Eye in the Sky - July 2009

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Fri 31 Jul 2009

Report by Roy Menage


I took the opportunity, since I was in the general area, to get down to Barton for a bit of a waft around. It was quite strong and gusty when I got there and after a couple of aborted attempts to get off, went for a cuppa with the family before trying again. Fortunately, it settled down enough to get off for a lovely boat around for a half an hour or so. Nice gentle thermals off the beach giving occasional height gains of around 130ft ATO. A few wing-overs and pitch oscillations as exercises. Tried big-ears and found they took rather a long time to come out. Anybody else experienced this with the Golden 2? Needed to take the family off to Corfe for a promised cream tea so the fun had to end.

Thanks to my son Andrew for the photos.

Thurs 30 Jul 2009

Report by Alastair Florence


Sheep are not generally acredited with having amazingly high IQ's, however the two I spotted whilst driving home last night in pouring rain were obviously sharp enough to realise that standing under a hedge would help to keep them dry.

Same field tonight and the sheep were out in the open and looking happy, sun shining and a stiff WNW breeze thrashing the bushes.

But it did look like the sort of evening that could turn flyable so I took a diversion via Bell. Karl was on the hill flying a model (glider not female) and reckoned it was calming down, we decided it was just about do-able, Harry D and Derek arrived and we all got rigged. Whilst rigging a couple of RAF planes jetted by at just over hill top height.

The wind was off West a fair bit and at first almost gale hangy strong, over the course of the next 45 mins it then dropped to almost zero.

We made the most of the window of opportunity, its anyones guess when the next chance may be !

Sat 25 Jul 2009

Report by Alastair Florence


I arrived at Whitesheet early PM to see Gary P hurtle up and away as if under jet propulsion. Paul H was bimbling on the ridge, Sean S soon joined and we had a few flights (never a pleasant experience at Whitesheet), a few visitors turned up and had a go. After a bit the wind picked up and went off South and that was that.

I ventured up Worth Matravers way this evening and saw 3 wings over Kimmeridge so gave St.A's a try, quite strong and alot of South, it could have been perfect for a crossing to the tout but had just a tad too much south to gain the required height to cross safely. Looks like Long Mynd was good today (plus an unusual flight off Devils Dyke, can you really do that without going through airspace ? (see xc league new entries)), fingers crossed for BCC final next week.

Report by Shamus Pitts



Finally, a flyable day! As the forecast was for it to start westerly and go round to the southwest later in the day I got up early and was at the top of Cowdown by 8:30am.

The wind was strong and gusty but after about 15 minutes it was still strong and gusty but not quite as bad! I took off to find the air lovely and buoyant with the odd thermal coming through. A couple of times I started to head over the back with a promising thermal, only to lose it and head back to the ridge. I landed after an hour and a half just as Roy M turned up.

I had another flight but this time ended up very low. I was less than 10' from the ground and just about to land in the field at the bottom of the hill, but managed to scratch my way along the hedge line that ran across the bottom of the hill and up on to the spur and I eventually made it back to the top of the hill €“ result!

I had a couple more flights but the sea-breeze front was getting closer and closer and the wind had already gone WSW. I decided that this was probably going to be my last flight of the day so I took off one last time. The air was starting to get rough at times and the lift was patchy at best but Roy seemed to find a couple of hundred feet from somewhere so I headed over to him and found a weak climb. I stuck with it, drifting over the back only about 250' ATO. The climb never really sorted itself out and by the time I got near Cerne Abbas I was still only 800' ATO and I'd lost the thermal completely. I flew over the ginat trying to find it again but all I found was sink and I started checking out the fields by the caravan park on the ridge above Cerne to find a suitable landing place.

I chose my field and was just about to commit to landing when I noticed 3 buzzards playing in the bowl behind the giant. I put on a boot full of bar , heading low over the road in to wind and making it to the bowl with a few feet to spare. I thought the air in the bowl might be pretty rough and it was! There was rotor coming off the spurs on each side, the wind was top end and gusty and it was all fairly horrible! I must have been in the bowl about half an hour with the buzzards playing the whole time. I was fairly sure that my flight was over and the only thing stopping me landing was that I thought I'd get spanked if I got too low! Eventually 2 of the buzzards started circling low out over the field in front and I pushed out to them. One turn and I was back near the road and not much higher than I had been before, but I tried another turn and ended up about 150' over the corn field the other side of the road. The lift was bitty and weak at best, maybe a half up for half a turn, but I stuck with it as I was covering ground again and by the time I got to about 350' above the ground I was getting more consistent (but still pretty weak) lift. I eventually settled in to a 1.5 up and took it to about 1500' ATO (the highest I managed to get). There were some big tall clouds not far away so I decided to try and stay clear of them and head for the smaller ones a bit further north.

The lift never became strong or consistent, it was just a case of nibbling at the bits that came through. Fortunately there seemed to be little bits and pieces fairly frequently and I managed to maintain between 800' and 1500' ATO, there just weren't any really satisfying climbs.

