Eye in the Sky - May 2009

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Sun 31 May 2009

Report by Alastair Florence


I retrieved Gary from near Doles Ash Piggery, Chessleborne.

Report by Shamus Pitts


I arrived at Hambledon about 11am to find that Dave W and Ali F had just landed because the wind had picked up quite a lot since they took off. Gary P arrived at the same time as I did and after discussing things for a while we decided that an optimistic approach was what the day called for and continued up the hill to the top.

The wind didn't seem as strong as it had earlier, we were only reading 13 €“ 16mph on our wind meters but we hung around for a while waiting for the sky to improve. What actually happened was that the sky improved, with small cumulus appearing but the wind increased, then the clouds disappeared! In the meantime Martin F had turned up and Ali and Dave had walked back up after hearing our optimistic assessment of the conditions! After a while it seemed that the lulls outnumbered the gusts so I walked down to a lower rampart, got ready and when the time was right took off.

Conditions I think could best be described as €œfairly lively!€. The wind was strong, the sun was hot and the thermals were rough! There were gusts coming through that felt like uppercuts €“ Martin experienced one just as he took off, but at other times there suddenly didn't seem to be enough wind to stay up and I ended up scratching between the trees.

I noticed that before the huge gusts that you could see the thermal approaching €“ the long grass in the field in front of the hill would swirl like a tornado was coming though! There would be a round patch swirling anticlockwise, racing across the field. I flew towards it, finding lift on the way, but as soon as I got near the swirling patch I got spanked by really rough air.

I think the lift was probably fairly strong but it didn't seem to give me much height €“ no more than about 500' ATO and no more than a 2.5 up. Maybe the thermals were pushed over so much by the strong wind that a 4-up (for example) was lifting at 45 degrees, so actually 2-up and 2 across €“ would that happen, or am I just making it up? Anyway, after an hour I decided to land because I couldn't see myself getting enough height to comfortably go over the back and it wasn't exactly relaxing flying! As I was packing up Gary P went over the back and disappeared!

Thu 28 May 2009

Report by David Franklin


Although it was rather cloudy we had some fun at Bell today.Carl B ventured over the back on his maiden xc. The picture of cloud base says it all really, once there you couldn't tell where to go next,but it was fun fumbling about.

Later back on the hill a handful of us waited till around 6 o'clock And were rewarded when the sun finally shone and the breeze went from 0mph up to a thermic 12ish.Rather than go over the back again I opted to try and fly out to Leigh and land in my brothers paddock,something I have been looking forward to trying.Sadly my niece and nephew had gone to bournemouth for the day so looks like I'll have do it again another day

Mon 25 May 2009

Report by Mike Adkins

Round about 1630 I noticed there was a NW breeze, so up to Bell on the off chance. There was a PG pilot there from Cheselbourne but without his wing - I think he had just come to show his lady the site - and another car with some picnickers: whether they were club members and/or how they got on to our field, I don't know! (I saw them half way down the slope from the air, so I wasn't about to land to ask them!) Anyway, there was a lovely flyable breeze, so, pausing only to put a message on the sitephone, I launched. I had been flying for about half an hour when Derek S and Carl H arrived, but no-one else, so we had the whole hill to ourselves. The breeze was laced with thermals and it wasn't gusty, so we had a very pleasant evening's flight.

Sat 23 May 2009

Report by Danny Von Mutius



Arrived at Waitrose carpark in abergavenny a little early, the sky looked very promising on this side of the bridge but as soon as you were over the bridge it was overcast and looked relatively strong. The decision was made to go to Nant-y-Moel.

When we arrived the sky looked as though it had started clearing a little so we had a briefing and the window opened. the wind was quite strong and slightly off the hill but the thermals were pulling it back on when they came through. Took off and boated around in a few thermals for about 15mins but not enough height to go over the back. Then a big old thermal came through and carried myself and one other over the back to base. A beautiful glide over the next valley before picking up another climb 7up and one point(albeit for a few seconds only).....woohoo! back to base!

Picked up my last climb just as i thought i was going to have to land on Methyr golf course but soon lost it and ended up landing in princetown. 24.5km on my second XC.....well chuffed.

