Eye in the Sky - Oct 2008

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Wed 29 Oct 2008

Report by Gary Mullins

I arrived at a cold and windless Ringstead at about 1pm to see Simon Jones' car but no Simon. Soon a sweaty and puffing Simon came running towards me from the east.

"There was no wind when I got here so I went for a jog to Durdle Door and back" he wheezed.

"I sat in the car and read the newspaper" I replied.

Anyway. We got lucky. The afternoon forecast was right. A south-westerly slowly increased. This with the delightful sea thermals allowed us to take turns and join the flocks of sea gulls marking the lift and, at times, climb to well over 400 ft above take off.

Two hours quickly passed and with showers starting in Portland Harbour we packed up and eventually warmed up. Twas a tad chilly !

Report by Brian Metcalfe

Arrived at Barton late afternoon to find no one else there and a very light wind but seagulls circling high in sea thermals. After a short, brisk walk to get the circulation going and hoping the wind would increase (it didn't), I took off at about 4. 30 into good lift but with areas of big sink too. Max height gain was about 250 ft and you certainly knew when you approached a thermal, with a quiet pause and then a pronounced "whoosh" as you went in enabling you to fly out over the sea for about 30-40 Metres still going up. 250 ft is pretty good for this site especially given the light wind which couldn't have been more than 7-8mph at take off.

I ventured East toward Milford but the areas of sink made it a bit of a lottery so after scratching below the cliff top just before Taddiford Gap I skedaddled back to Barton and cruised about, mostly high, sometimes low, to complete a nice 40 minute fly. Packed up in the dark just as the wind increased with the bank of cloud that had been approaching from the SW.

Tues 28 Oct 2008

Report by Mike Adkins

A very early (0923) message on screen alerted me to Bell being flyable, although when I arrived at 1000 no-one was flying! But the wind did pick up and a gaggle of us launched at about 1045 to find it very cold up aloft. Harry D, Quentin R, Derek S (of course!) Simon J, and later Pete C, Phil V and Keith B all were on the slope or in the air. (There may have been others - apologies if you've been overlooked. ) Dave J was helped by Marcus W and others to achieve a more comfortable position in his harness and enjoyed a nice flight on his Bolero. But the two stars of the morning were undoubtedly Harry D and Pete C who got high and away - Harry covering some eight miles! Derek did the retrieve. Eventually, sometime after noon, the wind died and rain stopped play.

Sat 25 Oct 2008

Report by Neville Almond

A steady 18Mph SSW gave good soaring between Lulworth and Weymouth Beach, a good 5 mile run. Wind picked up to nearly 30 by lunchtime making moving around a bit slow. Please can pilots keep a look out for one of the modellers lost RC aircraft, probably in the field to the east of the top landing field behind the fence.

Fri 24 Oct 2008

Report by David Franklin


The sun seemed to take an age to break through today and until it did it was pretty miserable and very damp. You could tell it was bad when Derek said he 'didn't like it an was off home for some lunch'. Things improved when the sun did finally come out and I eventually scraped up to 1250ftATO. T After another 40ish minutes of up and down Mark R was making a strong climb out over Lowbrook Farm so I scuttled out and hung on to the tail end of it. This time I coudn't resist carrying on up and back. There followed a very pleasant few Ks bimble. The highlight was thermalling just above and around the TV relay station at Winterborne Stickland. David Franklin.

Fri 24 Oct 2008

Report by Mike Adkins

Another really ding-dong Bell day! If God would send us a few more like today I'd forgive him for the terrible summer he foisted on us! There were far too many pilots there to start naming names, and for most of the time the wings in the sky were like confetti. The morning began with cold grey conditions, very wet underfoot - flyable, but not tremendously enjoyable - but as the day wore on the sun came out and the wind didn't seem so mean: then the thermals kicked in and pilots began to get real height. There were wings over several square miles of N Dorset. Although the ground-level air temperature was 13C, up aloft it was very cool - Neil went home to get his winter gloves! Doubtless we shall hear who got away and how far they went, but me, I was just happy to get some serious flying in after all this time!

