Eye in the Sky - Feb 2009

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Sat 28 Feb 2009

Report by Roy Menage

Went to Mere Rifle Range today. On the drive up I saw a glider in the air nice and high. Can't be I thought. Right, he had a motor. But then I saw wings on the hill. Result. As I arrived, a couple of wings were scratching about so I quickly got ready and inflated. Waiting for the right moment, I launched into a nice gentle thermal and was able very quickly to 360 up to about 350ft. where the lift ran out. Had a nice bimble about and landed, then another then another... Loads more people turned up making for a very busy hill at times but even when the sun came out, it never really got very buoyant. Still, a very good time was had by all. I managed over 2 1/2 hours air time. Not bad for a dull Saturday in Feb.

Report by Alastair Florence


By midday the breeze at work seemed pretty much on the beach and reasonable strength, so went to Ballard, disapointing, way off East and light.

I joined Nigel B, and was later joined by Brian M, Shamus and Richard the brave M, Paul H dropped by out for a walk with his wife and appeared to have forgotten to take the paraglider off his back as they left the car, sadly the walk had to continue before it got flyable.

Richard flew the Old Harry end for a bit (hence the brave ) and was kind enough to walk back up to us and tell us it was fine to launch there today. He proceeded to demonstrate but sadly found conditions had changed a little and it was no longer ok, every cloud has a silver lining though and we then found out it was ok soaring the hotels.

We walked back again and I joined Richard on the lower cliff for a bit, Shamus, Nigel and Brian launched as the wind dropped and got little reward for the walk up unfortunatly.

Report by Craig Byrne


New Forest to Isle of Wight (Paramotor Flight)

I spent most of the morning first at Southbourne then Barton waiting for the wind to increase. I decided to give up at 2-00 ish then thought I would try a IOW hop. I took off from just outside Lymington then headed along the Solent over the Lymington river then out towards Hurst Castle. I crossed the gap there at 2800asl and made my way over the fort as I reached the IOW. I have dreamt about doing this for ages on a normal paraglider, cant believe I did it on the motor! I then set off from the Tenerson on Monument out over the sea along to the last of the Needles then headed back. The return leg was easier with a tail wind, and I made good time flying over edge of Lyminton and back at the van after 1.5 hours a very happy bunny indeed.

Report by Shamus Pitts


Not much to report about today.

I got to Swanage about 1 o'clock to find Paul H on his way down from Ballard Down because the wind was light and off to the East. I climbed to the top anyway, with Richard M, where Nigel B, Ali F and Brian M were waiting for conditions to improve.

After a while the wind seemed to have picked up a bit but was still ESE so Richard M decided to try taking off at the end of White Cliff and flying round to Old Harry Rocks. We watched him for about half an hour, still not sure how flyable it was, although Richard was staying up! When Richard landed he assured us that we would stay up so we walked to where he took off and let him take off first. The wind seemed to have changed a bit and Richard started sinking before turning back and heading for the beach. The low cliffs by the beach seemed to be working and he started climbing so we headed back to the main take off and got ready.

Ali was first in the air and had soon joined Richard soaring above the beach. The wind seemed to be dropping now and was pretty much due east€¦..

Nigel took off next but the lift was disappearing so he made a neat landing on the beach. I took off once Nigel was on his way, managed to scrape up a bit of height off the hotels etc and managed a couple of beats while Richard and Ali landed. It wasn't long before my height ran out and I landed on the beach along with Brian.

I probably had only about 5 or 6 minutes air time but it was nice to fly the low cliffs even briefly and I look forward to the day when the wind is a bit stronger and they are working well.

Mon 23 Feb 2009

Report by Marcus Webster

Had a rare day off but had already given up the hope of any flying based on xcweather looking a bit strong for Bell so went for a walk with William but a niggling doubt was setting in about the accuracy of the forecast so a phone call to Derek Sadler had us both heading for Bell from oppisite points of the compass but spookily arriving at the gate at exactly the same time (11.00ish).

I was surprised to see three cars already at the top and Mike A in the air with the wind a tad off to the North ,Derek lead the way with me not far behind and then followed my most enjoyable couple of flight so far this year with an hour and a half of air time and height gain of 1049ft ato and still in gentle lift but starting to get a bit near the point of no return before having to pack up and be on the road at 2pm for the dreaded Dentist appointment.

Roger E said something about me wimping out of a xc and offered to give me something for the Dentist to work on !.

Others in attendance by 2pm -Kieth B , James (from Dorchester),Phil V , Garry M ,Graham P plus a few who`s names escape me , roll on the summer.

Mon 23 Feb 2009

Report by Alastair Florence


Things seemed fine and dandy at work and it looked like a good afternoon to claim back some smartee points on all the 13-14 hour days I have worked lately.

