Eye in the Sky - June 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

Mon 30 Jun 2008

Report by Roger Edwards

Having heard the early 'blown out' messages I wandered off to Barton just after 5 to see if it had dropped. Sadly not yet, but with much left in the day I dined at the cafe, measured the wind, then had a walk, measured the wind, then met up with Jim and Brian who shared my optimism, despite it still blowing 20 at times. It finally calmed down after The Archers and we got in the air at 7:30ish.

Jim was posing as a sky-god with his enclosed 'flying-banana' harness and serious blade - a Boomerang Sport (2/3). Definitely a fast wing as he was making mince-meat of the into-wind leg that was slowing the rest of us considerably. Joe turned up and after some air time landed and got his camera out, gesticulating at those of us in the air. I did a bit of posing for him: low slow flybys and messing about over launch, as did a few others. Jeremy C turned up late to grab a quick 20 mins before it all died off. All in all, a very pleasant end to the day.

Report by Roy Menage

I arrived at Southbourne about 6:00pm to see Vojtech parawaiting due to the strong conditions. Patience paid off as the wind dropped eventually so that by 7:45 we were able to get our feet off the ground. The air was nicely buoyant (at least 100ft ATO most of the time) allowing a fairly easy crossing of Boscombe pier. With all the building work going on, I found the air behind it to be a bit turbulent and sinky. I quickly returned to the cliff to top up height and took the crossing in front of the crane. That was much better. Hopefully, when the houses are complete, they will make a nice aid to the crossing. We both made it to Bournemouth pier and whilst there, saw Paul H coming our way. I ventured out over the pier approach but progress was too slow so I rapidly darted back to the cliff and decided that a crossing would not be possible. Paul got unlucky and ended up on the beach for a long walk back. It was nice to get a flight in there before the site closes for the summer beach rush. Perhaps we should try to get the council to allow us to fly evenings during the summer when the beaches are much quieter.

Report by Alastair Florence


I fancied an evening flight tonight. Barton or Southbourne would have ben on the way home but sounded a bit strong early evening so spent the time driving home rather than sitting waiting on the cliff.

Fairly Southerly in Corfe but to much west for Knitson so went to Kimmeridge. Pleasant enough conditions, looked/felt much stronger than it was in the air and although not much height apart from the odd lift to a couple of hundred foot ato but still pretty bouyant, (Nigel B who came as well out flew back up to top land from the predicament shown in picture), sorry i didnt get a picture this time whilst you were above me Nigel but I was to busy ground handling to get the camera out. ! Had plenty of pics of ridge lately (getting boring) so pic of herding sheep, plus some hot young sheep in landing field.

Report by Shamus Pitts


I had a nice little flight at Ringstead after work this evening. I arrived about 6:40pm to see 4 wings on the cliffs. The wind was slightly off to the south and blowing 10 – 14 mph so I quickly unpacked. While I was unpacking, the people flying on the cliffs flew back and landed.

I took off and soon had about 75’ ATO so made my way out to the cliffs, arriving a little low but nothing to worry about. I flew backwards and forwards over the cliffs, took a couple of photos, but couldn’t get higher than 260’ ATO. The wind seemed to have gone west a bit and after a while I decided to head back – I was a bit concerned that the wind might suddenly drop, as it is inclined to do in the evening, and leave me stranded on the beach! I arrived back about 90’ ATO, flew a couple of beats and landed, after a pleasant 25 minutes.

Sat 28 Jun 2008

Report by Richard Mosley

Arrived at Ringstead Sat 28th, no other pilots present; nothing new there then! A brisk wind but on facing downwind my ears did not flap, so okay to fly the hang glider.

Flew very high and sometimes so low the nudists probably thought i was a perv, so went high again. Interesting landing in the turbulence which develops at these wind speeds. I must say what a good and friendly bunch of model flyers we have at Ringstead who open the gate and have a chat.

Thu 26 Jun 2008

Report by John Alder

Ringstead Bay. Nobody was parawaiting in the lovely sunshine and fresh (18 – 22mph) WSW breeze when I arrived at lunch time so I just got on and rigged the HG and flew as soon as I could. Conditions were very nice so I did a few wing-overs and stalls to ‘wow’ the rubberneckers then bimbled off down towards Lulworth, but not too far because it was a bit slow getting back westwards. Flew out to sea and round Ringstead village and further west along the take off ridge than I have before. Once back in normal territory, I encountered some weak wave lift 300m above take off and enjoyed riding it to just above 500m ATO – during this episode, the ground speed was virtually zero for about 10 minutes! By now the wind had freshened noticeably so I decided to land. Got down OK but it was very gusty in the landing field and I came perilously close to a ground loop. Thought about another flight but when I checked the wind it was so gusty that I decided to call it a day. Another satisfying flight but I hadn’t expected to have the place all to myself!

Tue 24 Jun 2008

Report by Roy Menage


Being temporarily stuck for work pending a coleague completing his work, I bunked off for a couple of hours to Southbourne. I met Phil "Sad 'n Past It" Venn at TO and although the wind was a bit off to the east, and since the gulls seemed to be OK, I wasted no time in getting airborne. It was, indeed, a slow trek to the eastern end of the cliff and a fairly snappy return to the western end. Roger E turned up with his brand new Golden 2 and got set up too. He seemed to be struggling to get off so I was dubious about top landing. He managed to get off OK with a push from Phil, followed shortly by Phil. Rog was trying out his new wing with ears, bar etc (as far as I could see) and Phil had a bit of a boat around. The wind seemed to have picked up a bit more so I opted for a beach landing (slightly surprising a couple of older ladies by my shadow overflying them). I had a very nice chat with them as I packed up. Phil made a safe top landing and Roger went for the beach .

