Eye in the Sky - May 2010

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Mon 31 May 2010

Report by Shamus Pitts


It was a day of surprises today.

The first surprise was turning up at Monksdown at about 10am to an overcast sky and a cold wind to find it surprisingly thermic. The wind was a bit off to the east so the tree-covered spur to the left of takeoff seemed the best place to be. I managed to thermal up to about 1100' ATO and push right out in front of the hill. I tried to get out to Whitesheet but it was a lot further than I thought, I probably only got two thirds of the way.

As the morning went on the wind dropped and went more easterly so in the end it was a question of waiting for a breeze to come up the hill before taking off for a short flight. The wind sock was now either hanging limply or pointing the wrong way so I packed up and headed to Ringstead with Richard M.

The second surprise of the day was to find it looking promising at Ringstead and then finding there wasn't a lot of lift! The wind at Ringstead was fairly light and slightly off to the south but it was gusting through every now and again so I unpacked and took off. I got no height on the ridge but thought I might make it to the cliffs because there wasn't much headwind and there was a bit of thermic activity. I arrived at the cliffs very low but built up my height in front of the big house and made it on to the main cliffs. The air was surprisingly rough and the cliffs weren't working very well. I flew to White Nothe and got to about 150' ATO but the air didn't feel buoyant at all. I tried going round White Nothe, thinking the wind might be a bit off to the south but the cliffs weren't working at all and it was slow getting back so that was that theory out the window! I flew back towards the big house and lost height most of the way. A couple of people had flown out to the cliffs and had to land on the beach and I thought I was going to end up there too. I was still above cliff top height so I decided to try and land near the old takeoff on the clifftop. It sloped quite steeply but I got in okay and there was no rotor so I packed up relieved that I didn't have to walk all the way back from the beach!

Report by Mark Tattersall

The forecast was pretty clear it would seabreeze, so I went to Ringstead at 1pm and waited. The seabreeze arrived shortly after me, but was weak at first, and the sky was overcast both inland and out to sea. By 2pm it was strong enough for short flights in weak thermic cycles. By about 3.30 the sun came on the hill and it was more bouyant. I tried for the cliffs,and although made it I could not connect with the main cliffs - unlike Shamus (?) who did, and eventually landed on the beach. Luckily for me the pilot who landed before me had arranged a retrieve (many thanks Gary for the lift!). Once back up the hill it was working again, and this time I did make it to the cliffs and back. It was now 5pm so time to pack up and go home, having had a pretty peachy afternoon all told.

Wed 26 May 2010

Report by Paul Hawkins


A pleasant afternoon/afterwork flight along the cliffs from Southborne to Poole and back, crossing all the gaps (just about!) with tricky low save at the Boscombe gap to complete the flight. Nice.

Sun 23 May 2010

Report by Nick Le Gras


Sean Staines and I opted for a paramotor flight ,we took off 1000hrs at Bedlinog Wales (the official motoring site ) the plan being to overfly the Tallybont reservoir circumnavigate the Brecon's clockwise and land at the Talybont car park ,following which we would free fly thereafter.

The plan worked well enough, just enough wind/thermic activity to ensure that I didn't ground loop and smash anything during take off , thermals during the flight proved to be easily used , Weather and scenery stunning , easily maintainable at Tallybont on arrival with engine off, Sean did free fly ,I couldn't be arsed to make the accent and called it a day All photos of Sean ( his wing is clearly a bit faster ) Flying time 1hr 7mins ,dist travelled 40k,max speed 66 k/h, Average ,35k/h Great to put equipment ,weather and location together for a change !

Sat 22 May 2010

Report by Craig Byrne


Hi John, Here is team Wessex photo from Malverns..

Plus a couple of the Solent from 5000ft on the motor this evening

Report by Alastair Florence


Here are a few pictures of the 'Wessex thermal' featuring Shamus, sean S and Martin B, the one to be in seemed to be the 1315 hrs departure, which I missed as i had only just arrived following an earlier engaement.

this was made up for a beatifull evening waft in evening restitution still getting about 2000ft amsl max over the hill and 1500ft out over the showground. So bouyant I couldn't land without pulling in the ears.

