Eye in the Sky - Apr 2010

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Mon 26 Apr 2010

Report by Adrian Coombe


Couple of small xc's from Telegraph Hill.

Picture shows Guy Anderson. The Sea Breeze clouds were just amazing, - however fairly hard to work! We did get as far as Bulbarrow. May not sound far but still, very memorable flights...

Report by Neil Mccain

Probably safest not to speak for anyone else, but I for one had a good day at Bell, flying to Badbury Rings on a right royal roller-coater of a trip, never reaching cloudbase and plenty of low low saves. Marcus and Pete were my guides, thanks guys! And I booked a couple of retrieves for later in the season from Paul and Shamus by picking them up. It's all good.

Report by Shamus Pitts


After spending a slightly disappointing morning at Cowdown which involved some quite rough air and a bit of a walk from Cerne I decided that the sensible people were at Bell Hill so went to join them.

I got there about 4pm, just in time to see Paul H head over the back so I quickly got ready and took off. The wind was off to the west, although at times it seemed like it was off to the north as well, but there was plenty of lift. I noticed that the smoke from a bonfire was going straight up despite the strong wind so I headed over to it and bought myself a ticket to XC€”ville! The sea-breeze front was very close and the wind was pushing me east so I headed to the north of Bournemouth airspace. Despite the wind direction it was still very difficult to avoid the airspace, the clouds were forming streets right in to it but I couldn't give in to the temptation! Once I'd passed Blandford I started to get quite low, but 2 circling buzzards showed me the way to a great thermal that gave me back plenty of height. The rest of the flight was spent heading towards big clouds trying to find lift then turning away because they were inside Bournemouth airspace! In the end I had to land at Mannington for 29.75km. huge thanks to Neil M for the retrieve!

Report by Gary Mullins

Managed to get out for a few hours. Got to a deserted Ringstead after 1pm and conditions seemed ok. Took off (didn't put rucksack in harness - won't need it), bimbled about, headed for the cliffs picking up bits on the way. Got to first house with plenty of height, turned left and...........dropped like a stone. All the way to the beach! No lift at all. Zero, zilch, nada..... Strange.

For those that don't know, it's about a 450 foot TTBeach. Got back to top and had another go. Nice and thermic (bumpy)conditions again. Stayed on ridge this time. Hope those inland had better luck.

Sat 24 Apr 2010

Report by Sean Staines



With a strong SSE wind forcast for the afternoon I decided to give Mere a try. I arrived about 2 o'Clock to see a couple of hang gliders flying and decided to rig and have a fly. All of the paragliders were grounded by the strong winds and gusty thermals but it was perfect for me to build up my airtime.

I flew for an hour in the company or a couple of rigids and a high performance flexwing. The first time I have flown the hang glider when I haven't quite had the sky to myself.

I hooked into a few good climbs and had enough height to top land on several occasions but eventually I opted to bottom land knowing that by the time I had de-rigged Andrea would arrive to pick me up.

A great aftternoon flight. The year long effort of learning to hang glide is definitely paying off with more airtime and fun.

Fri 23 Apr 2010

Report by Shamus Pitts


I had quite a good flight from Mere today, but it could have been a great flight if I had been better prepared.

I got to Mere about 10:30 and found the wind quite a lot stronger than I was expecting (16 €“ 20mph) and a bit off to the east. I had one flight in what must have been the roughest air I've ever flown in €“ it wasn't too bad up to about 300' ATO but above that it was horrible! I would imagine it was probably rotor coming over the spur and over-riding the wind being pulled up the hill by the thermals.

I had a break, during which time Martin F and Martin N both got away. By about 1:30 the wind had come round to the south a bit and the air was a bit smoother. Eventually I hooked in to something which felt quite promising so took it over the back where I stuck with it until I got just past Long Knoll. There were no clouds so I flew over likely looking fields while I scratched around for lift and eventually found myself in heavy sink over Longleat! Not ideal! I figured if the air was sinking fast, somewhere nearby it must be rising fast so hunted around and eventually found a good climb which took me up to the inversion.

