Eye in the Sky - February 2013

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Sun 24 Feb 2013

Report by David Franklin


A picture from Bell today of my gorse collector and burner clutching his incentive.

Sat 23 Feb 2013

Report by William Palmer

Arrived early with my vario showing the temperature bang on freezing and the wind consistently blowing strongly straight up the hill. Launching from the field to the left of the official takeoff to avoid the rotor coming off the trees, I cajoled an unruly wing in to the air and after a minute or so of struggle found myself airborne. Smooth lift allowed a good few hundred feet, and with the stratus breaking at times thermals came giving good climbs to 1200ft above takeoff. It was even possible to go beyond the second bowl to the right at times. I was almost tempted to go xc at one point until the snow and two other pilots arrived below. Watching smoke just below Hambledon hill blowing due east I landed in fear of possible coming rotor, calling it a day after a couple of hours aloft.

Report by Sean Staines

Monksdown - I arrived at around 11 o’clock. My apparently useless wind meter showed only 12mph and suckered me into preparing to fly the paraglider. It became apparent as I built a wall that wind was top end for PGs so I abandoned it and rigged the hang glider. The wind was light by hang glider standards allowing a very easy unassisted launch. I flew around at about 300ft ATO hitting good patches of lift along the ridge with the occasional snow flake from the fully overcast sky. After half an hour I hooked into a good climb to 800ft ATO and briefly considered drifting over the back with it before pushing forward towards Winklebury and going in for a top landing. A very pleasant winters flight.

Report by Shamus Pitts

I had a pleasant but windy and cold morning at Maiden Castle today.  When I arrived about 10 o'clock the wind on the first rampart was blowing about 16mph and pretty much on the hill.  The air was bitterly cold and pretty buoyant with thermals coming off the car park and fields in front of the castle, although, because it was so windy and the thermals pretty small, it was difficult to get more than a turn in without falling out or ending up too far back.

After 20 minutes I could barely feel my fingers so landed in the car park and had a cup of tea.  Once suitably warmed I had another couple of flights, stopping eventually because it started to snow.  About 1hr15 in the end over 3 flights, up to 300' ATO .... much better than I thought it would be!

Report by David Franklin


Spent a bracing day clearing gorse and bramble from a few acres around the most used part of Bell Hill today. The areas where I had fires are probably best avoided for a few weeks as they will mark your glider. I will most probably be up there again tomorrow so if anyone feels the need for some fresh air and exercise any help would be welcome. Ultimately I would like to get the bulk of the leggy gorse down to the ground on the open areas. Now Owen has animals grazing it again, it should remain low once hacked back.
Hopefully the weather station is off for repair as it is no longer on the pole? [web: yes.. currently being fixed]
Whilst hacking and burning a pale coloured paraglider kept appearing over the brow towards Okeford or it may even have been on Hambledon. That was some brave soul, top end breeze, snow showers and bloomin freezing.

Sat 16 Feb 2013

Report by Alastair Florence

From about midday to dusk Ballard was well flyable, conditions peaked about 1500hrs, Ridge, main cliff and later hotels were flyable and some good height gains were to be had.

I counted about 11 wings in the air at one time plus Richard M on his Atos (yes it did suprise me Richard when you wizzed past underneath me : -)) Gordon C, Darren G, Shamus, Colin D, Dr Charles, a few Sky surfers Rob k from Avon and Ruth and Will emerged from amongst a Polish group, plus maybe some more who I forgot.

I had about 3 hrs 20 in the air, a welcome break after weeks of dross.

Report by Shamus Pitts

I thought Southbourne might be worth a look today and arrived about 11am to find I wasn't the only one to have that idea!  The wind was too light and well off to the east but as the day went on more and more people turned up - Gary P, Paul H, Marcus W, Neil McC, Gordon C, Grant O... to name but a few!   By about 1:30 we could see wings in the air at Ballard Down so Gordon C and I decided to take a chance and head off to Swanage.  We got there about 3 o'clock to see half a dozen wings in the air with decent height so we scurried up through the mud and were airborne shortly after 3:30.  The wind was south easterly and reasonably strong and the whole ridge was working well.  I left my flying suit in the car so after an hour I had to land because I was getting pretty cold.  The sun was starting to go down as well so Ali and I decided to have one last flight down to the beach.  The hotels were working slightly - enough to elongate my glide down to the beach and I landed in front of the Ocean Bay cafe.  I'm glad I followed Gordon's lead, it was great to get back in the air!

