Eye in the Sky - Jan 2009

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Thu 29 Jan 2009

Report by Simon Herbert

From :Simon Herbert In case any of you had wondered why you have not seen me around for the last year and wondered if I had fallen off the end of the planet, well in a way I have, all the way down to the Philippines.

I left the UK in May 2008 having left my job, sold the house and everything I own apart from my two trusty paragliders. People thought I was mad when I said at the time that I was doing this to shelter in the Philippines from the financial Tsunami that was about to hit the UK€¦..(enough said!) Anyway after getting to know a few locals, I luckily found a paraglider pilot who was also a recently qualified paramotor instructor. I tried to tell him that I wasn't interested in €œthe dark side€ as I was a free flyer. After telling me about the armed rebels in mountains and showing me videos of his mates landing in coconut trees, I thought that maybe launching from the beach with a motor might be not so bad after all. After a week of ground handling and simulator trials, I was ready for my first flight. It didn't go too bad, although I didn't do the leg straps up tight enough which made it a nightmare getting into the seat. The wind here has distinct seasons of direction, so after October the local beach had constant offshore winds, which has meant I had to travel 85km to the other side of the island to launch and fly.

The video was taken using my phone as I haven't found a way of strapping video kit to me without restricting my running ability for take off, but it gives you an idea of what flying around the island is like.

If anyone fancy's the idea of coming over to the Philippines to fly and wants to know more, I would love to hear from you, so feel free to email me :s.herbert@athene.co.uk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpnP8Z_riMQ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1PMBZilHHk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhuwZePVfR0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCWsqq9Px54 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EY6Ltv86gAI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgoLa3NiGR0

P.S. Despite the fact that its flyable pretty much every day here, I still miss the rolling hills and thermic XC's of the UK, and flying with you guys of course.

Tue 27 Jan 2009

Report by Alastair Florence


Roger E on his way to 'dropping' into my office for a mug of tea.

Report by Lawrence Toogood

Bmth The day had n't started well (man flu) so i decided to give work a miss, although on glancing at the weather forecast Bmth Cliffs looked very do- able late morning and the only way i could justify flying was that i was fit for work after or i would be in deep S... with the boss (misses).On arrival Brain M was all ready setting out his stall ,Roger E was making the calls , i had done mine site unseen such was the confidence in the weather . Pre flights were done in near silence as we all knew it was looking good and no time for chit chat 123 we were all off working the cliffs in the now steady breeze , i had a look down near the crane pretty much level with it and it did nt look good for crossing the gap plus i had advised ATC that we didnt normally stray across the Gap at Boscombe during working hrs (for the crane ).

Hey what do i know ? Brian legged it across followed by Roger so what the hell we all passed beach side of the crane and thanks to those new flats we crossed with ease, hotly in pursuit of the other two who were now heading over Bmth pier, god these days are rare .

I saw the game plan unfolding in front of me , they were off to tease Ali F, flying over him as he worked on the Brankscome overflow outlet , nice one guys payback time Alis always sliding off flying lol . To my horror i watch the guys land on the beach wright next to Ali , what ?? A peachy day like this and they are stopping for tea ? I know Ali has said drop in and have a cupper if i was passing but not today Bmth at its best , just glad i dont drink tea or coffee. I hung around over the chines and the B.I.C. great views over the town center and i was doing a bit of sight seeing whilst i had the sky to myself its quite amazing to be flying over a town at such close quarters.

Work beckoned so i headed back to Southbourne where i notice the wind had picked up a bit but no real probs , landed and Dave W was running towards the little grassy knowle, few words were exchanged , like dont you work either ? " well i might just squeeze 3 hrs in today "(if iam lucky ) ohh i was lucky Bmth on a classic day . I spoke to Ali later and no the kettle was not on ! They just run out of wind , so i made the wright choice staying over Bmth, Ali had the perfect excuse "sorry lads just got to give these two guys a lift to Southbourne" and it just so happen s he had his wing in the car , now it would be rude not to fly once he got there lol would n't it Ali lol?