I drifted over Frome, finding another climb just past the town. There were a few bits and pieces after that before I found another good climb near Beckington. It was at this point I noticed the battery in my GPS was nearly flat. I had some more batteries in the car but they weren't much use there! I thought that I was going to have to turn my GPS off quite soon then switch it back on when I was getting close to landing but I realised I was going to need it on to navigate the Bath Gap €“ I thought it would look a bit suspicious if my tracklog disappeared before the Bath Gap then reappeared after it! That was the first bit of bad preparation €“ I also didn't know if the Bath Gap was open or not (if it's open we can pass through below 4500', if it's not then the limit is 3500'). I thought the subject might crop up in conversation on the hill €“ it didn't! I thought about going round the gap but there was a bit of airspace that I wasn't sure about and my airchart was safely zipped up in my paraglider bag, somewhere inside my harness! Oops! I found another good climb near Limpley Stoke which I took as high as I dared then headed over to the gap. I had to assume that it wasn't open so kept below 3500' €“ I wasn't sure whether the height restriction was from sea level or ground level so decided that 2500' ATO would probably be okay. I kept below this height all the way over Bath but once I got to the other side I was low and, despite a couple of attempts, couldn't get back up and had to land near Upper Swainswick for 37km.

If I'd made sure I had fresh batteries in my GPS, new whether that Bath Gap was open (it was), knew all the airspace details, had my airchart with me, knew the height of Mere and Bath, I might have been able to fly a bit further! Or maybe I wouldn't...

Report by Richard Chambers


After parawaiting all day at Bell Hill on Tuesday I was badly in need of a flying fix so I decided to head to Barton after work. Got there just before 4pm to find light but scratchable conditions with a couple of wings skimming the cliff top. I decided to wait and see if conditions improved so got the camera out and took a few photos of Gary on the tandem. Just after 5 the conditions did indeed pick up and it was possible to get a whole 20ft above the cliffs. It would be rude not to get the kit out of the car now! With the help of 3 people holding up my wing to the breeze and a bit of fancy footwork I was away on my first flight at Barton. It felt good to be back in the air and I must say that everyones airmanship was top notch and even with the light conditions we all gave each other space. My flight ended up at the bottom as the wind died but it was a perfect landing by the path back up the cliff so not a disaster. Anyway, a brilliant introduction to Barton and I can't wait to fly there again. Left the Gopro in the car so no video this time.

Oh and here is a video from Nepal: Flying in Circles With Friends - Paragliding in Nepal http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJ6fBSbdbnw

Tue 20 Apr 2010

Report by Rob Dowdell

Bell Hill €“ a HG and Rigid paradise as the strong north westerly kept the PGs grounded. As John Alder reports it was a good day albeit a bit rough at low level with the early cumulus almost gone by lunchtime. I launched at 1.20pm and got a steady series of climbs with two other HGs, ending up at 4600ft amsl at Winterborne Stickland after about 30mins. I then did a couple of cross wind legs towards Milborne St Andrew to give me a downwind run clear of airspace to the coast. I was above 3000ft amsl for most of the flight only dropping to 2300ft at the end of Wareham forest. Brilliant view and not a sniff of any volcanic material! Good climb over Wareham back to 4400ft where I caught a glimpse of a rigid heading for Bere Regis and then went on a glide to land at Durlston Country Park at Swanage at 3.15. Got home at 9.30pm €“ a faff getting back but worth it!

Report by John Alder

Bell Hill. A smashing day with quite a few hangies present - some having gone XC before I arrived. Everard had bottom landed and Steve Whitfield was about to launch when I arrived.

Steve had a good flight except he clipped the fence attempting to top land - he's OK but the glider sustained some damage. Thanks to all for helping to right his glider. I had a very pleasant and satisfying flight, there was plenty of lift about including some blue thermal activity that lifted me to 320m ATO and over Belchalwell and Ibberton villages. A choppy but well managed top landing rounded off the flying for me.

Stuart (visitor with a VQ rigid) had an impressive flight - I guess he reached 1000m ATO. Everard re-launched and soared successfully before top landing; he said he'd found it a bit rough. I was too tired to wait for the wind to drop enough to fly the PG but there were several stalwarts waiting for that opportunity - I'm guessing that the wait proved worthwhile

Mon 19 Apr 2010

Report by Grant Oseland


Southbourne Nice sneaky flight at Southbourne this evening after work. Joined Neil, Steve and a third pilot who, for the life of me I can't remember his name despite Neil telling me about 3 times. Then later Roger turned up muttering how rubbish work is. It was a bit cold on the hands but nice and smooth and the first gap to Bournemouth was not to hard to cross. There where also a few people waving from the Hotels which was nice to see.

