Eye in the Sky - May 2016

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Mon 30 May 2016

Report by Everard Cunion


A strong and turbulent day for the hang gliders at Monk's Down.

More: https://everardcunion.wordpress.com/hang-gliding-2016#MonksMay29
Sun 29 May 2016

Report by Grant Oseland


It was a bit windy today at the old Maiden Castle, some say it was rougher than a Rhino's dangly bits in the air. Lots of para waiting on the side of the hill, until the wind dropped a tiny amount to allow idiots to get airborne. Maiden Castle for those that haven't flown there, has a reputation for being active in the air at the best of times. Today was no different. Thermals smashed by strong wind making it difficult to core, until up high and away from the hill. Good practice site for bumpy conditions. After two separate thermic cycles had taken me to over a 1000ft and back down again in the sink, I decided to go with the third cycle. There is not really very far to go downwind from Maiden Castle, before the option of getting wet in the sea presents itself. Still enjoyable all the same.

Report by James Smith


What an introduction to Maiden Castle. Lumpy, bumpy, thermic and strong.

Everyone said its "normal", I can say it was up & down ( and some ) and I did use speedbar.

Lots of height could be gained out front as the more experienced Pilots proved.  There were several short flights by several others then it picked up too strong to fly and then after a 2 hour wait Russell W braved the sky to show it was do-able to a degree. Others followed but after 30 mins decided to land. Grant O. broke the Site Record by making Portland  

Mon 23 May 2016

Report by Roger Edwards


As I approached Bell Hill I decided not to fly. What those already on the hill couldn't see were the towers popping out of the top of the carpet of Cu above them. Despite that, conditions proved flyable and and the sky slowly began to look less threatening. The result was  a day of great thermal practice for all there, though 2000ft seemed to be the ceiling. When the sun came out at 3 o'clock, I hopped over the back in something nice and solid, ending up low at the Stickland aerial. There was activity in front of the aerial, but unfortunately the ominous spike was perfectly placed to spoil the desired turn in the dribs and drabs coming through. Landing was probably for the best as it wasn't long before the rain came through. A thoroughly enjoyable day.

Sun 22 May 2016

Photos from Ringstead


Thu 19 May 2016

Report by Tim Mowatt


The Hive / Eype Coast Run Looked likely to pick up but first 2 had to land on beach at Eype Mouth as the wind lulled for a moment or two.

The run was from the Hive with a strong westerly element, Crossed Freshwater and West Bay with not too much height but made it to John H waving from Eype T.O. The wind came round more to SW but strengthened still allowing the return journey for some playtime at Hive. Andrew P threw his BGD Cure about enthralling us all. Also there Robert M, Willy ?, Russell-Hesketh R, Russell W and Dutch Pilot on a Little Cloud who didnt seem to have any success at getting airborne.

Report by Sean Staines

Whitesheet - Neil, Gary, Marcus, Ian, Chris and me all saw an opportunity for a getaway today and were on the hill ready to go by 11:30. All but Chris managed to climb out in the one and only thermal as a gaggle and worked together. Neil was lower than the rest of us but did a tremendous job to keep going and made it most of the way to Salisbury.

Gary, Marcus and I split up above Salisbury racecourse. Gary headed off to join up with Ian who'd gone on ahead, with Marcus following on a parallel track. I spotted a cloud towards Salisbury hospital and when to see if it was working, to be rewarded by lift. Not much of it, but enough to maintain.

I saw Marcus get decked and was delighted to creep past him at about 1500ft, still moving along in my weak lift. Tortoise and Hare. The lift strengthened a bit over some woodland and I spotted Ian ahead and quite low. It looked like he might be setting up for a landing, but I lost sight of him.

I was exceptionally patient for me, clinging on to pathetically weak lift, maintaining and letting the prevailing wind carry me along. I had to divert south a bit when I approached Middle Wallop ATZ, but ran straight into more lift which kept me going all the way to Stockbridge. I had a pretty sinky ride across the river valley but picked up another weak climb near Chilbolton which I used to get me to Sutton Scotney   From there I tried to push north a bit to avoid Popham as I wasn't very high, about 2500ft. I set off on a glide towards Overton and found nothing more so set up to land at the recreation ground.

A new personal best straight line distance for me of 64.5km. An excellent week so far with XCs on four out of the last six days.

Tue 17 May 2016

Report by Jason Hemmings


Ringstead - Early start, Russell W and Malcolm W ( Devon ) already setting up. Forecast to increase and it did, but there was a brief lull allowing a second visit to the cliffs. Good height gains so I played at big ears and some other movements. Dr A and Andy? from Poole joined us on the cliffs. One hangie on an ATOS and another rigging but then it got blown out so back to work. Thanks to Russell for the photos.