All in all a very pleasant interlude. Got back to find more work ready for me but being chilled, it seemed to go much easier.

Report by Shamus Pitts


Having checked the weather forecast I was in two minds about going to Whitecliff because it looked like it might be blown out and all the signs said that it was too far east but due to come round. When I got to Swanage the trees were quivering more than I thought they should and the flags seemed full of life (and indicating a lot of east) but the sun was out and the sky was blue so I walked up anyway.

I discovered yesterday that the battery in my wind meter had gone flat so I can only guess that the wind was probably about 12 mph on takeoff and well off to the east but there were a couple of wings in the air with not a lot of height above the cliffs but at least it was flyable.

I flew for about an hour and 20 minutes, not getting much more than 120’ ATO and not exploring Ballard Down very far but it was pleasant wafting! Don Shipton went round the corner and down to Old Harry but he looked quite low coming back (he probably wasn’t) and I felt nervous for him so I didn’t bother going there.

Because the wind was so far off to the east, I thought that to top land I would need a good bit of height to comfortably get back over take off then turn through about 135° to get back in to wind, which I was struggling to get, so I decided to see if the lower cliffs were working – they weren’t! I landed beside my wife and had a sandwich while I watched Paul H and Quentin take to the sky! I was going to walk back up and have another go, but the wind didn’t seem to have gone round to the south much more so I packed up and had an ice cream instead!

Mon 23 Jun 2008

Report by Shamus Pitts



After reading a couple of predictions that Monday could be the best day so far this year, I was a bit disappointed that all the XC miles were done in the car today! I started my day on Cowdown where I waited for the very light wind to pick up enough for it to be flyable. It picked up a little but it wasn’t enough to stay up so I landed, packed up and drove to… Bell Hill.

There was a message on the site phone to say that it was flyable at Bell, so I met Ali there and discovered not a lot of wind! I unpacked and did some ground handling but I wasn’t tempted in to the air as the few people who did fly didn’t stay up (except for Ali of course!). We saw the sea breeze approaching so decided to head for… Kimmeridge.

Ali and I drove to Kimmeridge where we met Paul H and Quentin. The wind was a reasonable strength but off to the south a bit. I got some decent height a few times (500’ ATO) at one point, but there wasn’t a great deal of dynamic lift and I was getting worrying low between thermals. After about half an hour we landed and went to… Knitson.

It was my first visit to Knitson, so after a hot, steep, tiring walk up I unpacked (again) and took off. The wind was a bit off to the west and conditions were similar to Kimmeridge. Ali suggested the small bowl to the east might be working – it wasn’t and I lost a lot of height and had to land! Soon after I landed, Paul H landed, the Martin then finally Ali. We packed up and drove to… St Aldhem’s Head.

It was about 6:30pm by now and I was starting to get tired! Paul, Ali and I walked to takeoff where the wind seemed quite light. Ali unpacked, took off and stayed up, but Paul and I couldn’t be bothered to unpack again, so we watched Ali for a while before heading home.

Total air time – 40 minutes, total miles driven 105!

Report by Roger E

Lawrence guessed right - the Barton scratchers were doing their thing.

I arrived about 3ish to find that John B and Brian, who had flown earlier, were now sitting out conditions that were top end and a bit off to the west. Bowing to their greater knowledge of Barton I joined them on the bench and humoured the inquisitive geriatrics (no, I'm not talking about Brian and John, honest. ) At 4:30 the wind calmed down enough to allow some very nice flying and I had the opportunity to try out my new wing for the first time, and what a difference being in the middle of the weight range makes - it was great to be the one with all the height for a change.

I watched Brian and Joe head off round the corner and back to get the suss of it, and then for the first time I ventured off to the east myself. Unfortunately I pushed my luck too much and my poor scratching over the beach huts caused me to bottle it and land on the beach. Brian did a little better but also came down on his way back, but he knew a sneaky little launch and managed to get back in the end. Others present were Sean M, Steve A and A. N. Other. My thanks to Brian for the lift back.

Report by Alastair Florence



Having managed to acrue some time in lieu at work (somehow) it seemed like a reasonable afternoon to take some off.

Tried Bell first but after a short bob around over the magic tree things seemed a bit inactive and the approaching sea breeze front sent me and Shameluss P off toward Kimmerdge.

Met Paul H on site and Quentin joined ranks too. Dave C turned up after a bit, nice flying for a bit in small thermals within the sea breeze.

Wind was quite Southerly so not an easy ride and we got fed up after a bit so headed for Knitson picking up Martin B on the way.

Off west a bit here but still lightly thermic so had a boat round for a bit dropping out one by one. Busiest day at Knitson for ages with 4 wings in the air at one stage, seemed strange looking out for other wings on this site as I normally have it to myself.

I wondered if St. Aldhelms may work as the wind was more westerly now, me Paul and Shamus drove up on the way home. bit light but ok for a nice relaxing flight to wind down for the evening but got bored after 20 odd mins.

See the new St. A's overflow car park in the picture looking down on scrubby area almost directly under Marines Memorial, I think they should put up a sign about parking at your own risk though.

I was glad not to think of anywhere else to fly today as I was getting fed up with packing the glider away each time.

Report by Lawrence Toogood

Bmth : Billy no mates thats me,a lovely evening's flying at bmth i had my work cut out waving at every Tom Dick & Harry nothing else to do no-one to avoid apart from the gulls, i guess the Barton scratchers were doing their thing .