Sat 24 Jan 2009

Report by Roger Edwards

I'd been pessimistic about the chance of flying today so wasn't even thinking about it until a text from Sean M disturbed my lazy start to the day: "Am going to take a trip up to bell. Do you want a lift?". At first I thought he was mad, or foolishly optimistic, but there was an encouraging site phone message, and with the sun shining and no need to drive I decided out was better than in. By the time he arrived a couple more messages - a notably grumpy one from Ali who'd had the rare, for him, dishonour of actually having to walk up a hill - made us rethink. We decided on the Purbecks as Sean claimed the forecast was for a backing wind and it would give us some options. We set St A's as our target.

There wasn't much of a breeze in the car park and it felt a bit N of W, not to mention being bitterly cold, so we decided to wander over, sans wings, to take a look. Quentin had turned up by now. On launch it was light and just nicely S of W, perfect direction for St. A's in fact; a surprise, as walking across it had still had that bit of N in it. Q had been sensible enough to bring his wing and ably demonstrated it was perfectly flyable, so back me and Sean trudged for our gear.

Once in the air it was as smooth as a very smooth thing that had been smoothed off even more with a very very fine abrasive. And then polished for extra smoothness. It was, in fact, super peachy (only without the fur to rough it up), allowing effortless runs down to the coast guard's cottages and trips out over the sea to scrub off the the gifted 300ft ATO. It was cold, but the flip-side was the clarity of the air, giving views back to Bournemouth and along to Portland, even if it did call for sitting on my hands occasionally to warm them up.

It was so icy smooth that I spent much of my time not bothering with the brakes, instead just relaxing into the armchairesque harness and enjoying the views.

Now, St A's is not one of my favourite sites, having had a couple of bad experiences there, and these days I am always wary of the lack of easy escape routes, but today was a day for laying my demons to rest and I actually found myself emboldened enough to start exploring the possibility of the Houns Tout crossing. Height was so easy to gain that with 350ft plus over launch it seemed worth giving it a go, so I set myself a target height for heading back and went for it. As expected, once out of the lift you lose height quite quickly so it wasn't too long before I scuttled back.

The wind was picking up slowly, and every beat you had more height and pushed forward a bit slower, though a look out to sea showed nothing untoward coming in. I persisted in toeing the water of the Tout crossing, each time having more height but each time a little slower pushing across. Estimating how far across you are can be deceptive as you are always looking forward, so I developed a useful trick: stick your arm out straight to the side and then look along it, at which point you disappointedly discover you aren't as far across as you thought. The last try I started with an easy 500ft ATO and was making good progress, but erring on the better side of valour I stuck to my target lowest height and headed back. A retrospective chat with Q, who had a good view of my progress, led us to conclude that I would have made it on my last two attempts. Well, we all know the no old bold pilots quote, so I am happy with having been cautious. I will know for next time though.

And another first for me was having the height to get back to the car park - easy with 370ft, so easy that I had to park into wind and enjoy the gentle elevator ride down the last 200ft or so. The post match analysis led us all to affirm that it had been getting a bit strong, so much so that Sean and Q had been on bar. I hadn't needed bar at all, though it had got a bit slow at one point, so I think the Golden 2 deserves a pat on the back for speed, especially as I am just under middle of the weight range and the other guys were flying DHV2s. I'd give it 10/10 on the peachometer, in fact let's give it a personal bonus point as my St A's demons are now banished. My thanks to Sean for the text that got me off my lazy backside and into the air for a great flight.

Report by Shamus Pitts


Next doors weathervane was saying €œWest€ this morning and the pampas grass in the garden was wobbling slightly so I decided to take a stroll up Cowdown. I got to the top about 9:45 to find the wind blowing 11 or 12mph but a bit off to the north. I decided to give it a try and found that although there wasn't stacks of lift I was able to top-land if I timed it right! As the forecast was for the wind to go round to the west then southwest as the day wore on, and also to pick up, I decided to stay at Cowdown and wait for conditions to improve. The wind soon picked up and eventually came round to the west. After I'd had a couple of hours in the air Paul H turned up and we had a good hour under the now blue sky, with plenty of lift and the occasional thermal coming through. The thermals were rough and bitty €“ I managed to get about 400' ATO but couldn't take it any higher. Eventually Paul landed as the wind seemed to have picked up a bit, so I built up a little height then flew out and landed in the field beside my house.

