Eye in the Sky - July 2015

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Fri 31 Jul 2015

Report by Marcus Webster


Based on the forecast I was optimistic enough to get a one way lift to White Horse from my Wife Julia who was on her way to visit family in Lyme Regis.

The plan being to try and get away and on landing make my way straight home to Wimborne without the hassle of getting back to recover the car.

My original optimism started to evaporate as I watched the first few pilots scratching, and on launching found myself side landing in amongst the gorse just short of the bowl, picking my way carefully to a small clearing I laid out my wing and waited. A buzzard slowly climbed out in front and as he passed directly overhead I launched and got lucky, Grant must have seen it as well because he launched from the main hill and we both climbed slowly maxing out at about 1000ft ato before things fizzled out and we went off on a glide towards the juicy looking clouds over Dorchester, alas it was not to be and we both landed on an all weather horse gallop only a few fields behind takeoff.

As we packed up my optimism sank even lower! The clouds seemed to be moving inland and even further out of reach and made worse by the sight of three or four wings getting high over the hill, this spurred us on as we zigzagged our way to the road and then back down the long track to the Horse, all the while watching Martin Foley treat us to a master class in patient thermaling as he made his way towards Dorchester and connect with the cloud streets.

Grant opted to take off in the bowl while I wimped out and walked back to the main takeoff above the Horse, a drink and sandwich later I took off and more scratching and side landings followed before connecting with another weak climb which required lots of S turns before feeling confident enough to start 360ing, Grant dived in and we were off for another go, this time being more patient (and maybe a little more desperate to succeed) we hung in there and slowly climbed away to the East of Dorchester,the wind by now having gone SSW.

As we crossing the A35 it was now 3:50pm and I started to feel more confident that I had made the right choice getting dropped off at the hill, I took a glove off and fumbled with my phone to see if Julia had left Lyme Regis and let her know that I was heading towards Blandford, after hanging up and working some weak broken lift up I glanced over my shoulder to see Grant climbing strongly over Milborne St Andrew, unable to resist but also aware of the difficulty of trying to find a thermal from below I barred back up wind and connected with the best thermal of the day so far.

Climbing to 5500ft asl we were up with wispys.

Just short of Blandford we spotted a blue wing below us which marked a thermal for me as it climbed up to us before heading off North, who were you? Passing overhead Blandford Grant passed close by to shout across that Martin Foley had passed the 60km mark, we later found out he had landed at Mere for 56km(51.3km open distance) and briefly held a new White Horse site record before I increased it by a mere 100 metres, Grant then went on to increase it by another 19.9km for a total open distance of 71.3km.

On hearing about Martin’s progress I glanced down at my GPS to see that we were about 30km from takeoff.

With a blue cloudless sky moving in to meet us, a back problem that was playing up after two hours in the air and almost within touching distance of being home I was starting to think about about my retrieve options again, but right on que I bumped into another thermal and it was game on again.  Topping out at just below 5000ft asl I looked North East towards Salisbury and started to wonder where my Daughter Kate would be on her Friday afternoon drive home from Brize Norton to Wimborne,?  Being cynical about RAF working hours I was convinced that she would already be at home, feet up on the sofa, but more fumbling with gloves and iPhone established that she was just North of salisbury and yes she would come and find me! Glancing to my left I could see that Grant was still pushing and was now a long way off to the North heading for the line of clouds, but I had changed tactics and was trying to stay out of no man’s land to the North of the very obvious and straight Salisbury to Blandford road which Kate would be following as far as Cranborne Chase on her way home.

The few weak thermals I found kept drawing off to the left so I accepted the inevitable made another call to Kate and started flying away from the main road, by now getting uncomfortably low.

A landing was inevitable as top cover starting put the ground in shade.

As I touched down I spotted a familiar looking Fiat Panda coming up the hill from the direction of Fifield Bavant.  A big thanks to the RAF keeping Kate working late ;-)          