Thanks Andrea and Sean for the retrieve and a great fun days flying! I was stunned by the beauty of south wales and will definately be going back! I've got a couple of slightly hazy photos which i will post when i can. Overall we finished a respectable 2nd!

Report by Shamus Pitts



It was a funny old day today. There was too much east in the wind on the coast for any of the usual haunts to be working so I decided to wait until 11 o'clock and hope that Flying Frenzy would be on Folly Hill. They weren't, so plan €œB€ kicked in which was to go to Mere.

When I got to Mere there were about 5 wings in the air, one with decent height, over the Rifle Range. The wind was surprisingly strong by the parked cars so I hurried to take off and, er, took off! It was quite overcast but the wind was strongish and the thermals were coming through so it was quite easy to stay up (for a while) and I saw 400' ATO on my altimeter. It didn't last long though and I was soon back on the ground.

There were about 10 people there, including our very own Roy M, which wasn't busy when the wind was strong but it soon felt busy when the wind dropped! The clouds disappeared to leave a warm sunny day and a blue sky but the wind disappeared too to leave the odd thermic cycle wafting through. What little wind there was slowly went more and more west so Myself, Mel R, James L and someone who's name I didn't get decided to have a look at Cowards Bowl. Mel and I set up on the spur between the bowls and the other two set up at the proper launch. The wind was WSW €“ we knew that because a tractor was spraying insecticide on the field out in front and we could taste it! The wind was light but eventually picked up and I took off. The spur worked okay and I had 10 minutes in slightly bumpy air, getting to the dizzy heights of 70' ATO.

I landed and the wind went more to the west and increased. I had one more flight in quite strong conditions €“ not what we expected! €“ but landed after about 10 minutes as the wind was going more and more NW.

Nice to be out in the sun and about 45 minutes in the air, but still a funny old day!

Fri 22 May 2009

Report by John Alder

Ringstead Bay. I arrived at about 4 o'clock €“ no one was flying but the conditions looked great for HG and indeed they proved to be so: brilliant sunshine, a cloudless sky and good visibility; wind WSW 12 €“ 18 mph . This was Ringstead's best:- satin smooth air and dependable, if weakfish lift: it enabled wide-ranging soaring up to 200m ATO and even a bit of exploring below cliff-top level. After an hour or so some high cloud arrived from the west the wind veered a bit and consequently the lift weakened further. Not wanting to risk going down I landed in surprisingly smooth and light air in the newly mown top landing field. A very enjoyable flight €“ I exhorted the couple of PG pilots waiting at Launch to have a go and was pleased to see that they were successful. Sorry guys I forgot to ask for your names

Report by Alan Webb


Arrived at Ringstead about 10.30am to see RW just reaching the cliffs and Steve from New Milton rigging his HG. It was a deliberate early start to get some airtime before the conditions got too strong. Took off into good lift and tracked straight to the cliffs gaining height most of the way. The cliffs were working well and spent the next hour and a half enjoying the now strengthening conditions. Sure enough it got too strong and by now Steve on his HG was looking more at home in these conditions. Certainly made the most of the flyable morning.

Report by Neil Weymouth


Where better to be on a wet and windy week in the uk than in sunny Slovenia. A week at XTC paragliding gave excellent thermic conditions with only one showery non flying day. Photos are of a 30km XC finishing over Bled lake.

Thurs 21 May 2009

Report by Marcus Webster

Started the day with high hopes at Whitesheet in the company of Pete Chalmers ,Paul Hawkins(who had`d a short xc already) ,John Alder and Kirsty Cameron ,the latter looking like she knew what she doing as she went off in quite rough conditions to land down near Romsey about 39km away.

Paul , Pete and I decided that the conditions were not conducive to fun flying and based on site reports from Roger Edwards made the move to Bell , which as it turned out was the right thing to do with the three of us getting away XC within half an hour of arriving .The wind was a bit top endy but on the hill and manageable, the usual midweekers were there and had been flying for the last hour or so .

