Eye in the Sky - Sept 2010

Your Flying News Notice Board. Send me your news and photos.

If you're wondering where your report is, hit CTRL-F5 whilst in your browser to make sure you are not seeing a cached version. If it is still not there, it's probably because you fell foul of the Submission guidelines

Tue 28 Sep 2010

Report by Gary Mullins


Ringstead Pictures by Russell

Report by Gary Mullins

White Horse or Ringstead. Chose the latter. Light at first but the windspeed gradually increased during the day. Direction was SSW for a time so a peek "round the corner" was obligatory, of course. A few of us had a good look but light winds/lack of decent height made early decisions to turn back essential. Keith Wright did the best - twice to Bats Head..... (and back) ! Commenting on the second return "Twas a bit slow"..... The wind-shift to SW and increasing, immediately doubled our height ATO. Nice.

Meanwhile there were 4 having a pretty good time of it on the White Horse too. Later on we were joined by said 4. But, unfortunately, also by the rain.

Sun 26 Sep 2010

Report by Alastair Florence


I had a hunch there could be an early morning window today but as I could hear the wind round the windows when I woke up I forgot that and stayed in bed a bit. Then had another hunch it could drop off in the evening a bit.

Not much was going on at home so for lack of anything more useful to do I headed Bell-ward. Arrived just before 1800hrs and measured 12- 15mph with puffs to 17. I almost went straight home but spotted a hot air balloon in the distance which kind of inspired me.

To be fair the balloon was low and looked like it badly wanted to find somewhere safe it could land.

I had about 20 mins of pleasant enough flying although the wind was a fair bit off North.

Its unusual that just one person is daft enough to go to Bell at random times like this and true to form Dave T showed up. We had another fly with the wind easing a little giving a smoothish and lifty ish flight although maybe some gentle rotor near the magic tree and beyond due to the North element.

Not really worth getting the peachometer out the bag for but pleasant enough and its always satisfying to salvage something out of an otherwise unusable day.

Sat 25 Sep 2010

Report by Andrew Fenton


As already mentioned, Westbury appeared to be good for HGs today. However, from 5 pm when the conditions settled it was really peachy for PGs with nice big and smooth end-of-day thermals passing by that made for reasonable height gains and good soaring on both the NW site (White Horse) and the N site (Bratton Camp) meaning lots of space to spread out and explore. Westbury is a good site and I'm surprised more of us don't use it as an alternative to Bell & Monks when conditions aren't quite right.

Report by Sean Staines

I ran into Neil McCain at Monksdown about 10am. The wind looked flyable for hang gliding but it felt bitterly cold so we sat in his car and chatted for a while. He had heard from Paul Hawkins that Westbury was the place to go today so we both set off there for a change of scenery. I ran into Richard Mosely on the way down the hill and he decided to go to Westbury too.

When we got to Westbury it was still too strong for PGs so Neil left me to it. The sky looked fantastic with cumulus and cloud streets forming everywhere.

Richard kindly helped me launch into very strong conditions but once away from take off it was ok and I made my way down the ridge to the trees and into an excellent climb that took me to 2100 ft ATO, my max height gain so far. The views back over the plain and out to Melksham & Trowbridge were spectacular. After a while cruising around at that height a big blue area of sky arrived and I lost it all and top landed. I flew the HG again later and ended an excellent day with 20 minutes boating around on the PG.

I remembered Ron today. I'm sure he would have been there too, as he liked to fly Westbury.

Wed 22 Sep 2010

Report by Neil Mccain


Another coastal day, this time at Ringstead. The conditions didn't look too favourable early on - gusty at launch and quite strong - and despite the Gin Boys (Russ and Gordon) showing us the way, the rest of us remained unconvinced until the Great Bandanna'd One returned to tell us it was smooth as silk on the cliffs. Simon H later amended this to 'smooth as butter' and a bunch of us enjoyed messing about all over the site for the rest of the day. Take off remained mildly feisty and clouds ocassionally obscurred the Nothe, but once up, you could enjoy fabric or fats to your heart's content. Happy days.

