didn't work but the eventual beach land was easy. Nev A boating out in front out back and all over plus many others having a great Autumn day.

Report by Shamus Pitts


I was going to go to Beer today, but early reports suggested it might be blown out, so I thought about the White Horse before deciding to try Ballards Down / Whitecliff for the first time.

When I arrived in Swanage I was pleased to see that Ali had plenty of height and there were a couple of hang gliders flying so conditions were looking promising! After a long climb up I saw Quentin in the distance getting ready to take off - I'd left my site guide in the car so I wasn't exactly sure where takeoff was, so I went and spoke to Quentin before finding a clear patch on the top of the ridge. The wind seemed to have dropped a bit so I waited a while, then the wind went back round to the East a little so I decided to take off and fly down to the takeoff by the cliffs to see what that was like.

When I got there, there were a few others getting ready to take off, including Ali F who was good enough to give me a site brief. I took off in pretty strong wind and flew out to the cliffs where there was plenty of lift. I spent a very pleasant hour or so flying the cliffs and downs - it was quite thermic in front of the downs but I never managed to get more than about 250' ATO, before flying out and landing on the beach - lovely! Shamus Pitts

Sat 20 Oct 2007

Report by Paul Hawkins

Sandy Bay EITS report (paul hawkins) Shamus emailed me on Friday to see if I fancied a trip down to Devon for some cliff flying. I thought why not it looks to be south east and I've not had too much luck at Ballard Down although the forward launches and beach landings last Sunday where fun! The drive down was worth the effort we had a good hour and half with stacks of height and Shamus doing spirals. At one point (when the wind was at its strongest) the Wessex members out numbered the local Condor pilots 3 to 1 with me Shamus and Derek Saddler in the air with Tom the local.

Report by Shamus Pitts


Paul H, Mel R and myself left the blue sky and gentle breeze at my house behind at 10 o'clock and headed to "sunny" Sandy Bay. The sky wasn't looking too good the closer we got to Devon and I was starting to worry that I might be wasting everybody's time by suggesting we go to Sandy Bay! When we got there it was raining, freezing cold and the wind was blowing 20mph from the East - I'm fairly optimistic but I was starting to have my doubts that it would be flyable. We had a walk around, took a couple of wind readings, checked out the landing field, checked the wind speed, had a look at the takeoff, measured the wind, looked down at the beach, checked the wind again then decided to go back to the car and have some lunch.

About half an hour later someone else turned up (I'm terrible with names) and he said the wind seemed to have dropped a bit and come round to the south so he was probably going to give it a try - perfect! We walked up to takeoff, checked the wind, chatted to Simon and Harriet (I think), walked to the landing field, checking the wind on the way, walked back, checked the wind again. By now another couple of people had turned up (Derek S being one of them) and it was starting to look like we might be going to give it a try.

The wind was still quite strong, with a few people needing a gentle push to get off, but once out in front of the cliff penetration was fairly easy. The wind was off to the South, probably about 17mph and we enjoyed about an hour and a half of smooth flying up to about 550' ATO in the ridge lift and with small sea thermals.

Wed 17 Oct 2007

Report by John Alder

The best inland flying conditions for hang gliding I've encountered all year; beautifully smooth and with some nice thermals drifting fairly quickly downwind - where were you lads? Having a second flight, this time on the floppy one 'was icing on the cake' - it was a bit strong for that and a perceived message from our men in the bottom landing field induced the big ears that brought me down to join them and a welcome lift back up, thanks Gary - thanks also to Keith Wright for his helpful sitephone message - I was otherwise planning to go to Westbury White Horse!

Report by James Roy

Devils Dyke (NNW, 15-20 mph) Didn’t think there would have been enough west in the wind for Bell (seems I was wrong) so headed down to Devils Dyke. A lovely days flying. A bit windy at first but then became thermic with climbs to between 1500 and 2000 ATO. Went smooth like glass later in the day.

Report by John Blessing


Bell Hill: Sometimes windy, sometimes not, sometimes really windy.

Nevertheless a fair bit of flying was done today at Bell today.

Sun 14 Oct 2007

Report by Stephen Arnold


White Horse: Two new members and a couple of older ones enjoying thermic cycles at The Horse.

Report by Alastair Florence


Very little was achieved at Ballard apart from time and energy being wasted. Brian M was spotted scratching hard late for a few minutes after aborting his forward launch. Myself, Paul H and Richard M forward launched for a sled ride to the beach after some fruitless waiting, even Nev A didn't bother to launch.

Report by Jeremy Calderwood

With flying opportunities in short supply in desperation I checked out Barton this afternoon. By 3. 30 the very light SE breeze had just about crept up to 6 - 7 mph so I hung around in the hope that it might strengthen a little more. After a while I was joined by John and Linda (dunno if I got your name right - sorry if not) and Gary and his partner (didn't get her name). By 4. 15 the wind had picked up to about 8 mph and more or less straight onto the cliffs so I kited the wing a few times but. . . . still too light.

Gary then decided to try it but rather than kite his wing he just dived over the cliff! After about 100 yards of sinking slowly along the face of the cliff he landed on the beach. However he HAD flown! OK I'll give it a go, I thought as I popped the wing up. Just about enough for a scratch maybe and committed myself. At first I was neither sinking nor rising as I cruised eastward about 8' below the edge but by the time I reached the golf course I had gradually climbed to about 10' above. I reached the promontory and turned as tight as I dared at slow speed and despite ending up 10' below the edge again I managed to scratch some height back, again to about 10' above. At the café end it was a similar story but again I coaxed the wing back to the far end. Not particularly enjoyable, but certainly very challenging as I floated along often within 3 or 4 feet of the lip.

As I turned I just knew I was not going be lucky again. 10' below increased to 20' so I cut my losses and landed on the flat zone below the cliffs about 100 yards back from the end.