Desperation set in as I saw Pete ,Paul and one other climb out followed by Harry Dyke in his own thermal (I was at the wrong end of the hill and spitting bullets by know) but luck was on my side and the next thermal took me over the back , I opted to try and head for Blandford and stay north of Bournemouth airspace as my drift had a lot of East in it . My third climb got me to 4450` and cloud base and occasionally just into the side of my cloud trying to maximise height , possibly not the healthiest option two km north of Airspace but I was enjoying myself ,am I the reason they want us to carry transponders ?.

All good things have to come to an end and as each climb took me closer to class D airspace and confronted with a large expanse of blue sky I went for one last Glide which ended Next to Horton Tower.While packing up and chatting to Mark the friendly landowner/farmer I spotted a mystery Gradient going over head and winning his battle to stay aloft and remain clear of airspace (who were you ?).

Great afternoon and thanks to my Daughter Kate for the ride to Blandford and to Harry Dyke for waiting and getting me back to my car.

Report by Shamus Pitts



Having listened to all the sitephone messages and seen the perfect €œSimpsons€ sky through the window at work, I was eager to get home then get up in the air!

I got to Telegraph hill about 6:45pm to find two Condors already there. The wind was reasonably strong, a bit gusty and quite a bit off to the West but I took off and almost immediately flew in to a rough thermal which took me to about 700' ATO. I flew back to the ridge and found another one which seemed to fizzle out after about 1100' but I was now committed so I headed downwind to try and find another.

One of my goals is to fly home from Telegraph hill €“ I could see Cowdown but there was too much west in the wind to get to it, but another goal is to fly the Cerne Abbas ridge, and as I wasn't having any luck finding any more lift I dropped in on the ridge and found that it was working, if a little rough! I flew all the way down the ridge right on to the giant then back up, hoping to find another thermal. Thermals were pulling the wind WNW and NNW and it was gusting through quite strongly, but not giving me much height over the ridge. I flew down to the giant again then decided to land by the viewpoint car park. I'd only been in the air half an hour but I'd gone over the back at Telegraph hill, flown the Cerne Abbas ridge and almost flown home. I wasn't even expecting thermals so late in the day so it turned in to a surprisingly pleasant evening!

Report by John Alder

Whitesheet Hill: not having flown here for years, I must have forgotten why - but now I remember! This is where you go if you like it rough. I tried a couple of PG hops in the company of Pete Chalmers, Marcus Webster, Paul Hawkins and €˜Kirsty' €“ the latter two committed XC aviation. The best part for me was landing safely: total airtime about 20 minutes €“ need I say more?

Sun 10 May 2009

Report by Nigel Beaven

Spent a very pleasant afternoon with the Skysurfers at Whitewool. Very nice East facing site looking over the Meon Valley in Hampshire. After some dry runs (top to bottoms) and some boating about, the lift kicked in and spent 30 min's or so at 230 ft ato. Looked with envious eyes at the wings over a Mercury another SSC site as several wing got away on XC and over flew us. All in all a very pleasant trip well worth a visit

Report by Gary Pocock


Portland East. After a couple of bad inflations and problems with rotor I managed a good take off to join RW. Conditions were pretty much perfect for this site at about 10.30am Made up to about 400ft ATO and took a run down to the north end of the cliff, getting back was a bit slower but the best lift was in front of the young offenders unit. Had to laugh to myself, I was at about 300ft and one offender must have thought he had a bionic arm as he tried to reach me with a stone from the yard after hurling some abuse, I didn't hang around as I don't like winding them up. Had nearly an hour before landing. By the time we'd packed the wind had picked up to 20-22mph, Grant arriving just a little late.

Sat 09 May 2009

Report by Danny Von Mutius



Had a fantastic day at Ringstead, just over 3hrs airtime in the end. Glassy smooth, sunny, a little chilly but nonethe less an awesome fun day floating around the coast.

Report by Shamus Pitts


Arrived at Ringstead about 11:30 to find a couple of wings on the cliffs and a fairly strong wind blowing up the hill.

I took off, got about 40' ATO and pushed out a bit. I didn't seem to be going down so pushed out a bit more, then a bit more, then decided to try for the cliffs.