Report by Steve


Upon arrival at Southbourne take off I was greeted by around 8-10 hopeful pilots.  The wind was too light and off to the east - typical high pressure conditions, then...  Much parawaiting was indulged in and eventually a few less hardy souls disappeared off...pub suck was mentioned...

But those few who persevered with the waiting were finally rewarded as the wind picked up late in the afternoon and veered more southerly - so paragliding was committed by about 6 pilots, some heading off westward, others of us not chancing the pier crossings as returning would quite likely end on the beach.  Anyway, I was just happy to be up in the air, so just boating around the Southbourne area was quite adequate in satisfying my desire to fly.

Report by Martin Butcher

Well I have to report Mere rifle range turned out very nice in the end with over 2 hours aviation with a max height of 700 feet. I had gone to Mere fully expecting to do a bit of ground handling but arrived to see all the people parawaiting suddenly get busy and launch. With the sun on the hill there were some nice cycles coming through to practice the rusty art of roundy roundy and in between you could easily maintain. Almost went XC in one bit but the bogs awaiting down wind put me off. First flights this year 

Fri 15 Feb 2013

Report by Gary Mullins

Bell was good today. Well..........after the fog cleared.

Light on take off, but nice and gently thermic enabling everyone to circle around a bit, allowing for quite respectable climbs for the time of year.

800’ ATO was about the best. It could have been a lot higher though............cos Harry had to stop climbing and land, to put another coat on !  Twas a bit nippy.

Report by Grant Oseland

Forecast was for sunshine and no rain, with a light WNW wind most of the day, So Portland it was and the forecast proved correct ;-)  

Report by Alastair Florence

I stopped off at Telegraph on the way home from work today for my first flight for nearly 10 weeks (if you dont count a prolonged top to bottom at Norden that was one of those I wish I hadn't left the safety of the ground flights).

Had the whole ridge to myself.

Pretty light and generally scratchy but some little lifty bits to bimble about in giving me about 40 mins before the inevitable walk up from the bottom.

I brushed a wing tip on the trees as i came into land which was a little disconcerting but no problem. Been so long I forgot how wide the glider is.

Tue 12 Feb 2013

Report by Brian Metcalfe

Some flying at last!
I turned up at Mercury at about 12.30, it was overcast and freezing cold with a little snow still on the grass and a piercing wind, but at least it was a flyable wind, so I donned my winter gear and was in the air by 13.00.

The wind was off to the north a bit, as forecast, but the whole ridge was nicely flyable with even some gentle, weak thermals coming from somewhere, lifting us a few hundred feet from time to time.

Two flights giving a total of one and a half hours before my fingers and toes became numb.

Others freezing were Jan Henslow (Tips, Sky Surfer), Paul (flies Barton), John (flies Barton) apologies for not knowing surnames, and a couple of Southern paramotorists ( without their motors).

Fri 08 Feb 2013

Report by Marcus Webster

After speaking to Harry Dike about the chances of a late afternoon flight I managed to escape Pompy dock yard during the Friday lunch time stampede and hit the M27. Arrived home in Wimborne by 2pm for a quick exchange of work gear for flying gear, a peck on the cheek while being handed a travel mug of hot tea by my long suffering Wife and straight back in the car (yes desperation had set in!). Arrived at the top of a very bleak, cold and lonely Bell hill at 3pm and unleashed the Jack Russell’s who seemed confused by the lack of stone throwing Paraglider Pilots, but then went off in search of rabbits.

I spied a large patch of blue on the horizon, took a wind reading which showed a gusty 12 to 19 mph, left a site phone message and trudged off down the hill to lay my gear out.

Derek and Harry arrived as I fussed around with my gear in the gusty conditions and I am ashamed to say Harry was off and away as I tried to re-attach my risers again, this time the correct way around (it has been a long layoff!), but I am glad to say that all the rushing about paid off as we all enjoyed a very pleasant end of day flight, being joined by Karl after we had been the air for about twenty minutes.

The wind eased very slightly and there were light thermals to be enjoyed coming off the farm allowing 360ing climbs to the dizzy heights of over 250ft! By 5pm we had all spotted rain on the far horizon and the blue patch started to darken over so one by one we all landed over a ten minute period.

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