Eye in the Sky - Apr 2008

Your Flying News Notice Board. Send me your news and photos.

If you're wondering where your report is, hit CTRL-F5 whilst in your browser to make sure you are not seeing a cached version. If it is still not there, it's probably because you fell foul of the Submission guidelines

Fri 25th April 2008

Report by Keith Burridge

Bassano Spanking! Generally many pilots had been flying all day in conditions which consisted of clear skies out in front of the South facing hill with noticeable cloud developments to the East and West. By about 3. 30 pm the earlier developing cloud formations had increased with the addition of clouds to the North and the area out in front was now looking a little hazy although visibility was still good.

The wind was about 5mph South to Southwest facilitating a take off from either the West or the South takeoffs. After waiting 10 – 15 minutes on the Western side from which Ali F managed a take off it was decided the South would probably work better. Another 10 to 15 minutes would pass in changing takeoffs making it about 30 minutes since the last assessment of the weather had taken place.

Conditions were changing but as a pre launch weather reassessment was not undertaken the changes went un-noticed. There were still a few other pilots in the air with Ali having recently taken off shortly before to be joined by myself and one Russell W.

After takeoff the changing conditions took a turn for the worse and the abundance of lift and darkening skies were now obvious. I clocked one pilot spiralling earthwards and two others (Ali and Russell) scampering off in the distance still in lift to stay ahead of the now looming gust front.

So here I am. Halfway up a valley entrance Big Ears and going nowhere but up and things are just starting to get a bit choppy. The wind is backing and strengthening from a fresh Southerly to a gusting Easterly. I am now in the lea of one ridge, upwind of the other, with guaranteed turbulence below and guaranteed cloud suck above.

“Whichever way I jump out of this frying pan I know I am still going to land in a fire of some description” If I go up and over the ridge, (option “a”) will I be able to get ahead of the front and not get sucked into oblivion? If I try to lose height (option “b”) will I find anywhere to land and/or be rotored into the Valley floor or wall? Only two options but many variables. It is amazing (sometimes!) how much one can process in a very small space of time when stuff seems to be hitting the proverbial fan. If given more time would one make the same decisions or make them at all? Anyway decision time let’s go for half of option “b”, lose a bit of height and see how things are lower down and maybe come up with an option “c” (try and push outward from this SUCKING valley)? I lost as much height as I dared in my demi spiral with the comforting sinking tone of my vario changing to a neutral silence as I straighten up to face into wind and away from the Valley and try again to push out from the valley.

Ooooooh Boy. Now the ride picks up pace. I am now in big time rotor from the eastern ridge in the now Westerly gust front and to quote another Wessex member (Martin B) “a cascade of events” is about to occur”.

OK let’s reassess the situation? No time! The Vario screams “we are going up fast now” and the wing pitches behind me.

The Vario groans “we were going up fast but now we are going down much faster”.

We sustain a frontal collapse followed by a perfectly formed tip to tip Shrimp Stall. (Oh S*”t. Never seen one “o” they before!) Next on the list is the subsequent massive surge from the recovery but as it is asymmetrical a partial entry into a spin follows but fortunately a full recovery and a few moments of unsettled airtime and a settled Vario ensue.

Me and my new friends (Wing, Vario, Harness, and any other bits of equipment I forgot to mention) reassess! Whilst still suffering tucks, asymmetrics and pitches, although now less severe we are just able to make enough headway, to round and clear the western spur of the valley.

Next is a bumpy ride in reverse over what were and then were not potential landing areas. Even the final landing field was in the lea of a road, railway line and embankment.

Finally a drop of only six or seven feet in reverse with a PLF in long grass with a wonderful softly ploughed field welcomed us back to Terra Firma accompanied with a dragging of about 10 Metres.

In the time it took for me to settle myself, call in, pack away may glider, and get to the road about 200 yards away the wind had already dropped and the skies in front of the hill were clear.

Damage/Injuries Sustained: Self Nil, Equipment Nil, Property Nil, Confidence Dented Copious nerve settling amounts of alcohol were soon after consumed.

I did fly the last couple of days although somewhat tentatively.

Submitted report to BHPA Max Vario: Only +4m/s But -11m/s Max Speed 95Km/h Lessons learned: Never assume.