Sun 18 Apr 2010

Report by Alastair Florence


The wife fancied a taking it easy in the garden afternoon, I dont really do these so took a walk up Knitson.

Virtually no wind on top but the flock of thermalling crows in front suggested it was thermic. No mad cows to contend with today.

My first launch was not that sucessfull and after about 2 beats of the ridge I was 100ft over the landing field where I stayed for about the next 5 mins working some weak lift. I almost couldn't be bothered to walk back up but a few thermalling birds and nothing much to do for the next couple of hours coaxed me back up.

This time I launched from beside the tumuli and found small weak thermals which I was able to work for the next 45 mins on occasions up to about 170ft ato. Hard work to stay up but good fun and better practice. Simon B had a go as well.

Kind of ironic, drive 8 hours there and back to the Mynd yesterday for 20 mins airtime, drive 8 minutes today for 55 mins airtime, kind of un- balanced !

Sat 17 Apr 2010

Report by Neil Harris

Barton on Sea.

Pleasant flying for an hour or so in variable strength off to the east a bit.

Video of landing on you tube. Difficulty uploading a longer version but it may appear at some time.


Report by Alastair Florence

ABCC round on the Long Myndd on Saturday, nice campsite, cold overnight, yes that is ice on my tent.

Sean and Andrea, Nick and Gill, Rob P, Alex F and Martin B present.

Beautiful site in a lovely part of the country. However not such a good day for flying, heavily inverted and pretty much zero wind, what little there was was mostly Southerly but so light as to not cause a problem, weak thermals late in developing. I managed one very pleasant boat about up to 500ft ato but pushed out a bit to far in front and lost it.

Only a handfull of sky gods got high a bit later in the day with about 3 having an impressive out and return or triangly sort of flight. Makes you realise there is a big gap between the true Sky gods and the rest of us minions.

A spot landing contest was also underway, quite a skill but not sure it would hold my interest for long, any part of a chosen field is accurate enough for me, failing that the field next door ! Not to busy with many pilots going elswhere or choosing to do more productive things, one guy had a full frontal in front of me at about 20ft over the hill, fortunately he landed safely on his arse without harm, I guess the thermals where tracking along the hillside rather than over with some turbulent edges, he was in a pod which meant he had no time to lower the undercarriage, I wonder if he may have sustained a leg injury if his legs had been free.

Hope Sunday is better for the team, I had prior engagements at home today.

Report by Craig Byrne


Wickham (Paramotor flight) I had a great flight on a day even with airspace was shut, with an amazing sunrise and amazing brilliant views as I flew along. The flight took me over Hayling & The Witterings and back again to Wickham 57k. Best height 2000asl on water crossings :-)

Thursday 15th April

Report by John Alder

Monk's Down. Met up with Steve Whitfield on the hill at lunch time. Wind was off to the east to a greater or lesser extent but the strength was manageable so we decided to have a go. I took off first and as I expected it was pretty rough but there was plenty of lift. This was my first HG flight for 5 months - and a bit of a 'tester'! There was some thermal development and I topped out at 250m ATO; fastest climb was 5.5m/s but fastest sink 4.7m/s so control was sometimes hard and after an hour and a quarter I decided to call it a day. In spite of having 175m ATO and lots of VG at the launch end of the ridge, I failed to make the top landing area in the strong easterly headwind and had to settle for a bottom landing. Meanwhile Steve had a good, if gnarly flight and had wisely decided to bottom land after 20 minutes or so. We had also been joined by Nick from the Avon Club on his Ghostbuster rigid. I got home to hear on the news that "all UK Airspace was closed and no flying of any sort took place today"! OH YEAH.... ghostly HG's Apache helicopters, Pipers and Cessnas must just have been apparitions then!

Wed 14 Apr 2010

Report by Wayne Bevan

Last Saturday provided much flying for all disciplines at Mercuy albeit the conditions at first were light.

May I thank those PG pilots who displayed good airman-ship & discipline when scratching & having to slope land.

Most of these pilots did their best not to hang around in front of the hang gliders who were waiting to launch & even having slope landed carried back to the take off area.

