Eye in the Sky - April 2015

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19th April - 26th April 2015

Report by Paul Maidment


Turkey Oludeniz Toby Colombe’s siv course

Sunday 19th April was a free fly day, so after breakfast we had a briefing with Toby about how the week was planned out and what we wanted out of the course, this took a fair amount of time being a large group but by about one o,clock we were ready to go to launch. When we left Oludeniz the wind was light and coming off the sea and sunny, the van ride up to launch was a bit of an eye opener, narrow unmade mountain tracks for the most part but we made it to the 1200mtr launch, after a site briefing from Mike (launch control) and Toby  we started to depart take off, I was fourth from the end with Doctor Charles Toby and Mike following, by the time I launched it must have been getting on for four o,clock, ok light winds off to my right wait until wind is on, wing up then turn and run, wow look at the size of those boulders i thought as i jumped into my harness (i did get a bit of a telling off from Mike for that), as i flew down to Oludeniz the views were stunning, just before i got to the town there is ridge which i soared for a bit then off over the town, as i got lower over the town maybe 650mtrs it  started getting very rock and roll, which was not to my liking so I decided to head out to sea to find some smoother air, about half a mile out and with still 500 mtr amsl i turned for the beach, my ground speed dropped to 6kph, unbeknown to me the wind had switched to a fairly  strong offshore wind, I should have looked at my ground speed heading out to sea, so I put half bar on and my speed crept up to 20kph, not sure if i would make the beach I started to crab to the cliffs to my right hoping to find a last chance landing spot there, as I got closer to the beach I could a fair  few people looking in my direction, with a 200ft to go I let off speed bar and made the beach with about 25ft to spare. Later i found out that the locals were sure i was going swimming, without a safety boat I would have been in serious trouble.

Monday 20th siv course starts for real with a very in-depth briefing from Toby and Mike, then up to launch 1200 mtrs again which is the lowest one, I fly out to the box above the rescue boat, ok my first thing was big ears with speed bar which i have never tried before, no problems and steering with weight shift easy, next asymmetric collapse with no inputs bang in it goes dives a bit and turns 90deg easy, did a couple of them both sides next full frontal collapse this is when my heart rate started to rise, bang and release rocks back and pitches forward a bit, few I thought glad that is over as I was low in the box by now it was pitch control small are easy but the bigger they get the harder they get. After a debrief its back up to launch again this time do the collapses with half bar then full bar, heart rate up to full speed again but pretty much the same as before without bar, unlike some of the other wings which the bar had some pretty dramatic effects on. After me was Doctor Charles with his acro skills at the bottom of his run we could hear Toby on the radio Charles beach Charles to the beach but no response from Charles, little did we know the he had had a radio malfunction by the time he turned it was to late and he donned his speedos for a water landing, splash he was in and Toby was on him  and in the boat before he got his beard wet. The evening was spent drying wings and kit and debriefing.

Tuesday 21st starts with a briefing then back up to 1200 launch as I flyover the boat my radio goes eerily silent, so i take my radio out and the screen is blank switch it off and on again nothing, strange because it had been on charge all night, so I flew out the box and did some sight seeing over the blue lagoon very nice. After some lunch and and debrief back up to 1200 launch by this time the wind on take off had increased, gusting from 12 to 20+ mph Chris and I decided not to fly, Paul H and Rod K launched in ever increasing lift, the last to go was Dr Charles just after launching he was hoovered up in a very strong lift band it felt like hours before he was above the rescue boat, after about half an hour doing his sivs he  still had loads of height  and still climbing, so Toby got him to do some big spiral dives until he was out of the lift band, the rest of us drove down in the van which was probably just as scary.

Wednesday 22nd After a very windy night it was clear that it was not going to happen today, this was confirmed by Toby so a sightseeing day was order of the day, so after a lovely morning walking around the blue lagoon, it was back to the hotel pool for some R and R that was the end of day four.

Thursday 23rd After the the morning briefing the wind was still a bit strong so there was only going to be one flight today, my task today was steering asymmetric collapses using weight shift, so up to the 1700 north facing  launch this time, this flight proved to me what a very stable wing the Firebird Raven is, as I had great difficulty trying getting it to change direction even leaning hard  into the collapsed side, all to soon after a couple of poorly timed dynamic turns my run was over.

