Eye in the Sky - May 2012

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Tue 29 May 2012

Report by Alastair Florence


I had a day of fending off senior managers that dont really understand what i'm doing questioning my judgement (I hate having to be rude to people) and then seeming to meet every entrant in a drive home at under 40 mph day (and sometimes under 20mph) so stress levels were near meltdown.

Fortunaetly the wind was on at St.A's which gave me a half an hours chilling out before I went home. Could have done with a bit more wind to make things more interesting but mustn't grumble.

Bottle of Cider back at home and all is well in the world again.

Wed 23 May 2012

Report by Alastair Florence

I had to attend a final budget meeting for a contract in Whitchurch today, we had a deal cut in 20 mins, followed by taking client to the pub.

That done, I thought it wasn't worth going back to Fareham so I went flying at Combe instead.

Wind was fairly light but a regular supply of weak thermals made it very pleasant.

On my second flight I found myself reasonably high over the hill with a couple of other gliders. It wasn't the best looking day to go over the back and I couldn't really be bothered with the logistics of sorting retrieves so thought i'd hang onto Richard Bungay's shirt tale and try and follow him for a triangle.

I was almost pacing Richard for a bit but he found a climb just before Hungerford that I just couldn't connect with and thats where I lost him. I cruised back to the ridge hoping to pick up some lift nearer the ridge and push West.

I didn't find anything useable but never mind. Sadly I needed a few more KM's for a multiplier but managed 10.85 on a flat triangle and 8.05 as an FAI triangle. Without multipliers turnpoints gave me 12.3km, not a record but im getting into this closed circuit flight idea its less hassle. Mr B went a bit further out and a bit further West and scored 40 odd km's.

A peachy afternoon scoring an 8.5 on the peachometer

Report by William Palmer


Bell Hill.   Lots of people about today. Most pilots arrived early but little happened until well in to the afternoon. With a murky sky and barely a breath of wind only a brave few tried to milk the occasional thermal with sometimes a few hundred foot height gained and quickly lost. At around 3pm I managed to hurl myself in to the bowl again after watching Gary Mullins maintain for a  few minutes and quickly found a thermal which along with Marcus which we managed to milk very slowly until Stickland. After a couple of low saves and no inspirational climbs or views I watched Marcus land below. Gliding for a few more k's I landed just inside the Drax estate for 17km.     

Sun 20 May 2012

Report by Sean Staines

Monksdown - I arrived at midday to a fully overcast sky, despite the forecast for sunshine. The conditions were a bit rough but there was no problem getting strong climbs to base, unfortunately only about 600ft ATO. After 40 minutes, and with base too low to risk an XC I bottom landed and decide to check out Okeford.

Wisely I decided to take a look at the bottom landing fields before flying. They are only accessibly by a 4X4 as the track is impassable by ordinary car.  At the top the wind seemed quite light and quite Easterly so I called it a day and went home.

Sat 19 May 2012

Report by Richard Chambers

A doubtful forecast turned into a lovely days flying in the end. Started at Ringstead where it was very scratchy, just about possible to maintain in the take off bowl. Sean Staines made it to the cliffs but couldn't maintain height and had to land on the beach. Eventually, despite the forecast, it picked up enough (mainly thermic wind) to get more than one wing in the air at a time. I had a nice little boat around near take off trying to get used to my new harness. It was great fun working the small thermals and gaining pretty good height. Everytime I headed in the direction of the cliffs I was met with loads of sink, twas not to be today. It had gone very light and south so me and Simon Vacher decided to relocate to White Horse.

We arrived to very light wing but decided to have a go anyway. Surprisingly, it was thermic enough to gain good height and get out over the fields. We had a jolly time for an hour or so playing in the gentle lift coming off of the fields. All in all, a good day out of nothing.