Fliers I spotted included those already named, Adrian C, the Aspen 3 Massive (Martin and Eric), Dave J, Nigel Bounce, two hangies, Jeff D (nice to see you in the air again, Jeff!), Lihp (Phil In Reverse, the only way he seems to take off these days), Keith 'What happens if I pull this?' Wright and Ian. Apologies to any others not mentioned.

Tues 21 Sep 2010

Report by Neil Mccain

From the sublime to the ridiculous - last Friday's dreamy jaunt to Swanage being the first and two utterly draining, intense flights at Southbourne today being the latter. There was just enough wind - just enough mind - to soar, but not so much that I was assured of flying at cliff top height. My inner wing tip and lines were unnervingly close to the foliage, and I was flying with so much brake my arms ached. But there's something very exhilarating about this kind of flying! Squeezing out every last inch of height from the breeze; flying as tight a line as you dare; working in tune with your wing, the terrain and the wind to ride the wind. It appears serene and magical to the average (non-flying) on-looker whilst you're working your socks off to keep it all in balance...

I could have done with one mile an hour more, though! From the moment I took of on both flights I felt I was fighting a losing battle for a top-landing slot. Second time around I was tracking east towards TO and felt myself lifted a little above the cliff lift, giving me the perfect opportunity to slide in for a one-take top land. At that moment, two young children appeared on the grass running acrosss the grass and my chance vanished. For the second time I headed for the beach, but in such a public arena, it was the only real option. On that note, it's worth mentioning that we saw a non-member trying to take off from the flat area 100m to the west of take off. We sent Special Envoy Russell over to 'welcome' him,and he was 'persuaded' to abandon his attempts there and join us at the official TO. Despite his keeness to fly, the conditions didn't permit it and he left somewhat unfulfilled. Ah well, at least our permissions to use the site remain intact...

Mon 20 Sep 2010

Report by Alastair Florence



I was a little miffed today after getting up at 0430 to get down to site in Paignton early to find after a while that the scaffolders I got up early for had decided not to bother to come in today, it was obviously too much effort to let me know, %%nkers.

Still most clouds have a silver lining so after quickly running out of things to do I thought I may as well go home and perhaps try and get a fly on the way, even if it did look maybe blown out.

I did not find anywhere suitable between Paignton and Ringstead but strangley enough Russell arrived at Ringers same time as me. After a chat we decided it was probably flyable.

Russell was pretty much straight out to the cliffs, I soon followed with a very easy transition from ridge to cliff.

Height was plentiful and very smooth air as usual.

After a bit things could have got boring but orographic cloud began forming in varying patches and density's. 600ft ato was pretty easy to reach and allowed glides well off to the West.

A strange phenomenom was looking down on your shadow on the cloud and seeing a 360' rainbow around it.

I tried pushing East a bit but it was obviously not working with Too much West in the wind.

A very pleasant afternoons flight, later joined by Ian P from TVhgpg and Martin F. I went home via St.A's but a combination of top endy wind and unpredictable looking orographic cloud made me decide to leave it for another day.

Sat 18 Sep 2010

Report by Nigel Beaven

Both Richard Chambers and I had an enjoyable but very tricky day at Telegraph. With the last flight giving me some stonking climbs but I just couldn't stay with them leaving me to check that the bottom landing field was there for the third time of the day, and cursing myself watching shamus etc. disappearing Xc. At about PM the sky clagged in and the wind died off so we packed up and made the decision to head over the Bell hill to see if it was any better. We arrived there to find 5 wings in the air and the odd thermal popping through and decided to give it a go. Much smoother flying there with some lovely climbs for an hour or so until the wind moved round more westerly and started to die off again. In all a great day but must really stop checking that the bottom is still there, there really is no need.

Report by Alastair Florence


Enjoyed a couple of hours soaring at Telegraph today despite managing to skillfully avoid going XC 'again' (seem to be doing this all the time at the moment), everything seemed to close down as soon as I launched. Still after a call confirming that all that had got away had lifts, I decided to go home via the coast in case it was on there.

Corfe church weather vane was showing just South of West so I headed for St.A's, direction was ok as thought, just south of west and quite strong, reading about 15-17mph.

Once airborne I had a nice steady climb to 400ft ato well out in front of the cliff, the wind seemed to pick up quite rapidly and well pronounced white horses were forming.

