Eye in the Sky - May 2014

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Sat 31 May 2014

Report by Paul Maidment

Saturday looked good for kimmeridge but not till one ,so got there just after 12  to very light wind and off to the west , so after kicking the grass for 20 mins  i decided to ride to white horse and if it was no good there then i would make my way back to kimmeridge via ringstead  it was no good at white horse got to ringstead to find Russell,Gordon,and Skippy sat on take off so joined them for some parawaiting , the wind was off to the west then as we were waiting it went north west bang off then after a bit went back on the hill again by this time we had been joined by Grant so it was a scramble to get the wing out and ready grant was first off to the cliffs followed by Gordon, Russell and Skippy, i launched into very rough air the wing was moving all over the place after a couple of rock and roll beats i was off to the cliffs glad to get away from take off the air smoothed out away from the hill thank god 15mins at the cliffs and i noticed Grant head back then Russell and Skippy closely followed by me and Gordon but not close enough i landed half way up take off and Gordon near the bottom , thought that was it for the day as the wind had switched off but i was wrong after all had gone home apart from me Graham and one other the wind came good again so wing unpacked and in the air again and again it was very lumpy at times felt like only half the wing was flying very strange good active flying practice but after 20 mins i had had enough not a very good day but you have to take the rough with the smooth.      

Report by Alastair Florence

Just to round off the month, I arrived at St.Aldhelms car park coincidently the same time as Quentin.

It felt lightish but worth a look.

On take off it was blowing about 4-6mph so we waited a bit.

It picked up a after a while and we managed a sometimes scratchy by St.A standards fly for best part of 3/4 of an hour.

As we landed Sean S arrived and proceeded to eek another flight out of the day.

A word of caution - A few evenings ago in Sheep pens car park at the back of Kimmeridge I noticed a few piles of broken car window on the ground, also some one has ironically stolen the honesty car park fee box from St.A's car park by beating it out of its stone pillar. So be aware when leaving your car in remote car parks down this way, there are #ssholes about.

Sun 25 May 2014

Report by Sean Staines

24th/25th May. Isle Of Wight rounds of the BPC. I Joined 13 other pilots on the Isle of Wight for the first rounds of the British Paragliding Cup.

Saturdays task was a race to goal from Limerstone to Yarmouth via turn points on the ridge towards Freshwater. Conditions were quite lively with two pilots reporting full frontals plus a few asymmetrics. No-one made goal although it should have been possible. I bombed out 5k down the ridge but came in 5th place.

Sunday saw a cat's cradle task on the Blackgang to Freshwater cliffs. Initially the wind was too strong and the task window didn't open until 3 O'Clock. This gave me an opportunity for a quick flight on the hang glider, which was great.

When the task window opened I set off for the Blackgang turnpoint and made it but the wind continued to drop and I bombed out at the Atherfield take-off on the return journey. I was lucky to come in in 5th place again due to a number of pilots having instrumentation problems and failing to get the turnpoints.

A video of the hang gliding flight can be seen on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/96612151  

Report by Alastair Florence


This morning Knitson windmill was doing about 3 rev per second, by this evening it had dropped to nearly 3 seconds per rev suggesting the wind had dropped alot. I walked up Knitson after supper and had about 30 mins scratching away in suprisingly light conditions. Eventually the wind virtually died and i ended up back at the bottom.

Sat 24 May 2014

Report by Alastair Florence

There's not much to add to Shamus's report other than a few pictures.

I didn't expect a flying opportunity today and would have probably missed it had Shamus not given me a call re-Knitson.

Report by Shamus Pitts


Hi thought the rain might stop and the wind drop long enough to get a flight in at Knitson this afternoon but when I got there it was blowing 18 - 25mph.  After talking to Ali we decided to have a look at a stretch of cliff that might be more useable in strong wind - he said he'd tried it a couple of times but not had much luck but in this strength it might just work!   "Blackers Hole" may not be for everyone - the fact it needs a 20mph southerly wind to work and that there's absolutely no bottom landing (just the sea) might be enough to put a few people off, which might be why it's not a club site.  With the right conditions though - 20mph SSW wind and 2 foolhardy pilots - you get to see some different photos of the beautiful Dorset coast!

Tue 20 May 2014

Report by Alastair Florence


Had a harsh day at work so was glad of a bright looking evening to cheer me up.

Direction looked good for Knitson so that's where I went.

I launched soon after 1900hrs and had a very pleasant knock about for the next 50 mins along the ridge, making the most of some bumpy little thermals wafting over from a field out front freshly covered in rotting cow sh1te,(back working in the sewerage works again so this sort of things seems normal to me). The wind went more progressively West or I could have improved on my 6.something km turnpoint flight.

Me and Neil W also had a good half hour or so here last Sunday after we gave up on Ballard, thermalling up to about 650ft ato, wind was well off East and went even more so as soon as other Ballard refugees arrived.