Sat 21 Jun 2008

Report by Jeremy Calderwood


Despite the wet conditions spirits weren't too dampened for a good turn out at the Berwick St John annual fete. Bob Dear brought his hang glider and harness/A-frame tripod demonstrator. I brought my laptop to show a few short videos - the lack of sun was actually an advantage to see the screen.

The footballer and TV personality Ian Wright opened the proceedings at 2pm. There was a silver band helping to raise smiles as the occasional spells of rain and drizzle sent the punters scurrying for shelter.

There was plenty of good homemade food and drink, a skittle alley, all the usual competitions and tombola as well as Wessex's own money raising enterprise: lobbing wet sponges at Gordon Crisp! Altogether £42 was raised - a very good sum for such a rainy day. Plenty of interest was shown generally but some in particular were determined to take tandem flights as a first step.

Also providing help and enthusiasm were Gary Mullins and Roy Menage - and not a bad day at all.

Sun 15 Jun 2008

Report by Stuart Martin



Despite a south/southwesterly breeze a huge raft of clouds arrived from the north and emptied on us. But by early afternoon a strong seabreeze, for the second day in succession, helped us into the air and out to the cliffs.

Two pictures: Grant Oseland flying my sparkling new BB4 with his girly Anna.

Report by Jeremy Calderwood


After perusing XC Weather, the latest satellite pics and what the sky was doing over Christchurch I reckoned Kimmeridge might work for a while as there was a big clear patch to the north west approaching the Purbecks. I phoned Sean M and arranged to meet him there.

Drove through rain on the way but promised clear patch arrived before I did and a good sea breeze was blowing as I walked to T/O. I watched Dave W take off with passenger on his tandem just before I got there and found Sean had already got in a couple of short flights himself.

Conditions were pretty lively making launching well - er - interesting! Sean M got away nicely then Paul H had a wild moment before he was away. I was also catapulted up and soon we were all rocking in the choppy conditions to Swyre Head. I was surprised at just how many punchy thermals were spilling off around Smedmore House - I caught one up to 610 feet over the hill before making a dash back to the windward side. Acro Jackro and passenger also joined in the fun swooping and whooping in the turbulence - lots of rustling and pops from the wing above in the wilder moments. Definitely 'active' flying conditions. . .

All too soon a big dark cloud with raggedy bits and curtains of rain was getting too close for comfort and veering the wind round to the west. Sean, Dave and Paul had already landed, packed up and gone before I came in just ahead of Jackro. Cor - he did give his lady passenger a solid bottom landing(!) but they were both laughing so all OK.

Rained most of the way back home - nice to got the best bit of the afternoon.

Report by Paul Hawkins

My day started at Southbourne, it looked good to start with a light sea breeze just starting and plenty of fluffy white stuff just behind and on the cliff. Had a good 40min scratch but the combination of a nasty looking black monster cloud and boredom forced me to land.

Dave W phoned to let me know he was at Kimmerdge and things were looking good, so off i went.

Had an execellant afternoon there best coastal flying I've had since crane dodgeing at Boscome gap back in March. Thermic and rough enough to make things intersting, brilliant fun hacking it out with stacks of height to be had. A load of nasty looking weather had been slipping in from the west behind the hill and eventualy I decided to land because of it. Nice to see Dave W trying to finish his relatives off with tandem flights, others that turned up were Nigel, Jeremy C, Acro Jakro (Tandem and solo) and Shaun.

Sat 14 Jun 2008

Report by Jeremy Calderwood


On the way to Bell Hill I saw a red wing high over the A354 near Winterbourne Whitechurch. I pulled over and watched for a few minutes as Stuart I believe it was was slowly descending. 5 minutes later he was circling upwards again so I went on my way.

Found Bell was no longer getting much in the way of decent lift so after a short scratchy flight rather lower over the bowl than I would like I was soon dumped on the other side.

Once back at T/O the raggedly edged cloud of the sea breeze front could be seen coming in from the south west so most of us whizzed off the Ringstead.

This was my first visit to the site. The breeze was rather strong at first so only a hardy few braved the run to the cliffs while the rest of us set up lower down the slope and waited until things calmed down a bit.

At 5 'o' clock I took to the air and after a few minutes was about 250' ato - high enough to go for the transition to the cliff I was assured. Pretty soon I was passing the big mansion house and then approaching the White Nothe gaining height all the while, topping out at around 530' ato. What a superb site this is with beautiful views and the promise of some lengthy ridge runs along the coast in the future.

Eventually the wind began to veer further round to the west. I was last back from the cliffs but still with enough height for a spot landing in front of the car park.

Also among many others enjoying themselves were Sean M, Stuart M, Richard M, Paul, John A, Carl and Wayne B.

A really nice introduction - looking forward to further exploring this place.

Report by Martin Folery


Flew from Batcome to near Winchester today and took a picture over Bell on the way. the flight took 4 hours going around the airspace and clocked up just under 90 kms,regards Martin Foley

Report by Alastair Florence


Bell seemed like hard work for little reward so Shamus, Paul H, Jim C and me decided to join Dave W at Whitesheet.

We arrived as Dave climbed out and headed for Salisbury, Colin D joined us and climbed out as well. The rest of us stayed trying to get that elusive climb being batted about by absolutely horrible air that really did not suit the look of the sky. The conditions made a typical day at Knitson feel like a picnic in the park.

