Eye in the Sky - September 2016
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Wed 28 Sep 2016
Report by Roy Menage
From the start of the week, it was looking like Hive might be on for a bit of a coast run. But Wednesday morning, the forecast was looking blown-out from early on. Oh well, never mind, I thought. Around 10:30 it was still reasonably calm inland so I took another look at the live weather reports I could find for the area and, although it was, perhaps a bit west for Hive, I decided to take a chance on it. I scooped up Luke who had bunked off work for the day and headed for the coast.
Arriving at Hive, it felt almost too light to even stay up... almost but not quite so we got ready at the top and lobbed off. It was indeed scratchy with barely 50ft ATO but we both made the small crossing to the main cliffs and climbed out. The Jurassic run might even be on! We both gained good height of the main cliffs. I tried a couple of times to cross Freshwater but ducked back to the safety of the cliffs to try again. Luke pushed on over having gained a few more feet in altitude and made it OK. I scraped as much height as I could and pushed on. It was a bit borderline but I did make it and climbed out again. Phew. Next challenge West Bay. After my first try at the crossing, a little sea thermal gave me 50ft extra so I pushed on over. We both arrived quite low but managed to climb out slowly on the West Bay ridge before connecting with the main cliffs at Eype. Eypes Mouth was an easy crossing with a bit of into-wind towards Thorncombe Beacon but straight-forward enough. On, then, to Seatown. Easy crossing again but now the wind was a bit more off the cliffs making for even slower progress. Golden Cap was going to be a bit tricky in this direction and indeed it was. Ground speed as little as 5kph at times with clear signs of rotor from the air spilling around the side of the cliffs. We pushed out a bit from the ridge into clearer air and then enjoyed the elevator ride up the west face, soon to be very comfortably above the highest point on the Jurassic Coast. I pushed on a bit towards Charmouth (just passing 10k from takeoff) but, despite the lack of white horses, it was clear that the wind was picking up and quite a way off the cliffs so we turned back for home. Gap crossing was easy this time with the wind behind but as we progressed further east, it became clear that the wind was very strong now. My wing was facing very nearly out from the cliff. Just the wind direction was pushing us home. By now, the white horses were plentiful so it was time for a nice tidy landing on the beach between the cliffs.
An excellent decision for a great day, nicely rounded off with a cup of tea and a pastry in the cafe with ear-to-ear grins whilst reliving the adventure. Very civilized.
Fri 23 Sep 2016
Report by Grant Oseland
Near perfect conditions on the coast this afternoon. 41km out and return from Ringstead.
Thu 22 Sep 2016
Report by Ben Holt
A great day thermal and ridge soaring at Kimmeridge. Just when I was going to call it a day, I saw Seb head to the low cliffs and along to Houns Tout. Well.. that was too much temptation so I made the trip followed by Jason. We all made it to St Aldhelms coastguard cottages for more great soaring. The return journey was much more technical. Jason bombed out at the foot of Houns Tout, Seb made it back to Kimmeridge as did I, very low, scratching all the way along the low cliffs past the Tout, inland along the very small ridge of Eldon Seat and back to the main ridge behind Kimmeridge. Admittedly my feet were on the ground at the foot of kimmeridge while I kited it up a little way before flying again to complete the out and return. Jason hiked back to kimmeridge and took off. We all flew in the setting sun back to land behind the quarry where the cars were parked. A great day out and another small but satisfying challenge completed.
Photos from Portland West, Kimmeridge & Ringstead
Wed 21 Sep 2016
Report by Graham Marshall
Whitehorse - Well I took Russell's advice and headed to Whitehorse today for the first flight in over a year. Thanks to Gaz for his kind assistance in helping me to get airborne, Russell & Tom were already nice and high. Joined later by Dr George and poor Mike got stuck in the ruts on the track. I used my trolley and walked it, much safer. Thanks to Russell for the photos.
Sat 17 Sep 2016
Report by Jason Hemmings
Maiden Castle - After several hours of the wind bending the trees, The Mystical Maiden Castle produced some of its Magic allowing a few hours of aviation.
Wed 14 Sep 2016
Report from WhiteHorse
Whitehorse - Good Thermic day at the "Horse" definetly a few Cowboys there today.