However a small minority of pilots ignored this common sense approach & through pure ignorance not only 'kited' the PG back up the slope from below the fence line but also took off from the same point directly below the sight line of those on the hill! This was directly in front of the HG pilots who were waiting to take-off! The pilots were spoken to & advised (by HG pilots) which raised an important point. These pilots appeared to be visiting pilots & claimed not to know the site rules/code of conduct etc! Did they not receive a site briefing or communicate with anyone? They also seemed ignorant of the dangers of kiteing up the slope below other pilots sight lines. it was only due to the fact that the HG pilots were aware of the situation which prevented a serious incident.

A HG pilot on a take off run cannot abort without serious consequences! May I wish you all a safe & enjoyable year

Wayne Bevan SSC Coach co-ordinator copies to Wessex/TVHPC/

Sun 11 Apr 2010

Report by Sean Staines

The Wessex team arrived at take off for the 10am ABCC briefing. Unfortunately the comp was cancelled as the wind was gusting to 18mph. Fortunately I had plan B on top of the campervan and with Craig's much appreciated help we got my hang glider to take off. I launched and it immediately looked like I was heading for a sled ride to the landing field but after calming down and working the lift I eventually managed to get back to take off height and started off down the ridge towards the Worcester beacon. A stonking climb of over 4m/s took me up to 800ft ato and things got much easier. I did up the zip on the harness and started to push out into the turns as Martin had old me and it certainly makes things much easier.

After 45 minutes I was feeling quite tired and set off for the hang glider landing field near the showground. An excellent flight.

Sat 10 Apr 2010

Report by Shamus Pitts


I had a great day at the Malverns today in the BCC.

The wind was pretty light and off to the ESE when we got there but the thermals started to come through and a gaggle of us managed to find a decent one and take it over the back. There was hardly any drift so by the time my climb petered out about 2000' ATO I was only about half a kilometre behind the ridge. There was an inversions at about 4000' AMSL so there were no clouds and it was quite hazy. I headed off downwind in the hope of picking something up and found something that wasn't really working but eventually turned in to a stonking climb up to about 2700' ATO. A short glide downwind found me another climb up to the inversion, then a long glide down to some hills near Woolhope had me and the rest of the gaggle scratching around for ages in weak lift that kept disappearing then coming back. I took it up to about 1700' ATO then gave up on it and headed off downwind again while the rest of the gaggle stuck with it.

I was quite low when I got to Fownhope but was hopeful the town would produce something. I scratched around for a while, climbing very slowly in a thermal that might have been triggered by the river out in front, before heading over to some woodland that bordered some ploughed fields. A glider was circling below and ahead of me so I joined him and found a good, but rough, climb that gave me back a couple of thousand feet. The climb seemed to die before it got to the inversion so I headed off to the next ploughed field and woodland and found a thermal that rocketed me back up to the inversion. I was joined by a couple of pilots from the previous gaggle and we milked the climb before going our separate ways. After a short glide, only losing about 500', I found more lift which took me back up to the inversion.

I was heading for Pontrilias danger area so I had to decide which side I was going to pass it. As the drift seemed to be more WSW I headed for the south side, finding another good climb behind Orcop Hill. Another climb near Grosmont took me back to the inversion before finding another thermal south of Pandy. I topped up my height before going on my longest glide of the day, towards Sugar Loaf the round Ysgryrd and down over Abergavenny.

I got pretty low over Abergavenny, I could see a pilot packing up in a sports field and I thought I was going to have to land in Castle Meadows, but I found a weak, scratchy climb which slowly took me upwards. A pilot from the gaggle flying an Avax XC2 joined me and eventually the climb turned in to something more useable and we climbed up above the Blorenge where I found a strong climb that took us over the back of the Blorenge.

I was getting tired now, I'd been flying nearly 4 hours and I didn't want to end up in the Brecon Beacons! I aimed for the next town and went on a glide. The sun was behind the haze and I was expecting my flight to end quite soon. I glided over a lake next to Asda before landing in a field by a track just outside Nantyglo. A straight line of 67km, or 69.7km with turnpoints €“ a new pers

Report by Alastair Florence


A busy and difficult day at the ABCC on Malverns. Very light wind with weak bitty thermals on the hill. Better air down wind according to our team star of the day Shamus, Craig B also scored, I managed an 'impressive' ??? 4.37km straight line, As I sometimes say every dog has its day and i'm sure Shamus will tell us more about his, well deserved in difficult conditions.

