Eye in the Sky - June 2013

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Sun 30 Jun 2013

Report by Shamus Pitts


I had a fun morning at Cowdown today.  Adrian C took off just as I arrived but the wind was off to the south and it wasn't working very well.  I had a go and ended up at the bottom but by the time I'd walked up again Adrian had actually managed to get a bit of height so it was looking better.

I took off and the wind seemed a lot stronger and more on the hill.  It was thermic as well, it was as if someone had switched the lift on!  The thermals were similar to yesterday, big and gusty, and I soon found myself 1300' ATO.  The clouds looked pretty close and I had things to do later so I decided not to go XC but to push out towards the A37 instead.  My plan was to get there but as I got close to folly hill I was down to 600' ATO and battling with a bit of a headwind so I decided to go back to the hill.  I landed, ate my sandwiches and took off again.  The wind had a bit of north in it now but the air was still buoyant.  I climbed to about 950' ATO and went for the A37 again.  I didn't get as close this time so decided to land in a field near my house, Adrian soon joined me.  A surprisingly good morning considering I thought it would either be blown out or too far off to the south!

Sat 29 Jun 2013

Report by Everard Cunion

It was gusty and turbulent at Bell Hill. Thermals were about, but there was much air with no lift. Here are two photos from my wing camera, and one of Richard Mosely taken with a ground-based zoom camera.

Report by Paul Maidment


Driving to Bell I could see the trees being blown by the wind which is not a good sign, sure enough as Bell came into sight… no wings in the air. Arrived at the the top of Bell to be met by a strong wind maybe 18 mph+, too much for me! After about an hour wait, the wind started to subside, so out with the gear and then waited about 10 minutes for a bit of a lull. Right turn, head out toward the magic tree.. as I fly over it, up I go ( THE MAGIC TREE WORKS! ) the next hour was spent getting thrown about in very rough conditions before I managed  to find a half decent thermal up to 1200ft, ok over the back got to 2300ft but that was it, so just headed straight down wind to get as much distance as possible, saw what I thought was a good landing field (the one without any cows in), I made a pretty cautious landing as it was a bit windy and I was on the leigh  side of a slope. As I was packing my wing I could hear a strange noise, I turned to see 40 odd cows running my way and me in a red flying suit I managed to hastily pack my gear, because  every time I tuned my back on  the cows they would sneak up on me, after walking what felt like forever I managed to get hold of Shamus who kindly picked me up and returned me to a blown out Bell waited for couple of hours to see if wind would drop.. but it didn't.       

Report by Alastair Florence

Nice sunny day on Bell today plenty of thermic stuff going on bt a bit windy really.

Seemed to be a inversion putting a lid on convection at about 2800ft amsl.

Loads of lift out front but not so much over the back and difficult to get good 360 turns in the lift.

I made one dash to Bryanston in the morning, retrieve consisted of a free ride on a bus followed by Andy D kindly taking me from Stickland.

In the afternoon got a decent bit of height and pushed out over Okeford Fitzpaine, thought I would try and make the aerials and back but the wind seemed to be a bit strong and I needed bar to get back at all followed by a botttom land as a precautionary move.

Nice day though would have been a classic with less wind.

Report by Shamus Pitts


It was blowing 18 - 25mph at Telegraph Hill when I arrived there about 10 o'clock this morning, but news of lighter winds further east prompted me to go to Bell.

There were a few wings in the air when I arrived, the sun was out and the wind was a lot lighter than at Telegraph.  I took off and found the air buoyant with big thermals coming through and big gusts of wind too.  I soon found myself in a climb that took me over the back.  There was quite a lot of east in the wind and the drift was towards Bournemouth airspace so every time I lost my climb I pushed crosswind to try and get round the airspace.  The climbs were big but I kept losing them a couple of thousand feet ATO. They felt a bit "wavey", as if the wind was bouncing along over the hills and ridges and that was what was keeping me in the air.