Then stopped for a bag of chips on Birlip on the way home and watched 12 hot air balloons go over. Had the sort of day that makes you glad to be alive, peachy.

Report by Shamus Pitts


A good, but difficult, day for the Wessex team at the Malverns on Saturday. It was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky (unfortunately) with a fairly strong thermic breeze blowing up the hill when we arrived, so as soon as the briefing was over I took off.

The wind was a bit off to the north and it wasn't as lifty as I was hoping but I slowly made my way north along the ridge to Worcestershire beacon where I found a decent thermal that took me to 900' ATO. There was hardly any drift so I was still above the ridge and I decided not to go over the back just yet but to get more of a feel for the air instead. I made my way back down the ridge, losing most of my height in the process, and boated about for a while. Because the breeze was thermic it came and went and I found myself quite low a couple of times. At one point I was below the tree line half way down the hill and very close in to the trees and I was fairly sure I didn't have the glide to fly clear of the trees to anywhere suitable to land. For a while I was more anxious than I've been in a long time, but eventually I got myself in to a better position. By now I was too low to get to any of the fields that had looked so easy to reach from the top of the hill. I started soaring a short row of houses just up from the bottom of the hill and slowly managed to work my way back up, eventually finding a really rough climb that took me back to a couple of hundred feet above takeoff.

I was more determined to leave the hill now, so after a while I found a decent climb and took it over the back. The thermal seemed to fizzle out once I'd committed to leaving the hill and I ended up scratching about for lift but finding nothing really and landed about 8.5km downwind near Staplow. While I was packing up I saw a couple of gaggles fly over, the first of which had Paul H in it who landed near Hereford (after 3 hours of thermalling!) for about 30km.

Andrea picked me up, along with Martin B and Craig B who'd both landed near Ledbury and we went back to the hill. I took off again and found a huge area of lift that gave me a good climb to about 2000' ATO. As I was circling I drifted over to 3 other gliders circling in their own part of the lift, to find out they were Sean S, Martin B and Ali F! Sean was highest so he lead the way around the sky for a while before he headed off WNW while Ali and Martin went WSW. I followed Ali and Martin for a while but noticed that Sean was now a lot higher than us so I changed direction and flew over towards him. I was very low when I picked up a weak climb near the field I'd landed in earlier and very slowly built my height back up to about 1700' ATO before losing it and finding heavy sink. I flew over every likely looking thermal generator I could see but my vario continued its doom-laden tones and I ended up landing near Eastwood for about 14.5km. Again, as I was packing up I saw a gaggle fly over, possibly containing Martin F who landed south of Hereford for 34km! Andrea kindly picked me up again, along with Rob from Avon, a guy from the Southern club, and Paul H. We then picked up Sean S, Ali F and Martin B, so it was a bit of a squeeze in the camper! Back at the hill Ali decided to have another fly while Paul and I decided to head home. A difficult day but well worth the trip up there, and I think everyone in the Wessex team scored so hopefully we did quite well...

Report by Paul Hawkins

There was some excellent flying to be had on the hill at Kettle Sings today, but seeing as I was in the Bcc round I was forced to go over the back! Three solid hours of thermalling bore the fruit of a 28.64km open distance flight. A hard fought flight but very satisfying all the same! It looks like we scored well as a team with Master Foley flying 34+ km and others scoring well too. Thanks as always to Andrea for the retrieve. Brilliant day out!

Fri 21 May 2010

Report by Everard Cunion


JI have attached a result from a camera mounted on the wing on my Sting3 -- at last! It was taken on Saturday 15th May at Bell Hill. The film was well expired, which likely accounts for the visible grain. (One day I will replace that camera with a digital.)

Wed 19 May 2010

Report by Pete Robinson

Reading my report for Saturday again I realise that my response to Ali's compliment looks churlish. What I meant was that I would find it difficult to live up to, particularly with my inadequate ground-handling. Sorry Ali.