After a while a huge horrible looking black cloud with patches of mamatta and sort of grey and black entrails hanging under it developed overhead, this made us decide to stay on the ground for a bit (I think it was probably part of the sea breeze front but it looked a bit scary). Flew again as it passed until another big over developing cloud approached, Shamus waiting until the wind speed had reached over his 22 mph threshhold and enjoying a 'groundhog day landing'

Report by Colin Davies

Whitesheet, Sat 14th June 2008 I started the day scratching about at Winkelbury but when I saw a wing climbing out over Whitesheet it was clearly time to change hills.

Through lucky timing I got a good climb away from Whitesheet. Once up lots of clouds meant lots of lift, cloudbase was 5000' ATO and the climbs were quite gentle. My primary aim was to head home to Fordingbridge towards the WSW which I was pleased to achieve.

On the way I had been watching the hanging clouds, that mark the sea breeze front, pushing a long way in land. There was a dark cloud over Godshill with some tendril like hanging clouds about halfway across it.

I headed over to find a strong climb and amazingly was able to surf up the front of the hanging clouds that were getting more solid by the moment. It was fascinating to watch the air mixing with parts of the clouds really rocketing up. After surfing backwards and forwards many times in front of the now solid blanket of hanging cloud I caught a glimpse of the cloud top starting to tower ominously.

I headed off towards the WNW both to stay out of air space and to try and keep on the landward side of the sea breeze front. Unfortunately near Whiteparish the front caught me up (although at that point it was not marked by any cloud) and I had the excitement of a bit of rock and roll with the vario screaming. From then on it was a glide in flat air with the breeze now behind me to land in the Test valley south of Kings Somborne. Playing next to the sea breeze front was an amazing experience, although not for the faint hearted, and all this on a weekend too!

Sun 15 Jun 2008

Report by Shamus Pitts


I arrived at Bell Hill about 10 o’clock. There were already a few people there, the wind was light and there was the occasional weak thermal coming through. Over the next couple of hours, the thermals got a bit bigger and the wind picked up but it was well off to the West so it was fairly scratchy between thermals.

Dave W went to Whitesheet and reported that the wind was off to the North but he thought it would come round, so after umming and arring about whether to go to the coast or not, Paul H, Ali F and myself decided to head to Whitesheet with Jim.

Dave W was already flying when we got there and shouted down how rough the air was, before disappearing over the back. I took off and found conditions horrible! Great big lumps of lift followed immediately by huge dollops of sink – I ended up low and side-landed slightly downwind. The hill was so steep that I tripped on landing and instinctively grabbed the grass to stop myself rolling down the hill! Over the course of the afternoon I had a few more flights, all of them very rough! Lots of things went wrong, the wind suddenly changed direction or gusted suddenly on take off and caught me out a couple of times, and in the air my wing was rustling like an epileptic wearing a paper boiler suit and my lines were going tight and slack like they were made of elastic! As the afternoon progressed, we could see the sea breeze front pass over, so we thought once that had passed the air might be smoother- we were wrong! There seemed to be a bit more lift but it was still really rough, I don’t know why. All afternoon I would find lift, try and turn in it and just find sink. On my last flight I flew straight in to wind, climbing all the way, until I reached 800’ ATO. As soon as I turned the lift was gone and I couldn’t find it again – very frustrating.

Paul and Ali realised that the wind was picking up and landed, but the wind didn’t seem as strong high up so I didn’t notice. There was an angry looking cloud forming out in front so after a while I decided that it might be time to land. I had a bit of trouble losing my height, and when I got lower I realised that penetration was a bit touch and go. I used big ears to lose some more height, but as soon as I let them out I started going up in the ridge lift again. I thought about using speed bar to get out over the landing field, but the air was so rough that I didn’t want to do that, so I thought I’d top land. . I didn’t want to land in the top field because it was in crop, but I set myself up for it while I tried to think of something else. I could see space where the cars were parked so I put on a bit of brake and drifted backwards to my chosen landing spot, let the brakes off and touched down – perfect!. I don’t know why I didn’t adopt a strong wind landing technique, maybe I thought I was out of the compression, but as I turned to collapse my wing the wind caught it and I flew “Superman Style” a couple of feet from the ground backwards into a conveniently placed “depression”! I suppose the flying was good for my active-piloting practise, but my lasting impression is “rough and horrible”!

Sat 14 Jun 2008

Report by John Alder

Ringstead Bay. Another pleasant afternoon’s Hang Gliding in the company of Wayne Bevan, Richard Mosley and a number of PG’s (including quite a few visitors) – nothing spectacular, just very pleasant. Tanks to my fancy Flytec 6030 GPS/Vario I was alerted that the prevailing wind had veered to the north of west. This meant that the lift on the cliffs was gradually dying out but, since the ground-level wind was still, thankfully, more-or-less ‘on the hill’, I just managed to scrape a top landing (albeit a very poor one).

Fri 13 Jun 2008

Report by Paul Hawkins

When I arrived at Bell today around 3pm there was one wing in the air battling it out in fairly strong wind conditions. I had my hopes set on some xc flying but was'nt confident in getting away due to wind strength, however managed some soaring along with Colin and Ali and after around 20min or so found something I could climb out with. The thermal was all kind of broken and bitty but I stayed with and managed to do a 20k ish xc. I wanted to get at least to Corfe but fell sort as airspace kept me from working the dark usable clouds I had found. Brilliant afternoon's fly bring on the weekend! Oh yeah thanks to Ali for retreive!

Report by Neill Franklin


As some people know, I have recently undergone some fairly intrusive surgery and won't be flying probably until the end of July. I cannot drive for several weeks either. . . . . . . . so I can't even offer to retrieve anyone.