Thu 08 Apr 2010

Report by Rob Dowdell

Hang Glider perspective:

While Neil McCain reports a "good all round day at Bell on the 8 Apr", for me, as the one hang glider pilot there, it was another lost chance to get a decent flight in light thermic conditions. The PG pilots in the Club just don't understand the problems of mixed flying from the hangie point of view - I wrote a long article for Airmail a few years ago, that Roger reprinted last year, trying to explain the problem in detail, but I guess some of those there on Thursday had not read it or just don't care. The key point is that when a hang glider launches in light conditions, if the pilot fails to fly straight into a thermal and climbs out, the result is a bottom landing, followed by an hour spent de-rigging, walking back for the car, driving down to load up, driving back up, re-rigging ie the HG pilot's day is pretty much over. For the PGs the worst case is a slope landing and a short walk, then take off in the next cycle - usually to subsequently sky out while the hang glider pilot is throwing his battens around the bottom landing field in frustration!

To launch and climb out in such conditions is difficult enough anyway on a PG or a HG, but it becomes almost impossible for the hangie if a whole load of PGs launch at the same time that the HG pilot takes off - the speed and turning circle size differences are just enough to make it like flying through a minefield for the HG pilot.

On Thursday I launched in pretty much nil wind, with the one PG airborne starting to climb in the bowl and three buzzards working a thermal above him. I did this after about an hour waiting clipped in because all the PGs bar one were on the hill, I had good indications of a climb coming and I thought I might get just have a chance to get up before all the PGs re-launched. Yes - hang gliders can launch in nil wind, please stop coming up to us hangies and saying "it's a bit light for you isn't it" - we just have to run hard, but obviously with nil wind there is going to be no ridge lift so we need that thermal.

I hit weak lift in the bowl but was then was joined immediately by three PGs who had obviously inflated their wings as the thermal blow started to come through at take-off. An orange and off-white wing tried to work the same bit of air as me - this can be OK if you get yourselves on opposite sides of the turn in a 360, but we ended up trying to S-turn in opposite directions. I came round a left turn in the bowl and was faced with the PG pilot coming head on but looking up at his wing instead of looking at me - I had to put him on my left and the hill on the right - not nice. I pulled on speed to get some roll control, got close to hill and by then he saw me and turned a bit so we passed safely. I turned to try and get back into the thermal but had to go out from the hill due to the PG traffic and that was it - down to the bottom.

So thank you to the PG pilots who moved out of my way so I could actually launch, but no thanks to those who decided to launch just after me. I suppose it is too much to ask you guys to just wait and see if the HG gets a couple of hundred feet above ridge height in such conditions - once we have some height mixed flying is not a problem. At least look at the other gliders rather than looking at your wing - what are you looking for? Anyway thanks to Everard, who had arrived with his HG by then, for coming down to give me a lift up. I was able to get him shortly afterwards for much the same reason.

Report by Neil Mccain


A good all-round day at Bell for the 20 or so that 'found the time' to be on the hill. Conditions were light but thermic - lots of scratching around in the bowl trying to connect with the little cores. He's too modest to say, but Ian had the flight of the day by sticking with one such ragged, mini-core, eventually drifting over the back and making his way to the coast. Far from classic conditions, he arrived at Corfe with only 600 feet, and having been low several times already he was planning a landing. As he did so, he realised the sea-breeze had reached the ridge, and was able to soar all the way along it to Swanage! A gaggle of others got away later in the afternoon. Among them was Duncan making a determined opening bid for this year's rookie award with his first xc to Winterborne Kingston - excellent! Finally, for those late hangers-on, the wind picked up a little after most gone home and provided a pleasant hour's bimble in warm buoyant conditions.

Report by John Alder


Cerro de Cabeco de Camara, Algarve, Portugal. Tuesday April 6th. Managed to sneak my PG into the baggage hold for a family trip to visit friends in Algarve. Although the weather was beautiful (if fairly cool) it took several days to make contact with the local club ("APAlgarve") who were then most welcoming and helpful. On the last day of our visit, we met up with Ricardo and Edouardo at this site near Loule a few km from the coast. There was a weak sea breeze which unfortunately failed to strengthen because of incoming high cloud. Despite all these snags, I did get a flight and Ricardo kindly gave my host Cornell a ride on his dual glider - Cornell was suitably thrilled!

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