Report by Mark Fisher



The Bandidos.

mark fisher,jon wood,paul ebert,alan webb, gordon crisp,gary pocock.

Arrived Ager Spain sat 15th May no flying on sunday but monday and tuesday have been fantastic with good promise for the rest of the week. great thermalling with height gains to cloudbase of 3000ft ato.

Tue 18 May 2010

Report by David Winn

report by Dave Winn Another day of thermalling (oh lucky me - taking two weeks off) over Bell hill took me up to cloud base, over the back, pushing over Okeford Fitzpaine and then back to take off. At one point the wing disappeared behind me, then to my rhside and then tried to collapse in front of me. Pulling the brakes almost to my knees, I damped the dive only for it to happen again. I didnt like this much so when the vario screamed again I almost spun the glider to keep out of the huge sink and stay in the lift. Note to oneself - must make triangles at least twice the size! Landed back at t/o, had some lunch, said bye to Gary Puhl and then launched into a thermal. Watched Gary run from his car with his wing and launch. We both came back down. I launched again as Gary went back to his car. This time I hooked into a great thermal and as I gained height watched Gary once again run and launch off the hill. Three good climbs and a lot of scratchy stuff with slow progress took me to Wareham forest where I met Kelvin Helmholtz who eventually after a bit of a rough ride let me off and deposited me safely on the deck.

Report by Martin Butcher

Arrived at Bell about 4:45 to find a lot of people packing up as it was very light, but I decided to give it a go anyway. Mark Russell arrived about the same time as me but was quicker rigging and he wasnt having any problems staying up so I lobbed of to find it very light but still very bouyant. About 5:15 Mark hooked into a nice thermal so I went over to join him (Thanks Mark) I was soon behind the hill at 2000ft and still climbing but Mark had gone back to the hill so I stuck with it and got to cloudbase a 3500, not bad for gone 5 oclock. Hovever the drift was very light and I didn't think it would last much longer so I pressed on in zeros and 2's until I pushed too hard and ended up near Bere regis for just under 20k.

Just goes to show its never too late in the day to go XC!


Mon 17 May 2010

Report by Paul Hawkins

I had a very pleasant float about on Bell hill before work today, thermalling as high as possible without commiting to going over the back and pushing forwards to find just enough lift to float back to the hill in. I did this on two seperate occasions and each of these time could have gone xc but as always on week days work commitments stopped me! Booooo! Pilots on the hill included Pete C, Dave (Steptoe) W, Dereck S, Ian H, Mark R, Gary P among others.

Report by David Franklin


Arriving late in the afternoon I was fortunate to get up and away soon after take off.Myself and one other flew round and round each other until south of Blandford where we parted company. He or she may have made the better choice and flew off sw.I could see a large bonfire near Bloxworth with the smoke heading NE,so it seemed the sea breeze was still a long way in.By now I was under the "pan handle" so i climbed as high as permitted and left a strong climb to head northish.I nibbled my way along the edge of the air space until my luck ran out at Gaunts

Sunday 16th May

Report by Sean Staines

I took a punt on going to Rhossili on Saturday hoping to get a couple of Hrs on the hang glider and get rid of my Red ribbon. In the event I spent most of the day reading a book in the car as it drizzled, but by about 3:30 the edge of the front was in site so I got out the paraglider and walked up the hill for a recce.

There was no wind at all. I took the paraglider for a walk to the old WW2 remains at the other end of the ridge and poked about for a while. As I was walking back to the car to give up, the wind came onto the hill so I launched. Conditions steadily improved and I estimate that I got about 300ft above the hill which gives you 900ft above the massive beach.

At one point Orographic cloud formed a large bank along the ridge completely obscuring the downland. I always fly with a compass for just such eventualities and was happy to continue flying. It is a great challenge to try and get above the cloud and I was rewarded by being able to see my rainbow halo silhouette. One of those times I wish I had a camera.