All told I managed about 6 minutes but it was 6 minutes more than I thought I would get! On my return John remarked that my flying was very 'Zen': I took it as a compliment! There were 3 sitephone messages from Ballard before I went out; whether or not any flying was achieved there I don't know - there was no EITS report at the time of writing.

At least I got the practice in - I don't want to get rusty. Grab any chance you can (within reason!) is my motto for winter flying. Without the height the sun has little strength to start up a sea breeze nor any meaningful thermals; we're totally reliant on the weather systems for coastal soaring winds during this season.

Sat 13 Oct 2007

Report by Shamus Pitts


I wasn't too optimistic when I left home, despite what XC weather was saying, but I had to go down to Devon anyway, so I thought I might as well take my wing and see if Sandy Bay was flyable.

The sky was grey and overcast and the tree tops were barely moving on the way there, but when I got to Exmouth seafront there were a couple of flags flapping slightly in the breeze so my hopes started to pick up. By the time I got to the cliff edge, there was a steady 15mph wind blowing straight at the cliff - perfect! After eventually finding a patch of ground that wasn't in rotor I took off into beautifully smooth air. I flew for an hour and a half under an overcast sky - it started raining at one point , but it didn't last long and had stopped before I could land. An excellent morning - I even managed two spiral dives, my first in this country!

Sun 07 Oct 2007

Report by Stephen Arnold


Report, Portland East - Observed several Paragliders see attached Photos.

Report by Alastair Florence



Saturday evening the weather for Sunday was looking like a Portland East day and not much else, ENE and fresh to start going ESE and dying by mid PM.

So met two other intrepid (or maybe just desperate) pilots on the rock early morning, wind was very much NE but strength ok.

Plan 1 First attempts to launch were on the North launch, however despite many attempts and different methods the rotor was just to much to get going against.

Plan 2 South launch, direction was not good at 45' - 60' off the cliff but slightly more promising. Eventually launches were made and once round under the borstal it was reasonably flyable although very much off to the North. After much effort Dave W got off only to find in the failed attempts he had twisted a riser, so he track landed and skillfully managed to re climb the cliff still with his glider mushroomed over one shoulder.

Things got better although still off North allowing flights to the golf ball and back after nightmare launching small thermals giving gains of 400ft plus at times. Then early Pm the wind came round nearer ENE and soon died bringing things to an end. Conditions certainly not recommended for personal well-being but ok if you were there.

The inmates of the Borstal, the Verne and then followed by some bloke on a motor bike down the bottom were all in good voice although none of them have learned any new words, just **** *** **** and crash you ********* etc, still at least we have our freedom.

Saturday 6th October 2007

Report by Sean Staines

With a light Easterly forecast the conditions looked good for a trip to Pandy in SE Wales. Clearly others thought so too and I saw many familiar faces from Thames Valley, Condors, Avon, SE / SW Wales plus a few Wessex. There with probably 50 gliders in the air spread out along the 10km of soarable ridge. I flew for over 3Hrs with 950ft height gains in gentle lift. If you’re interested in flying Pandy for the first time feel free to call me for a briefing.

Fri 05 Oct 2007

Report by Alastair Florence


I spotted Rich M soaring the hotels at Swanage as I got home from work late today so made a record breaking ascent of Ballard and launched as Richard landed. To much East by then to stay on the main cliff really although it had worked earlier but hotels were ok. Its just possible a mate of the Barton abuser has moved in down near the Ocean Bay, or it may have just been a dog barking, couldn't tell really.

Thursday 4th October.

Report by Simon Herbert



Report by Simon Herbert You get to see the strangest things when you go XC.

Having had a really pleasant XC flight from Bell to Winterbourne Kingston, I landed at the Worlds end pub (I would of gone further but it was the worlds end). Whilst waiting for a taxi to get me back to the hill a couple ordered a meal and sat down outside to eat it, they soon became the centre of attention as their chosen guest at their table happened to be a pet skunk. As I thought t no one would believe me I took a picture to prove it.

Apparently they make excellent pets, they use a cat litter tray and can be taken for walks, sort of like a cross between a cat and a dog. There is a farm in Scotland who breed them and remove their scent glands for obvious reasons.

Report by Mike Bretherton


Epic conditions for the time of year, there were plenty at Bell today and many went Xc, I went with Simon Herbert + James Bentham and we all went Xc. I made just short of Wareham which is my best UK flight in this rotten year, but James beat me with a personal best of just short of Corfe.

Report by David Franklin


Just a few pictures from a wonderful late season adventure from Bell Hill,it seems the season wasn't quite over.

Wed 03 Oct 2007

Report by Alastair Florence


Text arrives from Paul H mid PM, 'do you reckon St. A's is flyable ?' my initial thoughts were, how the **** would I know some of us have to work normal ish hours for a living, but it was turning into a nice afternoon with a gentle SW blowing in onto Poole Docks. As misfortune would have it a couple of things went a bit pear shaped at work so it wasn't worth stopping too late. So I thought it might be better to go for a fly instead. Nice enough on St. A's, fairly light but weak sea thermals giving plenty of height, also stacks of sink on the way back to the carpark ending up with a sharp dumping from about 15ft, bloody Houns Tout rotor again !

Report by Paul Hawkins

Looked to be very light wind conditions today so was in two minds as to make the effort to drive to St Aldhelms head so sms'd Ali to see if he had a local weather report for me his reply was very light on Poole Quay. . . Not much help really, which is unusual for Ali! After while made up my mind and headed for St A's. On arrival found it to be light but uncomfortably flyable ( no safe bottom landing there!) Ali turned up and the wind speed picked up. We had a pleasant fly nothing special had just over 300ft ato at best. Ali managed more height (as usual).

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