Eye in the Sky - Aug 2011

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Wed 31 Aug 2011

Report by Alastair Florence

I had a couple of things to do this morning so came back via Hambledon as it looked like it might be on. The wind direction was about as far East as you would want it to be but it seemed worth a walk up.

On top it felt ok with the wind coming pretty much off the tip of the South spur.

In the air it was ok but not over pleasant with only really the flat bit of main ridge working with a bit of rotor in the far south corner and no lift but a head wind at the Northern end.

I kept finding bits of lift that where either weak thermals or rising rotor, the sky was 100% overcast.

After a bit I decided that I wasn't going anywhere good and had had enough so flew out to lose height and bottom land. As I cut back down wind to head for the bottom land field I found loads of lift well out from the ridge taking me to about 400ft ato.

If I had balls of steel i'm sure I could have worked it up to a decent height but mine are aliminium and thats softer, although the lift was fairly solid it had some tremendously rough bits mixed in. I had several occasions when the wing really should have folded up, but it didn't, so full marks to the M3 and luck (maybe a bit of active piloting as well). Into wind was pretty much in line with the road out in front of the hill. It was really tempting to try and get up and away but I figured by the laws of probability my luck could run out anytime.

Landing was fine once I found a good sink hole.

I think when the wind is East here the thermals tend to track across the front of the hill and sneak round the Northern tip rather than go straight over the ridge top, probably would have turned into a good Easterly climb after a 1000ft or so but at least i'm still here to try that another day.

Peachometer 4, Terrormeter 7 !

Mon 29 Aug 2011

Report by Tim Pentreath


I had a lovely flight from Batcombe to Swanage yesterday.

Report by Everard Cunion


John, Monday August 29th: The first attached photo shows the exceptionally busy hilltop on the bank holiday. Second photo is over the stone age farm behind the north part of the ridge. Third photo is well on the way to the coast, with the sailplane field on the right side of the road that recedes away from the camera on the right of the picture.

Whenever I got low, I encountered another thermal. An easy 17-mile flight that took more than an hour of mostly circling in IFR* mode. Then nearly five hours of walking, hitching rides, and driving to retrieve everything and get home...

* IFR = I Follow Roads

Report by Shamus Pitts


A bracing day at Telegraph Hill today. I arrived with Gary J at about 10am to find the wind quite a lot stronger than expected but still flyable. I took off and found the air to be pretty smooth so after a quick boat about I landed to let Gary have a go. The wind quickly picked up and within a few minutes of me landing was blowing 18 €“ 23mph on takeoff. We waited a while but it didn't seem to be dropping but I decided to wait for a lull and give it a try because it hadn't seem so bad in the air earlier. It had got a bit rougher but there was plenty of lift around and I soon took a climb over the back. I lost it about 1km behind takeoff at 750' so decided to see how windy it was and try and get back to the hill. With a bit of bar I made it to within 2 fields of takeoff so I was quite happy with that.

Over the next few hours Avon and South Devon pilots turned up and we took turns in measuring the wind strength and tutting and shaking our heads but eventually I decided that the huge gusts were becoming less regular and that most of the time it was averaging about 19mph so I decided to have another go. I was hit by a gust as I got my wing up and almost lost it but managed to take off to find the air bumpy, gusty and pretty horrible! I did my best to fly straight through lift until I hit a great climb that convinced me to stick with it, which I did, all the way to cloud base! I thought the wind was a bit off to the north so I decided to fly cross-wind to a nearby cloud street so I was on a better line to Swanage. I started to have my doubts on the way to the street so when I got there to find sink I turned around and headed to a combine harvester where I eventually found a good climb back up to base. It now seemed like the wind was a bit off to the west so I headed back to another line of clouds nearer the coast, getting very low near the edge of Wareham forest.

I saw Clyffe House, surrounded by rivers and pylons and tried to choose a landing site near it but as luck would have it I found a good climb instead! I was aware that I was getting close to Bovington glider club and Winfrith airspace. There was nothing on my GPS for the glider club so I thought that if I stayed high i should be able to fly over it, which I did. My next obstacle was Lulworth danger area which I didn't realise you could fly over when they're not firing so I pushed east to try and avoid it. I didn't find any lift as I approached Wareham and in the end had to land by the railway line for 35km €“ big thanks to Nigel B for picking me up, putting the kettle on then taking me back to the hill.