The flight out was easy but surprisingly rough in places, and I made it to the cliffs with plenty of height. The air was lovely and smooth so I spent about an hour flying backwards and forwards practising wing-overs etc and taking photos that I've already taken hundreds of times before! Unfortunately the wind was too far off to the west to go round White Nothe down to Durdle Door, so after flying back to the ridge then back to the cliffs I decided to fly back to the ridge and land.

Stuart M said he was going to have a look at Corton Denham as there were people flying there so I decided to go with him. We got there just in time to see Paul H leaving and Ali F going over the back. James L was still in the air and Dave W was just about to go. The wind was blowing 16 €“ 25mph on take off and the sky was overcast so I decided not to bother and went home instead.

Report by John Alder

Ringstead Bay. I arrived late (after 4 o'clock) in time to see the last visiting HG land €“ there were several visitors:- Tony Moore, Simon Murphy, Harriet Pottinger and Wayne Bevan (possibly others I didn't see) but NO other Wessex HG pilots! Having rigged quickly, I took off at about 5 o'clock and enjoyed a superb hour-long flight, topping out about 800ft ATO. At one point I was joined by a PG €“ sorry I don't know whose it was but it top landed after a few minutes and the other PG's remained grounded €“too strong, I guess. Lift was widespread if not strong but it was so smooth the glider flew itself if I stopped making control inputs. Thus it was feasible to soar over a large area without losing height significantly. Top landing was smooth and easy so I had a great time

Report by Alastair Florence


Plan A was go to Rybury today with Dave W and Paul H, this was scuppered when we found out Rybury is strictly Thames Valley members only and a few other rules on days use per year etc, Plan B hatched as, go to Corton Denham.

I have not flown here before so it one more to tick off now.

The site has a reputation for being rough and it was a little rough at times today. Wind speeds varied from 8mph to about 27 mph mostly due to prolific thermals, sadly they were pretty smashed up by the wind. We flew in the morning and had a good but lively session with good height over Corton D at times.

We were joined by James L, Simon J and Guy on PG's and a hangy who lives in the village who was last seen going XC.

The afternoon was much like the morning conditions wise and I had plenty of chance to test the Omegas stability and my active flying combination. In the end I was wondering where I might be able to land without disaster, fate was sealed for me as after a 360 or two to 500ft odd I sort of got blown back and ended up 2.7km downwind followed by Guy, that gave me 6km with turnpoints total, maybe not a site record but some good fun and a bit scary at times.

Sat 09 May 2009

Report by Grant Oseland


Another day at Ringstead with lots of members there and a strong wind which eventually got too much for most, but it did allow for a large number of hang gliders (don't know what the correct terminology is for more than one hang glider at a site at any one time?) to show us how it's done when the wind blows a bit too hard.

Mon 04 May 2009

Report by Jon Wood

I have been the social secretary for Norfolk,Hangliding & Paragliding Club www.flynorfolk.org since last year & was asked to arrange an SIV course for the club. So i arranged a trip to Oludeniz in Turkey to do the course with Jocky Sanderson, 9 pilots wanted to do the course, including 4 wessex members ( James Martin, Paul Ebert, Mark Fisher & myself ) we had a mixed group of pilots, some with many hundreds of hours & 2 that were just about CP rated.

We flew from Gatwick airport to Dalaman on monday 20th April & arrived at Oludeniz about 10.30pm ready for the next day, we stayed at the Flying Dutchman hotel which was very comfortable with friendly staff & good food.

We started our SIV training in the morning with a brief by Jocky & a stroll to the beach to check out our landing area on the sea front. Then it was all abourd the 4x4 truck for the hour drive up to mount Baberghdag T/O to set up for our first manoeuvers. the Wessex four had flown here last year & had a great time (with gary Pocock) but the take off can be a little unerving at first being approx a mile high & a steep loose gravel launch.

Launching 10mins apart to allow time for Jocky to talk us through our tasks from a safety boat close to Ulodeniz beach, we all got off ok. with 9 pilots it took over 90mins to get us all off.