I drifted past Bulbarrow and saw some huge clouds over Bell Hill. I bright yellow helicopter flew past below and ahead of me and landed on Okeford hill where there was something orange and looking a bit like a paraglider in a field near takeoff but I can't imagine that it was one. The lift seemed to dry up a bit so I made a last push for Hambledon, hoping to soar the west side. Unfortunately I didn't quite have the height to make it and landed in a field at the foot of the hill for 25km.

I'd just about written off July after all the unflyable weather we've had recently but nearly 3 ½ hours in the air and finally going XC from Cowdown more than made up for it!

Mon 20 Jul 2009

Report by John Alder

Ringstead Bay. I managed ½ an hour's soaring on my Xtreme HG in the company of Paul (PG Pilot) from Condors and in the face of the advancing light rain which eventually curtailed our enjoyment. Good to get airborne however, since the next few days look hopeless for flying. Thanks to whoever it was that left us a sitephone message.

Sat 18 Jul 2009

Report by Alastair Florence


I was sat having supper and noticed it had stopped raining and the gale force winds had dropped. I was just wondering whether St. Aldhems might be worth a look when Quentin rang wondering the same thing.

On t/o it was about 5 mph but soon increased to a steady 9-11mph. Once in the air the breeze must have increased more as we were soon getting 200 - 400ft ato, a bit overcast but just nice enough to get a fly after such an abismal couple of weeks.

We both had about an hour then flew back to the car park, A.visitor launched as we were wrapping up and we had a quick chat with his wife then headed for home or the Square and Compass respectively.

Thurs 16 Jul 2009

Report by Simon Jones

I got up later than planned to find four messages on the Sitephone by 10.30! Clearly others had had the same idea as me, and had succeeded where I had failed! The short window of opportunity was clearly an early days flying before the rain hammered through in the afternoon. I headed to White Horse to find it slightly top end, but apparently on the hill. Being alone, I reasoned that others must be somewhere else, so, with Bowleaze in mind, I headed back to the car, where I met up with a couple of pilots, including William Edge. We headed down to Bowleaze as there appeared to be more East in the bowl than on the Horse.

Thence followed a good few hours of jolly japes and 'medium to high jinks' - a few pilots revelling in the joy of a few precious snatches of airtime in the midst of a frankly disappointing stretch of weather. William had a really good couple of flights - quickly acclimatising to the unfamiliarly tight nature of this site. I was the last to leave, deciding to land as the rain became increasingly heavy. The 'fly it dry' principle only really applies to passing showers, it would appear.

Mon 13 Jul 2009

Report by Duncan Haysom


Verbier 5 - 12th July 2009 Just spent the last week with the magnificent Verbier Summits in Switzerland Weather wasn't the best but still got a shed load of flying in and passed my CP There were a few sky-gods there on holiday which was great for a beginner like me.

Duncan With local pilot Jerome on a two hour tandem

Fri 10 Jul 2009

Report by Simon Jones

I arrived at Whitesheet shortly after noon to find one pilot and the wind directly on the hill. Although it was firm and a bit gusty at times, height gains were initially limited. However, it soon improved and we had about 300' ATO at various points. Smooth at first, conditions soon became increasingly rough. The wind then strengthened and I was struggling to penetrate at times. Eventually I pushed forward with bar to land in the bottom field. After a nice walk back to take-off I met a party of hangie pilots from Bell. By this time the wind had strengthened significantly so we all went home.

Thu 09 Jul 2009

Report by John Alder

Bell Hill. Sitephone messages told of a strengthening breeze so I set off expecting to fly my old Airwave Xtreme HG for the first time since it was superseded by the Airborne C2 (awaiting spares). It proved to be an excellent flight €“ it was only rough near the ground and I spent an hour in the air almost entirely above 200m ATO €“ I got to 650m ATO at one point and flew round Belchalwell church and the aerials and finished with a confidence-boosting, perfect top landing. I have to say that I noticed the relatively poor handling of the Xtreme but I'm definitely not grumbling after such a super flight!

Report by Paul Hawkins


Bell Hill blew out at around mid day and thinking it was a too windy to pack on the hill I decided to do it at home, much to the delight of our cat Cleo! I'm sure she thought she was helping out but lost her a few times in the cells!

Mon 06 Jul 2009

Report by Andrew Fenton

For the few Wessex members who were at Mere last Tuesday evening as reported by Ali, I have just put a 5 minute video compilation on Youtube.

Sun 05 Jul 2009

Report by Grant Oseland


Looked at the weather last night and decided that an early start was on the agenda for Ringstead as it was going to get blown out, arrived to find quite thick orographic cloud all over the Jurassic coast and Russel W boating about in it, and a strong wind so wasted no time getting airborne. As expected lift was not a problem just visibility at times so decided to push out to the cliffs and have a look to see if they were clear of clag. The photos speak for themselves but to see the cloud moving as fast as it was gave the impression that the cliff face was burning the entire length all the way down to St Albans, After about an hour I decided that going forward at 1-2 kph was a bit much so landed, still nice flight.

Sat 04 Jul 2009

Report by Alastair Florence


I was just thinking the other day, its been ages since i've had a good fly on Ballard, things were put right today though.