Report by Shamus Pitts

After a bit of deliberation I decided that Beer was the place to go today.  When I got there I was a bit disappointed to find that there was hardly any wind but there were a couple of other optimists there so we waited for the wind to pick up.  We could see people flying at Branscombe which showed that there was lift about and after waiting for an hour or so I decided to have a try.  I saw that the seagulls were choosing to fly on the cliff to the west of takeoff so as soon as I was in the air I headed over there.  I slowly scratched my way up until I was above the cliff top and then spent about 20 minutes beating back and forth slowly building my height up.  When I had about 120' ATO I was getting a bit bored of the bit of cliff that I was flying so decided to try and cross the Branscombe gap.  I lost about 200' crossing the gap but was relieved to find that there was lift on the other side and slowly climbed back above the cliff again.  I couldn't get much height to start with but as I rounded the corner towards Branscombe takeoff the lift improved and I was soon 250' ATO.  I connected with the cliffs on the west side of the Branscombe takeoff and the lift improved some more and from 350' ATO it looked like it might be possible to get to Sidmouth.  The cliffs were working quite well now and I had no trouble crossing over the gap at Weston to the Sidmouth cliffs where I topped up my height to 380' ATO.  I carried on towards Sidmouth until I ran out of cliff then turned and headed back towards Beer.  I had more height going back, making the journey a bit easier.  Conditions had improved and there were now half a dozen wings in the air at Beer when I got back there.  I decided that I might as well make the most of the day so turned around and flew back down to Sidmouth again.  The return trip wasn't quite as easy as the first time as the lift seemed to be starting to die, and when I got to the Branscombe gap I was worried I wouldn't make it across.  I arrived at the other side pretty low but found the cliffs were still working and was soon above 150' ATO.  The site-guide says that you shouldn't fly behind "the stack" because of the potential for rotor but it looked pretty small and was at least 200' below me so I cautiously cut across behind it to the takeoff area.  The air felt a little different - as if entering a thermal - and then I felt the front of my wing go!  I caught it straight away and didn't lose any height but it just goes to show how far rotor can extend.  A good day though, 2 hours in the air and about 40km of coastal flying!

Report by Neville Almond

Ringstead - Day started very light (5mph), and forecast to get lighter.

Nev, Grant, Luisa (& Connor+Alex), Stuart Prosser and Richard Moseley there with HG's, plus around 10~12 PG's.

PG's side landing, took off in blind faith and on forecast of going lighter. Glider felt soggy on way out to cliffs (wind off to east), followed 5 minutes on lower cliffs and then bottom landing. Landing approach was amusing, as the woman squatting and having a pee behind the hedge clearly wasn't expecting a grin from someone 20ft above her. Still, she beamed back (and her husband was laughing) so all was well. On landing I found the lower surface zip 1/2 undone - that explained the soggy glider.

Stuart kindly retrieved me. Back on top, wind now 8mph, so just had to fly. Stuart off too, PG's getting 100ft now, rigging like a madmen (but properly this time), and 20 mins later was back on lower cliffs. Now wind was 7mph, but from the south. Stuck at 400ft asl for 15 minutes, then 'went for it' heading SE along cliffs, way below, gripping bar ready for rotor, cleared the white nothe and went round the corner to the south facing cliffs, albeit 150ft lower. Slowly work up, then abobe top, and flew at 200ft ato for 1/2 hr before just scrabbling back to takeoff with enough height to land.    

Report by Steve Phillips

Big thanks to Ian and John for helping me fix my troublesome 2 stroke rad.
Pitched up at 1300hrs only  to spend next 2 hours trying to get the thing started, finally at 1510hrs i managed to take off from a local place in weymouth. I decided to fly east along the coast towards Ringstead turning inland to make a fly past to my fellow pilots still grounded.
To my surprise I got some kindly waves!  All be it 2 fingered (joking), flew back east towards my mechanics encountering some nice thermals close to pontins riviera. 50 mins flying! I do like my paramotor on a nil wind day :-)

Report by Alastair Florence


Today had looked like it should produce some flying somewhere, I couldn't decide quite where though by 11 ish I had driven about 25 miles and got nowhere. Quentin rang and said Kimmeridge was working so I abandodned other plans and went and had a look. The wind had gone of South a bit too much so I decided to go to Knitson.

