Eye in the Sky - March 2013

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Sat 30 Mar 2013

Report by Grant Oseland


A cautionary tail from Portland East, which can be a strange beast. On Saturday the wind was strong and gusting at about 14:00 and had way too much North in it to fly, by about 14:45 the wind had dropped enough and changed direction to allow flying and was ok in the air. I say ok as it still felt slightly strange in the air, There is a prominent change in the cliff face direction in front of the youth offenders prison on Portland East, half faces ENE the other half is ESE. When flying North you were into wind thinking you will hit the good lift when you turn the corner only to find it was down wind with not as much lift as expected, and vice versa flying South into the wind, only to be going with the wind once around the corner. All very strange. Eventually the lift died down a bit and we top landed with no problems and chewed the cud for a bit and mused about packing up. Then the seagulls (the lying cheating bastards) started to soar higher again, so I decided to give it another go, unfortunately the wind had moved even further North, (the fact that I had to side step off the cliff with the wing pointing NE was the combat indicator hear that I chose to ignore). Immediately after take off it was one of those BOLLOCKS, I've just F****D up moments, as the wind was coming along the cliff face from the North with rotor off the part of the cliff that changes direction. Giving just enough lift to be below cliff top height and a slow forward penetration into strong turbulent wind (turbulent enough to make me brace in the PLF position, which doesn’t happen very often) with only the small track as a small landing option. I had two choices, one push around the head land bit into wind, which I tried at first but the wing made it clear that the closer I got the rougher the rotor was. So onto choice two which was to land on the track. Normally done when the wind has dropped so not to much of a problem, however the wind was still strong and off to the north so it meant that it was very difficult and slow to get down with lots of unwelcome turbulence upsetting the wing and I also had to remain pointing into wind as a turn down wind would have ended with a down wind smash into a giant rock and further into the wind shadow meaning more rotor. I tried a few big ears to get down quicker, but as expected they just made me fly backwards with less stability so I decided to push out towards the sea a bit to loose a touch of height then come back over the track and land, all of which focused the mind a bit.

None of this would have been a problem at a different site, with some bail out options however Portland East has none, you have been warned.

Report by Shamus Pitts

I arrived at a very cold and windy Hambledon hill about midday to find Gary P and a couple of others just about to go home.  I decided to hang around in case the wind dropped, along with Mark, and while we waited James L turned up, then Paul M and Jules.  We sat shivering for a while as the wind ripped across the top of the hill and talk started to turn to going home.  After a couple of hours the wind felt like it had dropped but we were all too cold to summon up any enthusiasm so James went for a walk to warm up.  When he returned it still felt too cold and windy and we thought about going home again, but then Mark R turned up with the enthusiasm which we were lacking and suddenly it seemed like it might be worth unpacking and taking off!  The wind had dropped and once we started doing something it didn't seem as cold as it once was.  Once airborne the lift was fairly constant with occasional thermals coming through, despite the underwhelming sky, and height gains of 500' could be achieved.  The overcast sky occasionally gave way to bouts of sunshine and patches of blue and it turned in to quite a pleasant afternoons flying - the 4 hour wait in the freezing cold was worth it for the 90 minutes airtime we finally enjoyed!

Thu 28 Mar 2013

Report by Grant Oseland


An interesting day today, started at Maiden Castle which seemed calm and gentle until airborne, then it very rapidly transpired that the true wind direction was a lot more East than was on the hill, this was highlighted by the very strong thermals trying their best to fold my wing in half for the next 5 minutes until I could get down in one piece. Then made the move to Portland East which provided a much nicer flight.

Report by Alastair Florence


Monksdown proved flyable today although after a 6 week lay off it was kind of more a case of welcome rather than particularly enjoyable. Cold, dull, strongish gusts at times although not what i would call rough. Not helped by the wind being 45' off to the East. Simon 'rush' seemed to be enjoying the air but Sean S and me soon departed to do other stuff.

Tue 19 Mar 2013

Report by Paul Hawkins


Nice flying to had this afternoon at Bournemouth. A touch cold but nicely buoyant.

Thu 14 Mar 2013

Report by Marcus Webster


Bell Hill, first proper flying day of the year, a cold but fantastic day out.

I had to play the patience game as far as Bere Regis where I found myself getting low and looking at the landing options before a flock of Seagulls and a ploughing tractor gave me the help I needed to get over Wareham forest and another low-ish save over Wareham itself got me to Corfe Castle before things started to get scarily easy and a little rock and roll over the Purbecks.