This weekend was the first chance I've had to fly my new SKY Atis 3. I'd had a good couple of hrs at Barton on Friday and a nice 19km extended landing approach from Bell on Saturday so I took the opportunity Rhossili offers to try out a few manoeuvres. I did big ears, 50% asymmetrics and B-Lined it. It is very reassuringly well behaved. Definitely worth a look at if your thinking of a new wing.

Sat 15 May 2010

Report by Tim Pentreath


Batcombe worked well on Saturday with at least six people getting to Swanage, and many more scattered along the way... I've written a write-up of my flight here

Report by Peter Robinson

Hi John, Saturday 15th It was good to fly the paraglider again; first time this year. I had gone to the DGC airfield intending to rig my sailplane but thought the day didn't look too promising so changed plans. As it turned out it was a good day, without the promised showers and with some excellent lift around.

Being on the hill so infrequently means that nowadays I can't recognise pilots by the gliders they are flying so I didn't know it was Ali and Sean who were with me. Sean was, as Ali says, flying low enough to stay under the radar, but if I had known the other pilot was Ali I would have waited for him. I didn't actually head for Blandford as he thought, just to the nearest good-looking cloud and to make a bit of crosswind as the drift seemed a bit too S'ly for Swanage.

It was the sea breeze front that put me off. I started to think that Swanage, or at least Durlston, would be too far beyond it to be reachable, so I opted for flying to the airfield instead. To do that I now had to make a crosswind move in the other direction. This leg seemed like walking pace compared what I have become used to with the sailplane. (Please note that on approach I could see that I could get in under the circuit with no interruption to glider launch or landing.) A pleasant flight, a cup of coffee and a quick retrieve.

Very nice, particularly since so many of my old friends were on the hill.

P.S. I don't know if I like being described as "legendary". I suppose it's better than Russell's description of me as the "site grandfather" whatever that means.

Report by Alastair Florence


Bell Hill, nice conditions, took a fairly early climb out following the legendary Peter R and Sean S, Got to base at around 4100ft soon after Pete who then headed of toward Blandford, Sean seemed to decide to stay lower no doubt looking for bird nests (and seemd to stay hedge kicking for the rest of his flight which seemed to last suprisingly long as he looked like he was on a constant landing approach).

I took a glide to the next cloud and got a bit to adventurous with my hieght getting sucked a few hundred feet into the white room, tried a spiral but as soon as the glider began to crank over I lost all sense of which way up I was. So I relaxed and let gravity put me back where I should be and pulled in big ears, still not enough, so pulled bigger ears and a good bit of bar and soon popped out by coincidence heading in the right direction.

Onto next cloud and so on, The entrails of the sea breeze front where plain to see from a distance but on approach it was difficult to define the front as it seemed very messy. After building a bit of height on what must have been the North side of the front shortly before Corfe I took a glide toward Swanage, Once past my house (roughly in the middle of the urban picture) I figured I could just about make Durlston but instead opted to try for Ballard with a view to getting some hieght off the ridge and aiming for Studland, I didnt get there landing short next to the cemetary.

Whilst wrapping up I saw another glider coming along the ridge at Knitson, turned out to be Dave W who had followed me down.

Many thanks to Sean and Andrea who retrieved us. Peachometer 9.

Sat 15 May 2010

Report by Paul Hawkins

Wow two decent flyable days in a row for me! About time! Bell was working all day today with some strong tight thermals about. I had a nice little xc with Ian H, Marcus W and Stuart Martin on tandem with Farmer Martins daughter as Co Pilot! Highlight of the flight was a close quarters thermalling session with a Red Kite something that has only happened to me once bofore in Wales.

I got lucky enough to get retrived imediatly by Sean S and Andrea who were returning from Swanage with Dave W and Ali F! Brilliant Day!

Fri 14 May 2010

Report by Paul Hawkins

Southborne was perfect for the cliff run to Sandbanks and back vertually all afternoon and early evening with myself Voycheck and Alan making it there and back with ease.......kind of! A first for me so well pleased! I had the whole run of the cliff for nearly 2 hours all to myself.....Nice!