Our first manoeuvers were "B" line stalls etc ending with wing overs, then over to the beach to set up for landing. this was the basis for the weeks course, which included asymetric tucks, symetric tucks with & without speed bar, big bigears, spiral dives, stalls & parachutall stalls & spins. most of us even did SAT's on our last day of SIV, putting huge grins on our faces after landing & plenty of back slapping.

the last two days were spent doing XC's in marginal conditions over Babergdag then to cave mountain & on the last day to butterfly valley.

We all had a great time & made some good friends, also we learnt to trust our wings in tricky & demanding situations when pilot input is crucial. well worth doing!

Report by Alastair Florence



Had a nice little XC on Saturday, parawaiting on Bell Sunday, hence Mrs F decided Monday would be a domestic bliss day. So I kind of figured I would be pushing my luck to do much more than a quick visit to St. Aldhelms.

Pretty much classic St.A conditions (WSW 14mph) but could have done with a bit more South to it for a real stonker, nice breeze at launch time with a steadily increasing wind and light cloud forming at 500- 600ft ato = loads of lift.

The whole of the St.A cliff was flyable from launch to the coastguards and as the wind increased I was getting around 1000ft amsl. Nige B arrived and after his traditional faff joined me.

I was a little nervous about trying the Chapmans Pool crossing with a fair degree of west in the wind after last time when I got sunk out behind the tout, had the wing totally collapse, free fell some way then fell about 40 ft down the cliff onto the beach, but hey ho back on the horse and all that.

Made a relatively easy crossing to the tout although a hard push into wind only losing about 300ft, I tried to push upwind toward Kimmeridge but was not really making headway. After bimbling on the tout for a while headed back to St.A's and then the car park.

Nigel had stacks of height and I think the wind was now quite strong as the wind streaks on the sea were turning into foam streaks. Back in time for lunch so avoided a ragging from Mrs. Peachometer 8.

Report by Shamus Pitts


I got to the top of Cowdown quite early because the wind was forecast to be quite strong by lunchtime.

As I was getting ready I could hear gunshots but I couldn't see where they were coming from €“ they sounded quite close but I couldn't see anybody so I decided it was nothing to worry about and took off. The wind was only 10 €“ 12mph to start with and it was a bit scratchy, but as the morning rolled on the wind picked up and for a while there was plenty of lift €“ there were even bits and pieces of thermals coming through which made for some fun flying. When I'd got a bit of height I could see where the gunshots were coming from €“ about 100 yards away there were a dozen people clay pigeon shooting on the other side of the hill! I decided it might be a good idea to land and check that our paths weren't likely to cross €“ luckily they weren't shooting towards me so I could carry on flying! I had another 40 minutes or so but the wind was gradually increasing and going round to the south more. What lift there was had started to die despite the wind strength so I decided to land. I built up about 50' ATO then headed down the spur before deciding it wasn't the best plan considering the current wind direction. I cut back across the field at the bottom of the hill, found a bit of lift off the hedge that runs down it and, with a bit of bar to battle against the head wind, managed to cross the power lines. I wasn't making much headway as I got near the lane that runs past the bottom of my garden so I used a bit more bar and crossed over the oak tree at the bottom of my neighbour's garden, landing successfully in the field next to their house! The wind was now looking to be southwesterly on my neighbour's weathervane so I headed for Ringstead where it was cold and windy. After much deliberation I decided to go home €“ I'd had an hour or so at Cowdown and that would have to do!

Sat 02 May 2009

Report by Colin Davie

Quite a few people got away from Whitesheet hill today. Paul H, Ali and Dave W managed to go XC quite early but was then a couple of hours before the next bunch escaped. Myself and Gary P got up and were joined at cloudbase by two others. The four of us headed off downwind and gradually spread out as the next lift seemed patchy and weak. I had got a little bit ahead but after a couple of gentle thermals was joined once more by Gary in a climb that took us to a cloud over Landford Castle South of Salisbury. Plenty of light aircraft were criss crossing about, mainly below us. Gary headed off whilst I took a few more turns to get closer to the cloud before drifting off also. I lost Gary but found a good climb at West Dean alongside a couple of sail planes. I was now pretty high (and cold) and had to bare further North to head round the airspace. After a couple more gentle climbs I ended up landing next to the A30 next to the turn off for Barton Stacey. Not quite Kent but, as a straight line of just under 53km, it is a personal best distance for me.