Friday 24th Task today was more dynamic turns and auto rotations which I knew where going to be hard work on the Raven, this morning I was not feeling a 100%, 1900 launch today my first ever auto rotation did not go well, collapse the wing hold it and lean into it, it felt like I was going to fall out but slowly it started to rotate as it locked in my breakfast decided to make a reappearance (little did I know it was going to get a lot worse ) after a couple more autos and dynamic turns I was back on the beach not feeling well at all, I informed Toby I was feeling rough and I would probably sit the next launch out, I spent the next couple of hours or so at the 1700 launch feeling awful, the drive back down didn't make me feel any better.

Saturday 25th After spending the night on the loo with the worst case of liquid ass I've ever had there was going to be no flying for me today, so I sat on the beach (right next to the loos)and watched the guys do there stuff, it was then that Dr Charles took his second visit to Davy Jones locker, trying to get his wing to spin, it did going into a spiral dive with Charles trying to free a couple of spins in his risers, getting ever closer to the sea the order was given reserve Charles reserve, within a couple of seconds the reserve was out and Charles was floating to the sea, it took Toby a bit longer to reach him this time as he was a very  long was out.

Sunday 26th The last day, the decision was made  that we would fly to butterfly valley from the 1900 launch, I made the decision  to fly even tho I was still having a few stomach problems, I'm glad I did because it was one of the best flights I've ever had, very smooth air fantastic views then descending into a very high walled cove and landing on a sandy beach, all went well until on landing I put my wing in a little stream running across the beach, all was ok as we had plenty of time to dry it out before the boat took us back to Oludeniz. Wow what a week I've learnt so much about how to fly my wing, and how much more I have to learn and how safe a wing it is and unless I do something stupid i should be ok.

Thu 30 Apr 2015

Report by Sean Staines

A morning text from Steve had me checking the forecast for Bell hill today with a view to flying the hang glider. It looked good according to the BBC so we set off to arrive at 12:30.  Steve was there rigged with his ATOS but had not flown. We then waited for three hours for the rain showers to pass and the wind to come onto the hill. Another Steve from the AVON club arrived on his first visit to Bell and he was good luck because the conditions improved enough for me to take off.

I expected I might get 10 minutes before it dropped off and I headed for the bottom, but instead I connected with a good climb and took it over the back towards Blandford. Strangely the cloud was on two levels with a step in it. I climbed to ~4300ATO alongside and under a cloud.

It was completely Blue along the road to Salisbury and I set off along it without much expectation but kept connecting with good climbs in the Blue. I left the Salisbury road with a good climb and set course for Fordingbridge. Another good climb en-route gave me enough height to cross the river valley at Sandy Balls with a new goal for the Fighting cocks Pub. Buoyant air and little bits of lift kept me going until I ran out of airspace near Fritham and landed. A new HG personal best for me of 49.6k with turn points.

Mon 27 Apr 2015

Report by Sean Staines

The thermic forecast looked good for Monday with a flying window between 11 and 2 o'clock before overdevelopment would set in. We arrived at Bell hill around 10:30 to see Mark, Gaz,  and Gary.  We were soon joined by Marcus, Harry, Russell and Pete. There were only light thermic cycles but Mark climbed out beyond the magic tree and disappeared for at least 30 minutes before returning.  None of the rest of us could make much of it with hops of a few minutes before landing and waiting for the next cycle.

I lobbed off and was surprised to find myself in a good consistent climb off the spur which I stuck with to 3000ft amsl before it petered out (or I lost it). The best looking cloud within a glide was towards Milton Abbas so I headed that way, got a tip off from a climbing buzzard and worked weak lift. I was down to around 600ft above the ground near Milton Abbas. A combination of weak lift and gliding got me to Winterbourne Whitechurch where I found a very good solid climb. I stuck with it in very light drift to  around 4000ft before setting off for Wareham forest.

