Eye in the Sky - September 2013

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Sun 22 Sep 2013

Report by Andy Ward


I managed to combine a long weekend seeing old university friends with a couple of days flying at Long Mynd. A very welcoming local crowd and an obliging westerly made for a great couple of days flying in a beautiful part of the world. It was also a great opportunity to put my new wing (Gin Atlas) to the test in light thermic conditions, and I was not disappointed! Shame the GoPro battery died on Sunday as the scenery was even nicer in the sunshine.

Sat 21 Sep 2013

Report by Simon Jones


A cheeky little flight at Southbourne. I arrived to find seagulls soaring, so quickly set up. The wind correspondingly dropped and went off to the west. Half an hour of waiting around and still nothing. I binned it and went in search of food. I found no food, and saw more seagulls just about soaring, so went back to take off to give it another go. There was good height to be had, even with the wind off the west. However, it was a bit limited by cloudbase in places. After half an hour or so a few droplets of rain started to ease the flow of fun, and with windspeed increasing I landed. Nice enough. Apologies for the 90 unintentional seconds of sitephone message from my flightdeck. At least I was only whistling and not arguing with myself. See photos of clag and feet below.

Fri 20 Sep 2013

Report by Alastair Florence

Me and Qentin managed a nice float about on St.A's for an hour or so late this afternoon. Clear and sunny with a fresh but not strong wind.

Gentle sea thermals in abundance made the crossing to Houns Tout seem easy but not enough oomph in the wind to press on much further toward Kimmeridge.

A nice relaxing wind down to end the week.

Fri 06 Sep 2013

Report by Grant Oseland


A slightly unexpected flying day today. With a forecast of doom and gloom and heavy rain yesterday I spotted a small window of opportunity to fly the coast at the Hive beach in a South Westerly. On arriving at the car park Russell assessed the conditions and we both got a little bit of ground suck as it seemed quite strong and slightly off to the West. After sitting around for about half an hour we decided that nothing was changing so we gave it a go. Only to find that indeed it was a bit strong and off to the west!  However this didn't stop us from having a good hour boating around and crossing the gap to West Bay, but not having enough forward penetration to cross West Bay. Eventually the wind gradually picked up and saw both Russell and I landing going backwards on the beach to much amusement and interest of the locals. The wind was approximately 25 mph at this stage! Interestingly we had reports of potential cross country hounds inland, this seemed surprising to us as the clouds were at least 20,000 feet tall and towering cumulus nimbus inland!

Thu 05 Sep 2013

Report by Roger E


Today I hopped over the back of Bell and made some friends in Winterbourne Stickland. They decided to play statues with me. If you find yourself in a similar situation, whatever you do, don't blink.

Tue 03 Sep 2013

Report by Roger E


Oh, I do like to soar beside the seaside I do like to soar beside the sea I do like to fly along the prom, prom, prom Where the ice cream's sold And is very very cold.

So just let me soar beside the seaside I'lI fly across the pier with glee When I start to lose my glide I'll have to land the other side Beside the seaside Beside the sea   A pleasant afternoon at Southbourne. After the easiest walk up ever I propose that we install a funicular on Bell Hill.

Sun 01 Sep 2013

Report by Ruth Kelly


Bell Hill - A short flight just after 10:30 was enough to convince me to land for a drink and chat, after the rather on-off start conditions rapidly became strong and gusty. Plenty of people were flying, but there was a fair amount of gale hanging going on. As Brian remarked - "I prefer to go looking for the lift, rather than having it find me".

Just after 2 though I decided to have a go, and quite quickly found plenty of thermal activity, although it was rather chopped up by the breeze. It was strong too: speed bar was needed to push forward from the back of the bowl. After about 12 minutes I had already had enough, but fortunately found a decent enough climb in front of take-off, over the quarry, and decided to go with it. After 11 turns I had climbed to just less than 1200 feet over take-off, and the thermal started to peter out.    With the wind off to the west I knew that there was a risk of being swept down over Blandford towards airspace, so I flew somewhat across the wind, my sights set on the radio mast at Winterbourne Stickland. I found a few scrappy bits of lift there, and over the fields behind it - enough to carry me past Stickland and on to Winterbourne Clenston, where I landed amongst the teasels in a field that had evidently been harvested quite some time back.    After being chased from the final field by the road by a bunch of steers, Brian kindly picked me up, and we collected Sean from the cricket pitch at Stickland on the way back to the hill. After another short flight and landing in the back field - which has now been cropped and bailed - we wrapped up for the day.

It might not be much, but 8km is now my personal best, and I fear I may be catching the XC bug...           

Report by Alastair Florence


The wind was a fair bit off West most of today on Bell, and after a light start developed into fairly strong gusts. Conditions were not to everyones liking although it stayed pretty much flyable all day.

After a couple of bimbles over the hill I launched again into a fairly steady climb, several others had lobbed over the back earlier so I thought I may as well see what would happen.

As is often Par for the course the lift seemed to break up once over the back and turned into one of those annoying flights were you only seem to find lift when flying up wind.

As I approached North Blandford I was getting fairly low and was weighing up landing sites when I found some random blobs of uncomfortable lift, I was tempted to land but stuck with it.

This developed into a slighly more organised blob which gave me enough height to land in one of the camping fields at the steam fair.

Thinking a lift would be easy with hundreds of cars, lorries, steam engines, tractors and even a tank leaving the event I set off hitching, It must have been national avoid dodgy looking hitch hiker day as I almost got to Pimperne before getting picked up which got me to Blandford bypass. Then another walk to near Durweston bridge when a kind lady stopped for me resulting in a ride to Shillingstone where Paul H met me and did the honours, thanks.

Still nice and flyable on the hill when I got back so had a cruise about for a bit in nicely bouyant and now much smoother air. All in all a decent day.

Report by Andy Ward

Today I headed along the coast for a bit of ground handling at Swyre, thinking i'd try some different ways of launching the Atlas. There was just about enough ridge lift to scratch along the hill, but reasonable thermals coming through from the fields out in front - they were small but very lifty, enough for a good climb feet above takeoff. I amused myself for a good hour or so carving into the thermals and rocketing skywards. I was contemplating a ridge run to the ice cream van or even heading over the back (yes, it really was that lifty).

I was enjoying a really nice climb over the top of the hill when I heard my vario make a pathetic bleating noise that sounded rather ominous. A heartbeat or so later my attention was diverted from my vario by the observation that both risers were rather slack and the I suddenly appeared to be tumbling forwards out of the sky under a thrashing bag of washing.

A quick pump of the brakes didn't seem to help very much, so straight to plan B - hands up. This did the trick although the re inflated wing dived forward and surged pretty impressively - probably less than 50 feet height loss although it felt like more. I was feeling pretty calm despite everything, no brown ballast had been dropped, and it was still a beautiful sunny afternoon with birds circling upwards - I flew on for a while before calling it a day and it was a lovely sunny afternoon of flying.

I have a few friends who have just stepped up to the Atlas, or are considering doing so. The lessons from my six or seven hours flying it are that it is a joy to fly, but challenging to launch in any kind of wind and that it has the potential to be much more dynamic than a Bolero 4, despite the Atlas getting mostly As in the DHV test report.

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