Eye in the Sky - Jul 2008

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Sun 27 Jul 2008

Report by Jeremy Calderwood

With slack winds over the area and only coastal sea breezes to had Barton was very popular yesterday with a succession of paragliders coming and going all afternoon.

Due to earlier commitments I couldn't get to Barton until about 4. 50 but was pleased to see 5 wings in the air and a bunch more on the ground. With all the holidaymakers there was an almost carnival atmosphere to it all - lots of happy smiling faces.

The breeze was fairly light by the time I took off at 5. 20 and fairly scratchy - maybe 30 feet max gain above the cliffs. It got so light that Craig decided to fly his tandem without a passenger! By 5. 30 it began to look like it was all over as the skies emptied with a couple landing on the beach. . . but as is so often the case at Barton a short time later a very pleasant breeze had returned but not before a bunch had left to sink a pint in the House Martin. By 5. 45 I was airborne again for a 34 minute jaunt with another 4 or 5 wings including Craig's tandem but this time with the second harness attached and filled! Much more buoyant this time with climbs to 100'+.

While the remaining stragglers were packing their wings I had one last go at 6. 50 but it was getting more westerly, light and scratchy again - I landed back on the top while I could - last one down.

It was great to fly in shorts and teeshirt on such a warm day in the balmy breeze.

Also enjoying the conditions were Roger E, Roy M, Rob, Richie D, Brian M, Paul S, Craig B and partner (George?), Joe M, rare visiting member Vince W, one or two faces I didn't know and no doubt a few others who had been there earlier.

Report by Sean Staines

I had a call from Viv Fouracre of the Condors (07966 230206). Apparently there was a helicopter rescue from Eype on Sunday.

If anyone has any information please let her know as they want to know who was involved.

Report by Alastair Florence


I thought it may be time better spent to go watch the Red Arrows display on Swanage beach and spend a few hours with the wife sunbathing and swimming today (very pleasant actually),. Looked like probably the right choice. Sloped off to St. A's late pm to find Alan W sat on the bench and soon joined by Shamelus and Nigel + Sean M.

It seemed I was elected wind dummy so obliged.

Not very good, scratchy and twitchy feeling air as is often the case in light conditions off south here, had a scratch for a bit then Sean had a go to, another new site for him, shame it wasn't better conditions though.

Report by Shamus Pitts

Got to Ringstead about midday to find the wind light and a little thermic. A few people flew but it was quite scratchy. I had a quick go on Dave W’s Aspen and found it really nice to fly, but I can’t change my wing yet! It was too scratchy for more than a couple of people to be flying at the same time, so when everyone landed I took off. I found a bit of lift over the gorse to the left and thought I’d see how far I could get towards the cliffs before having to turn back. I left the ridge with 20’ ATO, got propped up by a couple of thermals on the way and made it to the cliffs – excellent (or so I thought!) The cliff in front of the mansion wasn’t working, except for the bushes at the far end, and I was scratching in so close and low that I could have landed in their garden! In the end the only place that I could find that was working was the small cliff on the end of the nudist beach, so I scratched there for ages (trying not to look like a peeping tom), eventually building my height up to 123’ below takeoff, before venturing further along to a section of cliff that was further back, hoping to make the transition to the main cliff easier. Unfortunately this wasn’t working very well, so I flew back to where I was before. I was too low now and the cliffs weren’t working, so I glided as far as I could and landed on the beach, packed up and took the long walk back up! P. s. For all you moth-fans out there, it’s a six-spotted burnet (not a cinnabar)!

Sat 26 Jul 2008

Report by Alastair Florence


As Paul says, nice enough afternoon on the Purbecks, Knitson nice and thermic best climb around 850', a bit off to the west but sometimes this lets you use the thermals more easily as they crab along the hill.

St. A's nice as well Jim C's Boomerang certainly glides well, I had about 10 attempts at crossing Chapmans Pool to Houns Tout and couldn't make it safely, the boomer made it look like a walk in the park.

