Eye in the Sky - September 2015

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Sat 26 Sep 2015

Report by Grant Oseland


A Classic Portland East day on Saturday, with a High pressure system sitting over the UK giving a Easterly flow to the air and a nice blue sky. Russell W flying his Sigma 9 and me flying an old loaner sock (which I'm very grateful for the loan of Marcus!) Then joined later on by Nigel R, who I think was doing some research into a new book he is writing entitled "The art of taking off€ It should be a good read when it comes out! Lovely conditions, gradually increasing as the day went on until landing was a good decision, as there are not many options when the wind picks up here.

Fri 25 Sep 2015

Report by Neil Mccain

After I landed at Durleston Head I met a lovely elderly couple who were enjoying the early autumn sunshine. He was interested in the kit, she in my story. Poetry and science - what a good way to sum up our sport! I'd felt in the grip of both during my flight.... I launched just before midday as everything was going up, but I was too far below those already flying to make any serious attempt to join them and had to content myself with getting a feel for the air. Pretty smooth, I thought, with the thermals clearly signalled by sink all around them. Feel the wing surge into that sink and hear the vario grumble and you knew the rising air would be just on the other side. I got into a good climb in front of the magic tree this way and circled up to about 2,500' asl. Gary P was above me and for a while I thought I might get up to him and we could work it together. But somehow my climb seemed to tail off and I lost confidence in my position. I decided to go back to the hill and start again, dolefully watching as Gary glided off downwind.

Back at the ridge conditions had deteriorated. Three or four of us scratched away but it went so light that we were practicing slope landings on the lower slopes. As a couple of pilots took a break conditions changed again and it got quite gusty, dictating a cobra launch. A huge cloud over Okeford beckoned - could I link up with it? At the north end of the ridge I spotted some crows circling below it and I joined them to reach five or six hundred feet ato, but like so many times before it fizzled out and I began to work my way back to take off. And then when I least expected it I flew right into a zinger of a climb! My vario was given a proper workout and I could feel the ground shrinking below me as I zoomed up in smooth, quick lift. I focused on weight shifting to achieve my bank angle (I'd been reading about it just yesterday), using my brakes to control pitch in the turn. Weeeee! I was within touching distance of base before I'd drifted over the back field and I knew I was off at last.

At base I realised conditions weren't quite as peachy as I hoped - the cloud street was heading towards Bournemouth rather than Swanage and there was a big blue hole above the course I wanted to take. I dawdled for a while, enjoying the view, and then decided to head for a cloud on the edge of the street. I figured if I could top up my height there I could cross the gap and get across to some other clouds more in line with my goal. But when I arrived the cloud was decaying and I was left with little option but glide on. I hoped that the little hamlet of Winterbourne Zelston would act as a thermal trigger to save me although I feared my flight the woods and bogs of Wareham Forest would terminate my flight at Bloxworth. A chirrup from the vario persuaded me to stay and search for more. Slowly, carefully, I built my height back up until crossing the forest was no longer an issue. My track flirted with Bournemouth airspace but I was already looking ahead and trying to figure out if I could reach Swanage.

My confidence seemed justified as I circled over Sandford. The upper reaches of the harbour were acting as a trigger point and there was lots of lift boosting me towards the oil plant at Wytch Farm. The views eastwards over Poole were fantastic with the warm afternoon light honeying the town. The cross channel ferry was making stately progress between rows of yachts lined up like a watery guard of honour - the whole scene was like a toytown diorama. Once again I paused, savouring the feeling of just being there rather than focusing on where I was going. Finally a lone cloud above Knitson allowed me to top up my height to guarantee a glide across the valley to Durleston. Swanage at last! For me, getting back is as much a part of the adventure. Today was a Jam Day! I walked through Swanage, aiming to start hitching near to the new secondary school. Just before I got there a scaffolding lorry passed me. It stopped for refreshments at the same newsagent I went into; the driver was in front of me in the queue. It was too good an opportunity not to ask him, and a couple of minutes later I was riding tall in the cab on my way to Wareham! Nice chap - turned out he knew Ali! Next, I set myself up at the beginning of the road through the forest to Bere Regis. I'd only been there a couple of minutes when Ryan (teaching assistant with autistic kids) picked me up. I asked him how far he was going. "Less than a hundred yards!", he replied, "But I've got time today - I'll take you to Bere!" Once he'd dropped me off I walked to the turn off for Winterbourne Kingston and within five minutes another lift arrived - to Blandford! James, a supply teacher, said he stopped because he was intrigued by my 'Glider Pilot' sign and wouldn't stop laughing when I told him the glider was in the bag I'd put in the boot of his car! Finally, my neighbour offered to drive me back to my car, even pootling up the track to save me the walk! See - dead jammy! It's been a while since I managed to get to Swanage and back - this one will stay long in the memory. Happy days!

Report by David Franklin


Today promised to quite good around mid day,which it was.Unfortunately I I fell foul of the "first away first to land "curse.What really put me on the deck was I left a good climb near Winterborne Muston because the drift seemed to be taking me rather easterly and I didn't want a slow push across wind to get round airspace  so I made an early dash across Bloxworth to a reasonable looking cloud which saw me landing on a track in Wareham forest. I then had to pack up and watch someone climb right above me into the cloud and carry on coastward,a lovely way to spend a sunny autumn day.

Report by Shamus Pitts


I had a nice couple of hours at Westbury today.  I wasn't sure there'd be enough wind but most of the time it was fine, although it seemed a bit off to the west.  Thermals were surprisingly strong although hard to work and I couldn't get more than 400' ATO but I had no plans to go XC so just enjoyed the ups and downs on the ridge.

