Eye in the Sky - Aug 2008

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Sun 31 Aug 2008

Report by Neil Mccain

One way of looking at it is that despite the dodgy-looking forecast, cloudbase at ground level and rain all morning, we persevered with thoughts of flying and were rewarded in the afternoon with a steady 12mph north-westerly at Bell. Tada! The other is that conditions were quite variable, ranging from gale-hanging to awkwardly light and off to the west. Still, you don't know if you don't try, and we got to try/practice all sorts of manoeuvres to make the most of the conditions. It was never going to be a classic, but after this summer, well it was just good to have some fun.


Report by Shamus Pitts

 

   
I drove up to Bishops Castle near Long Mynd on Friday for the final of the BCC and a straight line distance task was set at Gyrn Moelfre (the location used in “The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain”) on Saturday morning.

We got to the hill and slowly climbed to the top, which was a killer, to find the wind on the hill and blowing 18 – 20mph. A few people had a fly before the briefing, then after the briefing we all took off.

The sky was overcast but thermals came through fairly regularly but they seemed to be quite broken up and every time I tried to 360 in them I lost them then struggled to push back out from the ridge. Some of the thermals were pretty rough, pitching my wing back quite sharply (at least, that’s what it felt like!). At one point I was 800’ ATO, about 50’ behind the ridge and I must have lost 780’ trying to push forwards, ending up about 20’ above a dry stone wall and going backwards. I didn’t want to use the speed bar (I should have used it earlier but I was hoping either for a lull or for the wind to be less strong lower down), but in the end I needed 75% bar to creep forwards and get back out in front of the ridge.

I’d been in the air a couple of hours by this point. I’d decided that I wasn’t going to try going over the back anymore, I wasn’t having any luck staying with thermals, and every 360 ended with an agonisingly slow push back. The sun had been out for a while but now the sky was just a blanket of grey. I decided to push as far out in front as I could and to my surprise found that I kept going up. After a while the lift dried up a bit so I tried a 360 and was back in the lift. I pushed forward again until the lift dropped off, turned and found the lift again, so by the time I drifted over the ridge I was 1200’ ATO and in reasonably strong, consistent lift. A few turns later and the ground disappeared and I realised that at 2000’ ATO I was just above cloud base! I used my compass to aim south and put big ears in and flew out of the front of the cloud, the ground appeared again and I turned back under the cloud . As soon as the ground started to fade away I turned and flew out from the cloud, lost a couple of hundred feet and flew back under it.

I carried on flying the edge of the cloud for a while, until I saw another paraglider not too far away and below me. I decided to lose more height this time so that there would be no danger of disappearing in to the mist with someone nearby and I was getting a bit worried that the drift of the cloud would take me towards airspace. I followed this other paraglider for a while but he didn’t seem to be finding any lift so I headed over to a village that was in the sun in the valley. Apart from a couple of farms it was the only sign of civilisation as far as I could see, there were just big hills and remote valleys everywhere. I saw a couple of people head off over the next ridge but I couldn’t see what was on the other side and I wasn’t in lift anymore I decided to try and soar the hill at the end of the village and wait for another cloud to come along! I still had stacks of height but I think “civilisation-suck” had started to set in! There was a nice field In the village where I could see a few people packing up their paragliders and I thought a retrieve would be easy to arrange.

The hill at the end of the village didn’t seem to be working – the valley winds were making things a bit odd – so I decided to head back towards a big grey cloud that wasn’t far away. I was sinking all the way towards the cloud and before I got there I realised that if I went much further I might not be able to get back to civilisation so I turned around, glided to the field and landed for about 10km.

It turned out that there were six of us in the field, no-one had a mobile phone signal or radio reception! A kind old man walked with us to his house and let me use his phone to try and arrange a retrieve. I had a list of about eight telephone numbers, seven of which didn’t have a signal and the other one was engaged for ages! The old man’s wife made us a cup of tea and I eventually got through to Sean Staines who said he’d pass on my GPS co-ordinates to Richard the retrieve driver. We decided that the pub would be a better place to wait, so we had a beer and eventually saw the mini-bus drive past. Luckily Richard spotted us and took us all back to the hill!


Fri 29 Aug 2008

Report by Alastair Florence

 

 
Not able to fly over the weekend but I thought today looked like a chance. It looked like the coast would be virtually windless so took a punt on a Southerly at Mere Rifle Range. Some punts win some lose, wind was on but never really got soarable for more than a couple of sinking beats at a time. Photo's say it all. Cows woke me up on their way to the trough.