Report by Shamus Pitts


I arrived at the summit of Cowdown at about 10am to find no wind, but I waited for a while, watching the butterflies and moths, until the wind picked up slightly and Mark R arrived. Mark was more enthusiastic than me about launching but didn’t have much luck, but eventually the wind picked up a little as the sea-breeze got closer and closer and we took off. For a moment I thought it might work but it didn’t and I landed. Mark managed to stay up a bit longer but in the end he called it a day too.

After phoning around I decided to have a look at Eype – it was light and there was no-one flying when I got there so I carried on heading east. I couldn’t be bothered to go to the Purbecks and I was getting a bit fed up sitting in traffic in the heat of the midday sun, so I decided to go home. There was more of a breeze at home and it didn’t seem to be too far off to the south-west so I decided to have another look at Cowdown.

I got to the top at 5pm and found the wind blowing 11 – 18mph, mainly 14mph, and slightly off to the west. I quickly got ready and took off and had the best 1hr 20 mins that I’d ever had there. I flew within 10’ of 3 kestrels, thermalled up to 500’ ATO (but kept losing the thermal) and landed in the field by my house – it was brilliant! It was fairly lumpy most of the time but there was plenty of lift – I only got worryingly low once and luckily managed to regain my height, so in the end a surprisingly nice end to the day.

Report by Paul Hawkins


The photo of the Knitson cow may look cute and freindly but beleive me it was'nt, not 5min before hand the beast ate my T shirt! The legend of the lairy Knitson cow's bears fruit again! Still myself Ali and Nigel had a realy good thermic fly there.

We then went off to St A's for more flying, I realy wanted to go to Kimmeridge but a phone call from Dave W said there were around ten pilots there so opted out of that. Lots of fun was had with a few attempts at crossing to the Tout (all of which were bottled by me). Ali and Nigel were still flying when I left.

Fri 25 Jul 2008

Report by Shamus Pitts


I arrived at Barton at 6 o’clock to find it strong and well off to the west but Paul H and Brian M in the air and John B getting ready. John made the takeoff look easy, while I made it look difficult, and it wasn’t long before the 4 of us were crawling west and racing east over the beach.

I decided to see how far west I could go, having never been much further than the café before, and managed to crawl past the caravan site and up to the first big gap. I got quite low a few times, in fact I was never very high, but there was always a bit of cliff facing in to wind just up ahead. Flying back took less than a tenth of the time it took to get to the gap! I landed after 50 minutes – a great start to the weekend!

Wed 23 Jul 2008

Report by Gary Pocock


Light ESE conditions at Weymouth made for interesting fun flying at a small local site.

Tues 22 Jul 2008

Report by Alastair Florence



Had a particularly busy day at work, no chance of a sneak off even with flexi time in the bank at present. But felt in need of a chill out on the way home, so stopped by St. Aldhelms. Felt stronger than it was and wind was dropping steadily. Just me and my shadow flying. Not much to say other than a good wind down flight.

Sunday 20 July & Monday 21 July

Report by Wayne Bevan

With the promise of 2 decent days flying I made an early start & headed for Bell stopping @ Inside Park to book the overnight campsite! Sundays wind strength had been debated the evening before & on the hill it was fresh.

The Atos went airborne at 1130hrs & I enjoyed the following 2hrs 20mins in occassionaly rough conditions. The thermals were ragged due to the wind & it was difficult to center as the wind constantly pushed you out of them. Trying to relocate the thermal was difficult. Height gains limited to 1200ato-3 circles & I was two fields behind the top landing-but for the glide of the VR I may have been in trouble! Being at ridge height in the sink cycles was not fun & a top landing was set up from the 'south end' of the ridge. It was bumpy all the way & I got dumped whilst pulling speed & had full flaps on. As the feet touched first there was no damage.

Other HG pilots flew & all experienced 'interesting landing'. Poor ole Brian Parkins got his feet on the ground before rocketing 15ft skywards! His second landing a few moments later was fine! We are getting too old for such excitement.