This resulted in more height, Normally crossing Chapmans Pool to Houns Tout with a lot of West in the wind ends in disaster for me, so I dont really know why I keep trying it, but there yah go. (for a good example see EITS 18.10.08) Anyway as I climbed to over 500ft ato I barred it over to the Tout losing about 400ft on the way with a hard push into wind.

As I kind of expected the Tout wasn't working that well but luckily well enough to push me back up to 300ft ato, I tried to push on toward Kimmeridge but made no notable headway into wind so flew back to St.A.

After a bit either the wind picked up further or some sea thermals came through boosting me to about 800ft ato I was half way back toward the Tout so just kept going and arrived at about 550ft ato.

I decided to head homeward and had to fly well out over the sea to loose some height, even after leaving the Tout at around 400ft ato I had 200ft to lose over the car park before landing.

Jacko turned up and walked to t/o but decided it was a bit strong now.

Report by Simon Jones

A cautionary tale? A good day at Barton. When I arrived Brian was already demonstrating that it was eminently flyable and quite lifty. David the Geordie Doctor arrived and we all had a lovely flight, reaching down past Highcliffe Castle to the West and to the point where the cliffs ran out to the East. Excellent stuff. However, the sea breeze picked up quite a bit during the hour I was flying and I ended up using some bar to get back from Milford, pushing forward over the beach and some particularly hardy naturists to avoid getting pinned. There were some little white horses on the sea, with some gust lines running through the windsurfers who seemed to be doing particularly well. The wind strength was firm and getting firmer.

Why I then tried to top land is frankly beyond me. I thought I would give it a go - just in case - and then make for the beach. I lost lots of height over the sea and cut back in to the cliff. With more height gain than planned as I approached the cliff I found myself pinned 30 feet above the grass, moving backwards and running out of options. The ears came in and I lost height. Upon touchdown I switched instantly to the Cs and brought it down. It re-inflated and I got dragged. This was repeated two times as I kept grabbing the wrong lines along with the right lines. A parked vehicle realised what the problem was and cleverly jumped out to grab some lines. No damage to car. Much damage to pride. Glider being checked for damage tomorrow. My bone marrow can replace the blood.

I should have landed on the beach.

Report by Shamus Pitts


A tricky day at Telegraph Hill today. I met Paul H and Ali F there at 10am this morning to find a gentle cold breeze blowing up the hill. After a while it seemed like it might be strong enough to sustain flight so I took off and found it to be so! There wasn't a lot of wind but the air was very buoyant with lots of little thermals coming through. I took one to about 1000' ATO without drifting too far back but the day was still early so I went back to the hill. After a while I landed and chatted to the various Wessex and Condors pilots who had turned up.

As the day went on the wind stayed off to the north a bit and the thermals came through horizontally almost €“ there were thermic gusts but they seemed to blow me across the hill rather than up to the clouds! Eventually Martin F seemed to be doing okay right out in front of the hill so I flew over to him and stumbled in to plentiful gentle lift interspersed with punchy spikes. Paul H and Phil F joined us and we slowly took it to cloud base.

I wasn't sure whether to head for Swanage or to push east and go for a big flight around Bournemouth airspace. I chose Swanage, aimed for a distant cloud street and went on a glide..... and sank, and sank, and sank, and sank, and sank, and sank, and sank, until I landed in a field near Dewlish for about 15km! I watched as Paul and Phil flew over, Paul made it to Bere Regis and Phil got to Swanage! Oh, well, next time!

Report by Grant Oseland


No time to write loads, went to Bell, took off, turned in the thermals, speed barred in the sink, got to Swanage. Good Day.

Fri 17 Sep 2010

Report by Adrian Coombe


Telegraph Hill - Richard Thomason and myself with just Andrew and a student enjoyed a good looking sky, but initialy not so easy to work as it was a tad off to the north. However, after much boating about Richard and I found a nice thermal out.

Picture shows an excited spectator as Richard was getting low! I had a happy flight to Waddock Cross for about 26 km.

Thanks very much to Peter Robinson for the lift back to the hill and the story of his height gain on a trip to Nevada of 26,700 ft in his sailplane!

