Eye in the Sky - June 2011

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Thu 30 Jun 2011

Report by Craig Byrne


Good day at Bell, lots there having fun.

Nigel Rendell managed his first XC's, top flying fella :) I had a short XC flying with Phil V and Roger E, and a really low save which is always fun. Then a dream lift back with Ruth and William, Roger also picked me up earlier. Cheers for that .

The photos are of Paul H, Roger E, Phill V.

Report by Adrian Coombe



Telegraph Hill to Puddletown.

Doesnt sound too grand but I had a nice flight. Nothing strong, firm but steady climbs. Jumping clouds and exploring directions. I think I had the best of it as when I got back to the hill (after two walks two buses and one push bike ride a pasty and an apple) the reports were that it was somewhat stronger. Though, I was told that a couple of condors pilots that I had left with earlier had got back and gone on another flight - to Wareham.


Wed 29 Jun 2011

Report by Martin Butcher


Wednesday Bell Hill Martin Butcher Arrived at Bell about 5 as a lot of people were leaving because it was blown out. When I got to the top however it didn't seen too bad so after having a chat to Marcus to find out what was going on, I decided to fly. It was blowing about 12 mph but very bumpy, so much so that it was difficult to turn in the abundant lift. There was an approaching bank of cloud as shown in the pictures so I decided to land after half an hour when the clouds got near. The picture of the big cloud is what came overhead so its little wonder it was bumpy. After that one had gone I took off again with Derek, Ali, Ruth and a couple of other but we were soon big earing down as there was abundant lift all over the sky and it was even more bumpy. Still by this year's standard a very pleasant day!

Report by Neil Mccain

I wasn't in too much of a hurry to arrive at Bell - the previous three days I'd attempted to fly at Southbourne, Ringstead, Monks and Bell, all to no avail. I was mildly surprised at the number of people already setting up, although only Paul H and one other (?) were in the air. The sky looked ace (possibly a bit big) and from the look of Paul's antics, despite it being only about 10am, it was already working. The wind was light on take off, meaning that you just had to stand and wait, wing above head, for the thermal to come and spirit you into the air. I had a sense that the air was big, soft and gentle. Everything seemed to be lifting and there were no hard edges. Within minutes a group of about 5 of us, led by Chris Sparham, were in a huge thermal centred on take-off. The lift zone was truly enormous and it didn't seem to matter if we were flying in circles or just bumbling about, we were all going up. Actually I was going up slower than the rest. Despite being about 1800 ato (the highest I've ever been above Bell itself), I wasn't yet at base and I was lover than Colin, Gary P and Paul. Chris was further downwind and a little lower. I admired Paul's decision to go off upwind given the light drift, but felt I wasn't high enough to push forward to join him. Half a turn later, I could see that Gary was now further downwind too, tracking towards another large cloud behind Bulbarrow Beacon.

What to do? I felt caught in the middle, and knew I'd bomb out if I dithered between triangle and turnpoint options.As I came round again to see Gary pushing southwards, I also saw what turned out to be my saving grace - a wispy cloud halfway between me and him. I could see that it was forming well, and it continued to grow and grow. I got to its base (about 3400' asl) above the pitch at Stickland. I could see that Gary's search for lift hadn't worked out, and Chris was setting up to land at Stickland, so I let myself be gathered in by the cloud as I circled, flying a little higher each time, mesmerised by the beautiful white and grey landscapes as I flew out of the downwind side in each rotation. I realised that the prevailing wind's influence was pushing me more easterly than I wanted, so I decided that rather than stick with the cloud and the possibility of airspace, I opted to glide off , slightly crosswind heading for another line of huge, dark bottomed clouds over the A35. I stamped on the bar to speed up the journey, losing height steadily from Winterborne Clenston to a patch of sun south east of Winterborne Kingston. The lift was where I expected it to be, but stronger and I zoomed back to base in moments, my vario registering 4.6 m/s. Again I went into cloud, but immediately straightened to fly straight out of the back of it, heading for Wareham.

The climb up, although fairly brisk, had also been notable for it's track. The strongest climb was always to the east, and a couple of times I clipped the western edge of the thermal as I tried to stay on a course to avoid airspace. So again, after leaving the climb, I tracked across wind. I could see the well established sea-breeze front ahead of me. It looked pretty impenetrable and I hoped that it wouldn't present too many problems. Climbing opportunities looked sparse and my varios' sorry tones were unrelenting as I glided over the river to head for Stoborough. Suddenly my forward speed was really reduced and I was pleased to have given myself a simple landing option. I touched ground into wind, facing due west. The sky towards Bell looked much less favourable and I knew I'd made the best of my chance. Even a two hour return journey (thanks Dave J for the final leg of the retrieve), or the fact that I'd left my SD card out of the GoPro couldn't dampen my spirits. Happy days!