Tim King on the Ghost Buster RW flew in the strengthening breeze along with Jim Whitney (Airwave K4). They enjoyed some wave induced lift-or was it out of phase? Both had interesting landings, Tim set up a good approach with plenty of speed & flap. His almost came down vertically but was dumped at the last moment breaking an upright. He blames the rotor coming off me as I was waiting to grab the glider.

The wind picked up to 30mph+ & terminated the day.

On Monday I returned to Bell to find a group of PG pilots sitting in cars. The wind was 20mph+ & gusty.

By 1230hrs it was calm enough to launch the VR & found it very thermic. Again the air was cold & thermals ragged, the sink was awful with a lot of time spent below 500ft ato & being at ridge height was very turbulant.

Everard C. flew & found it rough-he landed & stayed on the ground. For the next 2hrs I expored the ridge climbing out to 2500ft ato & then gliding forwards. I eventually made Okeford Fitzpaine with 2000ft agl but any attempt to glide on towards Sturminster Newton was met with sink. the glide back to Bell was fast (100kph+) & lost less than 500ft! The VR landed safely after another 2hr30mins.

A second flight followed at 1550hrs, the lift was inconsistant but I managed 2000ft ato. Exploring up wind was again hard work with broken thermals & lots of sink.

Again being at ridge height was not enjoyable.

After 50mins I set up a top landing againg from the 'south end' & it was very rough. The wind appeared to have a lot of north & I landed short of the chosen spot.

The clover in the field is waist deep in places! In summary I had two very enjoyable days & had over 5hrs airtime. gee I do like the VR.


Mon 21 Jul 2008

Report by Shamus Pitts


I was hoping today would be a good day as I had the day off work, so I got to Bell about 9am. The wind was blowing 18 – 25mph so after waiting an hour or so I decided that maybe it wasn’t going to be the day I had hoped for! I checked Telegraph hill on the way home “just in case”, but it was gusting up to 28mph so I took the hint and went home.

At about 2pm I heard a message on the site phone to say that the wind had dropped slightly and a couple of people had flown, although it was still strong, so I thought I would take another look.

When I got to Bell, there was one wing in the air but the wind was blowing about 14 – 18mph, gusting to 23mph. There were quite a few people there, a couple of them trying out the new “Advance” wings, so after an hour the gusts seemed to be infrequent enough for me to have a go! I was a bit apprehensive as I sorted my wing out whilst throwing stones for William, but it inflated cleanly and I was off. The wind was pretty strong and rough at times, particularly when I first ventured in to the bowl, but I stuck with it. At one point I checked my groundspeed on my GPS and was reassured to see 3mph, but then when I checked the direction I was heading SE! I hung in the air at 500’ ATO, sinking and slowly heading forwards. By the time I was down to about 200’ ATO penetration wasn’t a problem.

The lulls between the gusts were surprisingly dead and I ended up quite low, but I found some more lift and pushed out in front, heading for a cloud to the west. I was climbing fairly well, then lost it, then found it again, so I decided to see how far I could take it. I started 360ing and quickly went over the back, climbing to about 1200’ ATO. I could see the cloud that was drawing me but I lost the thermal. I kept finding bits of it but I couldn’t find a decent climb as drifted south. I gave up on the cloud that I thought would keep me high, with the ridge still quite close, and started to look around for more lift. There were a few thin clouds but not many, and I found bits and pieces of lift but I could only build a few hundred feet, I couldn’t get to cloud base. This carried on all the way to Bere Regis, clouds seemed to dissolve as I got near them and I was quite nervous as I flew over acres of trees near Bere Regis in sink. I had one last dash south west towards a likely looking cloud, but I was sinking all the way and it had partly dissolved by the time I got there. I was low so set up to land, trying to work the thermic bumps as I “S’ed” to get the right approach, but they led to nothing so I landed after 19. 9km.

Sun 20 Jul 2008

Report by James Roy


Bell Hill, Sunday 20th July Arrived at 10. 30am with Brian Parkins to find the wind smack on (perhaps a tad off to the north at times) and gusting into the low 20’s. Over the course of the day more and more hang gliders arrived but only those who got there early flew as the wind steadily increased. The lift was there but so was the sink, it seemed rough up to 500ft ATO and then smoother but no solid climbs around. By 2pm it was gusting well over 30mph and only the mad flew with some bent aluminium to show for it.