If it's thermic Knitson can be ok with the wind off the hill as the thermals seem to track along the hillside so can be quite useable. Can be a bit of an acquired taste though.

Sat 17 May 2014

Report by Alastair Florence

A promising forecast persuaded me, Martin B, Martin F, Shamus, Dave A, Nick L-g, Gary P Pete C and Ian H up to Nant-Y-moel, inspiration was also helped by a BCC round.

The site was busy soon after the BCC briefing but separation was ok with a decent wind strength and blue thermals, I got away in a mass gaggle of maybe 15+ wings.

The climbs were generally slow but some certainly had rough edges.

I found a second climb before getting too low after crossing the first valley, this didn't go far and I was soon scratching a nasty little rocky ridge on the far side of the next valley. The gaggle was thinning out now and we were loosing wings on each valley transition.

After scratching a bit I found a strong but lumpy climb and then linked up with 2 other wings that had got through the elimination process.

We flew together pimping off each other until we approached an open mine near Merthyr, here the other two guy's set off cross wind and appeared to go down. I chose to stick in a weak bitty climb and follow down wind. Progress was very slow and I decided that with an almost completely blue sky I would milk any lift I found as long as it was lifting, then go on glide and hope to blunder into more lift when I stopped going up.

Beyond Merthyr I was struggling to find anything and was thinking it was game over. I found a weak bitty rough climb that eventually developed into some thing useable.

I stayed in this until I was over Blorenge with good height, from here on it was easy going for a bit and much more user friendly air. My luck ran out a few miles away from Ross-On-Wye and landed in a nice little field.

I used Telegram to send out my location, for some strange reason it appeared to locate me somewhere in West Africa, didn't feel like I flew that far, I also posted it on the wrong group so didn't confuse to many folks.

The Telegram system worked really well and I think is a great tool for days out like this, don't swamp it with Sitephone or Facebook type messages and it should prove very usefull.

Martin B very kindly offered to come and fetch me as the hill was blown out now.

I started hitching toward Ross On Wye but only had one vehicle stop and that was by a lady who wanted to apologies for not picking me up as her car was stuffed full of Hay bales, kind thought though.

After a few miles walk I arrived at a pub which by then was like seeing an oasis in the desert, my hopes were dashed as the door was locked.

Walked a few more miles until I found an open pub where Martin met me.

Many great flights by others and no shame for those who didn't make it out the valley's as it was pretty tricky.

For anyone interested the Carrera flew well, as said it was sharp in the air at times and I had several asymmetric issues, all recovered without input and no drama, but if you haven't been flying a C or don't consider you would buy a Delta or Aspen 'C' type of wing then forget buying a Carrera until such time as you fit this category, without a lot of piloting I would have found myself looking down at the wing several times (or maybe only once ! ) Peachometer 8.5

Wed 14 May 2014

Report by Grant Oseland


A new site today, Sourton Tor in Devon. Not too many photographs as I was too busy holding the brake lines and keeping the glider above my head for the majority of the flight. It was my first time flying over Dartmoor and the one thing that struck me most is how difficult it is to actually see the contours of the hills when you're up high, making it all look the same. Without giving it to much thought I set a flight to goal on my phone with a waypoint at Berry Head some 52k away. Not normally bothering with such silly nonsense as Tesco bonus points. After a reasonably difficult start, that had been hampered by the fact that I was flying like a donkey and had actually had a large disagreement with a 20ft lump of granite (basically I got dumped with little manoeuvring prospects onto a 20ft tall lump of granite. I was perched on the top after smashing into it so hard it broke my foot plate. With hindsight I was lucky not to get serious injury as I had to fully unclip the wing and lower it to the ground and then climb down myself. I found myself in need of pressing my mental reset button). Eventually I settled into a climb that was good enough to take me over the back of the moor, after watching a gaggle of pilots disappearing in a thermal earlier after my little incident. The climbs were not particular strong at this time despite the very good looking sky and the drift was gradually taking me towards Merrivale ranges so eventually I had to cut my losses and go on a glide south easterly away from the range danger area. At this stage I was committed, there was no going back and I started to get lower and lower to the ground, eventually setting up for a landing with lots of cursing about the very long walk back across the moor. Then bang! an extremely strong and violent thermal low-down that turned my wing inside out and gave me a cravat. Whey-hay let's get stuck in, what followed for the next 5-10 minutes was me fighting to keep the wing above my head relatively low down until eventually the thermal consolidated and sucked me up to base. I breathed a sigh of relief happy for the extra elevation, until that is I disappeared straight into the cloud at some considerable speed. Big ears and speed bar had no effect and just made the wing thrash around in the white room whilst still shooting up and completely disorientating me. So I gave up on the big ears and just set south on the compass and rode it out until eventually I popped out the side of the cloud completely disorientated and having to look around and do a few 360s before getting my bearings above Buckfast Leigh at about 5500ft. Happy days. The rest was plain sailing in classic fly to a good looking cloud and get lift then rinse and repeat. As I got closer to the coast and approached Torbay I realised that I was getting close to the goal that I had set at Berry head and realised two things. Number one, I might actually be able to make the goal for the first time at 52k, and number two, what a completely stupid place to stick a goal, at the end of the head land with very little landing options either side. I was indecisive at this time and decided to head for two good-looking clouds over Torbay Beach. They were working well and gave me a good climb, enough for me to decide that I'd go for the goal on Berry head. What was the worst that could happen, a small headland surrounded by water? Long story short, I made the goal with ample attitude and landed in the ramparts of the guardhouse to the surprise of the cafe owners. Not that I suspect any of them are reading this but I would like to say thank you to the bus driver and the five people that picked me up hitchhiking to get me back to my car at 9:30 in the evening.