After a cup of tea, the wind had gone round to the southwest so Paul and I decided to have a look at Ringstead. Charles was just packing up when we got there but was easily persuaded to have another go. Paul took off first, quickly followed by Charles. As Paul flew out to the cliffs, Charles landed and said that there was a squally shower on the way in. At that moment the wind picked up and it started to sleet. Paul managed to get back from the cliffs and land okay, just as the rain stopped. There were some wind streaks on the sea but they were quite a long way out and the wind had now dropped down again, so we decided to have a quick fly to dry our wings.

As the bad weather was still a little way out to sea I decided that I had enough time to get out to the cliffs and back, so off I went, followed by Charles. I made the cliffs easily but within a couple of minutes of getting there the wind was howling and rough and I knew it was time to head back! I used a bit of bar to push out in front of the cliffs, built up about 150' then crabbed back to takeoff. I arrived quite low but quickly built my height up again. After a couple of beats the wind felt like it was picking up so I landed in the landing field, shortly followed by everyone else.

All in all an excellent day! 3hr 15 minutes in the air, blue sky (for a short time) and even a few thermals €“ in January too!

Report by Alastair Florence



I thought that today should at least provide some sort of flying window in the morning so took a look out fairly early. Up near Worth there was a gentle WNW so the coast looked to be out.

Next stop Bell, which after the clag lifted looked possible although there was a lot of West, Dave W arrived and we tried but found too much West to be do-able. Paul H arrived plus Harry D, Danny Mojo and puffing up the hill on foot came Derek S, wonder if I'll still be able to do things like that at 80 something ? amazing.

Decided bell was the wrong place so went to Whitesheet along with Danny, Dave, Simon J, a bit later Roy M and later still Colin D.

I have never really enjoyed a flight at Whitesheet much before but today was an unexpected suprise, very pleasant flying with lifty bits here and there especially out in front.

It got strong so most landed except Colin as this was when he appeared and launched and Danny who just kept flying. I stayed and launched again later for another pleasant flight.

Looked horrible on either side at times but the showers seemed to miss us.

We shared the ridge with modellers and a group of people tooled up with shotguns (seemed to be alot of pheasnts flying away across the fields unscathed ) peachometer 7.

Report by Roy Menage

After checking the weather about 12:00 and seeing a strange yellow sphere in the sky, I decided to head out to White Sheet. Arrived to see Ali, Dave W, Simon J and Danny having some short hops in the slightly thermic cycle. I joined them and found it quite buoyant at times. Eventually, the wind picked up enough to allow sustained flight. As usual, Ali was top of the stack most of the time but I did get to see the top of his wing occasionally with heights of around 300ft ATO being achieved. It had picked up quite a lot and the sky was looking like there may be stronger winds on the way so decided to land and leave, along with Ali and Dave. Colin D arrived and flew and, typically, the wind dropped a little to leave those still in the air to have a good time in a clearing sky. Feet off the ground in January and not too cold either. Result.

Wed 21 Jan 2009

Report by Jeremy Calderwood


It was good to hear Brian's message confirming nice flying conditions at Barton so I popped over at lunchtime to find four wings in the air in the light to moderate south westerly breeze.

We all had a good time with some guys getting right out to Milford.

I went as far as Hordle Cliff but as the lift was a bit iffy I turned back and topped up before crossing the promontory back to the main cliff.

As the sun gave way to frontal cloud the wind began to back round to the south and increase. When I landed at about 2.15 it was still a very manageable 14 - 15 mph but by 2.45 it really started to blow with streaks appearing on the sea. Mark pulled big ears and dropped in for a nifty top landing. A few moments later Sean M was doing the same - on the golf course! Brian was soon pushing out in front to land on the beach with Roger some way behind on full bar, gale hanging over the café. After pulling big ears he finally got out in front and landed safely down on the shingle near Brian.

Nice to grab some decent flying again in a rare calm window in the run of winter gales. Also airing their wings were Joe, John B, another John and Steve A.

Report by John Alder

Ringstead Bay: A much needed morale boost was this: I grabbed the shrinking window of opportunity to get (HG) airborne before the gales and warm front arrived! No other pilots present but I had an hour's lovely soaring up and down the coast €“ didn't go beyond Bat Head or Ringstead village due to lack of height security (topped out at 1000ft ato). Difficult top landing in a turbulent 30-35mph wind and succeeded in packing up before the rain got too heavy €“ COOL! Pride comes before a fall, however €“ I got home to find I'd forgotten to strap my glider to the roof-rack €“ luckily it was still there€¦. am I getting past this lark? €¦.Nah!