Wed 22 Oct 2008

Report by Jp Bonello

Sidford - East Hill (Not a Wessex site but was with a friend this time round) As it was forecast to be another westerly today, I arranged to hook up with a friend I learnt to fly with at Flying Frenzy. Coming from Bournemouth, Sidford isn't the closest place in the world (past Seaton!) so I decided to set off early in anticipation of some decent weather. Upon arrival at around 9:30 (yes I know I was eager to get some flytime!) the heavens opened and I spent the next hour or so sat in my car cursing myself for driving 2 hours to watch it rain.

The rain died off and there was a gentle breeze up on the hill. Naturally got the low down on the site and had a quick top to bottom as the wind wasn't strong enough. By the time I got back to the top of the hill, it had picked up some and got myself back in the air, not amazing lift being generated off ridge but enough to keep you about 100-200 ft ato. Lovely thermals meant for some fun lifty patches. After about 1hr 10 in the air I bottomed out when I found myself stuck in sink. Upon landing I looked up to my disgust to see the chap I was following under some wonderful cloud. Drifted about a k or two away from the hill and reached about 1500ft ato (git).

At the top we then had to parawait for about 2 hrs as the wind had blown out around 20mph. To our surprise dropping down by about 3:30 so another hour flight was managed. Nothing thermic by this time but just enough to float the ridge lazily with the sun on your face. Worth the 7am alarm for a non worker? I think so! NOTE: MUST TAKE CAMERA! Reports aren't quite the same without a picture of your feet whilst flying.

Sat 18 Oct 2008

Report by Alastair Florence


St Aldhelms head, Well I often wondered what might happen if you ever had to land on the far side of Chapmans Pool on the lee side of Houns Tout on the beach. Today I had the opportunity to find out.

I arrived at St. A's to find Dave W flying and Nigel B just landed. The wind was ok strength wise and pretty much due West. I was soon up happily cruising at around 200-400ft ato. Conditions soon picked up and we were getting higher with spells at up to 600ft odd.

With the amount of West I sort of felt a trip to Houns Tout would be difficult and not that lifty when you got there. Neverthless Dave and me made several attempts. At around 600ft ato it seemed like a fair bet that the crossing was doable so Dave and me went for it. 3/4's over Dave baled out and flew back. I felt confident I could make it so kept going. This is when I began to find more sink. Soon I was almost within reach of the Touts lift but was in big sink and beginning to catch some rotor.

I was now approaching the shale cliffs at the far end of Chapmans Pool and loosing height rapidly with little if any headway. Well past the point of no return.

It was becoming apparant I would not connect with lift now so began looking for a bale out. Last time I crashed here I was a bit higher and just landed amongst some chest high boulders but now I was sinking below the cliff rim (see picture).

My plan was that if I could squeak round the end of the little cove I could at least make a dignified landing even if I didn't find any lift for a low save. The sink increased further and plan A was shelved.

I guessed it was inevitable I would hit some big rotor at any second.

Sure enough the sound of flapping fabric and a dramatic increase in my desent rate signalled the wing collapsing. I landed on the shale cliff maybe 30ft up which as you can see (again see picture) is fairly steep and nice and slippery. What little of the wing that was still inflated acted as a parachute as I slid down the cliff onto the soft gravel beach below. My main thought was to keep the wing out the sea as the beach was only about 3m wide here (would have been handy if it was low tide). More by luck than judgement I kept the wing out the sea and after picking myself up wrapped up and walked out.

The most painfull bit of the adventure was walking back up the hill again.

Luckily the wind had increased so I could re-launch half way up the hill after sorting my lines out, saving some energy.

Had another hour of classic St. A's conditions with the wind steadily increasing. Sean S joined for a fly plus Jacko.

Moral of the day being 'if it looks too Westerly to make the Tout it probably is !' Peachometer 8. 5

Report by Shamus Pitts


By about 9:30 this morning there was a light westerly breeze blowing through my garden so I decided to take a stroll up Cowdown. When I got to the top the wind was blowing 8-11mph and on the hill, so I quickly unpacked and took off. The air was smooth and buoyant, with bits of thermals coming through.