Report by David Franklin

Having wasted most of the morning waiting for the breeze to pick at Ringstead (which it didn't) we decamped over to Whitehorse where appeared to at least be occasionally thermic. With very light southerly it was a case of waiting for the right moment lob off and float about till landing became more comfortable than rather intimate scratching. Quite late in the afternoon Grant and Marcus took a thermal over the back and painstakingly worked it into the distance. Around half an hour later another surprisingly good thermal came along which enabled me to try getting away accompanied by a young recently qualified pilot (Sam?) who was on holiday with his family at Durdle Door. It was a slow bitty affair over Broadmayne and I lost sight of Sam so am not sure where he ended up. It was fortunate that although there were no clouds there were a few bonfires which eventually got me high over Puddletown Forest. I had started to get a bit low when I reached Winterborne Houghton and took a powerful climb only to look up and see Grant and Marcus above me. They must have thought it a bit strange that once I had got up with them I immediately headed off cross wind. My aim had been to see if I could fly home something I had always fancied trying. My first venture over the back of any hill was at Whitehorse over twenty years ago, which ended near Dorchester. Whilst packing up I was greeted by a police 4wd hurtling across the field. They had had reports of a "parachutist landing in a tree". After a chat they kindly took me back to take off. How things have changed I would think most people now have some idea that paragliding exists. Any how back to getting home, there was a wispy bit of cloud towards Bell which translated into a decent climb, it felt most peculiar climbing towards the hill rather than away. I arrived over home at Plumber with loads of height and plenty of lift around it felt rather decadent just bimbling around watching the local farms harvesting and silaging whilst I slowly descended to the nearest choice field.

Report by Grant Oseland


The rubbish, burnt gorse infested, too close to the sea, mixed sea and land air, always blue sky above, crap hole that is White Horse Weymouth was the site for today. I really have never bonded with the White Horse as a flying site, having never had a good flight there before. It always seems to be smooth sea air mixed with small thermals from the land in front, giving very up and down conditions. Hearing tales of "this one time we all had 3000ft over the front cliff" just makes me think people are full of tall tales when referring to the Horse. Today was no different, an epic looking sky over the back just behind Dorchester but tantalisingly out of reach on a down wind glide. As Marcus Webster and I found out, as we climbed out the first time together to about 2000ft and tried to connect with some lift down wind. Failing miserably and landing out in the large Horse training stables downwind. Really rather disappointed to be walking back to take off watching Martin Foley climb out in similar conditions but making a better job of it than we had, he went on to do 56Km which claimed a new site record for the Horse. Back on take off nothing had changed, other than the inland clouds had pushed way back in land making Dorset pretty much blue. Bloody stupid Horse and it's stupid proximity to the sea and it's stupid burnt gorse and it's crap up and down, went my thought process. It was now about 14:30 and scratching was the main effort out in front of take off, along with picking lines out of burnt gorse bushes for some of the lucky pilots. Not prepared to give up I persevered and continued to struggle to find decent lift out front. Eventually finding something continuos to go up in, Marcus hooked in as well. A different mind set was required this time and that was to stick with the weak lift for as long as possible until we met up with the clouds way down wind. The lift was small and broken for a long time, only really finding a good climb past Puddletown. Marcus and I working in unison to find lift and maintain height. Somewhere over Milton Abby a blue Nova joined in below and then went off towards Bell Hill direction. Drifting on towards Blandford Forum Marcus and I both got a good climb from the back of the town. Shortly after we split up as Marcus had made plans for a ground pick up in the air near Bowerchalk. I slowly drifted on taking a chance that a far off cloud might work over Tollard Royal and indeed it did when I eventually got there. It took me up to some 6300ft which was nice, although this was really the last bit of good lift I connected with. Salisbury danger area was starting to make its presence know, so limiting progression in a Northerly direction. Looking at the map on Flyskyhy Amesbury was about as far as I could go before airspace would curtail things. Starting to get lower now I selected a field down wind right at the limit of airspace, just over the A303 and set up and landing route. As I started to get closer I noticed a rather large gathering of people standing in the field with a large collection of rocks. It took me a while to work out that I was looking at Stonehenge, that explains the people then! Too late to change fields I touched down and was meet straight away by the English Heritage staff who politely informed me that I was breaking the law, as this was private property and I was trespassing and also that I was in airspace. I had a chat with them and explained that I wasn't actually in airspace and it was about 10 meters that way. I apologised for landing there and told them that it wasn't intentional, I offered to pay them and informed I would be gone soon as I can pack up. They were not anal about it but did stay with me and escort me off, after showing me the quickest way to the path. For future reference the triangle field that Stonehenge is in, is the only one that is private property so please don't land in it like I did, I genuinely had no idea that you have to pay to see Stonehenge! The retrieve was amazing thanks to Livetrack and Telegram. Before I had even looked at my phone Rachel McCarron had called saying she was coming down the A303 and could give me lift back, so a big thank you for that. Still don't like the White Horse mind.