Tue 20 Jan 2009

Report by Simon Jones


I arrived at about 12.30 to find Mike A and Derek S unpacking. There was a bit of west in it, but not too much. Wind strength was a little variable, but nowhere near top end. Derek took off, gained some height and flew to the cliffs! I took off, gained some height, and then lost quite a lot. A few beats later I was on the ground halfway down the hill. Mike also got his feet off the ground for a while and then landed a bit too near to some brambles. As we picked a couple of his lines out of the bush we saw Derek losing some height. Derek landed on the beach after a decent flight, despite some rain and hail. We adjourned at about 2.30. I went for a look at Bulbarrow on the way home. Not strong enough. No bottom landing field. Lots of sheep. But close to home. Perhaps another day.

Probably not the best day of the year so far, but a nice day out.

Fri 16 Jan 2009

Report by Andrew Fenton

Just returned from a week in Southern Morocco with Passion Paragliding (Toby Colombé). This was my second paragliding visit to Morocco having been there in November 2007 on a different trip - this time was better in all aspects and Toby runs a good show. We visited Tifnit, Legzira and the Eagle's Nest all of which were good for coastal soaring but with plenty of thermal activity at Eagle's Nest allowing easy climbs to cloudbase and some epic flying. Out of 7 days, we lost one to a storm front (which improved conditions after passing through) and the last day was blown out on the hill but excellent for flying the sand dunes which was great fun and good for practicing wing control in the air. I highly recommend Southern Morocco for clocking up the hours in the Winter and plan to do one of Toby's High Atlas trips to Northern Morocco in the Autumn.

If anyone is interested, I produced a photo/video compilation of the trip on YouTube at http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=BSJ9s2NhIaw .

Sat 10 Jan 2009

Report by Roy Menage

It was a toss-up between The Horse and Ringstead for the day. Forecast was for SSW so the choice of an easier drive up made it Ringstead. It was way too far off to the south so some of us did a bit of ground-handling and a few short hops resulting in side or bottom landings. Eventually it did swing around and pick up significantly. Pete C went to the cliffs followed by Derek and Harry (using a fair amount of bar). I was not happy about the strength so decided to give it a miss and stopped by The Horse when I saw wings in the air. As I arrived, they all landed as it had picked up significantly. Not daunted (mad fool that I am), I decided that I had walked too far not to have a very quick fly. Penetration was indeed difficult so I decided, after a few minutes, to apply a bit of brake and drift backwards over the landing area. Once out of lift, I came down very nicely and hit the "Ds" straight away to kill the wing. Oh well, it was good to be off the ground. Here's hoping for more to come.

Report by Lawrence Toogood

Bmth: For the last few days all forecasts were giving a steady 7-8mph Southerly for saturday yipee a flight atlast (maybe)a quick call to Dave W in the morning to find out his intention s we agreed that Lunchtime looked good. When i arrived on site just after midday Paul H was already checking out conditons, not good hardly any wind but with the forecast predicting a steady breeze any mo we made the calls to the tower and town hall .

Dave W soon showed then started the parawaiting (whats new ?) the hrs ticked by no sign of the breeze picking up, the little breeze we had was well off to the east or even ENE (dont ask )Sean staines then joined the desperado's . Paul was running out of brownie points & had to flee , great things were bound to change, sacrafice made the wind strengthened all we needed was the correct direction, Sean left the arena making the long trip back home still not having flown Bmth ah not good but sorry to say Sean you were the final offering to the Gods and typical ten mins after you left it became flyable albeit a bit off both Dave and I had about 40 mins until darkness set in coditions improving! There was a pro photographer on hand who had been trying to catch us flying for ages , so i have given him the we-site details so that he can post the proof PAUL! would we joke about flying ??? No but we would gloat lol .

Pictures by Event Photography Online


Hi Guys, I took these images of two of your guys this afternoon at Southbourne. I believe they are Dave and Lawrence, but I said I would send them to the website.

Report by Shamus Pitts


A cold day for the few of us at the White Horse. The wind started off light and SE before eventually coming round a bit a increasing in strength fairly quickly. Worth the wait though, we all enjoyed about an hour in the air, although penetration became a problem in the end, but we all landed safely before it got dark. Sorry for the short report, it was good to tick off the first flight of 2009!

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