After about half an hour I saw Adrian C, Mark R and Mark’s friend (who’s name I’ve forgotten, sorry) walking up the hill. I found a thermal that seemed to be a bit more solid than the ones that had come through so far so I stuck with it and drifted over the back. I wasn’t very high and the climb quickly petered out, so as I was only about 600’ ATO I decided to land sooner rather than later and only have a short walk back to the hill. I could’ve probably glided to Cerne Abbas but decided not to and walked the massive 1. 5km back to takeoff! When I got back, the wind had picked to about 14-18mph, so I took off again. There was still a fair bit of lift but the air had become pretty rough in places. There was a band of lift out in front of the hill which might have been a bit of wave off the ridge in front, and there were still thermals coming through, but the wind had picked up and the air was so rough and horrible most of the time that I couldn’t do much with the lift that I found except hold on tight! I saw Derek S and Harry D arrive but they didn’t takeoff so I assumed that the wind was too strong and landed. After a while there was a lull and we all had a fly but the air was still rough and the wind was still strong so everyone landed and packed up. Not a bad morning, an hour and three quarters in the air and no petrol used!

Fri 17 Oct 2008

Report by Craig Byrne



Round Portsmouth Paramotor Flight.

I took off on the Paramotor from Wickham and then headed out towards Titchfield and over the Solent, the westerly drift was good so set off to try and fly round Portsmouth and back to Wickham.

The views were brill and the clouds quite big above giving me a gentle climb to base at 3000asl, it was amazing flying down towards the Spinnaker Tower in the distance.

As I reached Stokes bay drift was excellent at 56kh so set off over the Harbour mouth a 3k glide. Taking most of the photos here and then set off towards Hayling then turned back inland, I had to spiral off 800ft to keep out of cloud then headed along over Portsea Island then towards Purbrook then back towards Wickham.

There were some peachy thermals at times and I flew lots with no or little help from the motor, some areas over wood and fields produced great long patch's of lift. Then after 1. 5hrs and 47k landed back at the van one very happy bunny

Thu 16 Oct 2008

Report by John Alder

Bell Hill. I was first to arrive for once! Wind was +/- on the hill but there looked to be some squalls heading our way. Decided on the PG as the wind was dropping down below 10mph at times. “Alec” (visitor/potential member – from Southampton) took off first and was doing well so Mike Adkins & I prepared to launch. Mine was a good launch for once and I quickly gained height and had a nice flight; dodging some developing Cb’s – eventually my luck ran out and I was hit by a violent thermal edge which caused a big tuck followed by a dive to the right by my canopy so that it was below and to my right. “This is when your faith in your wing is going to be tested!” I said to myself as I desisted from making any precipitate inputs. Sure enough my trusty Firebird @ quickly recovered. By this time the wind had definitely picked up and I thought it was wise to land so with full speed bar and big-ears on I headed for the top landing field – at first going backwards, then inching forwards at touchdown when I mistakenly released the “ears” and got dragged a bit. In spite of the heart-stopping moment and the fraught landing, I enjoyed the flight and, although the wind (now 22mph) was forecast to drop later, decided to quit whilst I was ahead. Thanks to Mike and Harry for helpful feedback.

Sun 12 Oct 2008

Report by Shamus Pitts


I couldn’t decide whether to go to Swanage or Mere today, so as there was a breeze at home, I decided to nip to Folly Hill and wait for conditions to improve, and arrived about midday.

I must just say, before I go any further, Folly Hill is not a Wessex site – it’s a Flying Frenzy training site and must not be flown without the permission of Andrew Pearse, CFI at Flying Frenzy.