Keep a constant eye on weather (esp. in foreign climates) Thanks to: My Equipment and Faith in it.

Other things Great Week. Thanks guys for support’n’all

Mon 28 Apr 2008

Report by Alastair Florence



Just had a week in Bassano with Pete C, Martin B, Keith B, RW and J, Steve P, followed by Marcus, Mike A and Derek at the end of the week.

Here's just a few highlights of the week from my point of view plus a small selection of pictures.

Monday - bad start lamping it down with rain all day, couldn't even sight see, sat in bar played cards, got ratted.

Tuesday, still wet but ok for sightseeing in Bassano, top to bottoms off East launch as soon as it emerged from cloud.

Weds getting better but still claggy and TTB's Thurs much better plenty of boating about plus ventures well out onto flatlands.

Friday Excellent day, base only around 4500ft asl so top launch still in cloud, but great fun flying at base and on the cloud fringes.

Looked similar in the evening, a few wings still flying so we all went up to West launch. Luigi was off quickly as wind swung south and halted launching. Distant thunder put Pete and Martin off. Luigi now landing as I tried launch. I launched at West t/o iin some gully suck and began slowly gaining height over south t/o. RW and Keith launched from South.

Overhead a large dark cloud sat as it had done most of the day, maybe a bit more active looking now. Soon the whole hill was lifting gently and smoothly, plenty height now so started to push out SE following a high aspect wing. RW also with Keith much lower and following behind.

Lift now progressively getting firmer but still smooth.

Within moments the H/A wing started spiralling down, I wasn't sure if this was for fun or not so became alert. RW now in front began big earing and going up fast, rat strongly smelt now. I found rapidly increasing lift and RW was now disapearing into cloud forming below me and to the East.

Now at 4000ft ato and climbing fast with the cloud rapidly developing just behind me. I realised I needed to start escape plan 'A' instantly.

Considered B lining but decided I may not get enough sink and would just drift further back into stronger cloud suck, considered spiral but hate lock ins and couldn't have dealt with 4000ft spiral plus would drift back into stronger lift if I had to abort.

RW had now spotted me and ran toward my direction. Last I saw of Keith he was well below and part way up the valley behind the Abbey, I reckoned he was in for a spanking but he has his own tale to tell. and I was thinking more of avoiding being cloud sucked and spat out as ice over the Dolomites.

There was still a blue hole to the SW so jammed full bar on and big ears, still climbing at around 2 up but pacing the clouds development, now around 4500ft. As we got further away from the hill and over the river at Bassano the lift finally began to weaken and we gained distance from the cloud. Suddenly we were into gentle sink at maybe a KM West of Bassano.

As we left the cloud suck we went into the true wind which had increased dramatically and was blowing from ESE. Still on full bar and big big ears we where pointing into wind and radidly going sideways and backward in very gusty air.

Now approaching Morostica almost 15K from t/o we where getting nearer the ground but still going sideways and backward fast. Each landing option wizzed by in the wrong direction. its amazing how many powerlines houses and vines are around when you dont want them. RW pitched down near a farm house and I managed a fairly ok landing 50m outside Morostica town. RW's farmer gave us a lift back.

This was probably the most thrilling flight of my life, dont think I want to repeat it but glad I didn't miss it. More alchohol than normal was consumed this night.

Saturday / Sunday base up at 7500ft allowed superb flying on the hill and out on the flats, Sunday I did around 30K with turn points from Panetone launch to Bassano Ponti vechio bridge, back to Fonte and landed short of Garden Relais landing field by 3 or 4 fields. Most of the flight between 4500 - 6500ft amsl.

Poor start to week but excellent finish, cant wait until next chance to visit.


Sun 27 Apr 2008

Report by Jon Harvey


C/base varied considerably, at times Thorncombe in cloud and other times well below. John P made Golden Cap, I was well on the way up there, when c/base dropped to around 400ft, so aborted smartish. Shortly afterwards over Seatown saw John following. Wind later definitely off to the east. Pity base varied so, otherwise Charmouth was just formality.

Wind conditions varied considerable, sea level flat calm, whilst at T/off around 15mph min, but up near base able to make good headway, gps ground speed, never less than 6mph, so happy to fly.

Other pilot Keith B.