Quentin soon followed, the wind was nicely on the hill but on the light side.

As we rigged the 'Black' arrows over flew low a couple of times so I made a call to Bournemouth ATC to check out there moves.

Once in the air I found it easy to locate thermals which were working well out in front of the hill. I dont think I have ever managed to push quite as far out in front and ended up recording a 5.2 km triangle, so not long enough to enter on the league.

We were joined by a red ribbon pilot who I havent got a clue who it was as I was in the air, but anyway he did well as many people seem to struggle to get to grips with Knitson air and he looked to have a decent flight.

Q and the red ribbon left and I had a lunch break, I was trying my hardest to climb out and try for xc goal at the Sandbanks ferry, but try as I might I could not get over 1300ft amsl as the thermals seemed to die over the back and I figured that could dump me miles from and civilisation in the heath.

A Corfe Castle crossing was not on either as the dynamic ridge lift was not reliable enough.

So about 2.5hrs airtime and plenty of thermalling fun a classic Knitson day really, Peachometer 7.5.

As I left Dave O and Benji arrived but alas they had missed the best whilst sitting in clag at Kimmeridge.

Kimmeridge had now cleared so I went there but twas just a bit too light really and I ended up with a little walk.

Wed 16 May 2012

Report by Alastair Florence

Looked like a nice evening for an after work chill out flight so headed for St.A's.

It felt fairly strong on t/o but the wind meter suggested it was probably ok just cold.

Launch went fine and I found the air nice and smooth. The wind was off South a bit and strongish so plenty of lift and nice out over the coastguards hut and chapel.

I built up about 550ft ato and had a try at the transition to Houns Tout, this went suprisingly well and I only lost about 400ft on the crossing.

I spent a while bimbling over on the Tout but couldn't really push on any further so flew back to the car and went home for supper.

Peachometer 7.5

Sun 13 May 2012

Report by Neil Weymouth

29k from Bulbarrow to Bowerchalk (via Blandford) today, would be nice to see someone at Bulbarrow occasionally, it's really quite friendly before the sea breeze and in thermic conditions. Twice now I have had solid climbs to cloudbase straight from the hill.

Report by Shamus Pitts


I wasn’t expecting great things when I got to Corton Denham – there wasn’t much wind and when it did gust through it was a bit off to the West.  After a few failed attempts I managed to hook in to a small thermal and slowly wound it up to about 2500’ ATO before I lost it again.  I headed off downwind trying to find it again and soon stumbled into a good climb which took me to cloudbase 4300’ ATO near Wincanton.  I went on a glide and picked up a booming climb near Bourton.  I was starting to realise that I would have to decide which side of Westbury danger area to go  - I decided to try and go north of it because I thought that the potential might be better so I started to push more to the north and headed towards Mere.  I could see gliders flying at Mere and there were about 4 sailplanes in the air over the glider club so I headed over to them and found a good climb which I left just before cloudbase to go on another glide, sinking for ages until I found a stonking climb near Longbridge Deverill which I took up to cloudbase.  I’d drifted too far east to make it easy to get round Westbury danger area so I turned northwest and pushed on the bar, hoping to get to the top left corner of the danger area without losing all my height!  I sank and sank and I was well below 1000’ when I got to the corner.  It felt quite windy now and I scratched about for lift but there was nothing useable so I ended up landing in a field just north of the A350 outside Westbury.  A kite boarder, Dean, picked me up straight away and took me to the Westbury White Horse where Paul H came and picked me up – thanks Paul.

Sat 12 May 2012

Report by William Palmer


An early start was warranted by a great looking forecast over Wales for the BCC comp at Hundred House, near Builth Wells. After a long drive we arrived at the hill to see gliders already climbing out in nice thermals early in the day. My frustration as we started the long walk up to takeoff soon subsided as I quickly clipped in taking off in to the strengthening breeze. After a couple of beats back and forth, I was back 200ft below takeoff after a lul, forcing me to take a side landing. Not an auspicious start.