I found myself low near Blandford but found another climb just as I was choosing a field to land in.  A quad bike track gave me my next climb but I found myself low again quite quickly, although I managed to stumble in to something which got me up again.  By the time I got to the A35 I was pretty low, with Poole Harbour and Wareham forest blocking my way to Swanage.  I was also pretty close to Bournemouth airspace so had to be careful with the next climb - if I couldn't find a climb I would have to land early as I didn't have the height to get to another suitable landing field, but if I took a climb in to airspace I would lose the flight.    After scratching around I found some lift and got enough height to cross the edge of the forest but was getting low by the time I got to Sandford.  I didn't have many landing options open to me but I had my eye on a small field by some houses near Sandford road.  There was a campsite and another field behind it if I needed more room (it felt pretty windy), but also power lines, a river and a railway line.  As I set up to land I was a bit concerned about rotor coming off the terrace of houses in front of me and I was suddenly lifted about 30' as I was about to land but I went round again and landed gently the second time.  Just after I landed my phone rang with Martin B offering me a lift back to the hill, then just as I packed up, "Shack" who owned one of the houses by the field asked me if I wanted a beer!  I sat in Shack's garden, having a beer in the sun with him and his wife, then strolled out to the main road where I ate my sandwiches while waiting for Martin.    A windy day, a bumpy flight but the perfect ending with a beer and a lift!  Thanks to Martin and Shack!   

Tue 25 Jun 2013

Report by Alastair Florence

Back on St.A s again tonight for an after work chill out. Better direction tonight but could have done with a couple of MPH more breeze.

Still nice and bright and pretty smooth again, bit scratchy to start but managed to work up round 200ft ato ish, Then got a bit bored just wafting to and fro so set myself a target to get to 300ft then fly back to the car park.

It was interesting to experiment with best speed to fly to get most height out of some pretty lifeless air. Turned out hands up trim was best, as I suppose is logical, wing flying near to best efficiency and more air passing over the wing.

Anyway I never made 300ft, got bored with that game at 285ft but still made the car park, happy days, or at least evenings.

Mon 24 Jun 2013

Report by Alastair Florence


I managed to milk 20 mins or so out of a fading WNW breeze tonight on St.A. Soft smooth and bouyant. Took some pics in the air but forgot to get the czmera out the harness and couldnt be bothered to undo the bag again.

Sun 16 Jun 2013

Report by Mark Tattersall

Fathers day at Ballard - I was doing the fathers day walk with the wife kids and dog from Swanage to Studland, trying not to get distracted and grumpy as 3 wings started soaring while we walked past, but as soon as I got back to Swanage I was trotting up to takeoff with the lightweight kit, just in time for Russell to shout down to me that it was now gone so far east that only the bottom cliffs were working.

Still, it was on the hill enough for an easy launch,and although slow progress I had reasonable lift along the main cliffs, and was confident that the run to Old Harry would be on - as indeed it was, with the lift band extending well out to sea in front of the cliffs on that section, and also flyable to the hotels in Swanage - and by now the other 3 wings had landed so all that lovely (and by now sunny) air to myself and the seagulls, and then rushed home just in time for the father's day very late lunch/early supper - having missed the trauma of the children (actually adults and should have known better) doing the cooking (including managing to not turn the oven on initally, which turned out just as well as it meant I wan't late...).
All in all it turned out to be a pretty peachy father's day in the end for this lone pilot.

Report by Gary Pocock


Ballard came good in the end for a couple of ours of good coastal flying. Alan W getting some pay back after having walked up then down because of rain then back up again. We also found the lower cliffs working before landing. With Russell W and myself we were the only three piolts to fly here until a lone pilot took off just as we decided it had gone too much East.

Report by A Webb

Despite walking up and down and up again to Ballard, being deceived into thinking the rain was here to stay. The end result was a classic Ballard day. Starting Southerly, slowly increasing wind speed and the direction moving round the South East, throwing in some spits of rain, low cloud occasionally and an Old Harry to Swanage Beach huts run was worth the double hike, all in the good company of RW and Gary Pocock

Mon 10 Jun 2013

Report by Shamus Pitts

I had a pleasant hour at Southbourne after work today.  The wind was quite strong and well off to the east (10mph east, 23mph west!) but I still managed to get across both piers and back.  It was my first time crossing Bournemouth pier, although I didn't go all the way down to Canford Cliffs.  I didn't think I'd make it back but Harry Ramsdens helped me across Bournemouth pier and the new flats helped me over Boscombe!  A good way to wind down after work.

Report by Alastair Florence

Driving back into Swanage this evening I spotted a wing over Ballard, so dropped the wife home and headed up the hill.

The wind was fairly brisk on top and had a good bit of Esat in it.

Quentin had been flying for a while. The ridge was working to a degree but not great, the cliffs down to Old Harry and along the hotels were working fine though.

Eventually low cumulus started forming and I decided that could be a sign the weather was on the turn, plus I was getting hungry so seemed a good time to land.