Tue 28 Jun 2011

Report by Alastair Florence


I took a slight diversion home from work today via Combe Gibbett, it was a bit more of a dog leg than expeted especially as my sat nav dosent seem able to find Combe and takes me back out on miles of single lane roads, used a map in the end.

Anyway got there, unpacked, it started spotting with rain, waited, rain stopped, got in harness, wind picked up, got out harness, waited, wind dropped, flew for a bit, nice and lifty had the whole of Combe to myself, remembered I had a 2 hr drive home and then have to leave home at 0600hrs to come back up, kind of put the dampners on it, drove home.

Still feet off ground.

Report by Ruth Kelly


Arrived at Bell around 12:30 to find a number of hardy souls who had managed to fly, although they grumbled that it was a bit rough and gusty. Whilst we ate sandwiches we watched Sean take to the air on his HG, and then Dave, Derek and Andy managed to get aloft. Getting down looked tricky, so we hung around. Sean then teased us by packing away the hangie and taking to the sky by PG. I decided to have a go, but only managed to surf through some cow-pats, felling several other patient pilots - my thanks to you for holding me down! Sean was on his own, and had to big-ear into the bottom field to get down. More parawaiting. Finally Craig managed to get airbourne, while we watched what was probably a cu-nim forming over us, growing in the opposite direction to the wind.

Old mother McCain regaled us with stories about Alton Towers, his fascination with mammata, and theories about skylarks taking to the air as a hint that the wind was dropping off a bit... until sharp-eyed Marcus pointed out that they too were pulling big-ears, to get down.

People kept arriving, thanks perhaps to my optimistic site-phone messages. In desperation we formed an impromptu Landrover fan-club with Simon. But we finally gave up around 17:45. Oh well. Still 2 hours and 7 minutes to go...

Tue 28 Jun 2011

Report by Andy Dawson

Monks and Bell: Got to Monks about 1030 and there was only one other person there- Niel (?) who was flying - he said he hadn't been to the site before and he was flying it with no-one else around!. Flew for about an hour - even though the skys were overcast there were good thermals around. I noticed Niel was packing up so I thought I'd land to find out more. However stronger winds and thermals meant I failed and took a thermal over the back at a low altitude. Promptly lost it and went down a Km behind the hill. When I got back the wind seem stronger and no-one else there.

So off to Bell where Sean in his HG was being watched by a group of para-waiters. I thought ground suck was happening so I unpacked and flew. Yes it did turn out that the winds were strong (I was showing no forward speed on the GPS) and yes I hadn't checked the lines so the risers were twisted which meant I couldn't use speed bar and yes there were thermals everywhere so I couldn't get down. Finally landed in the bottom landing field only after a very turbulent time 5Oft above the field.

Sun 26 Jun 2011

Report by Shamus Pitts


I was going to go to Mere today but on the way there apathy took over and I stopped at Folly Hill where Flying Frenzy had just turned up to start teaching. Conditions weren't ideal with the wind well off to the east and only a small part of the hill working but the occasional (although fairly useless) thermal came through to make other parts work.

The wind increased as the day went on until it was probably 18 mph or so from mid afternoon which helped a bit with the lift but also made it rougher. I think the highest I got was about 200' ATO which wasn't much considering the wind strength but it was all good practise. I was joined by a grasshopper at one point €“ it must have been on my harness when I took off, but it happily sat on my vario for a while, not to keen on jumping off! Surprisingly I managed to accumulate 2 hours of air time, although it was split over 26 flights!

Fri 24 Jun 2011

Report by Shamus Pitts

No pictures and not many words! A disappointing day at Cowdown today. Not a lot of wind to start with, the occasional thermic puff and then the south-westerly wind came in good and strong! Fun for 24 minutes and then pointless!

Wed 15 Jun 2011

Report by Grant Oseland


Some Photos from last week in Laragne France competing in the Ozone Chabre open. A good fun week that was well organised, only the weather could have been a bit better. Oh, and team Navy won which consisted of 3 out of 4 Wessex members which was nice.

