Eye in the Sky - February 2014

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Wed 26 Feb 2014

Report by Richard King

Ringstead: Arrived at 12.00, wind WSW 15-22 mph, clear sunny day with few small Cu base about 2500+. Only one flying, just the usual dog walkers around. Hadn't flown since 8th Dec so keen to get airborne but nervous too. A quick inspection of the landing field revealed it to be very muddy and cow trodden €“ some cleaning to be done later then.

Take off at 12.30 was a half hearted effort but eventually settled down and flew straight out to cliffs reaching them with plenty to spare, easy climb to 1000' amsl in smooth conditions and had a nice 55 min flight getting as far west as the caravan site. Got blown sideways a bit on landing but no glider/mud contact so happy enough, a kind couple of chaps driving past stopped and helped me through the gate. Wind now picked up to gusting 27 mph at 13.45 so called it a day.

Sat 22 Feb 2014

Report by John Alder

Burton Bradstock: Buster Keaton would've admired my performance here from a purely visual viewpoint - it's taken some overnight reflection for me to see the amusing side!.... I've still got to wait for another opportunity to be successful here at BB.

Here's what happened:- I took off nicely with much appreciated nosewire assistance from Brett of the Condors but, although I gained height OK initially, I was having difficulty getting forward in spite of having engaged a substantial length of VG; when I reached the inevitable 'curl-over' from the cliffs, I still felt I had a better than even chace of creeping over the edge as the other pilots before me had done. However I was wrong - I was forced down into a pool of liquid mud which was over base-bar and boot level and nearly impossible to walk out of with the glider. Brett and partner arrived and helped me get the (undamaged ) glider to the grassy clifftop where I de-rigged and, with much appreciated help from Sean and my glider trolley, I completed the days proceedings unscathed but, (adding to the vaunted coastal erosion of the Jurassic coast), brought home about half a tonne of sticky brown clay. At least last weekend's import of coastal mud from Ringtead was preceded by a Nice rewarding flight! Ah well.... keep trying!

Report by Sean Staines

I met up with John Alder and a couple of friends from the DS Condors down at Burton Bradstock for a spot of hang gliding.  The wind was a good force 4 with plenty of white horses, but was a bit off to the West making the trip to the cliff from take-off quite challenging. I just made it on the 2nd attempt and was immediately into good lift on the run down to the café.

Crossing West bay was difficult but I arrived at the height of the old PG take off and soon gained enough height to make it to Thorncombe beacon where I parked and took the lift up to 1300ft AMSL before pulling the bar in and pressing on to doghouse hill and Seatown.  With the wind so for off to the west I decided not to try for golden cap, although two of the condors pilots made the trip all the way across Charmouth and back.

The flight back to take off was an easy run, I still had over 1000ft after crossing West bay and managed a good top landing. A very nice day for the hang glider. The third in the last week.

Tue 18 Feb 2014

Report by Sean Staines

Ringstead - As predicted, the morning rain passed through and by 12:30 the sky cleared to leave a lovely sunny afternoon. Even though it was a little off to the West I gained height on my Hang glider all the way to the cliffs and had a fun hour soaring about 500ft ATO. Martin Foley joined me as I was packing up and I left him soaring the take-off ridge on his PG.

Sun 16 Feb 2014

Report by Colin Davies

Ringstead - a cracking day with lots of people spread all the way down the coast. I had some time on my own on the cliffs in the morning before heading down to Durdle Dor. Two Avon guys pushed on and after watching their progress I followed. The rotor/turbulence on the hill behind Lulworth Cove makes you jump after the silky smooth air on the cliffs, but is all forgotten once across to Wolbarrow bay. Pushing over Tyneham brought the highlight of the day at Gad cliff, very different in formation from the other parts of the coast and the most spectacular. I did consider jumping across to Kimmeridge but it looked like there would be no way back from there. Instead I headed back up wind to Ringstead and pushed through the turbulence at Lulworth Cove once more. This is a flight I have long dreamed of doing and enjoyed immensely.

Report by Martin Foley


As Sean has already said, an excellent repack session was had, followed by a very good day at Ringstead.

Report by Sean Staines

Ringstead - After an excellent and very productive parachute repack session I, along with many others, joined the crowds at Ringstead. It was nice to see so many hang gliders out with quite a few visitors. The forecast was for SW going more southerly and strengthening. I keep an eye out for this scenario, as it opens up the opportunity for a coastal run.

Conditions were very good for my hang glider and I enjoyed the run to Lulworth and back several times. I was hoping for the wind to strengthen and go a little further south before going across Lulworth cove and heading for Tyneham, but in the end I decided against it.

After 2 Hrs in the air there was only me and Darren on his PG left flying. Conditions were still good but the light was starting to go. I burnt off some excess height with a few 360s and went to get my legs out the pod into the landing position, only to find my right boot had tangled with the pod zipper line. A few moment spent thrashing and cursing didn't improve the situation and I had to set up for a one legged landing.  This went spectacularly well and I am sure I would have got great style points, if only there had been an audience.

Report by Alastair Florence

Best days flying this year today, oh actually the only days flying so far this year, well not quite but was feeling like it.

I had been waiting to try out the Gin Carrera and made St.Aldhelms the first port of call. Not bad but there was a lot of South in the wind which would have been fine had it been stronger, I thought Kimmeridge could be better so landed and went there. I met Chris B and soon after Nigel R there, Chris had a little technical difficulty but got that sorted and ended up flying later, Hmm bit early to think of Volvo trophies ;-).

