Eye in the Sky - November 2014

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Sun 30 Nov 2014

Report by Andy Ward

After a frustrating few weeks things finally looked good for either Monks or Maiden Castle. XC suggested it may be a bit strong at Monks but all the other forecasts gave a much more favourable forecast so I figured one or other site would be working. As I drove up towards Dorchester it was flat calm so I pushed on to Monks to find thick clag and the wind off to the west. There were a few of us there and after a good deal of parawaiting Sean launched into the rapidly clearing skies. Things continued to improve and at one point there were 15 or 20 wings boating around in the November sunshine enjoying the abdundant ridge lift and the odd thermal. Days like this are well worth driving home a wet and muddy wing!

Report by Shamus Pitts


With the wind forecast to be strong and gusty today I didn't plan on flying until a call from Gordon C inspired me to take a drive to Monksdown.  I was surprised to find hardly any wind and a group of shivering pilots waiting for things to pick up which thankfully they did.  To start with the wind was light and off to the west but it slowly increased in strength until it was starting to get a little top end.  The direction improved a bit and the strength calmed down a little and there were even occasional thermal fragments coming through so it was worth getting the gear all wet and muddy!

Report by Mike Drew

The last forecast I saw for today was a brisk northerly, and staying that way all day. I arrived at Maiden Castle, where the wind was light and NW, and met Russell. Chatted about going to Telegraph but we were convinced it was beginning to come more on the hill. A slippery, muddy, wet and generally unpleasant walk to the top ramparts confirmed that only the section facing the car park would work. By now I had aggravated an ankle injury from playing squash during the week, so kept the wing in the bag. Russell did have a nice fly though and I expect his whistling could be heard all over the castle! Not the day I was hoping but fresh air is always good.

Tue 25 Nov 2014

Report by Chris Sparham


I have just spent just over two weeks in Bali and Hong kong, primarily to attend a wedding. Which turned out to be fantastic and very intimate as there was only fourteen of us there. I thought I would try and get at least one days flying in if the oppurtunity came up. Didn't think it was going to happen as communications with the local club was difficult at the best of times. Two days before we were due to leave Bali, finally got a message to say there was a possibility on the wednesday afternoon at Timbis. 19.11.2014. I hired the kit from Rizky for $40 USD, which was in good condition by the way. I had two flights with 2hrs 30mins in the air in the blazing afternoon sun. Beautiful coastal line. I was a happy bunny.

Sun 23 Nov 2014

Report by Shamus Pitts


A surprisingly good day at Monks down today.  I thought it would be too strong and rough in the air but it was buoyant and fun.  The wind was blowing 12-14mph at take-off although it was probably stronger in the air but penetration was never a problem and we weren't tossed about much.  The slope was actually working most of the way to the bottom so staying up was easy (although I did end up landing when I was scratching 120' below take-off!) and with the wind a bit off to the west top landing was easy too!  A much easier hour of flying than I was expecting!

Sat 15 Nov 2014

Report by Mark Tattersall

4pm Saturday afternoon, and having given up on the day earlier and doing some DIY I was alerted by a sitephone message, looked across Swanage bay and saw a lone wing above the cliffs, so decided to down tools and grab a quick flight before dark. I raced up to take off, passing the other pilot walking down (on holiday with his family in Swanage,and had spent the afternoon sitting out rain showers before his flight), and was in the air by about 4.30. The air was smooth but buoyant, the sea still warm from summer giving classic autumn coastal flying weather, and a little off to the east, so flew round the corner and down to Old Harry, still climbing gradually most of the way. I played about on those cliffs, watching the lights come on in Swanage and Bournemouth, a lovely peaceful night fall flight, while the night raced in rather faster than I had expected, and top landed at about 5.15 when it was only just still light enough to land safely. The tricky part then started, as in my rush to get up the hill I had neglected to pack a head touch - so packed up and then walked down the slippy muddy path in the pitch dark by the intermittent light of my keyring LED touch (well worth having one of those, if Santa asks).

One of those unexpected rather magical snatched moments, 9 on the peachometer.

PS: The tide was in, but the path I opened up from the wide shingle area at the north end of the beach last year is being used enough to keep it open (easiest to spot from the top, about 50 paces past the steep drop off when you are walking back to Swanage after coming down the steps from the down), which is worth scouting out in advance, (and in daylight!) in case you end up needing to beach land at high tide, esp as the sand on much of the southern part of the beach has been washing away at an alarming rate in recent weeks.