Thu 13 May 2010

Report by Jon Harvey

Arrived at Eype around 10.30am. seemed ok possibly on the light side, so had a flight to Seatown,and return, landed and updated flyphone etc. Wind now picking up, 15mph max according to my meter. Trouble in walking forward, but lifted well, and immediately gained height. Flew to Westbay, as far as the new ugly building near the harbour. Returned, then to Thorncombe, had around 900 ft asl then to Seatown. Crossed over but unable to climb tup the east side of Golden Cap. Eventually returned to Eype, top landing out, so landed at the bottom of the slope.

Another flight, to Thorncombe, again very good height, 1000ft + then back to the middle of the harbour at Westbay, initially thought of going to Burton, but long walk back, or the OAP bus pass, back to Westbay, so decided enough for the day, and landed at Eype. By 1pm totally blown out.

Looked there again this evening arriving 5pm, but still blown out, eventually GF and RG arrived also hoping for that relaxing evening flight till sunset. Gave up at 7.30pm.

Report by Alastair Florence


Dropped by St.Aldhelms after work today, quite a strong wind and well off South but sometimes you can get a decent flight in these conditions here.

Emmetts Hill and out by the coastguards was working well, had a fly for a bit, got a bit bored, took some photo's of my boots, got bored of that as well, flew back to car park when the wind began to drop, went home for supper, peachy enough.

Report by Craig Byrne

Barton On Sea.

I had a sweet afternoon fly at Barton, it was good to see all the usual suspects.. The highlight was flying back from Milford on Sea with 2 Buzzards for company about 30ft from me, then a nice hover with a Kestral by the cafe. It was very lifty and good fun to wagga down the the beach then scratch up again.

Tue 11 May 2010

Report by Martin Butcher

Arrived at Monks about 4.30 after work to find one other in a silver and red 4x4 looking at the conditions. I got out the wind meter and it was showing a cold 12-16 mph with occasional gusts up to 18/19 but it looked very flyable with a lovely cu's about 5000 ft and for a change it was sunny.

I got rigged and into the air to find it a little bumpy and slightly off to the east but plenty of height was available and after 25 min's I was committed at 700 ft going over the back. Unfortunately I fell out of the strong thermal about 2 fields back and couldn't make it back or land downwind of where I was so I had to track cross wind to be in a safe area which lost me my height and thermals so I had a nice walk back instead. I arrived back to find myself alone but the conditions were still very flyable so I unpacked and had another hour until 7:30 when it all switched off.

Great to be in the air again after all the crap weather lately.

Wed 5 May

Report by Dave Moores

Nicole and I swung through Dorset on Wednesday (5th?) and stopped at Maiden Castle for a little fly. It was OK for awhile and we had the place to ourselves so we didn't see anyone to say hello to.

The wind went NW eventually so off we trotted to Bell and the place was deserted, but very flyable. We had a lovely hour boating around at 500' ato being attacked by the buzzards, and it was nice to have a private site but a shame we didn't see any of the usual suspects.

Next time, Dave and Nicole.

Report by Paul Hawkins


Some all round good thermic flying was had for the 10 or so pilots on Monks today. For me it was just nice for a bit of soaring. I did think about striking out towards Ringwood on a few occasions as I needed to be there for work at 2pm. The thought of not making it and bombing out 10km form nowhere stopped me. Still lots of fun was had by all pushing forward and going up and down and round and round and blah blah blah! Pilots on the hill included Colin D, Marcus W, Duncan aka Tiny, Gary P, Ian H, Neil Mac, Phil 'The taxi' Venn, Big Eric 'The taxi'. Two regular visiting skysurfer dudes (Blue Van Man, and Ozone Geo Man), and apoligies to those others who's names I don't know or have forgoten through long hours of hard drinking and excessive consumption!