Nice not to have any rain for a change and as ever good to be back at Bell.

Report by Paul Hawkins



Got back from a tour of the Swiss and Autrian Alps yesterday flew most days highlights included learning to deep spiral with clean exit, an Acro comp in Zell am See Austria, using (slightly) lee side thermalls and flying on lots of different sites.

See attached photo's, the one of the back of a van was my 5 star accomidation and see if you can spot the cable that you need to clear after forward launch from Murren take off in Swistzerland.

Fri 18 Jul 2008

Report by James Martin


Thinking of booking you next flying holiday ? Then maybe put Madeira on the list of destinations. My girlfriend booked a weeks holiday there in compensation to the two other foreign flying holidays I had taken this year. Only once booked did I discover from the internet the flying potential of the place, so the wing came along too. Am I glad It did. . I met Hartmut Peters and friends who apart from being fantastic pilots were all really nice people with a wealth of local knowledge, I flew for two days but could have done all 7, mainly using Hartmuts garden take off (arguably the best on the island according to his friends) but only 1 of 70 discovered so far. I asked Hartmut how many Pilots form the uk visit ? the answer was zero I was the first in the 8 years he has been there . . . . Couldn't believe it. . well I will certainly be going back no doubt with at least 4 other Wessex club members. If you don’t mind small rocky beaches to bottom land or challenging top landings then you will be rewarded with relaxed flying ,the second highest sea cliff in the world, xc potential, loads of height to do acro if you want, all in amazing scenery 356 days a year (aparently).

ps. . I’m not on commission, also anything you read about Harmut on paragliding forum I found to be rubbish. . . very nice bloke.

Wed 16 Jul 2008

Report by Mike Bretherton


Some flying at last !. I have not flown since last September through a mixture of being busy at work, bad weather and bad luck. Forecast looked epic, I had booked the day off and I was going to Bell. But with the wind being stronger than forecast and Wendy saying NNW most of the morning I opted for the easier drive to Combe. I arrived at 1pm with James Bentham only to find a deserted site, it was very cloudy and the wind was completely off. We got our gear out to do some ground handling but we ended up having a reasonable half hour as the wind came back on, well less off actually. Not epic, but not bad after nearly a year lay off, I just need some white room therapy and a decent Xc now.

Report by Sean Staines

A great day's flying at Bell today. I made it to just beyond the masts at the end of the ridge and back which I have wanted to do for the last 12 years! A little later on I went XC to Winterbourne Kingston and am very grateful to Dave Winn for the retrieve.

It was blown out later in the afternoon

Wed 16 Jul 2008

Wed 16 Jul 2008

Report by Keith Burridge

Bell Hill. Saw on XC weather the wind had dropped art Yeovilton and had turned NW. I decided to take a punt on Bell hopefully going the same. The wind was definitely on the hill but a little strong when I arrived. But about 15 minutes later and with the arrival of Derek S the conditions turned perfect. Derek and had over an hour and a half with the hill to ourselves. (A phone message was left) One of the resident buzzards actually struck my wing whilst dive bombing me. Only once but be aware.

Tues 15 Jul 2008

Report by Gary Mullins

Ringstead 15th July Blimey, is summer here? Third day in a row at Ringstead.

Sunday started with a bit of a shock. Driving to Ringstead and saw a glider high, very high over the cliffs. Thought noooo it can't be that good already. It wasn't. It was Sean Staines making the most of the light conditions having a very pleasant pootle along the coast. Conditions improved for PG's and by early afternoon there were about 14 flying out on cliff.

Very nice.

Monday morning was, as Adrian Coombe described, "Just about doable". By lunchtime it had blown out but we were treated to a very "sporty" flight by someone on the White Horse. Hats off. By evening things eased for some evening waftage for those still there.

