Eye in the Sky - August 2016

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Wed 31 Aug 2016

Photos from Ringstead


Mon 29 Aug 2016

Photos from Bell Hill


Report by Ben Holt

My first XC attempt I checked RASP and gfs on Sunday and decided that Monday would be my first attempt at XC, expecting to flop over the back to Stickland but secretly hoping for swanage! I soaked up valuable tips from Grant O and Sean S on the hill in preparation. The morning was busy with lots of pilots flying short but frequent thermic cycles. The nice looking clouds out front seemed to be coming to the end of their cycles as they reached the hill top. But I kept optimistic as conditions were steadily improving and I wanted to wait until I was sure of a decent thermal to leave on.

Around lunch time that one arrived and I found myself leaving the hill climbing out with Grant, Andy, Russell and Dave. We got to cloud base and stayed with it over Stickland when I noticed James below about halfway to cloud base. The gaggle seemed to go separate ways with Grant and Andy pushing on to wareham on their faster wings.

I stayed with the lift as long as possible before choosing a decent looking cloud over Wareham forest marked by Grant and Andy at its base. Unsure how long it would remain working I whacked on full bar and went for it. I hit decent lift as I approached the upwind edge at about 2500' and went back to cloud base. I was suprised to see James with me still but very low over the forest and Russell bombing out just past Bere Regis. I made my way over to Wareham and Stoborough still with Andy and Grant at base.

Grant broke away to run for Swanage and here I made my first mistake. Rather that staying with the lift, I attempted to follow Grant. Bad idea trying to follow on a low B Epsilon! I assumed (my second mistake) that there was a sea breeze headwind so I put on full bar to try to keep up, severely affecting my glide. I was getting lower by corfe so I altered course to try for thermals coming off the ridge, this didn't pay off and cost more height rather than heading straight for Swanage. I then followed the road to Swanage and circled in scrappy lift over Harmans cross, landing a little further on 2km short of Swanage. Just after I landed I was very impressed to see James and Dave fly over me making the school at Swanage! It was a fantastic experience that will be remembered for a long time to come, and I can't wait for my next Xc and the BCC next season. Thanks to Grant and Sean for the tips and Andrea for the retrieve.

You can see the track logs here: https://doarama.com/view/926565 And some GoPro footage here: https://youtu.be/n0FdTimt0I0

Thu 18 Aug 2016

Report by Ben Holt

Some nice floaty thermals at White Horse after work today. Nice to meet the great Peter R flying up on the hill, showing us all how it should be done!

Sat 13 Aug 2016

Report by Everard Cunion


The French and Germans outnumbered the Brits at Ringstead. When I arrived, about ten paragliders were flying in hazy sunshine speckled with cloud shadows, but by the time I was rigged, an overcast had developed. The two other hang gliders there nevertheless soared the cliff while the paragliders all landed because of a strengthening westerly wind. After an hour, the hang gliders also landed just when the day began to brighten again, but at the same time a mass of orographic cloud formed on the cliff.

Eventually, the orographic cloud dissipated and wings took to the air again.

More: https://everardcunion.wordpress.com/hang-gliding-2016-part-3/#HazardousCliff

Report by Grant Oseland

Another fun filled day at the coast for the Wessex crew. Lots of flying to be had in a mix of weather conditions, Gordon C and James S making it down to Charmouth for the first time. A few landing out on the beach and having long walk outs, and a couple taking full on cliff assaults.

Pictures from Ringstead


Wed 10 Aug 2016

Report by Peter Robinson

I'm more of a 'wuss' than I was. So on Wednesday at Bell I was reluctant to fly fearing that I would get blown about on take off. Eventually I persuaded myself that I should give it a go as did my flying buddy, Martin Foley. The wind cooperated by dropping to a comfortable level just as I got ready. One beat along to the the magic tree - on the way there Grant shouted to alert me to the fact that he was just inside and a little behind me - and straight into a solid climb.. Nobody joined me on my climb and it was all so quick that I was close to 3000ASL before my slow old Garmin had found enough satellites.

From a distance Swanage looked quite dark and overclouded but brightened up as I approached. At one point it looked doubtful I would make it over the Corfe ridge but as usual the ridge triggered a saving thermal. I controlled this and subsequent lift so as not to get too high. As I approached the regular landing field at Durlston Head I thought I had got the glide path spot to land beside Gary who had touched down a few minutes earlier. Well I was wrong. Until the very last minute I thought that I would make it but, a second or two too late I diverted into the lower field and in doing so put the tip onto the blackthorn hedge dividing the fields.

This needed a ladder to rest against the hedge so that I could free the tip lines. I knew that the National Trust had a ladder at their Visitor Centre. How did I know? Well 10 years ago I unwisely tried to land in the park area downwind of the Centre and found myself going backwards in a strong sea breeze. I ended up in a tree (it could have been far worse) and one of the NT Rangers, Katie, helped me down with a ladder. The glider had seemed impossibly tangled so I thought I would come come back later with my son. When I did we found the increasing wind had freed the glider and it had gone, gone out to sea never to be seen again.