Thurs 28 Aug 2008

Report by David Franklin

 

   
Everybody seemed to enjoy Bell today, although it stayed cloudy till evening. I had over four hours of soaring which was kept interesting by the numerous small thermals and smooth air in between. 800ft ato was as high as I could get,all in all a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

Report by Shamus Pitts

 

 
Arrived at Bell about 3:30pm to find quite a few people flying under an overcast sky. The air was buoyant, with the occasional weak thermal coming through to keep things interesting. After a couple of hours the sun came out and the clouds cleared and I managed to climb to 550’ ATO and push well out in front of the hill. 3 flights, 2 ½ hours in the air, excellent!


Mon 25 Aug 2008

Report by Simon \jones

 

 
Following a week of rain and wind I decided to run for the hills, so got on a plane to Venice and had four fantastic days flying in Bassano! Luigi was extremely helpful with his absolute no-nonsense attitude towards. . . well, everything really; and offered constructive and valuable advice throughout the trip.

Although I ended up going on my own, I had been in Italy little more than 24 hours before I got a text from Keith Burridge advising me of his imminent arrival! Keith stayed for two days and managed to get seven flights in, compared to my meagre 10 flights in four days.

Apart from Keith and I there were no other English pilots in Bassano, which made my first flight quite interesting. I managed to get some sort of site briefing in slightly broken English from some local pilots at the South-facing take off (although their English was many times better than my Italian) and coupled this to the advice offered by Luigi over a beer the previous evening. My forward launch turned into a reverse launch about halfway through, but I did manage to get airborne in the end. The length of flights ranged from 25 mins to about 1 1/2 hours. The thermals were quite strong, and Luigi advised that I shouldn't fly in the middle of the day, at least for the first day or so.

Things I learned: How to use roads when flying - they can generate lots of lift if it's 30 degrees C all day! How to reverse launch in nil-wind (with help from a very steep take off).

How to thermal! Just! If there is lots of lift, there is a huge hole of sink somewhere.

The altimeter on my vario doesn't work very well, if at all.

Whether or not you get clobbered for the sports baggage surcharge depends entirely on how nice you are to the check-in lady.

Overall, a great experience, and I will be going again! I would like to thank everyone who offered me help and advice before the trip - here are some photos, as promised. Keith took off very elegantly shortly after one of the photos was taken, only to realise that he'd left something on the hill - can anyone work out what it was?

 


Sun 24 Aug 2008

Report by Shamus Pitts

After a bit of a blustery day, the wind finally dropped down enough to warrant a walk up Cowdown. The wind was blowing 9 – 13mph at the top and was slightly off to the north west, but on taking off I found it pleasantly smooth and quite lifty. I didn’t get more than a couple of hundred feet ATO, and was down to about 45’ below takeoff at one point but it was all good fun! The highlight was seeing a deer that must have thought it was completely hidden curled up between two clumps of gorse, before it eventually got up and wandered off down the hill! I landed after 50 minutes because the sky had gone a bit grey and the air was starting to get a bit less smooth at times, but it was good to get my feet off the ground for the first time this month!


Sat 23 Aug 2008

Report by Grant Oseland

 

 
Nice day had by most at Ringstead the wind was strong most of the day but gave much lift out at the cliffs, ideal for tandem flights and just wafting about in the breeze. Also nice to see a wedding in the small church just behind the cliff edge their wedding photos must be full of paragliders.


Report by Craig Byrne

 

 

The early birds (Gary Puhl, Roger, Brian) had a good quick fly. Then when we arrived late the wind had picked up, but it was still just flyable for 30 Min's on the tandem. The passenger is Jeff Effrinton and the rest of his family are now waiting for a less windy day to fly soon. We had a good fly up to the cafe and back to golf course, then did some wing overs, and nearly loops, then some pitch pendulum before bottom landing. Thanks to Gary Puhl for the help launching.


Fri 22 Aug 2008

Report by Alastair Florence

I had a full days leave booked up today but due to my dedication to my employers decided to complete some admin work early today, Bell seemed a good place to do this hence early Sitephone message.

Wind was lightish and base about 50ft over the hill with very wet grass so carried on with admin until Derek S arrived and had a go. I soon followed and we both had a nice boat about finding base had risen to 350ft ato.

A good crowd arrived and enjoyed pleasant enough conditions although base still hadn't risen much over 1800ft ato.