Report by Danny Von Mutius

YEEHAA! My first XC..................

Turned up at Bell to find it very on/off and very much to the west at times so decided to follow Simon J's lead and head to Whitesheet, best decision I ever made.

There was already a couple of wings on the hill when I arrived. Paul was just returning after having gotten away earlier in the day. lay out and took off. wasn't very long before a lovely big thermal came through and took 4 of us to cloudbase about 3,500ato(if not a little more), and before i knew it i was off on my first glide down wind on my first ever XC. I was very pleased to have the other 2 or 3 wings in the little gaggle to start with as it helped me get used to the whole idea of 'thermal hunting'. The others soon left me behind so i carried on bimbling about trying to put everything i had read and heard the skygods talking about into practice. I had never been this high before and i was loving it!

I caught my second thermal at about 1,000ato as i flew over a short section of dual carriageway, it was a 1-2.5 up but i wasn't one to complain and stuck with it. i soon lost it only to pick up another soon after which took me back up to 3,000ato. I was starting to get the hang of this! An hour in and my new harness(secondhand and as i found out today...TOO BL**DY SMALL) starting getting really uncomfortable, and to add to the disomfort of the harness, i was starting to feel the cold. Having not really imagined going XC today i had taken off with only my summer gloves and a light hoody top on, believe you me i will not be making that mistake again!

1 hour and 50 mins in and the discomfort got too much, i was struggling to concentrate so pulled big ears and headed for what turned out to be Whiteparish football club. Once on the ground i realised that I had left my phone in the car but with the help of a very helpful chap at the parish Tavern I managed to get through to Simon J who very kindly agreed to pick me up.

Amazing, now i can fully appreciate what all the fuss is about rather than just hearing others rave and rant about it. flying wingtip to wing tip with sailplanes, touching cloudbase and successfully managing to link thermals, what an awesome day! Total distance on my first XC......32km! happy as larry! Cheers Simon for picking me up, i hope I can repay the favour sometime! Daniel Von Mutius

Report by Shamus Pitts


Not the classic day at Cowdown that was forecast, but good fun none the less.

Nigel B and I got to the takeoff at about half past ten to find the wind blowing 10 to 14mph and maybe slightly off to the south, but not by much. The sky was looking like it would become overcast quite quickly so I got ready and took off. The air was a bit rough, a bit lifty, a bit scratchy at times but it was flyable! While I was flying Adrian C and Guy turned up so after a while I landed as there wasn't room for more than a couple of people to fly at a time.

The gusts came through fairly regularly , there were clouds in the sky, but it didn't seem to come together like we were hoping. By lunch time the sea-breeze had arrived and the wind was well off to the south, rough and unpredictable €“ at one point I was scratching so close to the hill I inadvertently passed through a medium sized bush! After about an hour and a quarter (split over 8 flights) the wind seemed to be getting quite strong and off the hill and the air was getting rougher so I landed. As I was packing up buzzards appeared for the first time to mock me, then a sailplane flew over! Typical! Nigel and I decided to come up with a plan €œB€ over a cup of tea at my house. After checking various weather sites we decided to have a look at Telegraph hill but when we got there the wind was well off to the west. After umming and arring for a while about where might be working we decided that Cowdown might be good(!) so headed back there with James Lynch in tow.

The wind seemed okay, but once I was in the air, hanging over some gorse while I felt about with my foot for the speed bar, I realised that conditions could be better! The wind was off to the southwest and top end. They say that if there's any south in the wind then Cowdown can be rough €“ they're not wrong! After 15 minutes of tearing downwind, hanging in to wind, being knocked about by gusts and suffering a 30ish% asymmetric I decided to land. James L took off while I was packing up and showed that conditions hadn't improved much. When james landed Nigel took off and it still looked rough, so I decided not to fly again and walked down.

Not the day I was hoping for but there's something about flying on your doorstep that can't be beaten!

Report by Jeremy Mortimer


A couple of pictures from Ringstead today.

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