Report by Shamus Pitts


Looking out of the window this morning things looked a bit bleak, but I thought I would try Corton Denham as it's not too far away and the wind was forecast to be somewhere between West and South for most of the day. When I got there, the direction was a bit off to the South and it was fairly light, but it soon picked up to about 14mph. Having unpacked my wing I discovered that the wind had gone even further South and was too far off, so I waited a little while, only for the wind to go East and increase in strength! I decided to pack up and have a look at Mere instead as I had heard from a friend that it might be flyable there.

When I got to Mere Rifle Range, the wind was SSE and blowing about 15mph so I quickly unpacked and took off. It was surprisingly thermic and fairly rough at times, with the wind changing direction between SE and SW. I managed to thermal up to about 450' ATO a couple of times but couldn't take it any higher. After an hour the wind seemed to have picked up a bit so I landed to find it was now blowing about 22mph on take off. I waited around but conditions didn't seem to improve much, although someone did take off later on from half way down the hill and have a good flight.

Despite the rough thermals it was probably my best day so far at Mere!

Fri 25 Apr 2008

Report by Shamus Pitts


I arrived at Southbourne about 4:45pm to find Paul H packing up. It was fairly strong on takeoff (about 17mph), but Steve A arrived and took off so I thought I would have a go. With the road so close behind I had trouble commiting fully to taking off, so I didn't! I was packing up when Vojtech and then Jim arrived and took off. By now it was about 6pm and the wind had dropped a bit, but it had also gone round to the SW. I took off and had a reasonably disappointing 20 minutes, slowly flying west about 15' ATO, then hurtling east swerving round bushes and little trees.

The wind seemd to be going more west, or getting lighter, or both, and after a while the people on the cliff top who were looking up waving, were now looking down waving! Now lamp posts had been added to the mix of things I had to swerve around and I was starting to think about landing on the beach. I found a bit of cliff that was working less badly and managed to claw my way back up to the cliff top, step over the fence and land!

Tue 22 Apr 2008

Report by Shamus Pitts

I arrived at Ringstead just before 7pm, not feeling particularly optimistic because it was fairly misty. There was someone flying a model aeroplane on the ridge so things started to look up and a quick check with my wind meter revealed that it was blowing 10 - 12 mph and off to the south a bit.

I got ready - I didn't bother with my camera as I figured it would be pretty scratchy - and took off. To my surprise it wasn't long before I was 120' ATO boating backwards and forwards in the buoyant air. It was a bit murky looking towards White Nothe but it was definitely visible so I decided to keep out of the modellers way and try for the cliffs. It was an easy flight and I missed out the bowl, instead flying over the small churchyard, past the mansion and on to the main cliffs. Looking back I was a bit concerned that I couldn't see the ridge, so I decided that I would build up some height and head back, just in case the mist got worse. When I was 200' ATO I headed back, although by the time I was flying over the mansion I'd already lost 40'. I was starting to worry that I wouldn't make it back, but arrived at the ridge 60' below take off, literally skimming the gorse at the bottom of the hill. Four or five beats later and I was back at the top, where I flew for a while before landing. A surprisingly good half hour!

Tue 22 Apr 2008

Report by Jon Harvey


Eype worked from early PM, and two made it. Myself and Garry. No great thrills, but good to be up.

Quite misty conditions, only just see Thorncombe from Eype t/O.

New phone system works well, especially if Dinks is unavailable/flying, then new system can let everybody know, where, etc, it's ok.

15 Apr 2008

Report by Alastair Florence


Went to Knitson after work today. Fairly strong on top which I put down to a bit of thermic going's on. Mike D joined me and we both developed ground suck.

I plucked up courage to launch and started a cracking 2 & 3/4 hr battle with the elements twas a little bumpy at times but as they say 'there's no gain without a bit of turmoil in the underwear' if you know what I mean.

Peaked out at over 800ft ato and decided to go ridge running. Got 3/4 of the way to Corfe but it became unrealisticly rough so turned tail and took the kicking, then flew over Ulwell gap to the tip of Ballard, then back over Ulwell gap and 2/3rds back toward Corfe again (chickening out of the really bad bit) then back over Ulwell to Ballard again and 2/3rds of the way back over Ulwell gap where I bombed out, kited up hill a bit, re-launched and flew on. Mike was now in the air and we enjoyed a very pleasant (calmer) evening. Peachometer 9 Not many photo's as It didn't really feel safe letting go the brakes to often !