Anyway, I enjoy being in the garden trying to glimpse the occasional glider wafting over and today I took a photo of one landing at 1515hrs near our house at Bere Regis.

Thu 12 Jun 2008

Report by Martin Butcher

Monks Down. I was watching XCWeather all day in the office and it seemed blown out and there wasn't a single message on the site phone, but I thought I would give it a go. XCWeather was saying it was northwest 14mph at Yeovilton so I went to Bell. When I got there it was blowing northerly and about 10 mph so I quickly drove to Monks Down. I arrived about 5:30 to find no one there but it was blowing smack on at about 8/10 mph so I quickly rigged and had a boat about in the boyant air for an hour and a half. I made 12 hundred feet and was able to fly right out to the barn in front.

I had missed out on Tuesdays evening flying because I believed XCweather and I nearly missed out again tonight, just goes to show - dont believe the forcasts - get out there and look for youself.

11 Jun 2008

Report by Roy Menage



Perran Sands, Cornwall. June 2008 Had a very pleasant few days in Cornwall (after stopping by Telegraph for a fly on the way down) and was able to visit one of the KHPA sites on the north coast, Perran Sands, just north of Perran Porth. Managed to fly there 3 days in nice gentle coastal conditions. Several KHPA members were there too. If you are visiting north Cornwall and happen to have your wing and the wind is blowing roughly NW, swing by Perran Sands for a waft about. One of the good things about this site is that there is just about always beach, unless it is a particularly high spring tide.

Tues 10 Jun 2008

Report by David Franklin


I arrived at Bell just in time to see Peter leaving. Everyone then had some good soaring. It wasn't till 5. 30 that another reasonable thermal came through which gave me a slow climb out but it was very scratchy after that and I came down near Whitechurch,very enjoyable though.

Report by Alastair Florence


A pleasant evenings flying on Bell again, enjoyed by many, reasonably strong but do-able mostly from mid afternoon onward. Typically bouyant out in front etc.

Report by Peter Robinson

After driving as far as Compton Abbas, we got a call that at Monks the wind was now (at 2. 30) going too far west, so to Bell where it was NNW but too light to soar.

I waited for about 20 minutes for the buzzard to give me the signal. When he did he got it spot on and I was able to slowly climb away in broken lift.

Martin F launched almost immediately, but unfortunately missed it; then as the wind rose a little I could see from a distance most of the others (Derek S, Jeremy M, Harry E, Keith B ) get airborne.

I reached 3500' QNH but the clouds were fading somewhat. At least I was able to reach the Dorset Gliding Club's field, something I had been trying to do on Saturday but failed. I scratched on a little further, landing in the Monkey World car park at about 4. 30.

Incidentally a couple of the competitors on Saturday, Southern Club I think, flew low directly across the DGC field disrupting their launching activity.

Bad form, particularly as they knew it was an active field.

Martin reckoned my luck in getting away was karma for rescuing a baby crow from the side of the road near Iwerne Minster. We are going to look for some more baby birds to rescue.

Mon 09 Jun 2008

Report by David Franklin


After a long wait(kitted up all afternoon) it was a great relief to climb out from Bell at 5. 30 this evening. I had a nice bimble about in the cool evening air and although I didn't get all that far it was much less stressful than saturday. When I got back to the hill it was good to see Keith B and Karl B enjoying what looked to be just about perfect soaring conditions.

Sunday 8th June

Report by Jeremy Calderwood

Monks Down - patience pays off! After arriving at the site early lunchtime there was a small and somewhat disconsolate group of mainly hang gliders waiting for the wind to die down and the very noisy air race low overhead to finish. The word was that all the other early arrivals had given up and gone to try their luck at Bell as there was some west in the wind.

At 2pm after the last of the air race competitors roared away we sat about on the hill and watched the like of Cunion rigging up their wings while the wind began to moderate a little. Buzzards soared and stooped above us - I'm sure they were laughing, and then a pair of kestrels hovered nearby just to rub it in.

Eventually one of the hangies swooped into the sky and put on a very elegant show. The doubters were still maintaining that the gusts were still too strong at 3. 45 but I felt that the conditions would soon be just fine.

At 4. 20 I volunteered to be 'wind dummy' and decided the wall was not pulling too strongly. At 4. 30 I popped up the wing and in less than a minute I was 200' ato. I pushed out in front, found another thermal coming in and within 2 minutes I was at 720' half a mile in front of the ridge and turning back to watch the others rigging up and getting launched. Several red ribbon low airtime pilots grabbed the opportunity to build their hours; even Cunion got his first hang glider flight since last August! Robin G (just joining as a new member with partner Ruth) got his first soaring flight since October - there were big smiles all round as we took full advantage of the uncrowded skies.

Gary P took a passenger on his tandem and got in some good soaring. He really boosted my confidence with his praise of my wind dummy move and for flying out in front to mark the thermals. Thanks Gary - much appreciated.

Came down at 5. 50 for a drink and to change the camera battery and went for a last 13 minute flight in very light conditions an hour later and was last guy down. First up, max altitude and last down - a great morale boosting day - much better than my earlier experiences yesterday at Bell (see below).

Also enjoying the conditions were Tim S and Tim K, Roger E, Nigel B and several others whose names I didn't get (or forgot!).

Jeremy C Saturday 7th June - Bell Hill Arrived in time to see the second (or was it the 3rd or 4th?) gaggle getting away after the BCC competitors went first. Well done Wessex - another max points win.