It was again Katie who helped me with the blackthorn. She found it funny. Despite the mishap it was nice to do this Swanage run again, 2 years since my last XC and 36 years after I had been the first ever to XC from Bell (but on a hang glider of course).

Report by Paul Maidment

Bell Hill - After seeing a couple of paragliders working there way over Winterborne Stickland whilst I was driving to Bell hill on Tuesday, then getting a ass kicking in some pretty rough air and then hearing Gordon C did his first xc to Swanage (well done Gordon) made me a bit more determined for Wednesday not having made Swanage myself YET. I arrived a bit earlier on Wednesday as not to get caught by the strongest part of the day again, I was in the air by about twelve flew over to the bowl and the air was as rough as the day before, I got into a 3.9m up until I reached about 1200 ato when I went straight from 3.9 up to 3.0 down with my butt leaving the harness, I caught the dive and decided to push forward then the same thing but not so aggressive this time, ok if I want a roller coaster ride I will go to Thorpe park and I do this for fun were a couple of thoughts running through my head, and time to land was the main thought Swanage can wait for a better day for me, but I did get a good view of the Bell hill crop circles.

Report by Everard Cunion


Bell Hill: The mid afternoon thermals of early August carried some paragliders flown by skilled pilots all the way to the coast. Steve W in his rigid hang glider flew for several hours, sometimes a speck near cloud-base, other times zooming by below the hill top.

I launched into a mix of punchy thermals with sink in between. I never rose above the height of the hill top and I landed after nine minutes in the air. A wild ride.

More: https://everardcunion.wordpress.com/hang-gliding-2016-part-3/#CrossingTheStreet
Sat 06 Aug 2016

Report by Ben Holt


An early start for Mark, Russell and myself at St Aldhelms on Friday. 16-18 mph was top end but flyable for 40 mins before it blew out.

Saturday seemed to be a Wessex day out at Eype, lots of members flying the coast down to Seatown, only Grant made it past Golden Cap down past Charmouth. Grant, Russell and myself made it over west bay down to freshwater. A very nice day out in the sun for all involved.

Pictures from Eype


Report by Everard Cunion


Ringstead - again we encountered a westerly wind that became gusty in the heat of mid afternoon. This photo of British champion Grant C, who borrowed my wing, illustrates the orographic cloud that formed above the cliff.

More: https://everardcunion.wordpress.com/hang-gliding-2016-part-3/#HazardsOfTheCloud

Report by Shamus Pitts

Fun in the sun at Eype today despite a tortuous 3 hour drive down from Shaftesbury because people seem unable to drive their cars along clearly defined roads without bashing them in to things...

As I sat in traffic in Bridport I could see 7 wings in the air which added to my frustration but I eventually arrived at Eype. It was pretty windy on take off but I was soon in the air. The wind was a lot more off to the west than forecast - I was expecting it to be SSW but it was on the west side of SW but the strength produced lots of lift so all was good. I could only manage about 500' ATO at Thorncombe beacon which dropped to 400' by the time I got to the cliffs east of Seatown. Pushing towards Golden Cap reduced my height quickly and I realised that it wasn't going to be possible to get there. I headed off to West Bay instead. I could see Grant the other side of West Bay so decided to try the glide over, despite only being 140' ATO. I made it okay and found plenty of lift on the other side but possibly not enough height to get back. Russell soon joined me and after floating backwards and forwards for a while I decided to see if I could get back. I arrived on the other side pretty low but soon built my height back up and headed to Thorncombe again. This time it was working really well and I was soon 600' ATO. I didn't lose much height as I headed to Seatown so decided to push on to Golden Cap.

I arrived at Golden Cap much higher than I'm used to but it felt strange. I found it hard to find the lift band, it seemed like the wind was changing. I scratched about and pushed out in front and eventually found some decent lift which took me to 900' ATO - I could have gone higher but Charmouth looked so easy from that height that I trundled off towards it. The trouble with leaving Golden Cap with a lot of height is that it takes a while to work out if the cliffs at Charmouth are working as you can arrive above the lift band. It turns out this time they weren't working very well and after trying unsuccessfully to get much height I made a dash back towards Golden Cap but ended up landing on the beach. After half an hour of sweaty walking I was about two thirds of the way up Golden Cap looking for somewhere to launch. I found a (un)likely spot and after many failed attempts managed to get myself over the edge of the cliff with the majority of my wing inflated! Golden Cap still felt weird so I didn't hang about, heading straight for Seatown and arriving low.

I think by now the cliffs were releasing some of the heat that they'd soaked up in the day as the air was rough, gusty and unpredictable. In some places I was hoovered up the cliffs, only to be dumped in others, with the wind coming from all different directions - the birds seemed to be loving it though, dancing and diving in the air. I picked up some height and went for a lumpy glide back to Eype, landing gently on the beach to a round of applause!

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