Report by Shamus Pitts


I've wanted to fly at Southbourne ever since I saw people flying there about 7 years ago and today I finally got my chance! I arrived about 5:30pm to find a fairly strong cold wind and Paul, Dave, Laurence and someone who's name I don't know waiting for the wind to drop. About 6:30 the wind was blowing 10 - 14 mph and one by one we all took off. The air was fairly smooth and buoyant so having reached 150' ATO I crossed the gap at Boscombe pier fairly easily and headed on down to Bournemouth pier. Although it was quite lifty near the pier I didn't think I'd make it across the gap so I headed back towards Boscombe. I was only about 80' ATO when I got near the pier but I thought I'd try and get across, I could always land on the beach if I didn't make it. I flew out in front of the crane (the flagpoles on the prom looked far too close!) but got some lift off the flats, then got hoovered up the cliffs on the other side - it was a relief to get back above the cliff top! I boated aboout for a while, thought about crossing the pier again but didn't think I had the height, then landed after about 40 minutes - I'd finally flown at Southbourne and it was worth the wait! Shamus Pitts

Monday 14th April

Report by John Alder

Bell Hill. Arrived late afternoon to find fresh (23mph) wind. Literally swept off my feet when launching (HG), but the soaring was okay – nice and smooth – once that potential calamity was successfully overcome. I was encouraged to land by an approaching shower after 40 minutes. Just beat the rain by packing up quickly – well the best I can say is that that was a flight I didn’t miss out on!

Sun 13 April

Report by Shamus Pitts


Having landed at Ringstead, Roy M and I decided to see if the wind was a bit lighter at Hive.

When I got there, the wind was about 16mph and off to the west a bit, but the seagulls were soaring so I thought I would try it. It was surprisingly scratchy and I struggled to get more than 15' ATO - with the into wind leg being quite slow and the downwind leg being fairly swift, and the lack of altitude, it was fairly hands-on cliff flying! Roy arrived and took off and we both enjoyed over an hour hurtling East and wafting West! Luckily the "lift band" seemed to be no worse further out over the beach so it didn't feel too crowded with the two of us in the air in the scratchy conditions.

Roy landed a couple of times to sign autographs and chat to the adoring crowds and it seemed every time he did that the lift would suddenly increase - weird day! We landed eventually because the sky was getting blacker and the clouds were getting nearer , which turned out to be the right decision because just as I drove out of the car park it started raining! An unexpectedly good day, over 3 hours in the air! Shamus Pitts

Report by Shamus Pitts


Having checked a rather uninspiring forecast, I gave Ali a call and decided to meet him at Ringstead. Although Weymouth Weather had said the wind was Westerly and 12mph, when I arrived about 9:30 it was pretty much on the ridge (maybe a bit off to the West) and about 14mph, so it wasn't long before I was airborne. Russell seemed to have a bit of lift out on the cliffs so I headed out there. I only had about 50' ATO when I left the ridge but I was climbing a lot of the way to the cliffs so I got there reasonably happy! The cliffs were working quite nicely and as the wind increased I managed to get to about 450' ATO, but most of the time I was at 200' - 300' ATO in very smooth air. The sky inland looked horrible, but looking out to sea wasn't so bad! The wind slowly increased in strength, so after about an hour and a half I started to think about landing. The flight back to the ridge was as stress free as the flight out to the cliffs and I lost less than 100' flying back, arriving at the ridge over 250' ATO, making it easy to choose a nice spot in the top landing field.

Having landed, the wind seemed too strong for another flight so I packed up my stuff and decided to try somewhere else. . .

Fri 11 Apr 2008

Report by John Alder

RINGSTEAD. Arrived to find several PGs soaring the cliffs – wind (c. 13mph) seemed strong enough to stop up on the hang glider so I rigged and took off around 1 o’clock. The air was very smooth and there was plenty of weak lift on the cliffs. The PGs had mainly flown eastwards towards Lulworth so I joined them. The wind gradually picked up to about 25mph at top altitude (+/-250m ATO) so I gradually lost the company of the PGs but continued for an hour and a half enjoying the spectacular views that Martin Foley has photographed so beautifully. A memorable afternoon’s flying.