I would have arrived a lot earlier if any of the early arrivals had thought to put a message on the sitephone! There I was thinking that the day must blown out as by 11. 30 there was still nothing on it. Come on guys - don't keep it to yourselves even if there is a risk it could get crowded.

Also had a welcoming 'Are you Jeremy?' from a big fella with sun screen 'war paint' on within 5 minutes of parking up. 'When I was trying to climb out at Monks last September you didn't just cut across me once, nor twice but three times. You were flying a new wing - was it a Sky Fides - no? Oh, OK an Arcus 4 - well anyway this isn't about whether you were experienced or not - you don't cut across when guys are doing 360's. No hard feelings - I won't harbour a grudge but don't do it again. ' Talk about catching me off guard. I certainly don't remember cutting anyone up back in September (I think it was my second or third day there - with my red ribbon). I apologised if I did cut across but I'm still not sure you have the right guy, mate - and, heck don't wait 9 months to tell me if you think I've caused you a problem. Us (still quite) low airtime pilots need all the encouragement we can get - so try to give the red ribbon guys a break. Just hope the whole thing wasn't a set up by someone who keeps confusing me with Richard. . . .

Conditions went rather sinky in the middle of the afternoon when many of us got a few short scratchy flights to low down side landings but at last some more decent lift came along about 4. 30. Joined quite a melée swirling around over the bowl then struck out northwards towards Okeford Hill. I could see a dark bottomed cloud not far in front but the sink in between was just too much and I landed at Roble Stud. However although it was only 2 kilometres it was my first XC! When I walked round to find Emma in the barn about to feed her pig she said 'I never heard anyone drive in - where did you just come from?' I pointed at the sky and then to the hill. She was most amazed and amused and offered to take me back as soon as she had fed the pig - an offer I couldn't refuse. What a nice lady. Do we often get such a positive reaction when landing out? I hope so.

By the time I was back at the hill it was blown out but it was still nice to have finally climbed out of a site at last. Looking forward to plenty more opportunities if the summer pans out better than last year.

Report by Gary Pocock


Mark F, Paul E, James M and Heidi got an early start at Westbury White Horse by about 8. 30am. I phoned from Weymouth to see how it was at about 9. 00. Conditions were reported as great so I drove up to join them as it looked quite strong elsewhere. I arrived 2 hours later as traffic was a pretty heavy. The guys had already had plenty of airtime and Mark had done 2 tandem flights. The sky was clear with very few cum during the afternoon. The wind varied from light to strong due to the thermic activity which was plentiful but mostly unmarked by cum. Plenty of gliders had loads of airtime playing in the ridge lift and thermals. I clocked up about 1 ½ hours over several flights and really enjoyed an afternoon at a new site. Just to top it off I had my first tandem flight with Mark who made me feel really at ease, it’s strange not being in control of the glider. A final flight on my own had me smiling all the way home.

Sat 07 Jun 2008

Report by Sean Staines

The Wessex hosted a round of the BCC at Bell hill with the Condors, Southern and Sky Surfers joining us for the day.

Conditions were about as good as it gets and all feedback was that it was a great competition.

Shamus Pitts made it to Swanage on his first ever XC and scored the highest points of the day, helped by the handicapping scoring system. Paul Hawkins flew a personal best distance of ~30km making it to Corfe Castle. Martin Foley had an exciting backwards landing on the ridge just beyond Corfe in the by then very strong sea breeze. Dave Winn landed just short of Corfe and Ali Florence made it to Swanage. I was runner up, being decked beyond Bere Regis by the Sea breeze and bad decisions. It was my highest height gain for a long time at just under 4000’ ATO and strongest climb just under the cloud at >5m/s.

The Wessex won the day scoring a third straight 1000 point maximum, placing us very well for a position in the final due to take place at the Long Mynd in August.

The BCC is open to all members of the Wessex. Just contact me if you want to participate.

Report by Lawrence Toogood


7 June Lawrence Toogood Well we all know how good saturday was ! It was a god send for me ,some nine months ago i promised Andy Jackson(Wave 105 DJ tea time show) a tandem flight , after he ran a phone in regarding the Imax in Bmth and its uses or lack of use and a waste of space. Well i duely sent him an email with an attatched pic of me flying over it and its usefullness in aiding us across the pier gap which he conveyed to the listeners and made the comment that he would love a go ! So i made him an offer and thought it would all happen within a few weeks, well we all know the fickle world of paragliding (weather) and matching Andy,s Richard Westgate and my working hrs and family commitments things just didnt happen until this saturday when Dave Winn said to me "hey looking good for sat lets get Andy up " he had the tandem off Richard .

Dave, Andy and myself arrived at Bell nice and early 9am , Dave had a quick test flight on a solo all looking peachy.

We kitted Andy out with a flying suit & helmet ,taped a helmet cam to Andy's Helmet , Dave proceeded to give a full flight briefing and that was it , yahoo the pair took to the sky . It was a little bit scratchy at first and one solo pilot did shout at Dave !! what was that all about ? plenty of room! anyone not familiar with please cut them a little more slack , they tend to fly a bit faster have a few other factors to think about than a solo plus as in this case a non flying passenger who may or may not be a bit nervous . (rant over ) The flight lasted for 50 mins max height of 1800ft and one very happy DJ who will no doubt be giving us a mention on the radio(all good publicity i hope !) So many thanks to Dave , Richard for the loan of his glider.

ps i managed a little flight as well, first inland one of the year ,unfortunately i had to leave not long after Andys flight , on what was a classic day at Bell .

The helmet cam footage may be on the wave105 web site soon i will keep you all posted .

