Eye in the Sky - Dec 2011

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Tue 27 Dec 2011

Report by Ruth Kelly


After a busy season, squeezing flying between family, work and weather, I finally made it to 25 hours... and with the wind in the south and new kit to try, that could only mean... Barton! Arriving just after 12 O'Clock I was delighted to find Pete Chalmers heaving stuff from the back of his car, Brian Metcalfe, Danni Capellin and Simon Vacher already airborne and a couple of others setting up.

With both a new Gin Verso Harness and a demo Niviuk Hook 2 to try (the latter courtesy of Flybubble Paragliding), my first step was to fly my Bolero 4 on the new harness. Take-off was accomplished without incident, with the wind smack on and blowing perhaps 10mph. The only minor glitch was that I clean forgot about the stirrup, so had to spend some moments groping for it. It was immediately apparent - as a number of para-buddies had warned me - that the Verso was more dynamic and weight-shifty. But the stirrup gave me a good sense of security and control, whilst the Bolero 4 was its usual docile self. After half an hour the wind shut down and I floated in to top land down at the eastern end of the take-off field.

After coffee and gossip with Simon et al I packed the Bolero and grabbed the Hook 2 from the Landy as soon as the wind came back on, just before 13:00. Setting up was swiftly completed, and with a bit of help from Brian - thanks Brian! - I was aloft once more.

The Hook was a delight to fly, with sweet handling and a noticeably better glide. Certainly I achieved better height than on the Bolero, peaking around 240' ATO - although it must be said that the wind on this flight was markedly stronger. For me the most obvious improvement over the Bolero was that it seemed so much easier to turn. Of course the harness and stirrup played their part, but on this wing I really wanted to fling it round the sky, and spent some time doing interconnected figures-of-eight out over the shoreline, before hammering back in towards the cliff and then turning back into wind. Gorgeous. It was rather nice to be looking down on everyone for once, too.

After 65 minutes of rather delightful flying, the only issue seemed to be finding the best way down. I had already had one slightly anxious moment when I strayed back behind the cliff line and struggled to fly forward. So it seemed that I could have crabbed back in over the take off, to descend more-or-less vertically. But I didn't fancy messing up my return (and risking an early bid for the next Volvo award), nor potentially making a mess of the demo wing. So I flew out over the sea and worked off my height out there, watching Brian do much the same. By the time I was at a comfy height for a beach landing, though, the wind had piped down a bit, and as it happens I could probably have managed a perfectly nice top-landing. Never mind - a couple of swift runs up and down the beach and I was safely down on the footpath, accompanied by a storm of barking from a passing Jack Russell.

Verdict: Gin Verso, lovely; Niviuk Hook 2, definitely a contender. Next step is to fly it (I hope) in more turbulent conditions, before trying some different wings to compare it against. Oh. And... Barton, lovely! If you'd like to see some video of the occasion, please see http://youtu.be/2dRVI2ZNJ1M http://youtu.be/2dRVI2ZNJ1M A good day, and a great end to 2011.

Report by Richard Mosley

Went to Burton bradstock. Took off from the Hive and flew to Lyme Regis and back. Father christmas bought me a camera but it didnt record the flight. My wife seemed quite pleased, perhaps she is not keen to watch it! There was one other paraglider there who was packing up perhaps because the wind went from practically nothing to 18 Mph. Good for me though.

Report by Alastair Florence


A strange old day but at least it seems to have been generally flyable, light winds someplaces, almost blown out at others.

I made a late start and headed toward St.A's first, a visit to the ablutions in Worth was required following a curry party the night before, whilst on this visit I concluded there was to much South in the wind for St.a so changed tack for Kimmeridge. The wind was off South a little at Kimmeridge but apart from being fairly strong it was perfectly flyable and actually quite smooth once over 150ft ato.

Simon H turned up, had a look, then seemed to be going off again so I wondered if it didn't feel good from the ground.

I landed to see whats up and we decided to go to Knitson.

I think i'm getting used to the latest company car off road as I didn't get stuck on either site this time.

Knitson felt good and we were soon in the air.

Conditions started quite nice with the occasional bit of typical random rotor here and there as you expect at Knitson.

After the best part of an hour Simon had landed and the wind was getting stronger and more gusty, a big patch of crappy weather seemed to be building up wind of us out in the channel, so I followed Simon's lead and called it a day.

Not epic but would appear to be all thats on offer over the christmas break so gratefull.

Report by Sean Staines


It was light when I arrived at around 10am to see Neil McC ground handling his new ship. On the hope that it would pick up I rigged my new U2 and was pleased to see Gary M heading for the cliffs as I finished. I followed him out and had a pleasant hours flying. I explored the speed range and glide of the U2 and am amazed at its performance. It's very fast and doesn't seem to lose much height.

After a cup of coffee and a spot of lunch I flew again. I was up for 2H15, my longest flight yet, and flew down past Tyneham for a 24k out and return. I am grateful to Shamus for luring me across Lulworth cove, showing me the lift on the far side.

A really good days flying.

Report by Shamus Pitts


I had a nice few hours at Ringstead today. I got there about 11ish to find quite a strong wind a little off to the south. I got to the cliffs quite low but found they were working well - not just at Ruingstead but all the way down to Lulworth Cove.