A friend of mine who lives near Mere said that there wasn’t much wind there, and the sitephone messages indicated that Swanage wasn’t working yet, but the wind was blowing about 14mph up Folly, so I decided to have a fly! It was horrible – not much lift and pretty rough, so after 5 minutes I landed. Tony Turner arrived soon after I landed to test fly a Sport 4, so once he’d flown I decided to have another go. The wind was blowing about 18mph on take off now and I didn’t have a problem finding lift. It was still horribly rough though, with thermals, rotor, etc coming galloping over the trees and hills out in front. I managed to get to 400’ ATO but it was too strong to do much with the thermals as they came through, and after about half an hour I decided to land. As I was landing Adrian C turned up and took off, but he didn’t fly for long either before landing and walking back up to have another go! Adrian said that conditions had improved so I decided to have another go. The wind was now only about 16mph and although rough at times, the air was a lot smoother generally. I flew for an hour and a half, not getting much more than 200’ ATO but had and enjoyable afternoon. It was nice to only use a spoonful of petrol and get home 5 minutes after leaving the hill too!

Report by James Coutts

Hi here is a short video of flying bournemouth on saturday.

http://uk. youtube. com/watch?v=rLeAFCf3bzc

Report by David Franklin

Everyone seemed to have a nice float about on the horse today. Unfortunately as the thermals got a little better the cloud base dropped very low making the flyable area a bit tight at times. Sad end to the day when Derek drove off without his gear,hopefully they will soon be reunited. David Franklin.

http://uk. youtube. com/watch?v=gBUsjuGDKfM

Report by Martin Butcher

Sat 11 Oct White Horse Report by Martin Butcher Arrived about 11 at Ringsted to find a couple of people standing around but not flying so I rigged and had a quick fly but couldn't get above the ridge for more than a few mins at a time. I then spotted people soaring over on Whitehorse, so I moved over taking several visitors with me.

The Horse was working well with thermals coming through and at one stage I got nearly 900 feet above take off but then clouds started forming on the coast and drifting in. It got more buoyant but the broken cloud base was down to about 300 feet at times and as there were well over 20 people on the site things were getting a bit hectic to say the least! Still, had well over 2 hours soaring which was a nice birthday present.

Report by Alastair Florence


As Paul says, Kimmeridge first but too much South to be best choice, next stop Knitson was working with classic conditions for this site.

Both Paul and myself pushing out as far as Valley Road at up to 800ft ato and pretty much at base. I got bored after a bit and with several good thermals headed down to Corfe.

It was aparant that the trip back would be difficukt so tried flying over the Castle to try and get beyond, despite some good lift off the Castle itself I arrived on the next ridge too low to conect with any lift , but I did try hard. Landed walked to the hill top, had lunch chatted to one Marcus W's collegues then launched again but couldn't gain enough hieght to hack off in either direction, gave up and went to pub where Paul kindly picked me up for a lift back.

Word up was that Ballard was working so went there next. Someone (Colin maybe) was just landing so I thought maybe I missed it, then I spotted Keith B and gain good height so quickened my pace. beatifully smooth and bouyant allowing progress back to the obelisk and the tip of the white cliff.

All in all the best day since the last good day, Peachometer 8 Mystery 5th member of the Knitson crew was William P

Report by Paul Hawkins

A Really good fun day was had on the Purbecks today starting with Kimmeridge. Myself, Ali, Dave T, and Quentin had a good fly first thing in light thermic lifty air on the ridge untill choosing to land and check out Knitson because of the southerly wind direction. Had my best flight for this site today using the sharp broken thermals to stay up, loads of fun! Ali made it over Corfe Castle on his new wing! I had two collapses fairly low down on the ridge going towards Corfe (can get very rough there!) both dealt with instinctively which was a confidence boost! Just a shame Roger was not there as I'm sure he would have enjoyed watching me have a collapse for real this time! We were joined by one other, not sure of your name but it looked like you had a excellent time, I know I did!

Report by Shamus Pitts


I met Nigel B at Friar Waddon and we discovered that the wind was on the hill and blowing about 12mph – excellent! I quickly took off and found that although the wind was fairly light, the air was quite buoyant and thermic. It was another one of those days where it was scratchy enough to keep you on your toes, but thermic enough to be fun and rewarding.