Report by Neil Mccain

Seeking refuge from any last minute campaigning on the eve of the general election, about 15 or so pilots headed for Monks for a day's flying. Despite the total cloud cover, half a dozen got away, including MW who made it to Tarrant Keynston, and me, GP and IH whose 'one thermal wonder' flights were transformed by a hassle-free retrieve from a kindly onlooker next to whose house I landed. As we drifted over the school at about 2000ft, I'm pretty sure a gyrocopter passed us heading towards Compton Abbas - there didn't seem to be an enclosed cockpit and the airframe looked very flimsy. Perhaps this is this the way the party leaders have been zipping round the country on the stump!

Report by Alastair Florence


We managed to wrap up a job we've been on for a while near Bicester around lunchtime today, it looked like it could be flyable so first stop on the way home was Dunstable site Chinnor. Wind was a bit off North here and as the site is covered with trees so decided not to chance it.

A quick rethink was needed, Westbury is sort of on the way home ish so set the sat nav and got underway with an eta of 1700hrs.

Near Newbury I had a Eureaka moment !' Combe Gibbett ' !, re set the nav bitch and got an eta of 1600 hrs, much better.

I'd forgotten what an agreeable site Combe is, Sean S was unpacking his HG and I got on with some flying, although pretty much 100% overcast there where a lot of thermals about allowing climbs to a decent height and many good pushes out in front.

A pleasant afternoons bimbling but as seems to be my luck at the moment a bit late to get the best out the day.

Sat 01 May 2010

Report by Alastair Florence


The wind looked just South of West and strongish and claggy early so I did not rush out.

St.Aldhelms seemed favourite choice so headed up. On arrival the sky was clear of clag but some cloud about and a brisk but sensible wind strength.

As I kitted up Houns Tout clagged again so I held back to see if it would spread. The clagged eased a bit so I launched and had a pleasant enough fly joined by Paul H a little later. The wind was up and down a bit although very smooth giving between 300-550ft ato.

Eventually we were both getting low and not wishing to search for JC's pocket sized landing patch top landed.

We thought Kimmeridge might be worth a look, it seemed ok on arrival but on occasions sort of felt a bit strong and gusty. I thought it seemed flyable so launched only to find it strong and gusty, the wing dosen't normally have fluttery tips so took that as a sign to land after a couple of minutes.

Simon H arrived and we went back to St.A but the wind had picked up a bit and the clag was reforming so (...? - Ed)

Report by Shamus Pitts


Having taken a walk up Cowdown to find the wind pretty much SW I heard a couple of promising messages from Ringstead and decided to go there instead.

The wind was quite strong when I got there, and a bit off to the west, but there were about 6 paragliders and a couple of hanggliders on the cliffs doing well so I took off. It was slow going getting to the cliffs but there was plenty of lift once I got there and I was pretty quickly hoovered up to about 450' ATO. It was blowing 20+ mph on the cliffs so there wasn't much to do except point in to wind, take a couple of photos and drift slowly forwards. For me, the most exciting thing about flying at Ringstead is the flight out to, and back from, the cliffs, and having taken a fair few photos at Ringstead in the past I decided to head back to the ridge and land.

After a short time the wind seemed to have died down a bit so I took off again and had another slow flight out to the cliffs. There was even more lift this time and I ended up over 620' ATO, probably the highest I've been here. Orographic cloud was just starting to waft across €“ not enough to cause any problems but nice to look at! The wind was still pretty strong on the cliffs and there were some big grey clouds looming to the west so I decided to head back to the ridge and land in case it started raining. By the time I'd packed up and left it still wasn't raining so maybe it never did, but I had stuff to do and was happy with the 45 minutes airtime I'd had.

Report by Grant Oseland


Nice day at Ringstead. The wind was off to the West South West for most of the day, too light at first, then just right, then a bit strong, then O.K again.

The clouds inland looked like rain most of the time, but none fell on Ringstead and the sun even came out at times. For a bank holiday it seemed quite on the hill, just goes to show never believe the forecast.

Sat 01 May 2010

Report by Everard Cunion




Just got my last film developed and here is the only photo out of 36 that is any good. I was on down wind to my last ever landing in the Aeros Discus before I sold it. For newbies, it is at Ringstead and the landing field is the one behind the parked vehicles.

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