There was then some confusion over a NOTAM which grounded us until with some research we decided it didn't mean you couldn't fly, just if you got hit by a Tornado not to go whingeing. Only one fly past would have maybe swiped a few of us out the sky but as the wind was now about 30mph this wasn't really an issue.


Thu 21 Aug 2008

Report by Alastair Florence

 

  

Spent 40 mins at or above cloudbase this evening on Kimmeridge. In fact it was difficult not to fly at cloudbase as base varied between 200ft ato - below t/o. visibility ranging from not that good to not at all.

Still had good fun for a bit dodging the claggyest bits and making 300ft ato top height by choice not necessity. Gave up when the whole ridge clagged in as I couldn't really see what was going on anywhere.

Nigel B and Chris B arriving a little to late for any action.



Report by MikeAdkins

Russell called me to say Ringstead was on, but by the time I got there it was a bit light, though several pilots were playing around and sitting around. Those who had been flying the cliffs returned. Poor old John A chose the wrong time to set off on his Firebird Z One (I think) and was rewarded with the long sweaty walk. However, it picked up again and Roger E, Gary P, Ian ?, Gazem, and others, myself included, took advantage. Congratulations to new pilot J P Bonello (whose Forum page you have doubtless all been following) who flew his Skywalk very competently, and, sensibly, did not attempt the cliff-run - though I don't think it will be long before he does!

Report by Gary Pocock

 

   
Great afternoon at Ringstead. Made to the cliffs twice quite easily, first time I left with 65 feet ATO for an hour and a half. Second flight I left with 160feet ATO for 3/4 of an hour. Plenty thermals around T/O and managed 450feet ATO at the cliffs. Sorry it's short but I've got to repair the washing machine!


Fri 15 Aug 2008

Report by Simon_jones

A day of parawaiting at Ringstead. Arrived at noonish to find the wind slightly off to the west and slightly on the strong side. Two of us launched and one got to the cliffs, to be joined by Russell W, Gary M and some others. The pilot on the yellow Z-One persevered, finally being rewarded with a good stint at White Nothe - third time lucky! The wind then strengthened, forcing most to land. Russell, Keith B, Jim, Nicky, John, Ian, Neil, Gary, Gail, Darren and Stewart M then whiled away the hours chatting about flying, the weather and nothing in particular.

Stewart's tandem ballast turned up at about 5ish and had a lovely long flight at the cliffs with John and Jim for company.

Report by Jon Harvey

Eype from late morning, but blown out by 2. 30pm.

Good time, couple of hours, several making to Charmouth, and the return. Wind from a good direction, around 12 to 15 mph, and first attempts at crossing Seatown gap, all failing miserable, but around half hour later crossings were made relatively easily, as wind direction moved more to the south. Portland Coastguard helo, watching from a safe vantage piont.

A pretty reasonable time, and several pilots, at scene who usually use the Charmouth take off, but which is closed for the summer.


Thu 14 Aug 2008

Report by Nigel Bourn

Thursday, arrived at St Aldhelm’s just as Ali and Paul returned from their adventures, lovely evening flight admiring the light on the sea and the two wings I could just make out in the bright light over at Kimmeridge. Very smooth lift over the cliffs up to a maximum of 400 ft ato but landed when the thought of packing away in the dark encouraged me down.



Report by Paul Hawkins

First time over to Hans Tout from St A's today the crossing from St A's to the 'Tout' came easy, as Ali says more right place right time (and a touch of bottle) than skill. However I found the return from Eldons Seat far more of a challenge and found myself scratching very low on Hans Tout. Finding rotor low down aint much fun but dealing with it and scratching hard to claw my way back up to the top was a valuable learning experince! The flight left me with lots to think about and big smile! P. S as usual Ali was 50ft above me on most of the technical bits!



Report by Alastair Florence

 

 
Nice to have the company of Paul H on a little adventure from St.

Aldhelms this evening, over Chapmans Pool and up the coast together to Eldon Seat below Swyre Head and back.

Report by Keith Burridge

 

   
Just checked the sitephone on the off chance the weather men might be wrong. Sure enough they were Thanks Simon. Arrived to find conditions strong, blustery and borderline. As more people turned up the borderline conditions swayed to the good side and as is the case (SOMETIMES) with ringstead, above take off conditions are not so bad as on the ground. All Derek S, Harry D Dr C, Simon J, and Q (who had flown earlier) waited a while. Harry and I assisted Stuart M and his passenger take off on S’s tandem, then it was a case of “one up all up” time.