I didn’t get much higher than 300’ ATO but managed to make it down to the eastern end of the ridge and halfway back. There are some power lines and phone lines to cross on the way down the ridge which wasn’t too much of problem flying down, but coming back I couldn’t work up enough height to cross the power lines so had to land then find a suitable place further along the ridge to take off and continue my journey back to takeoff.

As the day progressed, the wind dropped a bit and the thermals became less reliable, but I managed to build up a couple of hundred feet and cross over the big pylons to the west of takeoff and jump the gap to the hill nearby. I soared this for a short time, built a little height and jumped the next gap, but the ridge wasn’t working so well here and it wasn’t long before I landed, packed up and walked back.

When I got back the wind seemed to have dropped a bit and Keith B was packing up and we all decided to call it a day. I managed about an hour and a half in the air and flew with buzzards again which was great! At one point there was a group of 7 buzzards standing together on the hillside and they all took off as I approached them. I’ve never seen that before, they’re normally fairly solitary birds – they must have been a family group! An excellent day – let’s hope tomorrow is as good!

Fri 10 Oct 2008

Report by John Alder

Friday 10th October, Ringstead Bay- even better than yesterday (not for PG’s, the wind was a bit strong). Almost reached cloudbase (350 m ASL)! Thanks to Chris Hares for sitephone message, company on the ground and in the air. Another really lovely soaring flight.

Report by Roger Edwards


Here's some photos from yesterday Ringstead. Thought I'd have a bit of fun with them.

Thu 09 Oct 2008

Report by John Alder

Ringstead Bay. Having learnt from the sitephone messages (- thanks – was it Roger?) that there was a breeze I arrived at lunchtime to find lots of PG pilots on the ground and a few in the air. Chris Hares was ready to fly his newly acquired Avian Amour and Wayne Bevan was flying his Atos VR successfully so I decided to show solidarity with the HG minority and fly my C2…. glad I did so ‘cos although it was perilously light, I managed to soar the cliffs for 1½ hours in very smooth air, topping out 160m ATO and having plenty of height for a top landing. I believe everyone present had a good time – I certainly did

Report by Jp Bonello

First EITS report, urged on by Roger (I'll take my camera next time!) What a week!Bell Hill as previously reported yesterday was a decent days flying for all and with the forecasts looking good for the next few days Roger suggested a look at Ringstead was probably in order.

I'd flown Ringstead the first day post CP and managed a good 20-30 minutes soaring the hill but never thought I'd clock up the hours needed to be able to attempt the mighty cliffs (something which I'm sure you can all relate to when you first thought about flying out to them post CP!) We set out early as to not miss any action on the hill. The first couple of hours on the hill proved interesting. Very scratchy for most I believe and a decent challenge staying up on the ridge for me. Frustrated after a hike or two from bottom decided to sit it out until everyone else urged me to shift my a** again.

By the time I got myself all kitted up, most people were already flying the cliffs (looked a little cosy from this end!) I spent some 40 minutes bobbing around with Derek on the ridge trying to work at some sort of height. Practice practice practice is all that comes to mind, I got what I thought was decent enough height but always seemed to lose it before attempting the cliff run.

Eventually I saw Roger floating back from the cliffs after a very envious launch (elevator up springs to mind!) and some good hour+ of flying. Upon passing I heard those wonderful coach words of wisdom "get the bloody hell over there!" Laughing to myself I continued working the height until eventually this was it!! I made a break for it! I'd been given the lowdown on what to do so it was time to put it into practice.

It was a closish run to the cliffs. I've neved looked at power lines before and been so scared! I knew I had just enough height to make it and dedicated myself fully to reaching the cliffs. Once on the cliffs it was truely something else. You spend weeks on the side of a hill wishing waiting for winds to be perfect during training but when you finally experience something like this, it was worth all the effort! 1hr30 flight. Not bad for a newby! Special thanks to everyone for their advice and jokes today and Rog for his words of wisdom! (I'd still be doing laps on the ridge otherwise!)

Wed 08 Oct 2008

Report by Peter Robinson

Eight years ago, to the day, I met up with Martin Foley in the air whilst we flew to Swanage. It was his first decent XC and it was my birthday so we both had reasons to be cheerful. I hardly knew Martin then but since that day we've been flying buddies.

