Eye in the Sky - March 2015

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Fri 27 Mar 2015

Report by Shamus Pitts

I booked a last minute day off work today hoping that it would be flyable and luckily it was!  Martin B and I decided that Ringstead was the most likely site so we arrived there at about 11am just as people were starting to fly.

The wind was a little off to the west to start with but forecast to back more to the south as the day went on and for a while it did.  Sean S was the first brave soul to venture round White Nothe and on to Lulworth Cove and I watched with interest to see how he got on.  He looked pretty low most of the time which put me off a bit but when he eventually returned I thought it might be worth a try.  I shouted over to Martin to see if he was up for it but unfortunately I couldn't hear what he shouted back ("no - not enough south and not strong enough" apparently) so I decided that we probably both thought it was a great idea and off I went, with Martin tagging along a short distance behind.

The trip down to Lulworth Cove passed in a flash, my ground speed was at least 27mph all the way there and I didn't lose too much height - unfortunately once I arrived at the hill beyond Durdle Door I didn't gain any either!  When Martin arrived I managed to scrape my height up to 200' ATO so went along the cliff a bit further east but by the time I returned the most I could manage was 110' ATO.  Durdle Door was looking pretty big now and I was worried I wouldn't get back past it.  I pushed a bit inland and used the hill behind Durdle Door to keep me up and away from any rotor (there were seagulls soaring it close to the ground and they made it look quite smooth) which worked quite well but I was barely above the cliff by the time I connected with it again.  I managed to claw a bit of height back but had to leave the safety of the accessible beach to get round Bats Head.  I was well below cliff top height by the time I got round but the cliffs were facing more in to wind now so I slowly managed to get some height back (114' below take off to be precise!).  I couldn't seem to get any higher so pushed on hoping for the best.  Luckily, when I got on to the cliffs by White Nothe they seemed to be working well, in fact the wind seemed pretty strong, and I was soon well above clifftop height and back around the Nothe.  I eventually landed after 2 1/2 hours but wasn't sure what had happened to Martin - it seems he wanted to stretch his legs, so after texting him I went for another flight.  The wind was back to SW again so I stayed west of White Nothe this time, eventually spotting a small figure with a big rucksack walking along the coast path from Durdle Door!

Report by Grant Oseland

Ringstead -A happy day, flyable for most of it.

Several on the coast run and lots of Pilots out on a Friday.

Gaz M, Mike D, Russell W flying my Omega 8 and then my Sigma 9(he will be converted to Advance) Martin B, Shamus P, Mike D, Ian Mc, Sean S, Jeff D, Ali F, Darren & Jules, Trevor L on his maiden flight to the cliffs and too many others to mention. Doesnt anyone work on a Friday?
Wed 25 Mar 2015

Report by Alastair Florence


I had the opportunity to try out the latest addition to my growing fleet of gliders today, I really only want one now so please check my add on our forum if you can be tempted with a Carrera or a Mantra4.

I had engineered an early finish from a site visit in Lockeridge which gave me the possible option of Combe, Westbury, Monks or Bell on the way home.

As it had been overcast at lockeridge I made tracks for Westbury where it was very light with very intermittent flights by some, so I decamped toward Bell.

I arrived just as the thermal of the day passed through and took a few gliders with it, after that it turned back to crap so after a brief flight and some ground handling I moved homeward via St.Aldhelms.

St.A's was spot on for direction and a fairly stiff breeze.

Launch was straight forward and an easy steady climb to 600ft + ato followed. It seemed rude to not use the height so flew over to Houns Tout only loosing 150ft on the way. A bit more into wind pushing and I was still high over Eldon seat. I couldn't be bothered to go any further so headed back after a bit.

First impressions of the Sigma 9 - The wing is pretty docile on the ground and seems very easy to manage and ground handle, there seemed to be a bit of tendancy for the tips to lift in the stronger wind on St.A launch but by pull the brakes in and a couple of steps back then forward again pins the tips.

Pulling the wing up is easy and a nice steady rise resulting from light fabric I guess, didn't notice any tendancy to overfly but maybe I check this instinctively.

The wing feels small over head compared to the higher aspect and wider span of the Carrera and Mantra.

Most noticeable good point seems to be turning which is extremely positive, it almost feels as though as you start the turn a pin fixes the inner tip to a point in the sky and the wing then seems to turn around it. Should be a dream in thermals.

Not quite as sensitive feedback as the Carrera or Mantra but less piloting required I guess, I need some thermals to assess properly but seems adequate feedback to identify whats going on in the surrounding air.

Big ears present no drama and came out slowly unaided and faster with a pump, didn't try spiral but I guess entry would be very easy.

Excellent glide on bar maybe the conditions helped but loosing only 150ft flying 1.2km into wind to cross to the Tout is fairly exceptional even on the Mantra.

The lines seem to sing in the wing but that's no bother.

Just over a week to next x-rays and consultation with surgeon so hope to able to get out flying properly after that.

Sun 22 Mar 2015

Report by Steve Auld


From north east the wind did finally swing round to sout south east, but not until around 4.00pm.  So too late, really, to make it worthwhile phoning the sitephone.

But with the wind reasonably strong for the site and slightly off to the east, I took off and gained good height, getting down to between the piers with no problem.  Would have carried on all the way to Sandbanks, but it was a lot colder than I had expected, so wimped out and came back to Southbourne and landed back on top after about 40 minutes.