Back on the hill it was still windy, there were a few people flying but I wasn't inspired. Three members of the South Devon club had various collapses as they flew or came in to land so conditions still looked a little €œtesting€! Best flight I've had for ages though so a good day as far as I'm concerned!

Report by Grant Oseland


Some where different today for the Tandem, Portland West. Russel and Gary P got there for sunrise, but Anne told me in no uncertain terms what she thought of that idea so we arrived just after 09:00. Wasted little time as the wind was a bit top end and took off with wing tip help from Gary and Russell (many thanks) into nice lift and boated around for about 20 mins before bottom landing as the wind was gradually shifting North and increasing. Then made our way to Bell and flew there for about 45 mins but the wind was very top end, but not much lift to be found for us paragliders. Still nice to fly two sites on the Tandem in one day.

Report by Gary Pocock


Gary Pocock Been watching weather since about Thursday and hatching a plan to get up and catch sunrise at 6.20 while flying Portland W. Checked the wind this morning at 5.30 and it looked light but I thought it was worth a visit. Arrived at T/O at 5.50 and it was 6-8mph by 6.10 it was up to 8-10mph so I unpacked and readied. As RW arrived at 6.25am the wind picked up enough to fly so I launched into a photo frenzy. Not sure yet if these are the best shots.

Sun 21 Aug 2011

Report by Sean Staines

Sunday 21st Aug Eype was suggested as the place to go on Sunday and I stuck to the plan, despite the heavy rain on route. It cleared up but was light on off to the west to start with and I made a very short trip to the beach, thinking it was going to be a waste of a day. However by 2 o'clock conditions had improved and I crept my way under the orographic forming on Thorncombe beacon to Ridge cliff overlooking Seatown. This was more into wind and generating good lift, despite the light conditions.

I maxed out the height I could get, and set off for Golden cap, arriving with enough height to go round it into the better lift on the Charmouth side and work my way up to about 880ft above the sea. From here the run to Charmouth looked worth a try and I lost surprisingly little height on the way to Cains folly for some more lift.

I made a half-hearted attempt to cross Charmouth but was losing height too quickly. I know landing on the beach is banned at Charmouth so turned back above the mouth of the river Char. I went to Golden cap and back to Charmouth but conditions seemed to be lightening, so I set off for an easy run back to Eype. I hung around above Thorncombe beacon to maximise my height which made for an easy crossing of West Bay and on along East Cliff and Burton Cliff to Burton Bradstock.

The Return trip to Eype was not possible so I landed near the Café at Burton Bradstock for an Ice cream in the now glorious sunshine and a retrieve by Andrea. One of the most enjoyable flights I've had this year and 22km for the league.

Report by Shamus Pitts


A good day at Cowdown today. Just two of us to start with under an overcast sky but the wind was steady and the lift was constant. By lunch time the sun had come out and the thermals were creating some excellent lift although when the thermals weren't coming through the lift died away. Adrian, Pete and John turned up to find it a bit scratchy but persevered and the lift improved. By about 4pm the sea-breeze had come in and pulled the wind off to the south west so one by one we called it a day and went home.

Report by Grant Oseland


One of those days today, got up early with a plan of going to Eype or Maybe Beer Head for a change. Then checked the forecast only to see that yet again it had changed from the night before and now did not really look that good any where. Then for no apparent reason I decided to head off for Ringstead in the car and this is after getting a text from Russell saying it has just started to rain in Weymouth?! What followed was heavy rain falling on the car wind screen all the way from Poole to take off at Ringstead. I had a slight feeling that I might be wasting my time and fuel at this point, and this was confirmed when I arrived at take off in driving rain and a wind that was coming from the North! Any way a long story cut short, we waited, the rain stopped, the wind switched direction, then built in strength, the sky started to brighten up an d the orographic cloud tempted all into the air and a nice time was had by all that flew, the end.