Managed to get to Bell to catch the last of the afternoon. The crowds thinned out until only me Gary P, NeilMcc, Mark R and Harry D were left, after a brief lull in the breeze, in which Harry unfortunately decided to launch, the wind picked up nice and steady.

We had one of restitution sort of evenings you sometimes get in the summer with the air turning sort of like velvet, smooth and very bouyant and lifty, but without the height you get in summer.

Final landings were just before 18:00 hrs and still daylight, ish just. Nice sunset over Telegraph finished off a very pleasant evenings flying. 2hrs 20mins in the air, Peachometer 8 I reckon.

Sun 22 Feb 2009

Report by Richard Mosley

Went to Bell hill for what was for me, a cracking day; unfortunately stronger wind strength than expected; i had expected to fly my paraglider but it was blown out by the time i arrived.

The first flight on the hang glider saw me blown about like a leaf in some evil turbulence and sink, so i landed for a chat. Keith was sorting out his streamline harness in the new "Harness checking equipment" And sean staines expressed a wish to be bi wingual which i think is a good idea for days like this.

The second flight in broken thermals had me up in the low cloud, and out flying forward to the farms and scrapyard; sometimes rough but moments of magic. I think it would be a good idea for some paraglider pilots to give hang gliding a go, for stronger conditions they are a buzz and would increase your flying timel.


Sat 21 Feb

Report by Richard Thomason


Woolacombe - I checked out the weather on Friday evening as everyone was getting excited about the weekend. It seemed to me that Sunday would be too strong, and where to go on Saturday depended on whether you believed XCW (Bell) or RASP (Woolacombe - Bell blown out). After some early morning agonising, I went for the 4 hour drive to Woolers, said hello to the Condors/North Devon and got a warm welcome and several site briefings. It was too light at the lower take-off so I walked up to the top, where it was getting rapidly more windy.

I got busy and after a short wait to watch a tandem go, I got the wing in the air in a mind-focussing (for me) 14-15mph, and pushed forward ok on the rather gently sloping take off area.

The air was fairly smooth, there was a lot of lift, and I could (just) make progress out to the sea at trim to lose height. There were a dozen or so PGs and a couple of HGs, so plenty of room for everyone. The sun came out, and life was good. I zoomed around for an hour or so playing with flying in and out of the lift, then landed on the beach below the car, and lazily packed up the wing on the grassy area in the dunes, in a t-shirt and glorious sunshine. What more could you ask for?
Mon 16 Feb 2009

Report by Gary Mullins

Bell Hill.

Arrived at midday to see 7 Pg's wafting around in some low cloud. Soon the sky cleared and the sun came out. Thermals allowed height gains of 900-1,000ft+ for practically everyone. Lots of fun for the 15 or so that were lucky to be there.

Report by Simon Herbert

This is a video I took whilst taking part in the balloon Festival at Clark Key, Luzon, Philippines. Feb 12th €“ 15th 2009.


I had no idea what I was letting myself in for when Tony (my paramotor instructor) invited me to attend. I guess I should have realized that it might have been a big thing when he told me that there were only two paramotor pilots in the Philippines and I was one of them and the other 5 pilots were being imported from Thailand and Malaysia, anyway we pulled it off and it was an experience of a lifetime probably never to be repeated due to future regulations. Can you imagine the CAA allowing Hot air balloons to be circled by paramotors in an operational commercial airport in front of a crowd of 50,000 over 4 days. Yes that's right operational in the fact that A320 (cebu pacific) jets were landing in the same airport whilst the air show was in progress. Still amazingly no incidents or accidents happened and I am sure we did a lot of good for the paragliding industry in creating interest in the sport. I got to meet some other pilots from other countries too, including George Macack from the paramainia team who performed some amazing and crazy stunts to thrill the crowd.

Its not often you get the chance of flying a powered aircraft anywhere near a hot air balloon but in this case it was in between them.

A good time was had by all 7 paramotor pilots over the 4 days and hopefully a good time was had by those who watched.

Sun 15 Feb 2009

Report by Nigel Bourn


Plans to go to St Albans were curtailed as Shamus rang and persuaded me it was going to be west all day and so I flew Cow Down for lots of short, scratchy flights all day, great fun and finished off with my second new site of the day at Telegraph. What a strange feeling flying quite low over trees with very long shadows. The wind died quickly and another walk up a steep hill finished a big learning day, even if I didn't log as much time in the air as I probably would have at St Albans! Great day.