Thu 19 Mar 2015

Report by Sean Staines

Monksdown - A better wind direction today but the sky remained fully overcast with a low base around 1400ft AMSL. I could only hear the Apache Helicopter today rather than watch it coming over the trees as yesterday. The whole ridge was HG soarable with some punchy lift in places and no difficulty staying up. A nice hour in the air by myself.

Wed 18 Mar 2015

Report by Alan Webb

Maiden Castle 18 & 19 March Two good days at the "Castle" Grant O , RW, Paul K, Alan W, Gordon C and others Height of 1350' A.T.O. Gordy had a 3up

Report by Sean Staines

Monksdown - I thought the NNE forecast might give me an XC from Monkdown today. On arrival there was a little bit of East in it and it was top end for Paragliding so I rigged the Hang glider. I quickly got above the ridge and spent most of the flight 800-1000ft ATO playing in the thermals, mostly in the bowl left of take-off.

Later on in the flight I got a very nice climb which I took over the back to 2500ft AMSL and though I was on my way, but there was too much easterly drift and I was being pushed towards Compton Airspace so had to leave it. I tried looking for another climb along the spur to Tollard Royal but found nothing so reluctantly pushed back to the ridge. When I got back the wind was very Easterly and the ridge wasn't generating such good lift. I found myself scratching in quite turbulent conditions so decided to land and call it a day.

Report by Chris Hill

I arrived at Maiden Castle around 10:30am having given work the slip for the morning, to be met by Russell, Paul and Allen.  This was to be my first visit and flight at Maiden, so I was excited to fly somewhere new! As we walked up, the wind was smack on the hill and about 15mph on top of the first rampart.  After receiving a site brief I was ready to get in the air with the other pilots.  I managed 45minutes of fairly lumpy soaring with a few thermals popping now and then.  Over the course of the flight the wind was developing more and more of an easterly component to it, so after 2 failed attempts to land I eventually landed and managed to snap a few photographs.  By this time Gordon had arrived and Russell had also landed.  All in all a fun morning on Maiden Castle and a new site logged for me.

Sun 8 Mar 2015

Report by Sean Staines

I set off fairly early on Sunday morning to try and fly the hang glider at Burton Bradstock but the fully overcast sky, drizzle and fog in West Bay showed it was never going to happen. I knew the wind was due to swing round to the West /NW late afternoon, after the front went through, and desperate to fly decided to carry on to Woolacombe.

Sure enough, after sitting in the drizzle in the parking area behind launch for an hour, a bright line appeared on the horizon. I started rigging and by the time I was ready the front had passed leaving clear blue skies with a good wind direction but quite light.

A local PG pilot turned up and I paid my site fee. Rather than risk going down on the HG I had a quick go on the PG and after 10 minutes in the air decided the HG was going to get up, so clipped in and took off. Conditions steadily improved and a few more PG pilots turned up to fly. I had a lovely couple of hours flying the whole length of the beach from Woolacombe village to Baggy head with the lift band topping out at  1250ft amsl. Most of the flight was spent on full VG either slowing down to maximize the climbs or pulling on loads of speed to buzz past paragliders.

Report by Shamus Pitts


After spending all morning at Hive in the howling wind and low cloud, Dave A and I finally arrived at Bell Hill in the rain at about 3 o'clock.  Despite my pessimism the wind was actually on the hill and blowing 10-12mph which was ideal... if only it wasn't raining.  After a while the rain disappeared, taking the wind with it and we thought that was it for the day but we hung around and eventually it picked up enough to give us a little bit of hope...

Dave was the first off and made a valiant effort to stay up and succeeded for a while but as his luck ran out the wind seemed to pick up a little on takeoff so I took off shortly followed by a guy on a Firebird Raven, Carl and Darren and suddenly the air seemed quite buoyant.   In fact the light wind had suddenly become much stronger with great dollops of lift sprinkled about in various places in front of the hill and big whooshes of wind never far away to stop us penetrating too easily!  I noticed that there were a few good sized, and pretty black, clouds about and wondered whether it might be time to land but they soon passed but the wind remained.

After about 40 minutes I saw Dave struggling to land so I thought it might be getting a bit top end so I landed too, only to find the wind a fairly manageable 10-16 on takeoff.  I'd had a good flight though on my new wing so I was happy to call it a day and pack up while my wing was still pretty dry and clean!

Fri 06 Mar 2015

Report by Richard King


Burton Bradstock - My first time at this site so met Steve Whitfield there at 12 for some advice (thanks Steve). Wind on arrival at take off was SSW 18-21. Steve took off first with his Atos and by the time I had got my act together had disappeared into the distance. Take off was ok but I didn't seem to gain much height (180 amsl) over the first small ridge so the crossing over hive beach was a leap of faith. Took my time, managed to get 430' before crossing West Bay, took about an hour to get to Charmouth. Had an attempt at crossing the bay at Charmouth but got half way and chickened out. Went back to Golden Cap - nice climb to 1300' then a straight flight all the way back to Hive Beach in 15 mins ! Spent 20 mins soaring there before landing, 2 hours total. Hot chocolate with the Mrs at Hive beach cafe then Carvery on way home, the perfect day. 

Report from Eype/Westbay


Thought it might just be flyable at Hive Beach but it was blowing 23mph on the beach.

So took to Westbay for lunch and then watched as 2 "Hangies" crossed Westbay Harbour on their way to Charmouth.

Looked like they were having fun.

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