Sat 20 Aug 2011

Report by Shamus Pitts



I arrived at Ringstead about 10:15am to find Sean S unpacking. The wind was blowing 14-19 mph from the SSW and the cloud was low on White Nothe but I hoped it would clear so I took off. There was quite a strong headwind on the way to the cliffs so I used half bar all the way and made it with not a lot of height to spare. The lift on the cliffs was plentiful and I slowly built my height up towards the low cloud. By the time I got to 400' ATO the cliffs were disappearing under the cloud fairly regularly. Every now and then i could see down the coast towards Lulworth Cove and I headed down a couple of times as the whole cliff was working well, but I had to turn back because the cloud kept blowing in making everything disappear!

The cloud looked to be getting worse and it was getting more difficult to keep the ground in sight so I decided to head back to takeoff. I only lost about 70' on the way back and arrived above the takeoff ridge 330' above it. I landed then it started raining. (Thanks to Richard for pointing out the farmer on a giant lawnmower driving towards my wing!). We waited for the rain to stop, which it did, but the wind went SSE. Sean and Martin B headed to the White Horse and Paul H and I decided to join them. We missed the best of it as Sean and Martin landed soon after we arrived. Others turned up and we had a difficult afternoon trying to make the most of the occasional bits of lift that came through.

It turned out better than forecast and I managed about an hour in the air so not a bad day.

Fri 19 Aug 2011

Report by Alastair Florence


I stopped off at Kimmeridge on the way home from work tonight, had a fly for a bit, then fancied a pint, nearest flyable to pub being Square and Compass at Worth, flew over had pint, peachometer reading 6 (flown there before got the T shirt sort of thing) Then spotted Steve and Nicki H at pub who had been flying earlier, retrieve to Kimmeridge sorted, many thanks, Peachometer soared to 8.5.

Sun 14 Aug 2011

Report by Shamus Pitts


As I walked up Cowdown I saw more buzzards and kestrels soaring it than I've ever seen before so I was hoping it wasn't blown out at the top! When I got to the top the wind was blowing about 12mph and on the hill which was a nice surprise because it seemed a lot stronger than that and off to the south as I was walking up! When I'd unpacked etc however, the wind had picked up considerably and must have been gusting up to 20mph. I waited for a lull (which didn't feel a lot less than 18!) and took off.

The air was pretty buoyant but it was a bit raucous at times! There were plenty of thermals coming through but they seemed to bring a little bit of gustiness with them! I took one up to about 600' ATO without going too far over the back but the occasionally violent behaviour of the air made me a bit cautious about taking it further and I lost it. Getting back to the hill was surprisingly easy and I explored the ridge for a while before the wind seemed to drop and I had to side-land.

When I got back to takeoff the wind had picked up a bit but wasn't too strong so I took off again. It wasn't long before I noticed the wind had gone round to the south a bit and picked up too so I decided to try and glide to the field by my house. Given the headwind I wasn't particularly optimistic but got to about 100' ATO then pushed on the bar and went for it. There was a long line of very dark (convergence?) clouds to the north and as I got over the power lines in front of the hill I started to climb. I turned a couple of times then carries on towards my house, still climbing. The headwind was pretty strong so I needed to use the bar to push in to it and the lift was soon replaced with plenty of sink. There was a bit of a €œchoppy€ moment as I passed over the trees at the end of the field I was originally going to land in but the air soon tidied up as I crossed the road and landed in the next field €“ the furthest I've landed in front of Cowdown! I walked up the hill again later on and it seemed flyable (but strong) again but I didn't have my wing with me and I'd had about an hour and a half already so I didn't bother going to get it.

Tues 09 Aug 2011

Report by Everard Cunion



A turbulent day at Bell Hill, but it calmed down enough in the evening to enable paragliders to soar in light lift.