A cloud street had set up on the Eastern side of the forest heading all the way to Swanage.  I followed it and took a very strong climb near Wareham getting 4.1m/s on the averager. It was fairly turbulent under this street with some quite large development. I decided to fly along the southerly edge of the street heading pretty much directly for Swanage. Ground speed was only 48kmh indicating a very light drift still at height. I saw the tree lined slopes on the Northerly side of the Knitson ridge and thought they were a likely thermal trigger so headed along them expecting something to kick off.

At this time Gordon was reporting a 23mph see breeze Southerly at Southbourne and in hindsight by soaring along the Northern side of the Knitson ridge I think I came down into the force 4 southerly (SW maybe) sea breeze on the wrong side on the hill into severe rotor. I went to Brown alert and flew out to Godlingston Heath looking for soft places to crash, fighting to keep the wing open all the way to the ground in the PLF position. It worked out well and by the time I'd packed up and walked to the layby Andrea was waiting for me. She'd been tracking my by Radio. To top it off the layby had an ice cream van.

Despite the unforeseen excitement of the landing it was a great flight.  

Sat 25 Apr 2015

Report by Grant Oseland


A few pictures from today at The Hive, Russell W, Mike D and myself made a punt on the Hive working today, and as Mike has just bought a new wing and harness from ebay he was eager to try it out. On Arrival Tim Oakley was standing on take off assessing conditions, which to be frank were a bit crap. Very low level cloud with not really much wind. We all took off in not very buoyant air but eventually conditions picked up a bit to allow all to fly. I made it over to the base of Golden Cap using the force, but landed by Eype as there was not much in the way of lift to be had, I bunched up the wing and walked up to Eype take off and met a couple of pilots sitting on takeoff in the clag. It took a few minuets for a decent breeze to come through but eventually one did and again using the force I made it back to the Hive. Eventually rain spoiled play.

Report by Mike Drew

A fun and challenging day at The Hive. Technical Take offs by Russell W, Ultra Retro flying by Mike D, Supreme flying by Grant O, Guest appearance by Richard M, Dodgy landing without an apology by Paul K, others Tomaz and Joint Service member (sorry forgot the name).

Thu 23 Apr 2015

Report by David

With Neill's help, the repairs at Bell have now been completed. Here is a couple of snaps of our endeavours.

Report by Reuben May


Stopped off at southbourne today for a quick walk. Got a couple of snaps of the boys flying. Conditions seemed on the hill averaging 12mph. Expect they had a good time!

Sun 19 Apr 2015

Report by Andy Ward

A lovely sunny Sunday but XC showed the wind to be easterly yet again. I'd just resigned myself to cutting the grass when a message popped up on my phone saying it was on at Maiden Castle.

I arrived to find four wings in the air, and as I set up Russel and Grant landed, described the air as "odd" and "unpleasant" before taking off again. I waited for my slot (max 4 wings flying at Maiden) and took off. The air was full of small bullet thermals, and it was easy to climb to 1000 feet above take-off. It would of been an easy XC day but I looked downwind and it really isn't far to the sea so I flew forward to see how far upwind I could get and see if I could push out as far as Seamus.

As I flew forward I saw Seamus' get slapped by a mighty thermal - the middle of the wing went flying upwards whilst the tips came flying downwards. He did a great job catching it on the brakes and and I braced myself for similar as I was immediately upwind of him. A few seconds later and I felt my glider try to dive forward, but was ready with a huge jab of brakes and only my tip went.

Both of us called it a day, it was surprisingly hard to land in the car park with little thermals hammering through. Everyone else was getting battered by then and within a few minutes we had all landed and called it a day.

A good day for active flying practice, who says you need Oludeniz for SIV?

Report by Shamus Pitts


The wind was pretty strong in Shaftesbury this morning but I was encouraged to take a trip to Maiden Castle after reading Alan W's message on Telegram.  Alan, Grant O and Russell W were in the air when I arrived but Grant and Russell soon landed and told me how rough and horrible it was!  I decided to give it a try anyway, just as Andy W turned up.  The air was certainly pretty lively but it didn't seem as bad as some flights I've had and I soon found a climb that I took to 1400' ATO with Grant.  I thought about taking it over the back and started to go, but the sea didn't look very far away and there were a few hills and potentially rotory landing fields between me and it so I decided to go back to the hill.