Back at takeoff after another heavy hike I soon took off again spotting Dave my teammate now high above everyone swaying like a pendulum in the spring thermals. It didn't take long after finding a punchy little core to get within reach of him and a few other wings in a strong consistent climb all the way to cloudbase. With about 5 gliders at over 4000ft and the climb barely drifting I considered the risky option of making a crosswind dash for the Bristol channel, a route which I had already been mocked for considering. With nobody leaving the security of the cloud, I saw gliders about 5km downwind so pushed ahead with only 2 joining me. I still wonder what the pilots left behing were thinking under decaying lift with a great looking sky downwind.

With all but one of the pilots around me opting to head for the looming Brecon Beacons, a pilot on a comp wing followed me on my push towards the Black mountains to the east. After a top up to base the pimp immediately left me after I replied "no" to him shouting across "Is that you Edrys?" From here, less than an hour in to the flight I was alone. No lift markers anywhere, other than the patchwork of easily reachable clouds now forming broken streaks to the south. The clouds made a tempting case to head south with all the other pilots, but I moved on, topping up, pointing east in glides. Quickly I made my way past the mountains over the rolling fields to Monmouth where I could easily see the wide Bristol channel in the distance. From Monmouth things started to fall apart. As you can see from my tracklog, my glides grew longer as blue holes started to appear, and I was growing more and more concerned in the weakening lift that my intended route north of a bird sanctuary would not be possible thanks to the north wind. Despite this, now low at below 3000ft, I tried to find lift north of Coleford, but after sinking further decided to go south taking the certain lift over town. Here I only just maintained, flying ever further south watching the channel to my left broadening. I knew because of airspace that I would need much greater height to make a safe crossing. As if by magic I found one of the strongest climbs of the day eventually giving me over 6300ft right by the channel. Here I took a long glide, making it to the other side of the intimidating water with 5500ft to spare. After the obligatory photo shoot I pushed on mindful of the Bristol airspace downwind. knowing I would soon drift in to it if I strayed too close, I pushed further east, but from the dizzying heights of 6300ft I found no significant climbs. After a glide of almost 19km I coaxed my dead legs out of my pod to a landing field in Yate. A new personal best at 92km (106km with turnpoints) and only my third flight on the Nova Factor 2.

The movie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1Dbi6Zi7Sw Tracklog: http://www.xcleague.com/xc/flights/2012991.html  

Report by Marcus Webster

Monks Down

Report by Alastair Florence

Some fantastic flights out of Mid Wales and Gloucester way today, also some good un's from Monks. Personally I made it to the middle of no where which I think might be called Mappowder, a mile or two by cow infested fields from the worlds end pub, I didn't realise there was any part of Dorset that far from a road, it certainly felt like the worlds end after another long walk but worth the effort.

Report by Shamus Pitts


Busy day at Monksdown today.  I got there about 10:15, after seeing the epic looking forecast on RASP, to find the wind blowing up to about 27mph!  Some parawaiting took place while Shaun and his friend enjoyed the empty air on their hang gliders before it finally calmed down enough for us to have a go.  Craig B was first in the air shortly followed by me.  It wasn't as buoyant as I was expecting but thermals were gusting through regularly although I seemed to struggle to stay in them!  The air was also quite rough at times with the wind gusting in all directions €“ it wasn't the easy day I was hoping for!  Others did better than me though, a couple of Skysurfers made it to Ringstead, Paul H got to Osmington and Ali F and Marcus W also got away although i'm not sure how far they got.  A good day with lots of familiar faces and a couple of red kites €“ Mark R even turned up having flown down from Westbury!

Sun 06 May 2012

Report by Shamus Pitts


Typical Hambledon day today.  It was a bit overcast when I arrived but the wind was on the hill and blowing 12 €“ 18mph.  Over the next couple of hours the sun came out and the wind picked up before dropping a little and going east.  Paul H and Marcus W were also there and we all managed a little bit of flying €“ Paul even managed a little XC.  The conditions weren't great but that's Hambledon for you!

Tue 01 May 2012

Report by Marcus Webster

White Horse Hill   Will Palmer tries out his new home made, light weight Ohmygodistan Pod. 

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