Report by Sean Staines

A very busy day on Bell hill with 20-30 paraglider pilots, a couple of ATOS' rigids and a couple of rigged flexwings. Mark from the condors was planning a big triangle on his Atos, and from the few glimpses I saw of him it looked like he probably achieved it.

Radio communications with Andrea gave me very speedy retrieves and I was able to do 3 PG XCs during the day. Each one further and higher than the last, with her waiting for me as I packed. The first one was a flight to Bere Regis. The next just past Stoborough and the last to land at the foot of Corfe Castle.

For all of them I climbed out between Iberton and the masts. I fly down that end of the ridge a lot and know of 5 good house thermals down that way. It is the most thermic part of the whole Bell ridge and I usually have it to myself. The last climb out took me to 4600ft with great views down onto Milton Abbey. Makes a nice change to the usual Stickland valley route.

At least 3 pilots flew their personal bests including George on his new Gin Atlas doing his first ever XC to land near Corfe. Excellent.

Report by Simon Herbert


Got to Bell today at 1pm to find plenty of pilots enjoying the thermic conditions.

Played around in the thermals for a couple of hours and then a big strong cycle came through and Mike Bretherton and I went over the back along with a few others.

A long and very enjoyable time later after reaching base at about 4200ft several times we found ourselfs at 3000ft. Above Corfe castle thinking maybe its about time we lost some height and headed for Swanage, however as we headed for the town we hit some very strong and rough lift, which I think was convergence, just when we really didn't need it with the sea getting uncomfortably near. Anyway a big dose of big ears from both of us and problem solved. We landed by the train station and took the train to Corfe. Unfortunately we didn't see any other pilots that headed our way so we had a fair bit of pulling favours from friends and people in the pub to eventually get back to Fareham by 10pm.

After 16yrs of flying at Bell Hill this was my first time to make it to Swanage, and my longest UK XC. So definately a 10 on the peachometer [(c) Ali F] from my point of view.

Since so many others have posted pictures of the aerial shots on the way to Swanage I thought a train shot would make a change.

Mon 05 May 2014

Report by Paul Maidment

Saturday first time launching at Barton very nervous about take off after hearing so much about the rotor here but after about 10 mins of farting about and some words of encouragement from Chris Sparham wing up clean over head ,walk and small push from Chris to the edge off and away , don't know what all the worry was about after boating about for a bit was joined by Chris who was trying to encourage me to follow him down towards Millford i bottled it first time next time followed him all the way down to beach huts looked down nudists in all their glory ,not nice no bottom landing here for me (no pun intended) after a couple of hours flying and i was freezing it was time to land , so many people after a couple of failed attempts i landed not pretty but on my feet , i could feel the rotor coming in to land . Sunday same forecast as Saturday maybe a touch lighter this time i was joined by Jules his first time at Barton there was one wing in the air a bit scratchy but flyable , Jules took to the air without to much trouble so got my gear and launched into light lift not as good as Sunday maybe 20 to 30 foot ato i got a bit cocky and started to head towards Chewton bunny , big mistake sink and more sink , i turned trying to find lift but there was none to be had ok where to bottom land collapsed cliff, bushes ,rocks , sea or there was what was left of a small path a little way ahead , i just managed to make the end of it , but it was very rough ground so it was a feet ,knee ,face landing but me and wing were ok walked back up and had a couple more hours of very pleasant flying practising launching and landings ,Barton you have to think about what your doing there ie launching ,landing ,people ,rotor and when when to make the decision to bottom land but nice place to fly.

Sun 04 May 2014

Report by Andy Ward


Another glorious day on the Horse. The sunshine and southerly wind meant a hill packed full of gliders, however, with plenty of lift things didn't feel too crowded. There were even a few tandems boating about the skies.

By mid afternoon the wind had eased and the lift was much more cyclical - fortunately the numbers had thinned a bit to allow for some serious scratching in the lulls. When they did come through the punchy spring thermals meant fairly decent climbs could be had, but the sink monster was on the prowl and most pilots managed a side landing and short walk up the hill at some point.

Not a classic day (I don't think anyone got away), but a good day that felt almost like summer.

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