My next seven birthdays passed without an XC opportunity, hardly surprising considering the lateness of the season. This year though, the day had potential. I would have gone to Telegraph Hill with Martin but I had collected a sailplane a couple of days earlier and I was keen to fly it for the first time. Mid-afternoon I got an aerotow from the club at Bovington and was circling close to cloudbase over Crossways when what should I see heading my way but that familiar paraglider. So here we were, eight years on, again sharing a thermal, but in a different configuration. Unfortunately neither of us had a camera and I didn't think to use my phone.

I went ahead to try to pathfind for Martin but we lost each other.

Martin headed for Lulworth where he landed in a field behind the house of a fellow fisherman. He said it had been slow but easy, his most enjoyable flight this year. I landed back at the airfield after an hour, well pleased with my new machine. Happy day!

Report by Roger Edwards


Just for once the weather gods deigned to give us a whole day's flying at Bell Hill. It started well, giving the early birds an hour in the air before slowing down to thermic cycles for a couple hours, which still worked if a little scratchy at times - the old up they all go . . . wait for it . . . down they all come. The clouds looked promising but seemed to be parting around Bell, leaving us with blue overhead much of the time (anyone got a theory about this?), but if anyone was going to get away the money was on Dave F, and guess what, he did, a short hop (for Dave) to Winterbourne Whitchurch.

A busy day with plenty of red ribbons and low airtimers out, likely encouraged by Gaz's email; so that worked then. The thermals weren't nasty so they all had a good crack at air time, and despite being busy everyone coped well. I was fortunate to have a low save below the patch of trees just past the magic tree, just when I was eyeing up which field had the least horses in it. Not only was this very satisfying, I then had the bowl pretty much to myself as the end of the cycle had brought most people down. On a day like today being able to grab every patch of lift without having to worry about anyone else was a delightful luxury. About 3:30 it picked up and became pleasantly buoyant with lots of little thermals to play in and stayed that way until about 5pm.

The final entertainment was watching a couple of hot air balloons take off out in front and pass over the hill. All in all a great day.

Mon 06 Oct 2008

Report by Roger Edwards

Start of the day and not a whisper of wind to be felt in Bournemouth and not much showing on XC Weather, then it all seemed to go NE according to the web sites, which bore no resemblance to any forecast I'd seen. But looking out of the window at 11:30 the clouds were definitely moving in from the SW, despite even pooleharbourweather. com saying the wind was 9mph ENE.

Trusting my eyes I went and had a look at Southbourne and found it 30deg off SW and about 12mph on launch. There were some dark clouds out in front so I made a mental note to keep an eye on them and set off for a very nice hour of boating about, maintaining a steady 100ftish over the cliffs with no effort - so little effort, in fact, that for 20 minutes or so I didn't touch the brakes and practised some precision weight shifting, aiming to fly over selected targets below me. The brakeless turns entertained the public with me trying to tighten them up by hanging wildly out of one side of the harness.

Vojtech (I think it was he) joined me for half an hour, entertaining me by dolphining his way along the cliff as he played in the distinctly buoyant conditions. Our fun was stopped by those dark clouds bringing a band of fine drizzly rain in from the Purbecks, leading to big-ears landings in the increased wind. After half an hour the rain had passed but the wind was now quite weak, so after a quick call to a man on the hill I decided to head off for Barton.

Unfortunately it remained just too strong to get a flight in, Brian ably demonstrating this by taking an age to get back from Milford, and Shamus by going backwards and nearly landing on the road.

As to what happened to the realtime weather reports to make them so inaccurate, don't ask me, not a clue have I got.

Report by Shamus Pitts


I had the day off work today, so after deliberating about where to go – Beer? Probably blown out, Ringstead? Possibly blown out, Bournemouth? Wind direction seems better for Barton… I decided to head to Barton-on-Sea, arriving about 1:30. There was one wing in the air (Brian M) and John B was about to take off. The wind was slightly off to the SE and blowing about 17mph.