Tuesday I managed to sneak off for a lunch hour play which turned into two and a half hours ! But. . . . hey. Also there, enjoying the lovely weather were Mike Drew, Keith Wright and a handful of friendly visitors. Sunny, warm. Thermic at times. Very pleasant. Very peaceful. Is this start of summer?


Report by Shamus Pitts


I wasn’t overly optimistic when I got to Telegraph Hill and was even less optimistic when I measured the wind speed – 13 to 18 mph, gusting to 23 mph.

I waited an hour and a half and the wind dropped down to 13 to 17 mph with fewer big gusts and it felt a bit calmer so I thought I’d have a go. The wind was off to the west but the air was surprisingly buoyant, although the western end of the ridge was rough, and penetration was very slow coming back from the northern end.

I managed to get 190’ ATO but landed in the end because there was only a small part of the ridge that was really useable and the wind showed no signs of dropping much more.

Sun 13 Jul 2008

Report by Roy Menage

I was in 2 minds as to where to go. Having dropped my passengers off at Bloxworth early, the weather over the Purbecks looked poor so I went to Bell. . . where there was no wind and no real sign of it clearing. I hung around for an hour or so before calling Ali and then joining him at Kimmeridge. Wind seemed strong there although Ali seemed to be doing fine. Obviously venturi on the top. Ali had landed for a chat and then took off again. I followed him and then Nigel and one other (I really must learn everybody's names) and had a nice 45 mins in at times very punchy thermals (allowing around 300ft ATO) before I got too tired and landed. Ali had crossed to St. A's and wasn't able to make it back so I went to retrieve him. So at last, 2 flying days in succession. Let's hope for more.

Report by Alastair Florence


Stuff to do this morning so didn't get out until later, plus the paramotors passing over my house in the morning were not a good omen for an early soarable breeze. By late morning I headed for Kimmeridge and met Nigel B there, I had a fly for a time whilst Nigel built uo to it. Needed a waz after an hour so landed. Nice and lifty with a reasonable breeze, lifty bits going through but not that high. New member (a returning ex hangy from the 70's now PG) Barry S was on t/o talking to Nigel. Roy M also arriving.

Seemed a bit stronger on t/o now but was fine in the air, Barry was a bit nervous about launching as it semed strong but went for it as soon as I re-launched along with Nigel and Roy.

NO probs in the air just the usal Kimmeridge bumpy thermals.

I fancied a change of scene after a bit so flew over to St Aldhelms, an uneventfull trip, couldn't get enough height to fly back over Chapmans Pool ( another 200ft would have done it) so after a bimble on St. A's flew to the car park and started walking (trying to hitch) back.

No phone signal until I had walked about 3 miles when I got a message from Roy offering a lift which I gratefully accepted.

Nigel and Barry making pigs of themselves still airborne when I got back to Kimmeridge so had another little fly with them. Wind had picked up a bit more now so called it a day.

Report by Gary Pocock


Had a great day today at Ringstead. Three hour long flights to the cliffs, made use of the air time by trying some tasks, 360's, big ears with weight shift, wing overs and exploring the lift band. Managed 550ft ATO on my last flight. Plenty of pilots onsite but not as many as I expected after such a wet spell.

Report by Sean Staines



Saturday / Sunday 12/13th July Report by Sean Staines Had some great paramotor flying in Dorset this weekend. The highlight was a flight from near Maiden Castle to Kimmeridge and back. Also a great XC from Bell Hill on Saturday making it to just pass Blandford using my paramotor wing without a vario. It was quite sureal 360ing at about 1500ft ato without really knowing if there was any thermal there.

Report by Shamus Pitts


Not much to say except that it was a very pleasant afternoon at Ringstead. The wind was a bit off to the west but it was an easy flight out to the cliffs where there was plenty of lift. Lots of people there enjoying the smooth buoyant air.