Early am it was probably flyable but I was busy and then it rained. by about 1130hrs I was ready to check things out and Ballard still looked like best bet although a bit east and not very strong.

I seemed ok on t/o and worth a try. After 30 mins in the air the wind was picking up noticably and coming round more SSE so it was hard work pushing back up from part way to Old Harry.

Keith W turned up and we both flew in fairly strong conditions with orographic cloud forming from 200-300ft up.

The ridge was now working well and I got about 950ft amsl down near the obelisk, seemed a shame to waste the height so I flew over Ulwell gap and on to Knitson then headed for Corfe topping up on height as I came across thermals.

The last bit of ridge just before Corfe is normally pretty rough. As I passse the last aerial the wind seemed to be far more Easterly and the air became badly rough. Plan A was fly over the castle and try to get up the ridge further.

As I started hitting rotor I wasn't quite so sure about plan A and then the wing turned into the worst bag of washing I've had for a long time, fortunately I avoided a cascade but was kind of bracing myself for the crunch as I hit the hill, I was quite pleased though to here a crack as the wing reinflated though instead.

I abandoned plan A and swithed to plan B which was try and fly back to Ballard. Below the most Western aerial there are some 11kv power lines and as I approached I had another turbulent moment and decided to cut my losses and go for plan C, LAND whilst I could.

I walked back near to Tabbits hill and relaunched, then had a fairly uneventfull flight back over the gap to Ballard.

Alan W, Neil W, Dave T, A hangy, and maybe an ebayer were now on Ballard. After a bit the wind went SW so it was time to go home.

Frustrate-ingly my flight measured 14.87 km making it too short to enter as a turn point flight on the xc league, (maybe I should get Rog to complain on my behalf)(or maybe I should just fly further) never mind, I enjoyed the experience. Peachometer 8.5 Sat 04 Jul 2009

Report by Shamus Pitts


My plan to today was to go to Bowleaze Cove for a while, the head to Friar Waddon when the wind had gone round to the south, but on my way to Weymouth I saw somebody flying at the White Horse so decided to stop and have a look.

When I got there John W told me that it was a bit off to the SE and fairly strong but that there might be one last flight to be had before it's blown out, so I unpacked and took off. The wind was well off to the SE, pretty strong and horribly rough, a real exercise in active piloting! After 5 minutes I landed and a couple of Sky Surfers turned up. After an hour I'd almost forgotten how rough the air was so I decided to have another go. The wind felt a little stronger but the direction felt a little better so up I went! It turned out that it was still strong and rough, with the wind still off to the SE. I persevered though and even managed to throw in a couple of 360's, but after about 20 minutes I decided that it was time to land. I could see John S and Russell W flying at Bowleaze Cove so I decided to pack up and head there.

Just as I finished packing my gear away, Jason (a visiting pilot) decided that the wind had dropped a bit and the direction was better so took off. I watched him for a while then unpacked and took off as well. The direction did seem better but it was still quite strong. We had a good hour being hoovered up and then dropped like a stone, but it was a bit more relaxed than the mornings flying. Gary M turned up and joined in the fun, and Darren (Sky Surfer) reappeared and joined us in the air.

Gary and I had one more flight but after 20 minutes the wind had picked up quite a bit and we both landed.

Quite a lively day at the horse but it turned out okay in the end!

Sat 04 Jul 2009

Report by Everard Cunion


I finished a film in my wing-mounted camera and the only photo that is any good is this one at Bell Hill last summer: BellHillAerosHarness2008-14cropped.jpg Looking back through some older photos, this one above the west bowl at Monk's Down demonstrates my sometimes over-enthusiastic coring of thermals, possibly assisted by turbulence on this occasion: MonksDownJuly2005_02crankNbank3.jpg Same day, same place, you can see the twin-pole power/phone line pylon that I am almost directly above in the preceding photo: MonksDownJuly2005_03HoChiMinhTrail.jpg The latter photo was taken just after a convoy of North Vietnam army trucks pulled off the trail and into the trees, but I radioed for an air strike anyway...

"Oh, Everard, you remember a while ago you asked me to mention it next time you went off on one of your Nam fantasies?" "Yes?" "Well, you're doing it again now." "Oh."

Fri 3 Jul 2009

Report by John Alder

Ringstead Bay. Fresh Gusty WSW wind and clear but hazy blue sky. I rightly suspected that, once established on the cliffs, the wind would be much stronger and westerly €“ a recipe for rough conditions in the landing field! I enjoyed an hour's soaring over a wide area in the company of Derek McCann (Sky Surfer) on his Rigid HG. I was really tossed about on my landing approach and missed an upright when going into budgie, thus stalling the glider and initiating an unstoppable downwind turn followed by a groundloop €“ ouch!... Luckily, I'm mostly intact and the glider apparently only suffered damage to the control frame but repairs are going to be expensive. Once more this site we love so much proves that it needs respect, caution and extra care if you suspect the true prevailing wind is really off to the west. Gary Dear and Everard turned up whilst I was packing up but still hadn't launched by the time I left at about 7.00pm; by that time the wind had subsided €“ may be it was even paraglidable

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