Report by Alastair Florence


Best XC day of the year on our patch by far. BCC round on Bell with many locals and plenty of visitors making the coast or very near and some turning round and coming part back etc.

Pic shows setting up for final approach with my house near centre of picture and my neighbour doing a bit of gardening.

Report by Paul Hawkins

Bell hill was working very well today and a great time was had by many lots of xc with trips to the coast for Ali and Shamus. Shamus managed 40km on his first ever xc, a mighty fine distance! Hopefully another win for the Wessex BCC team fingers crossed! Thanks to Andrea for driving retreive

Report by Shamus Pitts


Just in case I forget to mention later on, I did my first ever XC today! I got to Bell about 9am and got in the air. I managed to take a thermal to 1000’ ATO a couple of times but for some reason couldn’t go any further. Sean Staines arrived so I landed and signed up for the BCC task that he’d set – a straight line distance task.

Everyone took off and the bowl was quite busy, so I went down to the other end of the ridge and spent a while slowly working a big greyish cloud, losing it a couple of times, until I started to drift over the back at about 1000’ ATO. I kept working it but couldn’t get more than 1800’ ATO and wasn’t at base, but I was slowly drifting over Winterbourne Houghton, so I thought “This is it – I’m going XC for the first time ever!”.

The cloud wasn’t really doing much and I could see a much nicer one not far downwind, so I decided to head for that one instead. I arrived under it east of Milton Abbas and started climbing again, but I still couldn’t get to cloudbase, so I headed for another cloud that gave me a climb which I stuck with over Winterbourne Whitechurch to Winterbourne Kingston (I’m getting all this info from my tracklog and google earth – I recognised Milton Abbas, but I had no idea what the other places where until I got to Bere Regis!) I finally made it to base over Winterbourne Kingston, at about 2700’ ATO and glided under the cloud over Bere Regis and towards Wareham Forest. I hit some sink near some big power lines over Wareham forest but found a cloud that pulled me back up again. I flew over Wareham but had lost a lot of height by the time I got to Stoborough – my vario was down to 300’ ATO (which was probably about 1000’ above Stoborough) but I was starting to think about landing. There was a nice big cloud just in front of me which seemed to take forever to supply me with lift, but eventually it did and slowly I managed to work my way back up to 2200’ ATO.

Another glide took me to a climb over Norden and I glided over Corfe Castle without losing too much height and hardly had to 360 until I got to Swanage. I kept picking out landing fields in Swanage but I still had about 1500’ ATO, and by the time I got to a football pitch by a car park near the seafront I was under another cloud and climbing. I climbed to 1800’ATO and decided to head West (there was nowhere else to go) and see how far I could get (as it turned out, not very far!). The only place I recognised was Worth Matravers because I could see St Aldhems Head, so I decided to head for that. My groundspeed had now dropped to about 9mph, but I eventually landed in a field right by the “Worth Matravers” sign – this has been the best flying day I’ve ever had! This year I wanted to get to cloudbase (which I did), and I wanted to do my first XC – which I’ve done! What an awesome feeling! Total distance 42km! Sorry there are so many photos, but I have tried to keep them to a minimum!

Wed 04 Jun 2008

Report by John Alder

Ringstead. Arrived mid afternoon to find Phil Venn (in paraglider mode) et al. on the ground and Wayne Bevan’s car with Atos on the roof (he had already flown) – had I missed the boat? Well, I rigged the HG anyway and by the time I was ready there was a very substantial southerly component in the light breeze. Should I cut my losses and get the paraglider out? I’ve been caught out by those conditions before; getting to the cliffs and finding there was no lift and only a beach landing as an option! “Courage, mon brave!” I said to myself - (I’m off to Laragne soon and my French needs dusting off) - and decided to persevere. Many thanks to Wayne who spotted that one of my parachute-handle ends had come adrift – that fixed, I took off and, luckily, found some light lift on the cliffs to get established. The air was like velvet and perseverance got me to 200+m ATO so I ventured east of the Nothe as far as Bat Head but there was little or no actual lift so I didn’t go any farther. Bimbled about for an hour during which I was joined by a couple of PG’s, a peregrine and various other birds. It was a relief to get airborne after nearly 2 months and the conditions were lovely in spite of some wisps of orographic cloud inland from the cliffs. The landing field is currently very overgrown with nettles, docks and thistles above waist height – a struggle to walk through!

Report by Keith Burridge


Actually had to work all day today so couldn’t get to Ringstead until about 5:00pm. On arrival those in the air were all returning to land. The conditions were on the strong and gusty side and as I knew Shamus would be about an hour I thought I would wait it out. All had left by about 6. 00pm leaving Shamus and I to enjoy the smooth buoyant evening air. As the wind was slightly off to the South we decided by “airborne mimed sign language” (AMSL) to take a trip round the corner to Durdle Door and back. (First time for us both). Getting there didn’t take long but getting back took a while longer as the wind was probably not as South as we had maybe thought. After over an hour of having the cliffs to ourselves we returned to T/O just as the conditions settled. “Durdle Door” Another box ticked. Excellent evening!

Report by Shamus Pitts


An excellent evening at Ringstead! When I arrived it was fairly windy and Keith B was waiting for it to drop a bit. By 7 o’clock it was blowing about 14mph and slightly off to the south so Keith tested the air then I took off.

I found some lift on the SE end of the ridge and pushed out towards the cliffs to see how far I could get before I had to turn back. As it happened I didn’t have to turn back and made it to the cliffs reasonably comfortably, picking up stacks of lift in front of the big mansion, before transferring to the main cliff.