Fri 07 Jun 2013

Report by David Franklin


This is a bit more "eye towards the sky" than "eye in the sky". I took these pictures from my garden at 2.00pm today. The very same bit of sky that the intrepid XC flyers from HH flew through, what a difference a couple of days can make.

Thu 06 Jun 2013

Report by Paul Maidment


H*****  Hill again, and as the previous day I see a couple of pargliders go over the back as I’m making my way up the hill, but today I had arrived later hoping that it would come good the same as the day before. The sky was blue, not a cloud in sight, also today I had my new wing hoping this would give me the edge. After half an hour or so of some very rough conditions, I found a thermal which takes me to 700ft ato, I'm just contemplating going over the back when I get a large asymmetrical tuck, I manage to pump it out but it unsettled  me so back to ridge soring, after a couple of very low saves I'm into another thermal,  I climb to about 1000ft  ato and spiral over the back closely followed by Mark Russell, my climb peaking at 1470ft ato over Shillingstone.   As I started to descend I saw a flock of seagulls a couple of hundred feet below circling, so I decide to join them, but this only gets me a couple of hundred feet, then out corner of my eye I saw mark heading for some forming clouds. We arrive at to them at about 1000ft but nothing was to be had, it was then I realised I didn't have my mobile phone so I was going to have to follow Mark to try and catch a lift back with him! By this time all lift had gone and it was just a case of looking for a landing site, unfortunately all the fields below seemed to be in crop, but I managed to land in some tractor tracks in a field abeit a bit close for comfort to some power lines.. but I'm down safe. I find mark and we get a taxi back, a tricky but rewarding flight. 

Wed 05 Jun 2013

Report by Paul Maidment


After a 15 minute killer walk up H****** Hill, I'm met with the most pilots I've ever seen there, probably 15+. Having seen 2 pilots go over the back as i was walking up, I thought maybe an XC is on the cards. The wind was a bit off to the east and a bit strong but seemed OK after chatting for about 10 minutes. I launch my wing but straight away I struggled to push out - thanks to a helping hand I'm away and straight up, into what felt like very punchy air, no one seemed to be getting any good height and at one point I was even top of the stack, that success was short lived as from then on I seem to be in the wrong place at the wrong to time for any lift. After bumbling about the sky for about 30 mins I was about the only one left, everybody else had taken low climbs over the back. I spent the next hour ridge soring looking for enough height to get away but my max was just over 500 ato, in my opinion not enough to get away, maybe I was wrong but a very enjoyable couple of hours flying.

Mon 03 Jun 2013

Report by Gary Pocock

Went to a new site for me near Child Okeford sharing a ride with Russell, on the way we watched three gliders climbing with several on the hill. After the climb to the top I had a good walk round and made my assesments then chatted and gleened what could from the pilots who had landed for lunch. The wind stregth seemed to increase and then ease but direction remained pretty constant. After an hour or so I decided to fly seeing those who had taken off again getting good height and getting away. After flying the ridge for no more than 10 minutes I found some lift and went with it over the back. I was climbing with Russell and Martin Foley and seemed to be doing ok then found myself beneath them climbing but very slowly. Martin decided to head further West. I just kept Portland in my sights and headed in that general direction which was generally the way the cloud streets looked. Managed to get a better climb after passing in front of Bell which took me to 3600ft after that I only found small pockets and was starting to gradually lose height. I decided to use speed bar to catch up with Russell as he had low save up ahead. By the time I reached him he was probably near base and I was at about 1000ft. I found a stonking thermal which kept spitting me out into sink. I couldn't seem to map it well enough and ended up just keep flying through it. In the end after several collapses and seeing the wing in front of me pointing virtually vertical at the ground and still loosing height I decided to call it and land in a field I'd already decided would be an option. 16km wasn't bad for my first UK XC. Russell made Dorchester.  Even the sweltering walk to the nearest village with my glider couldn't stop me grinning ear to ear. Well I didn't expect that today, what a way to end a weeks holiday.