Report by Neil Mccain

At more than three grand over Wareham a butterfly flew past me, heading upwind. That's odd, I thought, you don't see many Cabbage Whites these days. It seemed to sum up the day, really. I was one of the first in the air in the morning, enjoying smooth lift and sunny conditions at 300 feet whilst the spectacle of dodgy ground handling and aborted launches played out beneath me in the gusty and unpredicatable conditions on the hill. After a while, a muddled gaggle flying intersecting circles at all manner of different heights managed to drift over the back. Credit to Dave J who thermalled up to join us on (what I believe to be) his maiden xc. After losing the intial thermal at about 1200ft, my subsequent decision-making was all awry, and I landed in the awful area just behind the hill, all ridges and valleys, requiring a sweaty walk back to take off. Marcus's choices were spot on as usual and he managed to get to Wareham, a couple of others (Blue Sport3 and red/purple Airwave) somewhere in between.

Back at the hill, conditions had persuaded most to stay on the deck, although a couple of bravehearts got away: Pete C to Winterbourne Whitechurch and Neil H to Swanage. The sky looked peachy, it was just the transtion between land and air that was taxing. Sacrificial offerings were made by at least two pilots who left the hill by car, and the appeased wind gods calmed things down, allowing the rest of us to play again. For the second time that day I cruised the ridge trying to sniff out the big climb. Shortly after Pete launched the tandem with Marcus's daughter as thrilled P2, a solid thermal came though taking me and Blue Sport3 guy to base, over 4,400ft.

Away from the hill the conditions were pretty smooth and consistent and we were soon drifting over the Winterbournes. To be terribly frank, that was it really. Some time later I arrived at Swanage, still about 3500' asl. I remember the butterfly, heading upwind. I had lots of time to notice things like that because it felt like quite an effort to lose height, and I just seemed to float downwind, sometimes turning (just to keep the vario happy) and sometimes not. Approaching Corfe, I fully expected to get hit by the sea breeze, but the spanking never came. A few km out from Swanage I turned into wind to check my penetration, found it to be fine, so spent the next 10 minutes winding off about 2,500ft in lazy circles over the town. I headed for the Country Park to maximize my distance (only realising once on the deck that I should have attempted to fly back towards Bell) and landed in nil wind conditions. It must rank as one of the easiest flights I've ever made. Sport3 guy also made the trip, but we missed each other on the way home - thanks to my wife my retrieve was as smooth as the conditions aloft and we picked up Neil H on the way. Happy days!

Report by Mike Bretherton


Only my third outing this year and fifth in 3 years. I thought it would be blown out by midday so went to Bell early. I had a cracking day and did 2 Xc's, the first to Winterbourne Kingston, followed by a pub lunch, then back to the hill and did it again but this time I made Swanage for my very first time. Whilst I was away for the first Xc it apparently got too gusty to fly so I didn't even miss any action. Very smooth conditions high up and great views all the way to the coast. Forgot to take my normal camera so no inflight photos I'm afraid but I managed to snap this one of myself after I landed. Took the steam train to Corfe where I was retrieved.

Report by Richard Thomason

XCWeather and RASP were saying NW 7-9 with a lot of cloud later and the Lasham forecaster was getting excited, so I ignored the BBC who said 14-26 and was at Telegraph by 11am, joining Adrian Coombe, Andrew Pearse and student. It was well off to the north but XCW/RASP strength and we all got off without a problem. I had about half an hour exploring the site, then caught a thermal at the south-west end that I couldn't ignore, got about 750 feet ATO and although a bit low decided to go with it after Adrian who was high in the distance. In all the exitement however I duly fell out of the back almost immediately, and nothing came to save me except the Giant's, errr, open arms, so I found a friendly grassy field next to Cerne Abbas for a half-thermal 5k.

Peter Robinson spotted me in the village and gave me a lift back to takeoff, my hero! By then the BBC had won the day as it was indeed 14-26, so no second flight, noodles, and time to leave the the parawaiting to the Condors who had all arrived late. An excellent first visit to the site, and flying instead of working.