I struggled to lose height over my declared goal of Swanage Middle School before landing on the playing field, only to be approached by an unsmiling, off handed member of staff who pointed out that I was on private property and my arrival might be disruptive to the pupils. As I listened politely to the walkie talkie toting teacher`s lecture I glanced over his shoulder to see a red wing setting up to land just behind him! It turned out to be a smiling Condors member, James Lynch (who had declared Swanage from Telegraph Hill) on his Gin Boomerang GTO and who like me didn`t fancy Durleston Head in the lumpy conditions.

Thanks to Andrea and Sean Stains for the ride back to the hill.

Report by Alastair Florence


As requested by Neil McC for those who scored on the Monkeymeter.

Report by Grant Oseland

A very good day for most pilots that could make it out today in the wessex area, The thermals were consistent and punchy when they came through, although a few did get caught out in the lulls and bottom land. Batcombe/Telegraph was my choice as I thought Bell might be a bit congested. The air was extremely cold once up near base with my vario showing -8.  

Report by Neil McCain

Ali has been developing an array of virtual instruments for measuring how good the day was - the Peachometer, the Terrorometer - and I wondered if there was mention of a new one on the forum, the Monkeymeter. Presumably this measures the likelihood of getting away from the hill: the higher the number, the easier it would be to train a monkey to do it.
Today was of course a 10 - cracking conditions for hours and hours at Bell Hill meant about 25 pilots were able to fill their boots in the buoyant, thermic conditions. After the horrendous spell of wintry weather we all had a wonderful time in the sunshine. However, I fear this new instrument also has a sub-scale, which corresponds to the amount of monkey or Pilot DNA in you, as evidenced by your success in achieving a getaway from the hill. Sean, Marcus, Karl and Paco? They're all a 10/10 (easy day, super piloting to Swanage or Long Crichel or places equally exotic) Paul? Yeah, another 10/10 for climbing to base from Okeford when the rest of us were complaining of cold hands. And me? 10/1 of course, for comical attempts at leaving the site, only to commit finally into a blue hole behind the hill and go on a long glide to the deck. Anyone got a banana?

Sat 09 Mar 2013

Report by Grant Oseland


Ringstead - A picture paints a thousand words.

Wed 06 Mar 2013

Report by Pete Chalmers


Brazil 15th Feb - 2nd Mar.
Just back from a great couple of weeks with Steve Barton of XCBrazil. A day on my own in Rio to start so I plucked up courage to fly from the famous São Conrado launch. A very committed launch but all well organised and the locals are friendly. Landed on a grass strip next to the beach amongst locals playing football others practising kiting and wing suited parachutists also touching down, mad! Revived with a caipirinha on the beach watching the fun.

Next day met Steve and the crowd an hours flight up the coast and enjoyed two weeks flying three different areas, Alfredo Chaves, Castelo and Governador Valadares. Big x/c distances are not easy due to the light winds but managed several 40k to 65k and some nice closed circuits. Flew fifteen days on the trot, 25hrs plus and Steve looked after us very well. Even the eleven hour coach trip back to Rio was surprisingly tolerable!

Sat 02 Mar 2013

Report by Shamus Pitts

When I got to Portland East the wind was already quite strong and a bit off to the north so I waited a while for things to improve.  Russell W, Dave W, and Grant O turned up and decided it was flyable so one by one we all took off.  The other 3 took off before me and seemed to be doing well, but by the time I was in the air the wind must have changed and I struggled to find lift (or maybe I'm a bit rusty!)... I soon found myself on the narrow path half way down the cliff, with a bit of a walk ahead of me!  By the time I got back, nice and warm from my walk, the others were landing complaining about the cold.  I decided to take off again, this time gaining lots of height and making it to the giant golf ball at the northern end and back.  I landed after half an hour then had one more short flight.  A couple of kids even helped me pack my wing up which was nice! 

Report by Grant Oseland

Portland East today. Russell W, Dave W and I arrived at the take off to be greeted by Shamus already setting up and a light ENE breeze, The sky was 100% overcast and cold at 4 degrees. All four of us flew in nice conditions, easily pushing North up to the large golf ball. In the air the temperature dropped to 1 degrees so it was a bit painful on the fingertips after a while.

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