I had a bit of trouble taking off, but some friendly advice and a gentle shove saw me airborne and I decided to head for Milford on Sea as I hadn’t been that far before, and as there was a bit of east in the wind I figured I would have no problem getting back. It started raining soon after I took off, but it didn’t last too long, and by the time I got back from visiting the beech huts at Milford the rain had stopped. I decided to head up the other way after that and found it fairly easy going, although at one point opposite the caravan site the wind and lift seemed to increase quite dramatically – I don’t know why – it was useful lift but I was worried about being blown back so didn’t linger in it.

I had reasonable height when I got to the Chewton Bunny so had a stab at crossing it. Halfway across the gap I thought I wouldn’t make it so decided to turn back and try and build up my height again. When I got back I was so low that all I could do was soar the low cliffs just behind the beach which either weren’t working very well or I was too impatient so in the end I landed, only to see Brian cruise straight over the gap and on to the other side! I bunched my wing up and followed the path up the cliff to try and take off on the far side of the gap and follow Brian, but while I was trying to find a suitable launch in clean air I got talking to an elderly couple who wanted to see me take off. I couldn’t find a large enough patch of clean air so decided to try in the car park. The wind felt quite strong and I wasn’t sure how smoothly this take off would go, but seeing the pleading look in the eyes of this elderly couple I thought I should at least try (mental note – let them go home disappointed next time!). My wing inflated quickly (as I thought it might), then, before I could stabilise it it lifted me up and pulled me back. Luckily someone had thoughtfully put a hand rail nearby which was directly in my flight path, and I “ollied” my imaginary skateboard on to it in a manoeuvre that Tony Hawk would be proud of and stopped myself going any further. The elderly couple who had seemed so keen to have a go only a few moments before, seemed to lose interest, and made their excuses and left! After looking for a more suitable takeoff further down the cliff I decided to head back to the other side of the gap, climb the cliff and take off from the caravan park. I noticed the “Soft Mud” warning signs and made a mental not to keep an eye out for “soft mud”! It turns out that that’s what Barton is made from, which is why so much of it has fallen off and landed on the beach! The cliff was actually bigger than it looked from the air (yeah, really!) and I realised it wasn’t going to be such an easy job to climb to the top (mainly because of the soft mud).

At this end of Barton the cliff comprises of a small cliff on the beach, a higher middle cliff half way back, and the more vertical cliff at the back. The front cliff was probably too low, the middle cliff would probably experience a certain amount of rotor from the front cliff and the back cliff would probably work but there didn’t seem to be anywhere to lay my wing out that wasn’t in dead air behind the middle cliff. I’d been trudging about in the sludge for about 20 minutes, asking myself what I was thinking of, before I found somewhere that might be okay (I’ve marked it with a red “X” in one of the photos!). My feet were so heavy by now from all the soft mud that was stuck too my boots that I’d decided that if I could inflate my wing, and there was no lift, I would fly down to the beach, pack it up and walk back along the beach. I’d come so far along the cliff that to go back, or to go down to walk down to the beach, wasn’t an easy route! Having checked for brambles (plenty), stones (yep), glass, pipes, mud, water (all present and correct), I found enough clean air and enough room to step back from my wing without falling down a cliff to inflate. The relief I felt as I was yanked from my feet and pulled to the east was amazing! I noticed the wind had shifted a bit more to the west as I hurtled along, swerving to avoid the undergrowth, and I was soon comfortably above the cliff top. I flew down to the golf course, the back up to the Chewton Bunny before heading back to land. The wind had picked up a fair bit by now and I had to use the speed bar to push out from the cliff. I flew right out over the sea and eventually got down to 30’ ATO, at which point I decided to try landing on top, thinking that if I get blown back I’ll decide early to use the bar, push back out and land on the beach. It didn’t go quite like that. Every time I touched the controls I went further back, so I had to use full bar in the end, which I landed with, but I think my wing might have been clipped by rotor as I came down as one side surged a bit and it seemed like I landed slightly downwind, although I was facing in to wind the whole time. All in all a fun day, despite a dodgy takeoff, some soft mud and a slightly dodgy landing!

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