Eye in the Sky - Sep 2011

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Tue 27 Sep 2011

Report by Neil Mccain

Southbourne. The darned wind was off to the east when I arrived and it got worse as the day went on. Undeterred by that or the wind rose, I had a go anyway.

At first it was scratchy and light but a wad of orographic cloud ensured I had enough height to top land. Grant just missed it, but stomped up for another go. Now the wind had picked up, but was even more off to the east. What could possibly go wrong? Grant took off, watched by me, Paul, Brian and Simon and promptly wished he hadn't, sinking below the cliff top until, almost by sheer force of will, he'd climbed above the fence line, turned, and rocketed back past us towards the pier. We'd expected to be able to point and laugh, but he seemed to have a bit of height in the murky air by the new flats. Surely he wasn't going to have a go? Brian devilishly suggested that the wind strength was 'helpful' to get over the Boscombe gap, so like a gambolling puppy I ran over to my kit, clipped in and whizzed off to where Grant had been. No sign of him at the flats. Not much sign of the lift either, but I decided that 65 ft ato was probably enough to get across (Brian's half-baked theory had now solidified to hard fact in my head) and I gunned it.

There was no drama in the end (was it the theory or the glider?) and I joined the intrepid Grant for a few beats back and forth on the hotel section of the cliff. Although the cliff was marginally more into wind, the lift was if anything more fragile than near take off. Inevitably we failed to make it back, landing by Boscombe pier. Nothing ventured nothing gained. We tramped back to find the others at TO where we learned that Brian had 'just' made it to the flats and Simon had been forced to guard camp as the wind died.

Mon 26 Sep 2011

Report by Alastair Florence

I had an afternoon to spare today so thought I may as well go flying. Bit to much South for St.A's, bit claggy over Kimmeridge, I picked up RW's site phone message from Ringstead and decided to pay my bi-annual homage there. Russell had just landed for lunch so we had a chat then flew for a while, it was almost flyable Eastward from the Nothe but a bit borderline, RW had to leave for other duties, I stayed and got to Bats Head and back but it didn't feel quite right. Quentin turned up after a while and we had a fly, then another then got bored and went home. Nice afternoon though.

Sat 24 Sep 2011

Report by Marcus Webster



Report by Shamus Pitts


I had a great day at Eype today - 4 hours in the air and the whole coast was working! The wind was a bit off to the west when I arrived about 11am but it was still lifty and I was soon in the air and on my way to Thorncombe beacon. The cliffs on the end of Doghouse hill were working too and I pushed on towards Seatown and Golden Cap. Unfortunately the wind was still too far off to the west and the cliffs at Seatown weren't working so I ended up landing on the beach. A short walk up the coast path later and I found a spot that wasn't in rotor and managed to take off again. I flew back to Thorncombe and topped my height up then decided to have another look at Golden Cap. The wind seemed to have come round a bit so I thought it might work better. Tim P had already flown across and I hung around on the cliffs before Seatown to see how he got on. I didn't see him at first then spotted a wing going round Golden Cap very low, with nothing below him except a few rocks and the sea. Eventually he emerged higher up so I decided to have a go as well...

Climbing up Golden Cap was probably the most nerve-wracking bit of flying I've done in a long time! Scratching very close to the cliffside, following every contour, while trying to avoid the debris of landslides and vegetation was quite "character building"! I was glad when I could finally fly a beat that didn't have a twitch of rotor about it! When I was comfortably high we headed off to Charmouth. The flying there was fairly straight forward, sinking slowly all the way and arriving pretty low. I slowly built my height up on the lower cliff before transferring over to the bigger cliffs behind. Another couple of rotory beats before I was higher and in cleaner air and then everything was smooth and lovely again! Back to Golden Cap, back to Thorncombe, back to Eype then over West Bay. I made it to the other side about cliff top height and found the cliffs weren't overly lifty but okay. I built up my height and crossed Freshwater Bay, arriving lower than I had crossing West Bay, then flew down to Hive. I wasn't getting the height that I'd hoped for but I decided to try and get back to Eype anyway. I almost made it across Freshwater but I was only about 10' above the beach when I got to the other side and it wasn't enough to work with. I landed and walked up the cliff path a little way before taking off again and flying down to West Bay. I squeezed as much height from the cliff as I could then set off towards Eype, arriving very low but able to connect with the cliff and build up my height again. I flew down to Thorncombe which was working well so decided to try for Charmouth again. Golden Cap still made me nervous although I arrived a lot higher this time. It still managed to suddenly throw a big lump of strong sink at me at a fairly critical time, but I got through it and made it to the summit. Off to Charmouth, transfer to the back cliffs, build height then back to Golden Cap. There was a very slight headwind going back and it took a while to get to the working cliffs. A rotory start then plenty of height, then off to Thorncombe! I was starting to think about landing but I didn't lose too much height getting back to Eype so I decided to go for Hive again. I crossed West Bay, crossed Freshwater and made it to Hive. Again, I couldn't build much height but I had a slight tailwind so headed back to Freshwater, built my height then made it across! More height-building and a long glide over West Bay and I was back at Eype where I finally landed and packed up - great day! A 9.5 on Ali's Peachometer (and maybe a 6.5 on the Terrormeter for Golden Cap!)