Thu 10 Apr 2008

Report by Grant Oseland



Report by Martin Foley


A very pleasant day at Ringstead with many gliders making the passage to Lulworth and back, Martin Floey

Wed 9 Apr 2008

Report by David Franklin



Ali I think you may have found it more frustrating had you come over to Bell. The wind was anywhere from SW to NE but mostly WSW. That is the reason most people went to the coast and very little air time was to be had on the hill. Mid afternoon a thermal came through to the west of us and briefly pulled the wind on the hill which three of the remaining pilots(out of four)manage to climb out in. I left a strong thermal just behind Okeford a few hundred feet below base and went in search of something a little more benign. I am not sure who the other pilot was that I left there but he carried on up into the base of the cloud,I guess he wasn't bothered about the planes flying around somewhere near. The thermals seemed to have very sharp edges so after a couple more climbs I wasn't sorry to be back on the deck.

Report by Alastair Florence


Came home via view point of Bell but I couldn't see anyone airborne, so I decided this could mean it was either a great xc day and everyone got away, or maybe it was not flyable. So decided to head back to the coast, WSW on Corfe church weather vane so St. Aldhelms 'again' good breeze on t/o, plenty of lift mostly 300-450ft ato but couldn't do much more than just soar the cliff due to West element. Lovely bright clear evening.

Not wishing to sound ungratefull as any flying is welcome but it would be really nice to get a good thermic weekend day (for us who work a bit) on Bell now rather than just racking up hours, or this just me.

Tue 08 Apr 2008

Report by Alastair Florence


Again plant logistics meant I had to finish work a bit early today so went home via Kimmeridge.

Pretty much classic conditions for the site again today, Sea breeze starting off a bit westerly then going more SW. Punchy thermals and a bit rough at times as you would expect here, then grew smoother but still thermic by evening. Flew till 1830hrs, Nigel B joined me late afternoon otherwise alone. Countless climbs to 500ft ato and plenty boating around out in front with abundant lift, plus one climb to over 900ft ato.

An excellent fun evening.

Report by Marcus Webster


Great afternoon spent at Ringstead in good company ,very light out on the cliffs but good fun in front of take off with plenty of thermic stuff coming through , some of us were still there boating about at gone 6pm.

The only low point of the day was watching Martin Foley (we think it was him ?) in the distance climbing out from the White Horse and and going xc under a very active looking sky.

I have included some shots of William giving John some advice on how to fly his Flirt .

Report by Shamus Pitts

Having listened to all the site phone messages while I was at work (does no-one else work?) I headed for Ringstead this evening and was in the air by 7pm. The wind was light (11mph) and off to the WSW but it was just about soarable on the SE end of the ridge. I managed to stay up for half an hour and even reached the dizzy heights of 38' ATO - more proof that my new wing flies itself! There was only one other person there, flying a yellow Firebird Matrix, who's name I don't know, sorry! All in all, better than nothing!

Report by Martin Foley


Today, only Stephen Arnold and myself were flying at White Horse and it was easily the best days flying I have ever had at the Horse. I left the hill at over 2000 ft and flew in a northeast direction getting a good climb over puddletown bypass. The sky ahead looked horrible with many snow showers and I should have kept back with the convergence. I continued flying northeast through snow flurries but as soon as I left the dark clouds in an attempt to get a climb in the sunshine I was on the deck along the road to Bulbarrow at about 21kms

Sun 06 Apr 2008

Report by Shamus Pitts


Having initially decided to go to Westbury, then decided against it, I waited in all day in the hope that the wind would drop. By about 6pm the sky was blue and the breeze was reasonably light, so I decided to take a trip to Telegraph to see if it was flyable. As soon as I got on to the A37 I could see a huge black snow cloud looming towards Telegraph hill, but it looked pretty impressive so I thought it might be worth the short trip to get a couple of photos! I arrived on top of the hill just in time to get some pictures before the cloud arrived and it started snowing - definitely not flyable (why didn't I go to Westbury?), but quite impressive nevertheless! Shamus Pitts

Previous reports

Eye in the sky out-takes

If you find that some of the earlier pages don't have a navigation menu, just use your browser's Back button to return to this page once you have finished reading it.