Nigel and me soared the ridge a bit, not that strong but nice enough and 2-300ft ato, then one of us had a daft idea, (ok it was me), fly out to the sea cliff.

As said above it wasn't that strong, I would normally only do this when there are white horses on the sea. But the endless stream of gliders making Gad Cliff from Ringstead made me think we should do more than just soar the ridge. Any way not much lift about and a few heart in mouth moments scratching low, at least the tide was out so plenty of beach if we needed it. We made it to Clavells tower then scratched back to Houns Tout where we gained a decent bit of height after a bit of a sketchy arrival.

Nigels Wife Marcia and the dog were at kimmeridge but there was no way we were getting back (sorry Marcia it was my fault) so onward to St.

Aldhelms were it was to far South to work so we landed and started walking.

Got a lift from Square n Compass by a kind couple and met Marcia near Sheep Pens car park.

I stopped off at Knitson on my way home and had another 1/2 hr, it was a bit gusty and 10-15mph on t/o but nice to fly there again and well lifty out front.

First impressions of Carrera ? not sure if i'm in love or if it's just a passing affair yet need to try some spring thermals. I cant say what the wing would be like to step up to as I have only really flown 'D's for a few years other than a short affair with the Delta 2 so it's kind of dumming down for me. I was flying the Medium at 97kg ish, I found launch difficult compared to M4 the tips wanted to lift in stronger winds and the split A's are not very split, once hauled up it comes up easy and needed a check on the brakes to prevent over flying but I think it's a case of adapting my style rather than any fault of the wing, the Mantra really is easy to bring up on the middle A's. I think to kill the wing in strong winds may need me to go back to using the C's or a fist of wraps, M4 just bury the brakes and it mushrooms in the air.

Turning is nice and positive, not as tight and agile as the D2 but easy to crank round and should be good in thermals, generally a very solid feel to the wing, I guess I must be flying actively by instinct but it did seem easy to control and no scary moments even in some choppy air, feedback is a bit fuzzy and muffled compared to M4 but then it would be, I think there is still enough there to feel around in the thermals interior but just not as crispy sharp as the M4. Glide felt good but I cant really compare that to much, I only used about 1/3 - 1/2 bar but that felt good without much sink, very positive steering on the C's when on bar, turned precisely as soon as you pull the riser back.

Big ears tend to stay in and need a fair old pump to blow them out. I tried big earing on the outer C's which takes a fair effort to pull the tips down as I guess you are actually stalling them out, the wing kind of went a bit banana shaped for a moment but soon sorted itself with nice big big ears, as soon as you release the lines they just ping straight out which gave the wing a bit of a surge so great for dodging the white room and use the A's if it's a long escape that you need.

All in all I think I like it, it's a bit more sluggish than the M4 but as said before you would expect that, any way, it's not for sale (yet).

I cant really comment on pilot suitability and although it feels very easy and forgiving I think in the wrong hands it could misbehave if mishandled.

Oh, peachometer was dusted off today 7.5.

Report by Shamus Pitts

Who would have thought that only a couple of days ago West Bay was closed because of the storms.  It was a beautiful day at Eype today.  I met Dave A there about 10:15 and we spent a couple of hours with Lester and Viv from the Condors waiting for the wind to pick up.  By midday there was enough breeze to take off so I wind-dummied and found I could stay up.  I crossed the gap towards Thorncombe but arrived too low and landed on the beach.

By the time I'd got back to takeoff things had improved greatly with half a dozen wings in the air including a couple on their way to Thorncombe.  I took off again and found it easy to get to Thorncombe beacon.  Golden Cap was much trickier though.  I arrived very low and spent ages scratching away over debris, pools of gloopy mud and other places I didn't want to land.  I finally flew round the end of Golden Cap and found a bit of lift and slowly crawled my way up, finding rotor and turbulence every time I tried to push too far.  I didn't get much height over Golden Cap itself and looking towards Charmouth it looked like it might be a one way trip so I turned around and flew back over Seatown to check on Dave who'd landed earlier.  Looking back to Golden Cap it seemed to be working better so I flew back to it, finding it a little easier this time to get up.  Having built up my height I headed off towards Charmouth, passing Viv on her way back.    More turbulence as I crossed to the back cliff at Charmouth but I slowly built my height back up.  My hands were getting pretty cold by now so I headed back, arriving low at Golden Cap and getting tossed about a bit as I scratched around for lift.  The wind was now SSW so I was the wrong side of Golden Cap really but I crawled around it, found better lift and finally soared over it.  It was an easy flight back to Thorncombe where I topped my height out to about 650' ATO before heading for West Bay.  I was down to 200' ATO when I ran out of cliff and had a slight headwind so had a couple of half-hearted attempts to cross the gap before deciding I probably wouldn't make it.  I turned back and landed on the beach after almost 2 1/2 hours in the air, which was not what I was execting having checked the weather forecast on Friday!

Mon 10 Feb 2014

Report by Brian Metcalfe

Got  a quick half hour Monday morning at Barton before a rain shower came through bringing with it stronger winds.

While flying towards Chewton Bunny I heard a buzzing noise and was looking round for drones when I realised it was workmen chainsawing the fallen fir tree at the far end of the caravan park. It was uprooted, so a victim of the storms I guess.

The lower part of the *girly* take off just east of the Cliff House Hotel no longer exists. It's been going for a couple of years but now it's gone completely. The upper part is now a bit further back now too.

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