Sat 24 Sep 2011

Report by Grant Oseland


Some photos from today, which turned out to be a great day for all involved at Southbourne. There was flying, there was parabol@*cks, there were mad dogs, there was coffee and Taxis, and most fun of all Paul H brought his dad along for a chat about life and only having 24 hours left;-)

Fri 23 Sep 2011

Report by Neil Mccain



Report by Neil Mccain

Ringstead worked all day for the majority of those there (sadly not all the hangies got airborne). Easy soaring on the ridge and the trip to the cliffs was pretty uneventful. Height gains above the Nothe weren't the greatest, but there was south in the wind, opening up the possibility of the cliff run. I followed Grant, making it to the hill separating Durdle Dor from Lulworth. Coming back was a breeze and with conditions steady we had another go! Good to get in the air again.

Fri 23 Sep 2011

Report by Grant Oseland


A light SSW today made it a bit difficult for some to get to the cliffs toady at Ringstead. It did mean that the Jurrasic run was working nicely all day that led to much boating around and some strange landing options and a long walk for some;-)

Fri 16 Sep 2011

Report by Grant Oseland


A full days flying today at Southboure. The weather actually did what was predicted today and started strong and easterly then drifted around slowly to the south west. Which meant that the coast worked pretty much all day, Apart from the bit when the wind lulled for about 5 - 10 minuets which put me on the beach just past Alum chine, with a long walk back to take off. Once back at take off the wind was much stronger and south west but still plenty flyable for a while.

Wed 14 Sep 2011

Report by Alastair Florence

After hearing a few sitephone messages from Bell I decided to take a slight detour home via Winklebury as I could get there quicker than Bell.

A nice bright sunny evening with a fairly brisk wind.

Ideal for a bit of a boat about and setting up speed bars etc

Report by Shamus Pitts


I had a very pleasant hour at Telegraph Hill after work this evening. Conditions were smooth to start with then the sun came out and things livened up a little but it was still quite gentle. The wind was fairly strong and the small broken thermals didn't come to anything but it was good fun with the whole ridge working. It was only me and Guy A there so we had plenty of room!

Wed 07 Sep 2011

Report by Nick Le Gras


Martin Bucher, Gill & Nick le Gras ,Pete Chalmers have just spent a week in Piedrahita with Steve Ham Weather not epic unfortunately two days lost to rain ,Pete achieved the best flight of the week attaining 75k ,all managed to overcome the infamous €œpass€ at some stage though No in flight shots ,but here he is celebrating !

Sat 03 Sep 2011

Report by Richard Mosley

Flew the ridgid glider at the Hive on saturday. Two pilots from the devon club turned up on Moyes litespeeds. The cloudbase was low when we took off. Flew past eype but had to fly fast and out to sea, especially near golden cap and dip back into the lift now and again to avoid getting sucked into cloud. The two flex wings packed up to the sun bursting through. Flew to Charmouth and back for the second flight. Both Portland and Lyme regis were still clagged in.

Report by Jeremy Calderwood


I arrived at Barton-on-Sea at 1:15 to find a sea flecked with white horses, rather a grey sky and only a windsock flying. Its owner Brian M was not far away. The wind was pretty top end - about 17-19mph but Brian had been flying earlier from Milford to Friars Cliff and back and was pretty confidant that it wouldn't get much stronger. In fact it was forecast to start to ease back later in the afternoon.

"Yes, it's too strong for a top launch but you could always take off at the bottom..." No more encouragement was required - the last time I had done this I flew to Avon Beach and then to the beach huts at Milford and back.

By 1:55 I was faffing about at the cliff base for a couple of minutes and then - huzzah - I was cruising across and up the cliff face. By the time I was out in front at the top I was reaching for the speed bar! The wind had a fair bit of west in it making progress towards Highcliffe very slow. By the time I got to the model flying zone past the hotel the speed bar was more than half pulled and my height down to cliff top... With the rough ground and so much of a headwind I was not going to get much further so I skidaddled back to the main cliff and bounced around in the lively conditions.

At about 2:30 Brian sauntered to the cliff, measured the wind and showed me 10 fingers and thumbs twice - 20mph! After a few more minutes of manic fun I pushed right out to sea to lose height and dropped back for a nice easy beach landing.

40 minutes later I was back on top chatting to Brian when I noticed a wing in the air down at Milford. We watched it as it dropped down to the beach. Curious to know who else was mad enough to attempt the conditions I drove there, bought a car park ticket and started to walk towards man and kiting wing. As I got closer he moved further west to where shingle bank met cliff base and rose into the air towards Barton. Drat! I climbed the cliff and watched him draw slowly away.