Mon 16 May 2016

Report by Sean Staines


Swallowcliffe - After an excellent day the day before Chris Morrell and I formed plans to fly into the New Forest under the airspace to our chosen destinations. I bombed at 18km on my first attempt but on the second go I made it as far as Minstead to land at exactly the same spot Chris had landed a few hours earlier. Another excellent day.

Report by Ben Holt


Bell Hill - As a low airtime red ribbon pilot, and with the shifting wind conditions, I seem to end up at a different new site each time. After a good weekends flying two new sites for me (Monks and Batcombe), Monday saw me completing my maiden flight at our very own Bell Hill.

I arrived at about 10:30 having had some gratefully received thermal flying tips on the way from Russell L. Several paragliders were in the air as we arrived then landed as the wind picked up for a while. By midday it had settled down nicely and I set myself up.

Following the tips I had received earlier, I waited to feel the thermal before launching. I must have done something right as I quickly found myself in a nice thermal doing S turns until safely above the hill. It was more turbulent than I had experienced before and some of the more punchy thermals I chose to fly through rather than turn in. Before long I found myself top of the stack as one above me went off xc. Feeling a nice smooth thermal at about 550' above the hill I went for two 360's. I was very tempted to carry on circling over the back but common sense told me to push out forward from the hill. Lift was replaced by lumpy sink as I made my way back to land near takeoff for what was my best and highest flight yet.

Thanks to Russell and everyone else that day who offered their tips for success. Looking forward to my next goal of making it to cloud base.

Ground photos by Russell L

Sun 15 May 2016

Report by Sean Staines

Swallowcliffe -  Rasp showed the sea breeze coming in a long way at Bell making any XC flight very difficult. Swallowcliffe looked a good option to me and I put home at Brockenhurst in as declared goal. In my experience it can be a very thermic site but I struggled to start with. Only the odd thermic cycle was coming through and I was getting pretty despondent.     I spotted a buzzard circling just in front of the copse at the bottom of the hill and just had enough height to get out in front of the trees. It was a very scrappy climb that got me about 500ft above take off. I pushed forward to the trees again and got into a good solid climb that took me to base at around 4300 and set off towards a nice cloud above Bowerchalk. The clouds were working well and the glides allowed me to keep on track towards my turn point at Stoney cross.

I was pretty low at Damerham, down to 1600ft, before I found a very week climb. 20 minutes of continuous thermalling eventually got me back up to base near Alderholt. I glided to a lovely cloud above Fordingbridge which allowed me to top back up with what looked like enough height to get to Stoney cross.

I was into the new forest now and had a pretty buoyant glide in the direction of Fritham. I arrived on the edge of the 2500ft airspace a little high for comfort and flew around in some sink to get down and crossed the 2500ft boundary just below 2000ft. The glide across the dual carriageway in the direction of Lyndhurst had me down to 1750ft at the 2000ft boundary.

  I have reconnoitred this route using the paramotor and knew that it was just about possible to keep an emergency landing option open using the few patches of open ground between the trees.

Halfway towards Emery Down from Stoney and down to 1050ft I found a nice week climb. A combination of thermalling and Big ears and bar took me another few km further south when I decided to leave it at 1500ft and go on a glide towards goal which I could see in the distance.

Just when I didn't want it, I hit very strong lift and even with big big ears and bar I was still going up. I got airspace warnings on my instruments, unhelpfully blocking out the altitude reading on the vario. I managed to find some sink and set off on a glide, still with big ears and bar, towards  goal.

The glide had me down to 550ft still about 4km from goal and I knew I needed some luck. Fortunately I found a nice dribbler that kept me around 600ft and halved the distance to goal. Thinking I had it in the bag I set off on a glide and immediately into sink. F*%&, straight onto the bar to push through it and I watched the instrument count down to the goal 400m cylinder. I just made it getting 200m into the cylinder before landing.

Andrea had seen me climb out and tracked me by radio to be there to see me land almost at the end of the road to my house.

It turned out to be a new site record of 39.5km open distance and 42.2 with turn points. It has long been an ambition of mine to make this flight  and was amazing to achieve it.

Report by James Smith


Bell Hill - two days in a row and at the weekend. Amazing, got to the top of the stack thanks to the "Bassano Boys" for all their help. Russell W managed to get some shots, dont know how as the thermals were a little gnarly. Lots of flying throughout the day and some XCs. Neil H, to Langton Matravers, Ali F, to Bere Regis, Pete C & Gary P to somewhere the other side of Blandford. It was still flyable at 1800hrs. Good to see Flying Frenzy doing the "Flyability". Brilliant awesome day not to be forgotten.