Tue 14 Jun 2011

Report by Marcus Webster







Report by Neil Mccain

I went to Friar Waddon, all by my lonesome. Took off about 2pm, headed east along the ridge, hit lift straight away, climbed to 600ato, lost it, landed at Mr Mayo's farm. Ah, the tribulations of a 10 minute flight! Packed up, walked back, took off again - it was rubbish. But I was close, very close! Good fun too.

Report by Gary Mullins

Arrived at the White Horse about oneish to find light conditions but the sun was out and the buzzards were circling so...heyho-give it a go. A bit light at times but the thermals were coming through quite regularly making for some fun flying, with the occasional jolly nice bit of €œroundy-roundy€ leading to a few thoughts of €œShall I?€ But the power lines behind seemed to be a bit of a deterrent. (The thermals weren't quite THAT good). Left at 5.00 after having spent most of the time in the air.

Nice afternoon with nice people at a nice site. Thought it would have been busier.

Mon 13 Jun 2011

Report by Simon Jones

I arrived at Bell at 6.10 just as Martin B landed. The wind was just easing nicely and was apparently starting to smooth off. Several pilots launched, including Brian M, Karl, Red Ribbon Ben, Dave Clinch, Harry and Derek. We enjoyed a couple of hours in the air, and although the lift (and sink) was fairly firm at times, conditions became increasingly smooth with decent height gains over the bowl. I landed at 7.45 only because I had to go back to work. I imagine some pilots flew well into the evening. What a lovely end to the day!

Sat 11 Jun 2011

Report by Alan Webb


Arrived at Ringstead 09.30 with the weather report suggesting West to SW gradually increasing by 13.00 too strong for paragliding. The wind duly did as the weather forecast predicted and a trip to the cliffs began. RW led the way (he told me to say that!) At the cliffs the wind direction and strength was perfect for testing the low saves and would lose height to the lower sea cliffs and work back up, there are a number of very low cliffs and slopes that worked very well and could have played around here for hours in the steadily increasing wind strength. Eventually forward motion was negligible and headed back to take off, barely losing height. After landing it was interesting to see Gary M and Quentin both do Bottom Take off's! and successfully reach the cliffs. By now the hangies were rigging for their turn. Well done also to 2 red ribbons, Graham and Graham, good practise in higher wind conditions.

Report by Marcus Webster


Short but interesting XC from Bell Hill today! Arrived early (9:00 ish) hoping to beat the forecast over development, showers and the predicted wind backing Westerly or South Westerly by late morning.

Things started off slowly with about eight pilots on the hill by mid morning, all getting short flights in surprisingly weak thermals, €œweak€ considering the impressive way the clouds appeared to be boiling up all around us.

At about 11 o'clock Gary P connected with the first decent thermal of the day and Martin B and I dived in below him and started to climb away together, with the thermal taking us on a very Easterly track.

After a short time I found myself all alone, and climbing away towards the North of Blandford on what seemed like a very mild and well behaved thermal, just short of cloud base things started to get a bit lumpy, so I set off on a glide towards the next likely looking cloud, aiming due East.

After a short glide without too much loss of height I connected with another thermal, under a patch of rapidly growing, swirling wispy cloud with my vario occasionally showing five up.

Things started to get interesting with some powerful surges and small collapses as I tried to avoid the edges of the thermal. Then followed a €œOne man€ SIV course overhead Durweston, as my wing took a collapse before cracking back into shape and entering a strange sort of helicopter spin to the right, after about two revolutions and with my hands up it surged forward and normal flight resumed! I made haste away from that particular cloud still heading East, with a very dry mouth and a strange nervous tremor in my right foot! I didn't seem to have taken on board the lesson and made for the next cloud only to find things starting all over again (without the spin) At that point I decided that it was time to return to earth while I still had some control over the situation, and went off on a long glide looking for a big blue patch! After landing just short of Tarrant Monkton, I took a good look around at the rapidly changing sky and cold see rain falling from some very black looking clouds, back towards Blandford and Bell.

The sky to the East looked impressive, and I am sure some of you might have got a few more Kilometres out of the day but it wasn't for me.

Thurs 9 Jun 2011

Report by Neil Mccain



A frustrating day for flying. Not surprising really given the instability present. Paul H, Nigel R and myself all managed little hops at Whitesheet in between downpours. A small posse of Bell Hill parawaiters (myself, Rog and Simon J) talked the usual nonsense whilst the wind went from 0 to blown out, back to 0 and blown out again before we saw sense and left.