Eventually he dropped down to land on the beach at Barton so - I trotted back to the car park and drove back to find the guy just emerging from the top of the cliff path. It was Brian Searle from Thames Valley... I offered him a lift back but his wife was already driving towards us! After going to grab a bite and stuff I returned to the clifftop at 5:30 to find the sky had cleared and the wind a good deal more friendly at about 14-15mph. Brian had gone but Paul K had arrived so we started laying out our wings. A few minutes later Simon J appeared followed by Bruce Clarke from Thames Valley.

At just after 6pm I was first away then Simon, Paul and Bruce. There was still a fair bit of west but it was nicely lifty so we all had a good time. Later still Gordon C joined in the evening fun.

I finally landed at about 7:45 very happy with another 1h 40m notched up... over 2h 20m for this excellent day.

Fri 02 Sep 2011

Report by Shamus Pitts



A beautiful day at Eype today, at least to start with. When Nigel and I arrived the wind was a bit off to the west and blowing probably 10 - 12mph. There were a couple of people in the air so I waited until they'd crossed the Eype gap then took off. There wasn't a huge amount of lift to be had with the eastern end of the bowl producing the most but I was soon 80' ATO so decided to cross the gap myself.

I was quite low when I arrived at the other side but quickly built my height up and found it to be nice and buoyant. After a few beats I ventured towards Thorncombe beacon where there wasn't any lift but I was feeling quite optimistic at this point so carried on past it, thinking that there must be some bit of it facing the right way! As I got lower I disturbed a buzzard which took off and seemed to have the same trouble as me finding lift. It soon decided it wasn't working, gave a few flaps and disappeared back towards where I'd come from. As I got lower I realised that the wind would be less strong and the last strands of optimism left with the buzzard. I checked my landing options.

Option 1 was the boulder field at the foot of the cliff - it looked quite straight forward (although I was aware that the rocks were probably a lot bigger than they appeared) but I thought I was probably too low to put a turn in to line up for it then put another turn in to get in to wind (I didn't want to land downwind on rocks!). Option 2 was to land on the side of the cliff. There had been numerous landslides so the cliff side wasn't sheer, it was probably similar to some of the steeper patches at Ringstead and covered in grass and brambles.

My landing was pretty good and it wasn't long before I had my wing bunched up and I was trying to decide what to do next - walk up the cliff or down the cliff. I started walking up the cliff thinking that it looked possible to get to the top. It was fairly steep but easily walkable so I started picking out a route. I decided to head towards a section of landslide which looked like it would take me all the way to the top but on the way there I started to worry that it might not be the most stable of surfaces to walk up, so turned around and clambered all the way down to the "beach". It wasn't too bad, there were paths that the sheep or goats had made so I found it quite easy to pick my way down.

The boulders on the beach were pretty big, I found the biggest and flattest to pack my wing up on. Once packed I started the hour walk back to take off - 40 minutes negotiating boulder after boulder, then 20 minutes walking along the beach and up the path! When I got back to takeoff the orographic had come in and everything was starting to disappear!

After a couple of hours the clag had lifted a bit and James then Jim took off, shortly followed by me. James landed on the beach, Jim disappeared and I built up my height and crossed the gap - Jim was on the other side, looming out of the clag. We stuck to the ridge soaring rules and didn't have any problems keeping our distance from each other. The cloud was slowly lifting and I made it on to Thorncombe beacon although the low cloud meant I couldn't make the most of the lift. After half an hour the lift seemed to be dying a bit so I decided to call it a day and land on the beach.

Report by Alastair Florence


As the wind began to pick up today I headed for Kimmeridge.

There was a fair bit of orographic cloud blowing in at between 150- 300ft ato but with plenty of gaps in between.

I had good fun taking little climbs toward the clouds and dodging between them, nothing was sucking that hard and it was difficult to get a white out even if you wanted one.

After a while the wind picked up further and base dropped well below ridge height which stopped proceedings, still fun whilst it lasted.

Thu 01 Sep 2011

Report by Alastair Florence


I took a chance on the Malverns working today and it paid off to a degree.

I was first to arrive and found the wind fairly brisk and slighly off South. I hung around for some locals to arrive and they declared it flyable.

The air was fairly active although nothing like yesterday at Hambledon, We started getting some reasonable climbs and when I worked myself up to 1000ft ato and was still climbing I took the plunge and headed over the back.

My nice firm lift turned into a weak dribbly bitty patch which I worked as long as there was something there. I then moved onto a forming cloud downwind and again found dribbly bits of lift to work at. Eventually the cloud petered out and I was faced with a big blue patch in which I could find nothing else despite trying the usual combine fly over failsafe.

Landed in a nice stubble field and knocked up the nearest house to ask where I was, they kindly gave me a lift to a nearby village.

About 1/2 hr after I landed the sky improved downwind and several more pilots sailed overhead.

Then a 2 mile walk trying to hitch up the main road followed by a lift from a chap who trained dogs to search for lost dogs (if that makes sense) and finally a taxi from Great Malvern back to Kettle Sings. I met Gary P and Ian H in the car park whom had arrived after me.

A pint with Gary and Ian the drove home with supper at the Barge Inn at Bradford-On-Avon, Peachy

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