Mon 08 Aug 2011

Report by Richard Mosley

A brilliant week end. Great food/ beer and organisation by neil. Good flying to be had on Frid paragliding at Bell in the afternoon. Saturday great for hang gliding all day, some of the suffolk club getting 1450 ft above the cliffs. Sunday at the Hive managed a flight to Lyme Regis, flying forward to the edge of the town from the golf club. Huge height gain over Golden cap. Suffolk pilot keith flying the cliffs later that afternoon in 25 mph winds. One suffolk pilot (Paul) winning the bucket and spade award for landing on the beach twice.

Report by Gail Swift


A few photo's from the Wessex Bash 2011 - A fantastic weekend camping in the heart of the always beautiful Dorset countryside.

There was a chilled out night around the fire on Friday night, followed by a rocking night on the Saturday, with several pilots from other clubs, who thoroughly enjoyed both the bash and a flyable day at Ringstead.

Thanks to Neil McCain for organising the best bash I've been to, the food was delicious, the beer was flowing and the weather was near perfect.

Sat 06 Aug 2011

Report by Gary Pocock


A few photos from Saturday's jaunt to the cliffs at Ringstead. Excellent Bash, cheers Neil and all involved.

Report by Steve Whitfield

I can still remember the first time I saw a hang glider. It was at Ringstead in the late 80's when I was about 10 years old. There were at least 20+ gliders there that day and I remember seeing a stack circling up over the Nothe and remarking to my parents that it looked like fun. I'm sure that several of the more senior current club members were present on that day. I just wish I had a photo!

There may not have been 20 gliders today but it was a vast improvement over the usual 3-4 thanks to our visiting friends from SCFHGC. Good flights were had by all and its the first time I have seen a HG pilot just soar the ridge and zoom over the hedge for a top landing. Richard M headed off for Osmington (twice) whilst the rest of us played in the abundant glassy lift. Two military helicopters were gracious enough to give us a wide berth and big CuNims were visible building inland. More of the same tomorrow please!(looking rather strong at the moment). A memorable way to mark my 100th post CP flight.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hv_4WltIv-8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hv_4WltIv-8

Report by Alastair Florence

I dont normally do rain in my forecasts, so I was quite disapointed to find light rain early today.

Things looked a bit brighter by mid morning so headed up to St.A's, Paul H arrived and we both had a pleasant fly with a slowly increasing wind, very gentle and smooth conditions. A.Visitor joined us after a while.

Got bored and decided to head for Kimmeridge, I was suprised that no one else was there, presumably all the bashers were either at Ringstead or maybe making sure there was no beer left over at the bash.

Kimmeridge was a bit kick ass but amazingly bouyant making it possible to almost push out over the sea cliff. I was miffed that I had to get home to go to a sort of rave in one of the cliff quarries as it would have been a perfect day to fly back over to St.A's as the wind rapidly increased until it blew out.

Tue 02 Aug 2011

Report by Paul Hawkins


Yesterdays walk up Ballard had taken its toll on Gary!

Mon 01 Aug 2011

Report by Alastair Florence


I decided that as I had a couple of days off and it looked Southerly ish that it might be worth visiting my latest investment, a TVHGPG club membership.

Golden Ball looked like the best candidate so arrived there mid morning, following a site brief we all tried the air and found it very much off and on and getting quite leary when on.

Eventually a couple of pilots climbed out followed by 2 more I tried to follow soon after but bombed a couple of fields back.

Undetered I had another go and after having a tip whacked by a thermal edge I slipped in and climbed slowly out, the first bit of the climb was steady but the thermal seemed to scattergun and it was a case of work the bits as best you could. Approaching Lyneham airspace which is currently non operational (but check daily notams if you go there) I got a good climb to just over 5000ft under a cloud.

Looking ahead there appeared to be a vast wall of angry looking cloud guarding Swindon, strangely it appeared to have a base about 500ft lower than my current altitude. I couldn't really decide if was nasty weather or what.

As I approached it was getting fairly lifty and not wanting to enter the whiteroom pushed on a bit of bar to scoot underneath it. The far side of the cloud was bright and clear and I was now getting squeezed up against Fairford airspace to the East with Cerney parachute zone to my West.

That was pretty much it as from here on I found no lift until I was so close to airspace I would have entered if I took a climb. At 35 km odd it wasn't a record breaker but an enjoyable day out all the same.