Thu 30 Jul 2015

Report by Grant Oseland


A fair few pilots on the hill today, with mixed conditions in the air, with some pilots finding it a bit strong and gusty down low at times. This was my first XC from Bell Hill this year and it was nice to spend it with Nigel Rendell, who for the first time ever got to Swanage! So big congratulations.

Thu 23 Jul 2015

Report by A Webb


What started off as a plan to fly St Aldhems for an hour then onto Ringstead ended up with a 5 hour flight to Kimmeridge and back. Dave Mc, RW, Gary P and Grant all enjoyed the steadily increasing and slowly moving south of west wind. Crossing Chapman’s pool to Houns tout proved the 1st challenge and after we all tried to cross, several times,  the conditions came round enough to jump the gap. The lower cliffs were working ok at this time, but couldn’t get round Rope lake head, feeling a bit rotary and low. Trying this run several times too, arriving a little higher each time and by now Grant had arrived also attempting the transition until success. The run down to kimmeridge and Clavell tower was much more into wind and an easier run. A beautiful stretch of the Dorset coastline with the best vantage point.

Report by Grant Oseland

A cracking day out on the Dorset coastline, I was a bit hesitant to come out today as I've been a little bit unwell over the past few weeks. It turned out to be eminently flyable at St A's today with some members getting five hours in the air. Myself and Alan Webb eventually getting around to the Clavell tower after quite a few attempts to get around a tricky bit of coastline that we kept getting drilled on. After we all landed we decided to head to Ringstead, as phone calls had been made that said it was flyable but strong. On arrival there was a hang glider on the cliffs but no paragliders up, but some had just landed. Again I wasn't intending to fly as I was planning on taking it a bit easier, but after seeing how easy it was get to the cliffs I decided to go flying, but not before getting "crusher" MacKay to move his rather large automobile, as he had rather inconveniently parked on my paragliding bag! Once airborne it was extremely easy to find lift on the cliffs. I thought I would try something a bit different once Neil M had marked some good lift on the Noath. I headed West to see how far I could get. Rather surprisingly I made it all the way to the headland that sticks out on theEast side of Bowleaze Cove by Eweleaze Farm campsite. Then even more surprisingly made it all the way back to Ringstead with an incredibly low save only about a metre above the beach to top land!

Sun 19 Jul 2015

Report by Everard Cunion

Another hang glider day at Ringstead, sunnier than the day before after a late change in the forecast, which originally called for heavy rain a gales. It was plenty turbulent on the hill though, but smooth at the cliff.

Conditions calmed down enough in the evening for one or two paragliders to soar the hill.


Sat 18 Jul 2015

Report by Everard Cunion


A handful of hangies from far and wide turned up at Ringstead. The wind went slightly south for a while, so we ventured round the corner, but I don't think anyone got as far as Lulworth Cove. The lift was not great and it diminished as the day clouded over.

Report by Gary Pocock


Arrived at Eype around 10am. Conditions seemed perfect however it wasn’t until the wind increased a little that Golden Cap opened for business and the run down to Charmouth and back seemed easy. A 2hour 45min fly in beautiful sunshine with very clear views. A great day finished off with a flight to the cliffs at Ringstead. Only a few shots at Eype as the camera packed up (some courtesy of Russell)    

Report by Shamus Pitts

Conditions at Eype this morning were just about the best I've experienced there, it was brilliant!  It was Martin B's first time there and I'd been warning him about the huge gaps to cross and the difficulty you can have getting on to Golden Cap but as it turned out it was all pretty easy!   The wind was pretty much bang on the cliff when we arrived about 11am, blowing 16 or 17 mph probably.  I took off and hung around the bowl building up height until Martin took off and was surprised to find myself nearly 400' ATO.  With that sort of height I decided to have a go at crossing West Bay rather than heading for Charmouth so I ventured across and arrived at the cliffs on the other side with plenty of height.  I pushed down to Freshwater and back but now I was about 150' lower than when I'd crossed the gap the first time.  I decided to try it anyway and arrived fairly low on the other side but by no means the lowest I've ever been!  I caught up with Martin just past Thorncombe beacon and watched another wing arrive on Golden Cap pretty high.  Martin went next and seemed never to drop below the top of Golden Cap as he made his way there, making it look far easier than I've ever known it.  I crossed too and arrived about 30' below the top, probably 400' higher than every other time I've been there!  The trip down to Charmouth was straight forward and coming back was no problem.  I built my height up on Thorncombe then Martin and I headed for West Bay.  Another easy crossing then on to Freshwater.  I wasn't sure the cliffs on the other side of Freshwater would be working very well but crossed anyway, arriving not much above cliff height, and found that there was lift there but not the height that we were used to.  We flew down to Hive then back to Freshwater but I couldn't get more than 100' ATO and didn't think it would be enough to cross the gap.  There was nothing much I could do though so went for it anyway, arriving at the opposite cliff just above the cliff top, again higher than I normally am when I've made that crossing before!  Back to West Bay and again I couldn't get more than 130' ATO - over 100' lower than last time I crossed this way.  It was a magic day though so off I glided, arriving low but not too low on the other side!  As if all that wasn't good enough, while I was burning height over the sea, setting up to land on the beach I wondered if it would be possible to land back on take off... I assumed it would be too strong but thought I'd try it, only to find it worked and I touched down neatly on the take off area, only to be joined by Martin a couple of minutes later - what a great morning!  The wind started to pick up soon after so we decided to quit while we were ahead and go home!