Sun 20 Sep 2015

Report by Ruth Kelly


Ringstead - More of an eye on the ground than in the sky: I felt a bit tired and dopey so decided not to fly. I've learned of the consequences of flying whilst tired and dopey the hard way. And that was at Ringstead too.

Anyway: another slightly curious day at Ringers. I gather that conditions had been good first thing in the morning, but when we arrive around midday it was light and thermic. Getting to the cliffs seemed a little unpredictable, and depended on catching a bubble of lift at the right moment. Most people made it okay but not a few bombed out, and at least one (or was it two?) ended up getting rescued by the Coastguard. Many things to be discussed: some bad behaviour on the take-off ridge leading to some near misses and one reported mid-air, albeit without too much consequence. Difficulties getting a couple of visiting pilots to land when the Coastguard helicopter was trying to approach the cliffs for rescue purposes. Even Russell's brass lungs couldn't bring them down, although Paul Hawkins in sheepdog-mode did.

Apart from all the chaos (and comedy) a good day was had by most. Dynamic lift on the cliffs wasn't huge, but there were sea thermals to play in. And at the end of the day a couple of happy pilots enjoyed a very mellow boat about.

My pictures were taken at the end of the day, from the White Nothe and from about half way down the smugglers path from the Nothe to the undercliff. 

Report by Phil Venn


Côte de Sud? Non. Quelle domage.

However Brunas although a tad blustery was do-able after all. I'll admit to two attempts to get airborne, then I turned right towards the aerials with a height gain on the way of just over 800 mtrs (2800' in old money). Pushed upwind from there to get over Millau, thinking to go land at Millau Plage. Got within an easy glide of the landing, then thought €œwhy waste all this height?€. So I turned left to see if I could make it over the bridge. The photo's speak for themselves. Having ticked that box I tried to get back  above the aerials for another crack at Millau Plage. Unfortunately an increase in headwind and an absence of the earlier height gain resulted in an an overwhelming sense of car suck which brought on a top landing behind launch. In all about a 15km triangle with 1hr 9mins airtime. Happy bunny.

If anyone is interested in our vagabond lifestyle, Jay and I are heading for Spain on Tuesday. Santa Pola anybody?  

Report by Trevor Lee


What an interesting day! Peter Robinson first to the cliffs after a long break away from flying.

Wind variable between SSW & SW allowing the few to try for a coast run. Thermals on the cliffs giving some good height gains. Russell W getting high on his Sigma 9. Grant O first on his borrowed Malula, then Tandem with Lesley down to Durdle Door followed by Russell W, Neil W and a Polish Pilot? Red ribbons enjoying themselves. 12 on the cliffs at one point.

Unfortunately one Pilot landed in an inhospitable place and another below the cliff both rescued by Coastguard Helicopter ( no injuries).Which inevitably grounded us all for an hour as two visiting Pilots continued to fly believing the helicopter was on manoeuvres. Paul H was the brave one to go back out and talk them down. Several beach landings due to scratchy conditions but Paul M showing true grit and determination by staying in front of Holworth House for a good forty minutes before ascending to the cliffs. Pat H successful on his maiden flight and flying fun for many. A busy day all in all.

Sun 06 Sep 2015

Report by Everard Cunion


It was long ago In the early morning glow When it all began with Adam and Eve.

While Sean S flew his paramotor from this blue day at Bell Hill to the coast to see if conditions were any better at Ringstead, I managed to photograph one of the new paraglider sail patterns that I mentioned last time. I got above the paragliders just by standing on the hill...

While the colour schemes have improved, the naming problem (inherited from hang gliding I fear) persists. This particular example is called Adam. After Adam Ant? The guy I asked about it was adamant that it was named after the Biblical character who made the first paraglider out of interwoven fig leaves to hide his embarrassment about not having any clothes to wear. (Having been educated in UK state schools during the era of science and technology, I am somewhat hazy about such tales.) Eventually, I launched my hang glider into a breeze so light it barely ruffled the sail. Three minutes later, I landed at the bottom. Would you Adam and Eve it! 'Children of Paradise', Boney M, 1980 (YouTube video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrmjmIYIsCY

Report from Ringstead


Sunday at Ringstead€¦

Wed 02 Sep 2015

Report by Marc Taylor


Bell - What a good looking sky. The morning saw the Flyability Team under the tutelage of Gaz Mullins, what an incredible day, they had lots of "Whoops and Wails of Joy! Brilliant to watch.

The thermals were dripping through in the morning allowing an easy approach to cloudbase at 2500'AMSL, so quite low.No air prox BUT it looked like Nigel was in the direct path of one of those JET things. It didnt change much but in the afternoon the thermals were on the feisty side allowing Pete C , Neil Mc and Darren to flop over the back, So many on the hill on a working day?

Tue 01 Sep 2015

Report by Shamus Pitts


A funny old day at Bell today.  Some enormous clouds made for a fairly lively morning at times with more lift than we really needed - in fact it was hard to get down at times, with big clouds everywhere drawing us towards them.  As the day went on though things calmed down, with scratchier conditions interspersed with more useable thermals and stronger wind.  Cloudbase remained fairly low and cloud tops fairly high so I wasn't too keen on going over the back, besides the sea breeze was visible and conditions didn't look great downwind - it probably would've been a fairly easy dash to Swanage this morning but you might've arrived there 10000' up and stuck in cloud!  Discretion they say etc etc

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