Report by Sean Staines

I joined Brian and Paul at Southbourne just as a light shower started.

Much parawaiting followed. Gordon arrived and we all spent most of the afternoon chatting on the bench, with a horrible feeling we looked like the characters from the last of the summer wine about to do something of dubious wisdom. Roy came and went. Paul gave up after his dog Scully had dug holes at a truly impressive speed all over the launch.

Brian and Gordon returned from the Cafe and declared it was now flyable.

My take off was a little uninspiring as I scratched along to the left of take off but the lift towards Sandbanks got better and better and Brian and I made it all the way there. A first for me. We both bombed out at Bournmouth pier on the way back but a great flight nonetheless.

Sun 09 Nov 2014

Report by Brian Metcalfe

Forecasts eh?! They were all over the place for Sunday, some saying too strong, some saying too light, some saying no rain and some saying rain showers. So I did the obvious and kept my eye on Highcliffe Sailing Club weather graph and web cam.

At 10 o'clock it was still showing light NNW but sunny so I went down to Barton on the off chance expecting to maybe just go for a walk. When I got there it was lovely and sunny with a very light wind on the cliff from a Southerly direction but I could see a rain shower out towards Old Harry. By the time Id got my boots on and the wing out it was just about flyable so I took off into good lift and wafted about testing the lift towards Highcliffe and Milford. The low cliffs toward Highcliffe weren't working but towards Milford the lift was good, but the rain shower was getting closer so I opted to stay close to take off. Sure enough after about 15 minutes big Cu's covered the sun and the wind was picking up. Another few minutes and the rain was imminent and I could feel cloud suck so I top landed and stuffed the wing into the car just as the rain and Colin (who was there with his family) arrived. He ran to his car to go home while I sat and read the radio times, (some good articles and puzzles; I recommend it  ), until the rain passed.

When it had cleared I had another go although I could see another shower approaching, but now it was SW and a bit too light putting me down on the track just below the cafe. And the rain started. So I sheltered in the toilets there. When the rain stopped I walked back up to find the wind too strong and more rain approaching. Sat in the car again while it passed. It was now very windy and yet another shower was approaching. This one looked bigger and darker than the others so before it hit I went and collected a few Parasol Mushrooms that I'd spotted from the air earlier. After the rain had  passed through it became sunny again but absolutely no wind except for a slight drift from the NW. It was about 3 o'clock now and more big showers forming over the Purbecks so it was time to go home and fry up those Parasol Mushrooms for tea while watching Speed with Guy Martin.

So as it turns out all the forecasts were right at some time during the day. I've spent longer writing this than I did flying but it was feet off the ground after three weeks.

Report by Shamus Pitts

I had a pleasant but tricky day at Hive today.  The wind was strong and quite a long way off to the west which made crossing even Hive bay almost impossible.  I eventually got across, arriving virtually on  the beach on the other side.  Luckily the wind was blowing good and strong so despite the cliff face not really facing the right direction and me being very low I managed to get up and carry on my journey!   It took a lot of building up height and trial attempts before I managed to get across Freshwater.  Again I arrived very low but managed to get up and carry on.  The cliffs were all working quite well and sea thermals were occasionally coming through.  I never got more than 360' ATO but with the wind so far off to the west I was surprised to even get that high.  I had a couple of attempts at crossing West Bay but it didn't look any easier than the other two crossings so in the end I gave up.  I had only paid for 4 hours parking and my time was nearly up so I headed back to Hive, making the Freshwater crossing easily this time.  2 1/2 hours in the air, not too cold, only got rained on a little and the sun was out a lot of the time - can't be bad for November!

Report by George Nott-Bower


Tue 04 Nov 2014

Report by Gary Mullins

Got to a deserted Bell at about 11 to find the wind off to the west umm, but within 10 minutes it had moved (and stayed) north west. That’s better. Had a pleasant waft around for a bit, til cold hands encouraged a landing. At about midday Dan arrived. This corresponded with the clouds clearing and the sun coming out. Warmth. We both had a bit of a scratchy go in the, now, light breeze. At which point Karl joined us to make a trio of scratchers. Then..........wayhay, the sun had done its job and conditions became very good indeed. Thermals galore. After over an hour of this uppy uppy roundy roundy fun an ominous looking “thing” was approaching in the distance. So we landed. A few more people arrived to find conditions had somewhat strengthened..........and then the rain came.

I decided to leave. But the others stayed and, hopefully, had a nice time in the promising-looking conditions behind the rain clouds. A nice day.

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