Thu 16 Jul 2015

Report by A Webb


Managed to get in the air at Ballard today with Gary P, RW and visiting Thames Valley Mick. Strong winds made the lower cliffs easily flyable and even ventured out to Old Harry Rocks. Good company with a Hercules flying back and forth in Bournemouth Bay.

Fri 10 Jul 2015

Report by Ian McGowan


Whitehorse - A coastal day of flying fun especially for red ribbon and low airtimers.

Too many too mention but Jason H, Dave C, that rare flyer John S Some close formation aerobatics and good airtime

Thu 09 Jul 2015

Report by Gary Pocock

A few pictures from a sunny afternoon at Ringstead. Conditions at T/O were on the strong side and a bit rock n roll but it did make for an easier transition to the cliffs which were fairly smooth and buoyant. It was a relaxing afternoon following a hot sweaty morning and lunchtime at Bell which was proving unproductive. Hopefully we were the sacrifice needed as there were quite a few patient pilots waiting for some wind.

Report by Mike Drew


Torn between Bell and Ringstead after work and very happy with my eventual choice! The ridge was pretty unpleasant at Ringstead and you were never sure what your wing would do next. Once on the cliffs it was silky smooth and plenty of height to play around. It was flyable well in to the evening but not as many people as expected there to enjoy it. Present were RW, Gary P, Ian Mc, Charles CS, Tim O, a tandem and a couple of others.

Sun 05 Jul 2015

Report by David Almond


The chance of an early start from Durdle Door with a coastal run to Ringstead couldn’t be missed. Just after 10:00 the wind speed increased to a level which sustained flight and with that 5 or 6 paragliders were in the air. Myself, Dave McKay, Russell W, Nigel Rendall, Graham ? from N. Ireland and a couple of others I didn’t get to speak with before take-off.

Several of us reached the old house on the outcrop at Ringstead but 45 minutes into the flight and wind speeds had increased to a point where it was now time to land. That however was easier said than done, but eventually we all made it safely down with many of us making much use of big ears and speed bar.

I was last man down and everyone had a bird’s eye view of my technique(s) J a full frontal and asymmetric collapse curtesy of the door, focused the mind and inspired me to consider alternative actions, which eventually led to a safe landing.

Youtube link for a short video of our time: one or both links should work: http://youtu.be/RY9Cg7yh6VM https://youtu.be/RY9Cg7yh6VM 

Report by A Webb


Arrived at Durdle door just in time to catch the increasing wind. The wind speed was increasing every minute whilst in the air making slow progress to the White Nothe. Height by now was IRO 1300 ASL, penetration as RW likes to call it was slow and the increasing quantity of white horses were starting to think about landing options. Heading back to Lulworth, I always wanted to take some aerial shots directly over the cove, which was easy to do, but once pointing back into wind, the groundspeed was now down to 2 mph. With Full speed bar and big ears, I was able to “penetrate” out to sea and lose enough height to make a dash for the Landing zone, only releasing ear and bar at the point of landing. Everybody landed safely, meaning they all walked away with only small scratches! Best opportunity to fly for at least the next few days.

Sat 04 Jul 2015

Report by Everard Cunion


Adam in his new Wills Wing U-2 (visible in the photo) and John A (flying his Airborne C4 for the first time in a while) and me caught some evening convergence at Ringstead.

Thu 02 Jul 2015

Report by David Franklin


We had one of those cracking evenings floating about above Bell tonight a 2 1/2 hour  reminder of how good things can turn out.

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