Sun 12 Sep 2010

Report by Sean Staines

Bell Hill Definitely a day for the hang gliders although I understand the paragliders flew early in the day. The thermals were strong but the cores were quite small and difficult to stay in. I had had an excellent explanation from Everard as to why you have to push the bar out in turns and managed to fly more efficiently than previously. I got my best ever height gain of 1250ft and was tempted to go xc but I'd forgotten my HG vario mount, and could barely here it beeping in my pocket so thought better of it and pushed back to the bowl.

I counted 10 wings including 3 rigids and a couple of topless gliders. It's very impressive the way they disappear and come back an hour or so later. Richard M flew over to Hambledon hill and back having previously flown down to the masts for a while. I had a chat with Mark about the performance of his topless glider which still has a glide of 10:1 at close to 45mph.

I had 4 flights in total but was too knackered to fly again. Great days flying. I had an intriguing comment from Andrea that I fly the hang glider like a paraglider and not how every one else does.

Report by Everard Cunion


Here are two photos from my most recent film to be developed. Bell Hill, late August.

Wed 08 Sep 2010

Report by Neil Mccain

Comic dilemmas started the day as sitephone messages revealed Ringstead and Bell were both working, the forecast was due West, and the weather stations at Henstridge and Compton Abbas were both reporting due North. Ian H and I decided to stick with the forecast and headed to Whitesheet, where we found the wind to be extremely light. As a result, the thermals blowing up the face had us facing into wind sometimes to the SW, sometimes NW and, most amusingly, sometimes in both directions at once.

The lack of any soarable conditions almost made me leave the hill by car, but with Ian's observation that we just needed to launch into a good thermal to make the day worthwhile, I found myself doing just that around 4pm, zipping round in a wonderful climb to about 3,300asl.

Doubly wonderful because I got to look at the top surface of the much- hyped Delta the whole way up. As I approached base, it suddenly got a little strange. My wing went very light - almost parachutal? - and the vario warned me I was in light sink. Shortly after the wing began to pitch quite vigorously. My position under the cloud was upwind, flying towards the centre of it, and where there had been lift all around me, now there was nothing but sink. I headed downwind, thinking that either the street or the sunshine lit fields would provide me with lift but nothing came and I lost the height as quickly as I'd gained it. I packed away, mildly frustrated to see Ian float past but realising he was in the same massive pool of sink. He got further thanks to his new... helmet! Stuff the wing, it was the sleek lines of his carbon fibre cap that improved his performance, word up! Hitched lifts, a pint and a rainbow rounded off an enjoyable day.

Sat 4 Sep 2010

Report by Richard Thomason



Annecy Ah, Doussard landing field. Just the place to practice those downwind landings. Has everything:

Soft fluffy grass.

Pretty girls.

Helpful flags and windsock thingys to show which way to go.

No pilots inconveniently trying to land in the other direction.

A hedge and a few hang gliders to focus the mind.

A mate standing by with a posh camera.

Fri 03 Sep 2010

Report by Alastair Florence


After a 4 am start I managed to get away from work at a reasonable time and as it was blowing a hooly and hazy thru Cornwall and Devon headed back home. I thought it might be worth a quick look on the sea front in case Ballard was doable.

At that moment Quentin launched and looked to be doing ok so decision made and up I went.

Wind was well off East and quite strong but ok on the White cliff and good right down to old Harry rocks, I didn't even try the ridge as it was way off for that.

The hotels were working nicely and me and Quentin had a good session between Old Harry and Swanage Promenade, I flew up Swanage seafront as far as I dared to get a picture of Shamus's 'special' landing zone.

Quentin opted for a top land as his car was over the Studland side and I went for the beach.

Two more pilots, visitors I assume launched after a quick chat with Quentin and flew for some time more.

On a cautionary note please see the bottom land options round by Old Harry if you visit this site for the first time (like there are none unless you can breath sea water, so speak to someone who knows the site before going round the corner) also the beach was pretty small when I landed as the tide was up, I landed between breakwaters as there was more beach here but it was not that easy getting down that last bit and the breakwaters always seem to loom up when you dont want them, no probs tho, peachy.

Previous reports

If you find that some of the earlier pages don't have a navigation menu, just use your browser's Back button to return to this page once you have finished reading it.


2001 and before