Sat 12 Jul 2008

Report by Roy Menage

Saturday was looking like it might be the first flyable day of the month. Hooray. Wrong. . . initially. The forecast indicated rather lighter winds than actually blew. At around 3:00, the sky brightened a little and the wind dropped enough to get off. Shamus, Richard W and Sean S (on his paramotor wing) went first, followed by myself, Paul H and one other (sorry, I don't know your name). Shamus, Paul, myself and ? hooked thermals quite quickly and proceeded to climb out in fairly gentle lift (no more than 1m/s most of the time). We slowly worked our way over the back heading for the south side of Blandford. I lost my thermal and bimbled around trying to find another. I saw Paul climbing out very well so went over to join him. He and his thermal were long gone by the time I got there but I managed to find another weak climb. Shamus landed just south of Blandford while I went on past Blandford in mine and finally lost it whilst drifting towards Badbury Rings. I was within about 1k of Badbury and all the fields on the rest of the way appeared to be in crop so I decided to turn back to what I thought was a likely looking bit of set-aside (it turned out to have a small crop of corn in it so I am glad I didn't make it there). The wind strength was such that I needed serious speed bar to penetrate into wind and in fact landed going backwards. On reflection, I should have headed to Badbury as I am sure now I would have made it easily - I had more height than I thought. I ended up putting down in a cropped field and squashed about 1sq m of wheat. . . sorry Mr. Farmer. Rather annoyingly, the field next to it that looked like it was in really thick rich crop was actually cut crop all lying down. I'll know better for next time. Since my phone decided to stop working, I missed Richard's offer of a retrieve and hitched and walked back. It was very difficult getting lifts but I am very greatful to those who did stop, including Paul who stopped for me in Okeford and ran me back to the hill. So not bad for my first real XC - something around 14k (no GPS so I don't know for sure). Well done to Paul for making Horton, Shamus for making Blandford South and ? for making Blandford camp where, I believe, they made him a nice cup of tea!

Report by Shamus Pitts


I arrived at Bell Hill at about 10am to find the wind off to the west and quite strong. There were a couple of people flying but it didn’t look much fun and the wind was starting to gust through quite strongly so I waited. Richard W turned up with his speed wing so we took it in turns to have a go on it to see if we could get airborne! By about 2:30 the wind seemed to have dropped down a bit so I took off. It was still fairly strong so I pushed out in front of the hill, which wasn’t easy and took a while to get as far as the bottom landing field, but the air seemed quite buoyant and just by flying out from the hill I got to 550’ ATO. I didn’t want to 360 because I thought the downwind leg would blow me over the back and I wouldn’t be able to penetrate forwards again so I decided to just float around in front of the hill to see if the wind would drop.

After a while the wind dropped a bit and Richard W, Sean S, Paul H, Roy M and Stuart M took off. Paul seemed to be doing well in the bowl so I went over a joined him and it wasn’t long before I was 1200’ ATO. I lost the thermal but figured I had the height to look for it downwind. It wasn’t long before I was climbing again as I headed for Blandford. I must have flown out of the back of the thermal by the time I got to Blandford and I struggled to find any more lift. The sky above was just a blanket of grey, giving me no clues as to the best place to start looking. The wind was quite strong so I thought if I flew back in to wind I would just end up hovering in sink, so I turned downwind and hoped I would stumble across some lift on the way! I realised I would have to make a decision which way to go around Bournemouth airspace. I chose to stay to the west of it (which was probably a mistake) and flew down towards Charlton Marshall. I chose a field close to the road, with no power lines or big trees in it and set up my approach. The air over Charlton Marshall was quite rough, with the odd pocket of lift, but it was too late to use the lift and I landed after 12km.

Richard W kindly offered to pick me up so I found out where I was, let him know and waited by the Charlton Inn. Paul H did really well and made it to Horton, and Stuart M did well too, leaving the hill very low and in the weakest of thermals, made it to Winterbourne Zelston.

Report by Paul Hawkins

Bell Hill Paul Hawkins What looked like a crappy day at Bell came good around 3pm when at least 6 of us went xc. I made Horton but Sean "Jedei" Stains got past Blandford (not sure how far) without a vario on! Next time I'm going to try him with blind fold on!

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