Report by Keith Burridge

After many visits without T/O I had my virgin flight at St A's today in the company of Dave W, Paul H, Lawrence T and Brian M (Not necessarily all at the same time!) After a good hour plus I thought a venture to Ringstead may have been on the cards but No! too much west. After checking the sitephone (which does come in very handy) it appeared Bell was a goer so Gordon C and I headed over that way to find three wings boating about. Another hour plus of flying time and two sites on a winters day. Those present at Bell Dave W, Paul H, Gordon C, Harry D, Kiwi Carl, and a late flying visit from Ali F

Report by Shamus Pitts


I woke up expecting the wind to be westerly all day so I decided that my day would be spent on Cowdown. Nigel B was keen to try it too, so he came over to my house about 10am and we walked up. The wind was slightly WSW at the top and blowing about 12mph so we decided to have a go.

We ended up spending about 4 hours on the hill. The wind was slightly south of west to start with and then went slightly north of west. The speed ranged from about 8mph to about 16 mph over the course of the day with it being scratchy at times, thermic at times and working okay at other times. About midday I managed to get about 250' ATO a couple of times in the thermals but it wasn't very sunny and they weren't very strong. The lift seemed to come and go, I had 9 flights, the longest being about 25 minutes, and managed to get in on top every time, but there were a couple of flights were I thought I was going down to the bottom. In the end the wind had gone round WNW so we flew down, packed up and decided to have a look at Telegraph hill.

There wasn't much wind when we got to Telegraph and we were thinking about going home, but then the wind picked up to 13 €“ 16mph so I unpacked and took off. The wind was a bit of to the west which made the ridge to the left of takeoff work well so I spent most of my time there. I haven't flown that end of the ridge much so it was good fun exploring it. Nigel took off and tried his second new site of the day. After about 15 minutes more, I noticed that Nigel was probably too low to top land €“ luckily I wasn't, so I quickly snuck in a cheeky little top landing as the wind started to switch off! 9 Flights and an hour and a half at Cowdown, 1 flight and about half an hour at Telegraph Hill €“ not bad for February!

Report by Alastair Florence


I Spent most of the weekend at work again but managed to squeeze in a bit of leisure.

Discovered yesterday that 3 people in a canadian canoe with small waves soon = a swim, and the water is cold at the moment. So found some dry gear and had a short fly instead.

Took an early lunch today consisting of a flight on St.Aldhelms, started getting busy and pressure of work dragged me away again.

Thu 12 Feb 2009

Report by Jon Harvey

This afternoon ventured to the coast at Eype, and found the wind blowing around WSW, and 12 mph. Made a couple of calls and prepared for flight.

Nearly 2 hours airtime but no further west than Seatown. At height it was surprising how fast back eastwards it was to Westbay, according to gps around 25mph, but still around 8mph into wind.

Pity only two of us, myself and Keith B, so made the most of an empty coast.

Landed just after 5pm as the wind died away.

Good to be airborne after such an appalling spell of bad weather.

Wed 11 Feb 2009

Report by Shamus Pitts


I arrived at Bell hill at about 3:45pm to find Paul H about to go home and a fiercely cold north-westerly wind. The wind was blowing 18 €“ 25mph but was forecast to drop at some point, although the forecast hadn't been entirely accurate so far today.

If there had been no-one there when I had arrived I would have probably walked back to the car and gone home, but it's always easier to wait for €œthe window€ when someone else is there, and as we chatted we noticed the gusts were becoming slightly less strong. By 4:30 the wind didn't seem to be exceeding 18mph so I unpacked and took off. It seemed that the wind had dropped off quite a bit and I was starting to wonder if it was even soarable but I turned in to the bowl and quickly gained height.

Paul took off soon after me and headed to the bowl too, and we enjoyed a good 45 minutes flying as the sun started to go down. The wind gusted through a few times and I was a bit pinned once, but most of the time it was quite easy flying. Thermals came through and gave us height, I managed about 300' ATO at one point, but slowly the wind went more and more west and we got lower and lower.

The wind was still quite strong but WNW and the sun was going down; my hands were freezing, so after 45 minutes and I decided to land. An unexpectedly good end to the day!

Sun 08 Feb 2009

Report by Alastair Florence



I am not over keen on working weekends but sometimes needs must (not mine, the jobs).

All morning the wind was virtually non existant NW but picked up around lunchtime. I could see a few wings scratching at Southbourne so took a lunch break up that way.

Dave W, Lawrence T, Jim C, Paul H were having a go. I joined in and had about 15 mins before the air got a bit gusty and wrongly lifty, also spits of rain suggested time to land to Lawrence and me followed soon by everyone else as it started raining.

So back to work and out in the Kayak (well its the easiest way to get out to our Jack Up barge and check whats been happening).

Apres flying, Sunday

Report by Alan Webb

Report by Alan Webb Having spent most of last year and so far all of this year renovating my house, flying has been shelved. However, the lure of a fly has in recent weeks became to much to bear, and I promised myself the next flyable weather window I would fly. I watched the looming Sunday weather unfold for some days and the prediction seemed to remain constant. That was it, I made my mind up for Sunday. As it turned out the weather delivered and those that made Ringstead and flew were able to blow away the conwebs, see the countryside still covered with snow and enjoy the company of those mad enough to want to be there too. Anyway, the short weather window delivered what it said, and I went home to fit some more doors.