Retrieve went well, first scrounged a lift to bus stop to catch last Swindon Bus, met Tim G (TVmember) on bus as he had , change buses in Swindon then bus on to Marlborough, get picked up by Little Si (pilot) and dropped at car. Peachy.

Camped out at Barge Inn at Honeystreet and had a bit more flying on Milk and Milk White Horse on Tues 2nd but could not get away although a small number did.

After discussion with Tim we decided the nasty looking cloud at Swindon was Sea Breeze from the river Severn, certainly looked like one and conditions after matched perfectly as I landed in a strong Westerly which should have been a Southerly, I just didnt expect to find a Sea Breeze over Swindon, but one should'always expect the unexpected'

Report by Shamus Pitts


I met Nigel B at the White Horse about 1:30pm to find the wind blowing 10 €“ 16mph and slightly off to the west. I quickly unpacked and took off into fairly bumpy, thermic air.

The ridge wasn't working particularly well but there were plenty of thermals coming off Weymouth to keep me up, in fact the top landing field was producing more lift than the main ridge! I landed to let Nigel know what it was like then watched him take off followed by Gary J. They seemed to be doing okay so I took off again and quickly got to 200' ATO. The wind was quickly going more off to the west and the thermals were triggering in the valley and tracking along the ridge. I made a few turns in one and found myself at 600' ATO right on the eastern end of the ridge. Ringstead looked pretty close and I thought about trying to reach it so decided if I could get 1000' ATO I would give it a try. Unfortunately I didn't get high enough so I stayed out over the valley, taking the thermals high then pushing back towards the hill.

When I landed the wind was well off and the ridge wasn't working. I tried a couple more times but conditions were fairly €œtesting€ so we packed up and went to Ringstead where we could see people flying.

The cliffs didn't appear to be working very well as I watched Russell working hard to stay up and Derek disappear from sight but after a few minutes I seemed to have forgotten all that and took off! It was a bit €œup-and-down€ on the ridge but I got 40' ATO and headed for the cliffs. I made it quite easily but didn't find much wind when I got there. I scratched in front of the big house for a while but wasn't doing much more than maintaining so I explored the undercliff, getting about ¾ of the way to White Nothe, gradually sinking all the way. The beach was starting to look a long way away so I turned round and scratched my way back, arriving with a lot more height than I thought I would! I glided as far along the beach as I could before landing and packing up. Thanks to Marcus for the lift back to the ridge.

Report by Jeremy Calderwood


Monday 1st August 2011 Popped over to Barton late afternoon to find it rather light with three wings scratching... but not for long! Roger was convinced that the approaching streaks and darker patches on the sea spelt imminent blow out. Sure enough the wind switched round more to the west and was soon getting towards the top end. Wings were flying up, flipping over and down again as Barton's infamous rotor played its usual havoc.

Undeterred I set up and after a couple of false starts I got the wing under control and headed for the cliffs. After a battle to move forward I finally got away but for a few anxious moments I was pinned above the edge struggling to make headway through the venturi.

Once out in front things got easier but I felt happier with the bar under my heels. It was slow going following Brian over the broken landslipped ground to the Chewton holiday park and with the amount of west in the wind it was impossible to cross the Bunny. So I turned and skidaddled back to Barton. Over on the Isle of Wight banks of orographic cloud materialised, with big billows rolling over Tennyson Down and the Needles.

Gradually the strength dropped a little and the lift improved so I cruised down to Milford with bags of height over the Taddiford Gap.

The scene past Hordle was quite stunning with the exceptionally low tide revealing a shallow lagoon between an offshore sandbank and the beach stretching off into the distance - beautiful! Turning just before the car park I had lost most of my height - there was only about three feet between the scrub and the soles of my boots! With the amount of west progress back to Barton was painfully slow.

Conditions continued to improve with the wind backing slightly round to an easier SSW. Just Steve A and I were left to enjoy ourselves mucking around with wingovers and 360ºs in the best conditions of the day.

Over an hour and three quarters of quality Barton flying improving to just peachy!

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