The conditions seemed to be intensifying and we all took part in some sort of impromptu SIV at some point or another - I hit something that catapulted me upwards where my wing did a kind of Mexican and Grant had a big ol' collapse further down the ridge.  It was time to land but that turned out to be easier said than done - as I approached the ground in the landing field I was yanked back up and had to go round and try again.  Andy landed, then I touched down, and then we watched Gordon throw in a couple of acro moves before a perfect landing!  It was fun while it lasted but all good things must come to an end!

Thu 16 Apr 2015

Report by Gary Pocock

A little playing around in light conditions below White Horse.
Sat 11 Apr 2015

Report by Sean Staines

Bell Hill. I had called a round of the BCC to take place on Saturday but as the week developed it became clear the wind was too strong for paragliding. Nonetheless the post cold front thermic forecast looked great so I arrived at Bell around 1:30 intending to fly the hang glider. Mark and Jerry from the condors were there, saying the wind had been gusting over 30MPH. I was optimistic it would calm down and slowly started to rig. At 3pm, with Dave's help as nose man I launched. Conditions were strong as hoped for, and I started looking for climb worth sticking with. Jerry was not current and decided not to fly. Mark flew his Atos but the moments of freefall were not to his liking and he decided not to go XC but bottom landed after his flight.

I connected with a thermal I was happy with down towards Ibberton and went over the back with it getting to around 2000ft AMSL over Turnworth in weak lift. Then on a glide towards Blandford taking another slow climb past Bryanston and over Blandford to end on its far side arriving around 4000ft AMSL.

The drift was taking me towards airspace and my original plan for a flight to Durleston looked wrong, so I decided to try and head North of Bournmouth airspace. I got a cracking climb near Pimperne managing 4m/s on the averager and taking me to 5000ft where I left it to avoid cloud.

My ground speed was high, getting 78kmh along the road to Salisbury and peaking at 99.4kmh according to the tracklog. I thought I might be able to get to Stoney Cross and made it my new objective but whilst thinking of it lost focus on the job in hand and made poor use of the thermal I was in.

My next glide to a sure thing cloud over a forest didn't work out, and I ended up on a final glide to land near Damerham for 36km including turn points. A great day out Grommit!  

Fri 10 Apr 2015

Report by Grant Oseland

A very strange day at the coast with the wind not making much sense at all, Blown out at Bowleaze at the same time as no wind at Ringstead. Then From ESE light at Ringstead to WSW and 25mph within an hour.

Mon 06 Apr 2015

Report by Sean Staines

The second round of the BCC took place at Hundred house near Builth Wells.  The Wessex team  comprised Sean Staines, Nick & Gill Legras and Andy Ward.

After a very light start to the day a thermic breeze set up and slowly gaggles formed and started to climb out. I got a good climb at the top of my stack but soon drifted over to join a gaggle. We all worked together in a giant merry go round, maximizing the climb and eventually topping out around 4000ft. Then it was like the ending of the fellowship of the ring and we split up to find the next climb.

I chose a likely looking cloud on high ground on the far side of the river Wye and hooked into another good climb to base. I could see an early gaggle ahead but scratching low. I felt smug as I glided over them towards Brecon and my next climb, the best of the day taking me to 5000ft. I had to use big ears and bar to get out of the whispies and pushed on towards Brecon.

Finding myself on a glide I spotted a pilot thermalling ahead and joined him back to base. The next challenge was to cross the Usk valley to get onto the Brecon beacons. My thermal buddy set off on a desperate glide and I watched him bomb out. Been there, done that. It was time to be patient and stay with what I had. I saw a cloud I liked out in the valley and flew to it, taking a climb above the spot where my buddy had bombed out. Feeling smug again.

Next I headed for clouds forming above the heathland near the Ystradfellte reservoir, a very remote region. I would have a long walkout and no phone signal if I went down here. Away in the distance I could see the vale of Neath but had a long way yet to get there. I barred along in sink over some godforsaken bog towards the next cloud and was rewarded again by lift, but not so easy to work. I drifted in and out of it, not gaining or losing, but slowly travelling along. Achieving 50km from take-off was starting to look possible, and I got a bit fixated on achieving it rather than concentrating on getting height. As a consequence I did too much gliding and not enough climbing and landed at Seven Sisters for 53km straight line distance.