Still, if you're going to hang around avoiding life, there's no better place than Bell. The sky was magnificent - black bottomed clouds, rays of light picking out individual fields, rain in curtains out in the Vale. The weather was coming from the west, but at one point, smoke from a fire near Belchalwell was drifting SE and smoke near Telegraph was moving N. Mr Jones suggested that we were watching the sea breeze come in and in true parabollox style, this phenomenon has now been christened the 'Simon Contention'.

Mon 06 Jun 2011

Report by Gary Mullins

Arrived at a deserted Ringstead at about 3. Too light at first but soon after, conditions improved and fun was had by the 8 or 9 of us there. Nicely buoyant everywhere. I left at half 6 leaving 5 others still having a nice time. Watch your step when near the gate in the back landing field. The mysterious €œRingstead Sniper€ could turn your legs to jelly at any time !

Report by Alastair Florence

Nice clear, sunny evening at Kimmeridge with a very attractive sort of sunlight effect, very difficult to judge wind strength and true direction for some reason, there just seemed to be air moving everywhere. Nevertheless very pleasant in the air with just a hint of the traditional Kimmeridge rock and roll but plenty of bouyancy.

Report by Craig Byrne


After a slow start it finally worked at Bell, and everyone enjoyed some nice flights in the weak thermals.

I had some nice 360 ing with Roger E , just not enough to keep working them.

Top of the stack most of the day was a red ribbon pilot on a Swing glider, top flying that man! Good to see old friends and meet new pilots to.

Sat 04 Jun 2011

Report by Shamus Pitts


My flights at Okeford a couple of weeks ago were good preparation for Maiden Castle today €“ I'm sorry there are only 2 pictures but it was pretty rough at times! When I arrived the wind was slightly off the hill and blowing between 15 and 20mph. A guy with a red ribbon took off from the top of the hill, flew straight to the car park and landed so I unpacked and took off. It was pretty thermic to start with but there were some violent gusts and the wind direction seemed to be switching about quite a lot. I managed a couple of 360s at one point and found myself 600' ATO but didn't feel like going with it as it was so windy and the sea wasn't that far away! After just over an hour I landed just as Mike D and Roy M turned up, and they persuaded me to have another go. The conditions were much the same as before but it was less thermic and the wind initially was well off to the east. I stuck with it and the wind came on again but the gusts seemed to betting stronger so I landed. It seemed to drop a little while later so I took off again and boated about (still rough!) before heading back to the carpark and landing.

Despite the fact I only live a few miles from Maiden Castle it was my first time flying there today. Although it was rough it was surprisingly fun and it added another hour and a half to my log book so not a bad day really!

Thu 02 Jun 2011

Report by Andrew Fenton


After a multi-flying centre tour yesterday I didn't want to drive too far today so decided on Monks Down which was forecast to be N-NNE to NE later. I arrived at about 9 o'clock and shortly after, Chris S arrived. The wind was mostly on the hill and a few thermals started cycling through so we made the most of them. As the day wore on a few more folk arrived including Nigel R although I thought more might have turned up. The cycles became more frequent and longer although it was pretty rough most of the time. By mid-afternoon the wind had veered more East and as it did, things got traditionally "weird" so it was time to call it a day but not before a chinook helicopter passed close by! All in all, not bad, rough but good for active flying practice though.

Wed 01 Jun 2011

Report by Jeff Davies


John, I was delegated (by Russell White, two of whose photos are attached!) to put something together about the flying at Ringstead Bay today. So, here goes .... (please edit as appropriate): Following Russell W's useful, early sitephone message declaring that he was off to Ringstead Bay, a number of paragliders (including Paul Dinnage, Ian M., Chris S., Graham D., Eric the Taxi, Keith W. and myself) joined him at various times during the day to enjoy some smooth flying conditions. The wind was blowing consistently well at about 15 mph, with a slightly more westerly component than was ideal, keeping us to the west of White Nothe. Flying out to the cliffs from the car park was no real problem, with very little height loss on the transition.

There was a lot of boating about at the cliffs, with some good height gains, enabling some to do spirals or 360s. The sea state was flat and the air over the cliffs was "glassy smooth", in Russell's words. The sky did turn dark inland during the middle of the day but conditions returned to a good blue sky later. The return to the take-off area was straightforward, with plenty of height to play with and landings made either on the take-off area or the field behind. Overall, a fine, memorable day.

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