Report from Bell Hill


A long lost friend and flyer carried out a secret mission at Bell today. Last seen over a year ago and normally cycling the Eastern end of the Pyrenees. The "Great", The "Famous/Infamous" well known and sadly missed Dave Moores.

Arrived said Hello, took off on an old Gin Oasis, got straight to cloudbase, landed after 30mins had a cup of tea and cycled off to Sydling St Nicholas and then Poole. You should see the size of his thighs? "MASSIVE".

Report by Alastair Florence

A bit of an up and downy sort of day at Bell. Weakish cycles were coming through in the morning and after a while a bigish slightly stronger one came through which saw a lot of pilots with good height.

I took my chance to leave the hill and started another long drawn out dribble down wind in weak bitty and at times gnarly, non user friendly lift.

Eventually even the dribbles seemed to desert me and I started a sledge ride for Bere Regis, I arrived at the house thermal trigger point East of the Shell garage with a couple of hundred foot over the ground.

There was something trying to bubble up in front of the trees but I was getting beat around quite a bit so decided to give up and do Swanage again another day.

Many thanks to Nigel and Marcia R (and of course Ollie) for taking a detour to retrieve me.

Meanwhile back at the hill cycles continued through the afternoon with some quite smooth and half decent boat abouts but not really any energy left in the sky.

Sat 14 May 2016

Report by Everard Cunion


Monksdown - Another 'up and down' day for the paragliders. Mainly 'down' for the hang gliders!
More: https://everardcunion.wordpress.com/hang-gliding-2016#MonksMay14

Report by James Smith


Monksdown - Early start for 2 Red Ribbons before it picked up. Them a waiting game until a "Wind Technician"  Sean Staines took to the air, looked bumpy so we still stuck to the ground. Then from Hero to Zero with thermic cycles and there were lots in the air including the Hangies. Marcus T made Swanage and Marcus W made Weymouth. Lots of others made stops in between. Great day for practising flying in crowded skies. Photos by Russell W

Tue 03 May 2016

Mystery Report

Enjoyment of 4 different Sites in a day - can you name them?

Report by Shamus Pitts


It was nice to finally take to the skies again after what seems like months of no flying.  The wind was stronger than forecast on takeoff at Telegraph hill and I was starting to get nervous as I watched Sean S and Adrian C battling with their wings but after a while there was a lull and we could get airborne.  The air was good a lifty and Sean and I took a thermal up to about 800' ATO before deciding that it wasn't the one to take over the back.  We pushed out in front of the hill until we got low then headed back to the security of the ridge, only to discover that the lift had disappeared and we ended up scratching around the bottom trees, setting up for an imminent landing.  As luck would have it a huge gust came through and hoovered us back up the hill before pinning me briefly.  Once it calmed down a little I found it was actually a huge lump of lift coming through so Sean and I worked up to 2500' ATO and took it over the back.  Sean seemed able to stay high but I ended up getting lower and lower - there was lift about but I couldn't turn in it, I think it might have been the wind bouncing over the hills rather than anything very thermic.  I lost sight of Sean but managed to stay airborne until I picked up a decent climb near Cheselbourne which took me just about to cloudbase at 4500', right on the edge of the sea-breeze front.  I couldn't decide whether to head east or go to Swanage so started heading east, only to change my mind later on.  I was quite a way behind the ridge with Bell on and thought that if I was to go east I should be much closer to the ridge so changed my plan and headed off towards Swanage.  Unfortunately all I found was sink from then on and found myself on the ground not far from Bere Regis.  Just as I landed Sean phoned to say that he was just past Bere Regis so would come and get me, which was great!  Thanks Sean and Andrea!  We went to Bell afterwards but arrived too late and found the wind well off to the West.  I didn't make it to Swanage but still a great day, nice to see everyone and get back in the air again!

Sun 01 May 2016

Pictures from Ringstead


Report by Grant Oseland

An early start for a Sunday at Ringstead, the forecast was for it to blow out quickly and be SW. On arriving at launch one or two paragliders were already on the cliffs, early bird catches the worm and all that. The wind was already top end and by the time I had unpacked, wings were already around the corner of the White Nothe showing that there must be south in the wind! Bank holiday weekend with a SSW wind, ranges shut down, Gadd cliff run on the cards. Once in the air the wind picked up and white horses appeared on the sea, but penetration was not a problem. Russell W and Dave M enjoying runs down to Durdle Door and back. I took the opportunity to pop down to Gadd cliff, and once there had difficulty deciding what way to go next, in the end coming up with the plan to reverse course and see if Bowleaze cove would be possible in the other direction. Turns out it was. A very nice Sunday morning taking in some of the Jurassic coast views from the air.

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