About half an hour after landing I spotted 6 gliders going overhead and past me, still thermalling. Two of them looked suspiciously like the ones I'd climbed out from the hill with. Not feeling so smug now. Still delighted with my second longest XC.

Report by Everard Cunion

When I arrived at Monk's down (my first outing this year) a paraglider was big-earring into the bottom field and everyone else had landed. Yet conditions were eminently soarable. A paraglider had crashed at the eastern end of the hill and the emergency helicopter was on its way.

After the helicopter left, a dual paraglider and Richard M in his rigid hang glider (with a new sail) flew. the paraglider landed in the field at the bottom and the hang glider specked out, presumably setting off cross country.

Sun 05 Apr 2015

Report by Everard Cunion

Harry Dike, Brian Metcalfe, and I stood around for hours on this cold grey day marshalling a fence at a horse race. It raised funds for the rescue helicopter. Coincidentally, on this long weekend I wrote a review (for my web site) of the helicopter James Bond film 'You Only Live Twice' (1967).

I should have guessed that all these helicopters were a bad omen...

Report by Shamus Pitts

I, along with the rest of the Wessex BCC team (Dave A, Andy W, Sean S, Gill LeG, Nick LeG), had a grand day out at the Blorenge today.  The wind was a little off to the east and a bit scratchy to start with but it soon picked up and became buoyant and a bit gusty.  There were a lot of pilots in the air and I found it pretty crowded at times so didn't go over the back with the first couple of gaggles as it seemed quite hard work keeping out of everyones way.  I thought I would end up staying on the hill but after lunch I found myself climbing in a thermal with only one glider below me so I decided to see where it would take me.  As we drifted over the back the thermal seemed to fizzle out and the glider below headed off for Blaenavon and as I had nothing better to do I decided to follow.  On the way I connected with a thermal and started to work it, climbing slowly.  The other glider didn't seem to find anything so headed back towards me but was too low to connect with my thermal which slowly took me to cloudbase.

Once I'd got to cloudbase I headed off towards a huge cloud - I was a bit anxious that it might be too big so approached it cautiously.  As I crossed the valleys the air was quite rough - I should have slowed down and kept my height topped up but I was sure the big cloud would soon lift me up.  I crossed one particularly rough valley and had a small collapse, resulting in a tiny cravat - I wasn't sure if it was a cravat or not as it was so small but a couple of tugs of the stabilo line got rid of it.  By now I was getting lower and the air just seemed turbulent rather than buoyant.  I thought if I can get past the final valley I can start looking for lift again but the ridge on the far side had a lot of trees on it.  Apart from a large area of woodland it seemed that most of the fields were bordered by trees.  As I was low and the air was rough I didn't fancy my chances gliding clear and landing beyond the ridge but I also wasn't sure that I could make it to the treeless fields near the end of the ridge...  I pointed myself towards the "nice" fields and worked the turbulence to eke out my height as I flew crosswind towards my goal.  Fortunately I made it and landed gently, and didn't have to wait too long before Dave A turned up to take us back to Dorset!   The whole team scored - Sean flying the furthest at 24km - hopefully that will be enough to place us well, although Grant flew about 48km.... for Joint Services... the traitor!  

Report by Steve Auld


Did you have a happy Easter?  Well, it turned out happy here in Bournemouth today, well, Southbourne really - never made it as far as Bournemouth.

The wind was light and off to the east; typical spring high pressure system, but eventually came on and just about strong enough to tempt Gordon Crisp to give it a go (with some encouragement from me).  And as I thought he would, he didn't bomb out to the beach, but managed to gain a little height.  A good enough indicator for me and so I was into the air a few moments later.

Landed again to help get a couple of other pilots into the air, one being Paul Maidment (pictured), who had never flown here before; so finally he has broken his duck at this site.  He and all the rest of us had several good flights, but not venturing past Boscombe pier, as it would most likely have been a one way ticket, trying to come back against the wind.

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