After one trip to the cove and back I decided to try again. I got to Lulworth and found the cliff working a little better than earlier. I could see someone flying on the ridge on the eastern side of the cove so decided to cross the gap and join him (he turned out to be Richard C). I went halfway along on the sea cliffs before transferring to Bindon Hill behind the bay. The ridge wasn't working brilliantly to start with but as I got higher the lift improved a lot. I pushed on along Bindon Hill towards Mupe bay, built up my height (which was easy) and then crossed Arish Mell gap. I could see Richard was pushing out across Worbarrow bay towards Gad cliff so I decided to hang around and see if he could get there and if there was any lift! He could and there was so I followed him over. I didn't lose much height for the first half of the crossing but it was pretty windy and quite slow going. As I got closer to Gad cliff I seemed to be getting slower and slower and lower and lower but eventually I arrived and was soon hoovered up to join Richard. By now wind streaks could be seen on the sea and it looked like it was raining on the horizon. I built my height up to 700' ATO then pushed out towards Kimmeridge sea cliffs. I lost about 500' and realised I probably wouldn't make it, it was just too windy. I got back to Gad cliff and built my height up to 900' ATO. I thought about following the ridge round behind Kimmeridge or hopping on to the Corfe ridge but it was so windy by now that I decided to try and get back to Ringstead instead - Richard had the same idea. Crossing the Arish Mell gap was very slow going, even on 3/4 bar. It's not a big gap but the wind was howling through it. Once I was safely on the other side I was worried about getting blown back on Bindon Hill so I kept a bit of bar on and pushed forward towards the sea cliffs. About half way there I changed my mind as I was getting quite close to Lulworth cove so aimed straight for it and made it quite easily. I pushed out to the cliffs in front and followed then round to the Durdle Door section of cliff. I was more relaxed now and the rest of the journey back to Ringstead went smoothly. I managed to get over 700' ATO at White Nothe so took the opportunity to explore the area a bit and flew down the inland ridge for a couple of fields past the car park.

When I landed after almost 3 hours in the air the wind was blowing pretty strongly and everyone had packed up. Not a bad day out really, I've never been that far along the coast and I probably wouldn't have if Richard hadn't been there to act as lift dummy! Sorry about all the photos but I've edited it down from 44!

Sat 10 Dec 2011

Report by Shamus Pitts


Had a pleasant day at Cowdown today. The wind was very light to start with but by midday it had picked up a bit and was soarable. Small thermals were coming through causing the wind to flick about a bit but weren't very useable although it was pretty buoyant for a couple of hours. 100' ATO was doable if you worked for it but it was also pretty scratchy at times.

5 of us enjoyed the sunshine €“ me and Gary J, and 3 recent members Jodie, Tony and Tom (hopefully I've got your names right!)

Report by Alastair Florence


Brian M had proclaimed the weekend would be flyable so not wishing to leave him red faced I headed up to check out St.A's.

Keith W arrived the same time and we took a walk out to t/o.

Conditions looked fine apart from maybe a hint of North side of West in the wind. I launched and found it was actually a bit South of West and plenty of lift.

The air was a bit kind of jagged at times and a bit sort of changeable- ishagain sea thermals were about giving climbs up to 1100ft amsl.

Simon H turned up and got in the air.

A nasty looking cloud with a visible gusts on the sea beneath was heading our way nearly persuaded me to bail out early but it seemed to head off out to sea and all we got was the tail end of some light hail and rain.

Shortly after the wind went uncomfortably off North side (probably the nasty cloud now out in the channel sucking the air off the coast)this was giving some unpleasant air around t/o so we called it a day and flew back to the car park getting a buffeting on the way.

Sat 03 Dec 2011

Report by Shamus Pitts

I managed to squeeze in about an hour at Cowdown this afternoon. Despite the wind blowing a fairly steady 20mph there wasn't a huge amount of lift. The highest I managed was about 135' ATO but it was all quite smooth and not as gusty as I was expecting so it was nice to get my feet off the ground. In the end the light was starting to fade so I speed-barred out from the hill and landed in a field by my house. Not epic, but it's been 6 weeks since I last flew so well worth the walk up!

Fri 02 Dec 2011

Report by Neil Mccain

The smart money was on Whitesheet today. Six runners and riders showed up for an aerial canter but I don't think they had much luck there as it turned out. I took a punt on the less fancied St Aldhelms, joining two other air jockeys (Ali F and Nigel R) for what turned out to be the main event. Ali had already taken to the sky when we arrived at launch, and was trotting down to the coastguard cottages whilst we set up. The wind was a little gusty - Nigel's new steed frisked and whinnied on the ground but was docile in harness soon enough, and he too galloped away to the south. I followed, my thoroughbred somewhat untidy herself with a small cravat on take-off but responding instantly to a big pump on the left side.

Wind streaks on the water showed there to be a slight touch of north to the wind, although by the time we had landed some ninety minutes later, the wind had backed to WSW. They were a fantastic ninety minutes too! The briskness of the wind gave us a lot of dynamic lift to play in for a start, and soon we were all cruising at up to 500ft ato. I was surprised to feel some little lumps and bumps in the air, and at first I put this down to a lack of recent airtime. But it soon dawned on me that there was something else going on. I watched as Ali was lifted up, higher than should have been possible on dynamic lift alone, like a champion show-jumper clearing the tallest fence in the ring. Sea thermals! Like mythical beasts they were rearing up above the white horses, trigger-ed (!) by the cliff wall. Spurred into action, I turned in gentle, smooth lift, suddenly in tune with the conditions. It was too tempting not to follow it over the fields so I wheeled round again, astonished to see my vario click past 900ft ato! I had a quick look downwind (could my charger take me to Swanage?!) but almost at once and as a warning I felt the energy of the thermal lessen and I had to turn back across the paddocks and fields to the cliff. I now had the bit between my teeth and zoomed up and down the length of the site searching for the next climb. They were there too, but more broken than that first, leaving my tracklog looking like I'd been a hurdles race rather than flat racing. The wind was stronger now (the going had changed from soft to hard) so taking our cue from Ali we turned and flew back to the cars.

Great to be back in the saddle!

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