Report by Gary Pocock



XC weather was showing a small window of opportunity for Sunday morning at Ringsted.

After a text from Alan Webb Saturday night we both decided to head there for about 10.00. As expected it was SW but light. We knew there was a front heading our way and that it wouldn't be flyable for very long. In the meantime Gary M, Shamus and another arrived (sorry I didn't get your name).

The wind started to increase and Alan W and Gary M were the first off the ground both making it to the cliffs, me being my usual cautious self gave it a few minutes with the others and watched a band of cloud head our way with increasing wind.

Alan and Gary returned after about 20 minutes and landed as it started to rain. We took refuge in the cars for about half an hour as the rain passed over. This time I was going to have a go, it was a little more to the south and about 13-15mph. Having not flown since October I wasn't going to pass up an opportunity even if it meant getting my fairly new wing wet and dirty. There was plenty of lift and a trip to the cliffs was definitely on the cards. Alan joined me for his second flight and we both made a quick jaunt to the cliffs. It was still spitting with rain and damn cold but fairly smooth, penetration was slow so we headed back to the relative safety of the take off ridge to fly. The wind was increasing so after about 25 minutes flying we landed in the back field. Glad to have had a window when I can actually get out. Cheers for the text Alan.

Sat 07 Feb 2009

Report by Jim Coutts

SBell hill, Had good fun this morning at bell hill flying my Gin Bobcat.

The wind was constant at around 15 mph until about 11 o'clock and then it picked up to about 23 mph and of to the north a bit so I got the Bobcat out and had some adrenaline fuelled fun( especially on the down wind leg of soaring Bell) Good to be out in the Dorset country side looking pretty covered in snow.

Those present were : Danny, Dave win (briefly) and dr Charles

Report by Jeremy Calderwood


After hearing a promising sitephone message I decided further investigation was called for.

By 1.30 I was trudging up through 6 - 8 inches of compact snow the 350' to the top of Bell Hill (totally impossible to drive up in such conditions) - phew! The guy who left the message - Jim - had flown down the hill and landed in the field next to where I had parked - on a BobCat speed glider. We exchanged the usual pleasantries - he, too had trained with High Adventure some 10 years ago. He'd had enough fun for the day and was soon driving off from the snowbound chalk pit entrance. Two other Wessex guys were still messing around near the top with a tangled wing and getting dragged about in the 18+mph breeze so I rallied on.

Eventually I reached the action about 50 feet down from the crest - the snow here varied between 8 and 12 inches thick and it was still blowing a hoolie, but the sun poked its face out between the scudding clouds and revealed a land of snowy hilltops and brown and green shallow valleys. Dorset looked very lovely with its pristine drapery.

As I arrived Danny had decided to call it a day but Charles was determined to get some flying in even though his rigging was quite a twisted birds nest... snow is just so slippery the wing soon slides off sideways. Between us we finally got it all sorted... the wind had subsided to a more manageable 14 - 15mph so finally, up he went - like a rocket.

He got some good height - probably about 300+' ato but after less than quarter of an hour he was landing in the back field. By the time he had brought his gear back to take off I was ready... to accept a hand and a first lesson in the 'A's' and 'C's' method of launching. It looks a good method - I'll have to get to grips with it when I next practice some ground handling... in lighter conditions.

It was still a bit top end when I was hauled up before I had turned - still... I managed to keep it together as I spun into wind and settled into my harness. Then I noticed both sets of risers were twisted...

doh! It's happened once before - just one twist. I flew as normal for about 10 minutes but when I needed the speed bar there was some resistance so I also dropped into the back field for a nifty landing.

Then it all went tits up as I ploughed a long groove in the deep snow - until I'd hauled in enough line to halt the slide! Strangely enough my rigging now looked exactly like Charles's had earlier...

One good turn deserves another they say - now he was helping me sort mine out! We both went for another flight and by now conditions were quite peachy. The sun took on a golden hue as it beamed out from under the thinning clouds. A pair of deer bounded amongst the shrubs and a hungry fox stood out against the white as he rummaged out in the open, all adding their tracks to those of hares, rabbits and crowds of rooks across the snow-icing coated fields and meadows below.

Charles landed first so I swooped about for another 10 minutes and then cruised down to land in the bottom landing field some 30 yards from the car - I was not about to slither and slide my way back down that hill if I could help it! By the time I was packed up the sun was sinking over the horizon but the hill above remained illuminated in fading rosy hues for a few minutes more. Within another five minutes the moon's bright face began to dominate the fading sky as I loaded the car. I took a few more pictures and then went on my way... very happy that I had taken the chance.

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