Keith wasn’t far behind me, and after a couple of tentative flights round White Nothe and back we decided to head for Durdle Door. Getting to Durdle Door didn’t take very long at all and I didn’t lose too much height, but coming back again was very slow going.

We flew for a little while longer before landing back at takeoff after an hour in the air – my best flight ever at Ringstead!

Report by Alastair Florence

A cock up on materials logistics (not by me) meant we had run out of work this morning and where waiting for pipe fittings that got delivered to a random address somewhere else.

But hey ho, every cloud has a silver lining, it looked flyable. So sent the workforce home and went to Ringstead. John S, RW, Phil V and maybe others were heading back from the cliffs and reporting a fair bit of south. Not the easiest flight to the cliff but certainly doable. I tried going round White Nothe as the others had done earlier but it was a hard push back so didnt go far. Still, plenty of height on the cliff and flew till I got bored.

Went home and did some work on my latest extension, the wife agreed i'd been working hard and didnt grumble when I headed for Kimmeridge in the evening. Met Nigel B, Chris B and Nigel#s mate Bill. Bit too windy when we got there but calmed enough by 1930 for a fly, although off South a bit, (Knitson may have been better) we all had a fly of varying degrees of success.

Wed 04 Jun 2008

Report by Sean Staines

31st May / 1st June The Wessex finally managed to compete in BCC rounds held on Saturday and Sunday in Wales.

The good forecast attracted record entries for the competitions with 11 teams entered on both days.

On Saturday the NE bowl of the Blorenge was the chosen site. Conditions were light with the hill in shadow but the town and sugar loaf mountain in the sun, at least to start with. After failed attempts to find some lift Richard Westgate suggested the committed measure of flying out towards the town to try and find lift further out. I Richard and Jim Coutts ended up in the bottom landing field but Dave Winn managed a very difficult climb out and was the first away from the hill. After a retrieve by Andrea in the camper van we made our way back to the top. I walked round to the NW take off in the hope of finding some thermic activity while the other stayed with the main field in the bowl. Keith Wright launched and found lift and was quickly joined by the remainder of the Wessex team including Roy Menage while I watched them plus one other climb out in weak lift. Roy came back to the hill but the others all got away. All in all a spectacular win for the Wessex who had 4 out of the 5 scoring pilots on that day to scoop 1000 points win.

On Sunday I was joined by Richard again plus Keith Burridge, Shamus Pitts and Nigel Bourne. A ridge run on Pandy was set as the task with a turn point at Black Darren Quarry. The sky was heavily overcast and the dynamic was light but there was some lift to be had and after a couple of landings I eventually made it to the second trig point along the hill and made it all the way back to the bottom landing field to score 5k for the team. Richard had used his enormous skill to show everyone else how it was possible to complete the task and made it all the way to the quarry and back with far and away the furthest distance on the day. Shamus made a great effort to do the task and Keith made the supreme effort for the team with a top to bottom in the light rain at the end of the day. Another 1000 point maximum for the Wessex.

All are welcome so contact me if you fancy having a go.


Tue 03 Jun 2008

Report by Shamus Pitts


I heard Keith’s message on the site phone when I got home from work and thought I’d take a look at Telegraph Hill.

I arrived about 6:30 to find the wind on the hill and blowing about 16mph, but by the time I’d got ready it was gusting up to 23mph at times. I waited about half an hour and the gusts started to come through less frequently so I got ready again and took off. It was still fairly strong, but once in the air penetration wasn’t too much of a problem although the gusts made it a bit lumpy at times.

The highest I got was about 160’ ATO, nothing spectacular, conditions weren’t ideal, but it was nice to fly for half an hour.

Sun 01 Jun 2008

Report by James Martin


Wessex Club member Jon Wood bottom landing in the Flatlands of Norfolk.

Report by Shamus Pitts

Sean Staines asked me if I would like to have a go in the BCC in Wales so I decided to drive up with Nigel B on Sunday morning to have a go! I've been a bit hesitant at entering competitions, mainly because I'm not a very good pilot, but also because I don't know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised at how friendly and informal it was - basically just like any day on the hill, but with the added element of "something to do"! The weather wasn't looking good, so a task was set at Pandy to fly down the ridge to a quarry (although I never saw one!) and back as many times as possible (none!). There was hardly any wind, and hardly any sun, so I don't think anybody was feeling particularly confident. WIth Richard W encouraging the Wessex team (Richard, Keith B, Nigel B, Sean S and myself) to take off because there was some "weather" on its way, I took off.

The wind was now blowing 10 - 12mph and I wasn't losing too much height as I worked my way along the ridge (although the ground was rising a lot faster than I was). I rounded a corner and slowly worked my way up the hill. Richard W appeared and pointed out areas of lift for me and things seemd to be going well until he moved further down the ridge. I tried to follow him but turned badly, lost some height and tried to flee back to the part of the ridge that had been working well before. Unfortunately I was now half way down the (600') hill and there didn't seem to be any wind.

I side-landed and then, with my wing in one hand and foliage in the other, I clawed my way slowly up the steepest hill I've ever had the misfortune to have to climb up! I'd flown for about 10 minutes and covered a measly 1. 7km.

Conditions never really improved and after traipsing to various possible takeoff areas, waiting, being rained on, traipsing, waiting, being rained on, waiting etc etc etc, I packed up and walked back to the main takeoff. Keith bravely forward launched to fly down to the landing field and add an extra couple of kms to the team's score while the rest of us walked back to the carpark.

Richard and Sean did very well - I'm not sure how far they got but they got a lot further than me! 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.