One beat then flew straight to the lower cliff bowl and then almost directly to the main cliffs. We were soon after joined by John A on Hanglider, Gary M and Russell “The Office” W. My GPS and Vario recorded just over 1000ft ATO out by the Nothe. One Hour 20mins of excellent lifty cliff soaring. On returning to T/O couldn’t land due to abundant lift so the rear landing field was the only option taken by many.

Apologies for those unmentioned.

Thanks for the Sitephone message

Report by John Alder

Ringstead Bay. Ignoring gloomy weather predictions of heavy showers, arrived pm to find a clutch of PGs present, some airborne, some about to take off. The weather was actually superb: wind SW 8 – 16 mph. So I rigged the HG and (refusing to be put off by a Folland Gnat vintage fastjet sharing “our” airspace) took to the air myself. A lovely hour’s soaring peaking 400m ASL and stretching from Bat Head to Ringstead village – idyllic - and culminating in a nice top landing too


Thu 14 Aug 2008

Report by Peter Robinson

 

 
I flew in this thing a few days ago. Very impressive, and just the job for towing a paraglider or even a string of paragliders.


Thurs 7 Aug 2008

Report by Adrian Coombe

 

  
Ringstead:Though I have flown here many times, today’s afternoon flight really was about the best! The trip over needed some decent height due to a tad of south in the breeze but once at the cliffs the lift and views in the sunshine were just fantastic.

The picture is of Grant enjoying the orographic…yummy!

Report by Paul Hawkins

Kimmeridge was fun this evening if not a tad on the strong side. Ali and myself had the whole place to ourselves for an hour or so untill conditions changed and my stomach told me it was time for some tea!

Report by Alastair Florence

 

 
Looked like a possible after work session at Kimmeridge. Paul H was sitting out strong conditions by reading. Conditions gradually eased off to allow an hour of fairly gusty but nice enough soaring. After a while the conditions began to change again with orographic patches forming at low level and a c-unimb working its way up the channel a few miles off shore.

We went home but I reckon it probably settled down to a nice evening again.

Nice to hear we are flailing Bell again this year, looks like Smedmore hill could use it also, the cows seem to be eating around the ragwort here though at present.

Report by Grant Oseland

 

 
Nice two days in a row at Ringstead, The wind was just a little light at times but there where just enough thermals coming through to get to the cliffs with out two many problems and on the cliffs the wind had more south in it so trips where made to Lulworth cove and back by the adventurous. The wind then died off at about 16:30 so i packed up and left for home and a cup off tea only for my sacrifice to be accepted by the wind Gods as when I was driving off 4 pilots had nice height gains on the cliffs. Here's hoping nice fresh NW tomorrow for Bell.


Wed 06 Aug 2008

Report by Marc Hortin

Bowleaze / White Horse: Arrived at Bowleaze at 12. 45-ish to find RW soaring just above the top, Keith B and Tyce’s canopies being laid out, waiting for a turn. After this no one managed to stay up and RW and Keith B went for a well earned beer, Tyce heading off to White Horse as the wind seemed a little more southerly.

By 2:30 I saw Tyce launch and begin soaring on the White Horse so headed up to join him. By the time I got there RW had already joined him in the gentle thermic condition so I joined them for a quick ½ hour soar. We managed to make height gains of about 300' at times. As we landed by the cars Keith B and Dr Charles turned up, conditions looking likely to improve. Well worth it to get some flying in, in what has been a miserable couple of weeks.

PS Not sure about how to spell Tyce


Tue 05 Aug 2008

Report by Stuart Martin

 

 

Should you be wondering where all the sunshine and good flying weather is: it is currently over in Bassano. Stuart Martin and Gary Puhl had an uninterrupted week of i


Mon 04 Aug 2008

Report by John Alder

Ringstead Bay. I spotted a much needed opportunity for a flight this afternoon – not having flown since getting back from a trip to Laragne last month. Different conditions! Grey sky, strong westerly breeze, white caps on the sea = HG! I had an hour of pleasant soaring topping out about 250m ATO and ranging over a good area. The downside was that progress in a westerly direction was painfully slow unless one was prepared to trade height for speed over the ground (the Climax doesn’t lose too much height, I must say). Although not as rewarding as Ringstead flights can be, it was nevertheless good to get airborne again before the next bout of wet weather arrives tonight.


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