Sun 02 Jun 2013

Report by Paul Maidment


Arrived at Monksdown to a road full of parked cars and a hill full of parked paragliders. Only a couple of wings in the air at maybe 100 ato. OK, more practice time on my new wing, by the time Jules an I had got the gear out of the car things had picked up, Jules was off first into quite a busy looking sky. Me next, if I could only find a clear bit of sky.. after a couple of minutes I got my take-off slot. Very busy at times - it was like a slalom course from one side of the ridge to the other. One by one the good guys managed to climb out, I could not find any good consistent lift maxing 200 ato. As the day progressed the air became less congested as people left the hill which made life easier to find the small pockets of lift that were to be had, by mid afternoon I was on my own to the far right of the hill when I found a good bit of lift, 2.4m up on my vario - rode that to 750 ato. As I was toying with the idea of going over the back either the lift fizzled out or I just lost it and as quick as went up, I came down, by evening there was only 4 or 5 wings in the air at a time. On my final flight I was coming into land and was about 10ft up when I got dumped onto the deck with no warning - lucky I wasn't any higher, Grant had a collapse earlier in the day I didn't see it but heard it (didn't sound good).

Report by Sean Staines

Monksdown was a very popular choice for Sunday. I failed to stay with Ali as he climbed out and was finding the climbs hard to find. Eventually I worked up a few hundred feet above the hill and decided to try and push forward to Winklebury as the wind seemed to have a fair bit of West in it, but when I got there it was mostly Northerly and not working so I landed to wait. I spotted a Buzzard working the field out front and launched to see if I could connect with it, finding a strong climb which took me over the back towards Farnham. The lift weakened and I struggled to get above 2500 feet, working nothings but travelling along. I landed on the edge of airspace at Hinton Parva for 19k and was retrieved to Monks by Andrea.

Monks was uninspiring so we headed off to Swallowcliffe to see Martin and Ali climbing out. Rather than head to the West of Bournemouth Airspace I wanted to get to the East of it to Stoney Cross airfield and try sneaking under the 2000ft airspace home to Brockenhurst. The plan went pretty well. I made it onto the new forest landing near the High Corner Inn for 29k. Had a very low save at Fordingbridge.

Report by Shamus Pitts


A fun day at Monks today.  There were hundreds of cars parked by the side of the road but the air never felt too crowded (to me at least).  Plenty of lift about with a steady breeze and thermals coming through all day.  Off to the east at first, then off to the west but flyable all day with lots of short XCs including my own effort to Tarrant Hinton.  Later in the afternoon I picked up a great climb out near Berwick St John and took it to 2500' ATO by the time I crossed the trees behind takeoff but the sky downwind looked like it was deteriorating and my GPS was down to one bar on the battery so I decided to push back to the hill.  I'd planned to push on to Whitesheet but I lost about 2000' just getting back to the hill so I gave up on that idea and went to Winklebury instead.  When I landed about 4:30 it was still vey flyable but I'd had enough for one day and went to pick Martin B and Ali F up from Blandford.

Report by Alastair Florence


Bell or Monks ? seemed to be the question in the morning, it looked more like Monks to me so thats where I went along with many others. I found a climb out from below take off and after a slow climb got to base at a bit over 3600ft amsl. Drifting South but to the East a bit there were a few workable looking clouds but I decided to track away from Bournemouth airspace early and ended up near Blandford camp with sun but no lift. I eeked the glide out to near the Golf course.

A retrieve was quick in coming after walking only a few hundred yards, a kind couple in a convertible Renault were heading to Blandford for lunch but after I told them how nice the Crown at Alvediston was they decided to go there which was handy as it meant driving past Monks, (remember that one) very welcome anyway.

Got back to a crowded Monks where there seemed to be a fair bit of West in it, so de-camped to Swallowcliffe as I could see a wing there. I joined the Gin wing (sorry dont know your name) and was soon joined by Dave O and Martin B. After taking a few pretty sharp thermals I was glad to follow Martin out although my climb was very dribbly, once I had a bit of height I searched round for a decent core and found one as Martin went off on glide a few thousand feet above me.

It looked like he was headed for the deck but somehow ended up flying further than me so good effort.

I snuck my way round Bourenmouth airspace only to run out of height conveiniently close to the Worlds End pub. Landing field selected all was looking good until I spotted the Bulls under the hedge, too late and a hasty retreat over the stile was required.

Then nice refreshing shandy in the Worlds end and a 2 mile walk, followed by a lift to Blandford by a kind young couple in a C1 and a lift back to Swallowcliffe by a kind Shamus.

This is how weekends should be Peachometer 8

Sat 01 Jun 2013

Report by Everard Cunion


A gusty and turbulent wind made for trying conditions at Bell Hill. Three hang gliders flew.
The approach to the bottom field was a roller coaster ride you would normally associate with top landing and I touched down in nil wind.

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