Sun 11 Sep 2016
Report by Neil Mccain
Sandbanks - The Mini Series Episode 1 - The One Where It Was A Big Relief Ah, airborne at last! I'd chosen Southbourne for some stress free airtime and arrived to see plenty of pilots on takeoff. That eager beagle Mr Staines was already beyond Bournemouth Pier when I took off but conditions looked pretty straightforward and although some were dallying, I pressed over the Boscombe gap and went straight to the Red Arrows sculpture, my reference point for deciding if I can cross over to the Sandbanks side of the run. I knew I wasn't high enough so zipped back looking for the lift I needed. I found it by soaring the hotels and soon floated across. There was work to be done on the next series of little low cliffs but I made enough height to get to the first of the higher sandy bluffs, to be greeted by a waving Sean, now on his way back. I carried on, cautiously, not really convinced that the wind was right, and finally got within 50m of the end of the cliff. Then it all got a bit limp - the trees had stopped moving below me - so I turned tail and headed back. No drama on the return leg: a bit of soaring needed in front of the Marriott allowed a comfortable cruise across the big gap and soon I was back at take off. Southbourne's such a cool site - all the people, the buildings, the technicalities. It felt like a good day already.
Episode 2 - The One Where Neil Ran Away From A Mullet and Thought About A Bath "Hello Dave, nice to see you!" "Nice mullet!", came the reply. I'm gonna get my son for posting that old picture on Facebook. With laughter ringing in my ears, I took off again. The wind had picked up a bit and the Boscombe Gap was a doddle. Lots of pilots were making it, the sky was almost busy with coloured ripstop. It wasn't just the wind, either. There were thermals, either off the sea or off the beach, that were hoicking us up to around 300' above the beach. Whatever hairstyles were being sported, this was time for some serious playtime. We put on shows for the Gin and Tonic Brigades in the hotels, swooping over them, circling in the thermals, waving at the crowds on the beach. I was chasing Sean and Shamus this time, but it was much faster going, getting right to the end of the cliff this time. On my way back I contemplated crashing into one of the blingy new houses on the cliff top. I had a particular place in mind: it had a bath installed in the bedroom, in front of the window. This flying malarkey was getting to be hot work in the sunshine, and it was quite tempting for a while. Back at the Marriott I realised Brian and I had arrived in the light part of a cycle and were 30' lower than I'd have liked. Brian went anyway, scraping in above Harry Ramsden's (helping himself to chips from diners' plates) with me following almost as lamely as a late '80s hairstyle.
Episode 3 - The Quick One There didn't seem to be any reason to pack up and Sean was up for a fourth trip to the cliff's end and back. Rude not to! We set off together, flying at trim, leaving the wings to work the lift by themselves. Sean took lines well back over both pier gaps but they were incredibly lifty and he didn't turn once all the way to the end. It took 18 minutes. I was tucked in behind him for most of the way but I couldn't keep his Terminator-style focus, and began clowning around with the people on the cliff top: photo-bombing their selfies, waving hello, hello, hi there to everyone and pleading for "Positive thoughts, guys - I need to go up!" It took a little longer to come back but the whole flight would easily have fitted into a lunch hour, including packing up.
Episode 4 - The One Where Neil Glimpses Nirvana I was properly in the groove now and determined to match Sean's tally. While he toddled off with Andrea for tea, I set off once more for Sandbanks. That's the thing about mini-series: ultimately the plot's the same, it's just the detail in the middle that changes. This time I paused whenever my vario beeped and helped myself to the lift before moving on. On the slope outside of the BIC a classic car rally was forming to draw the late afternoon crowds. The beaches were a little emptier, but there were still plenty of gongoozlers taking pictures of my elegant lime green wing to make me feel like a million dollars (an episode). I reached the end of the cliffs again, turning to see the whole of the bay lit in a gorgeous, clear light. The sea was a rich blue, the trees shades of vibrant green. Everyone on the pristine beach was a moving point of sparkling colour. I seemed to be riding a thermal all the way back to the pier, fast and high, with time soak up the scene. But it wasn't until I'd crossed the Boscombe gap for the final time that I realised heaven was near. There, in front of me. A gold and orange wing, held aloft by unseen hands, wafting this way and that, NEVER coming down. Its pilot must have felt like an angel, permanently floating above the earth. He was still flying after I'd packed up and begun driving home...
Report from Southbourne
Southbourne Posse' out in strength today with David A "Popping his Cherry". The one & only Adrian Bishop put in an appearance after many years. Dave W & Paul H doing the "Tandems" . Great day had by all.
Wed 07 Sep 2016
Report by Ben Holt
Despite persistent fog, variable conditions and occasional rain I managed to get a couple of hours in during the week. Monday an optimistic attitude and some patience allowed flight at St Aldhelms by Nigel, Russell, Mark and myself. Visibility was limited at times and the window of opportunity was brief but we all had fun. On our way back we called in at Ringstead and had another decent flight out over to the cliffs, albeit in quite westerly conditions before the low cloud closed in and ended play.
Wednesday was bright and sunny in Weymouth and gave me a decent 30 mins or so but by the time other wings arrived it became more and more scratchy, a few flights and a few to the beech.
Two sites in one day and three sites before the weekend... Can't complain.
Sat 03 Sep 2016
Report from around Ringstead
Grant made Swanage in strong conditions from Ringstead.
It was definetly an early start with David A on T.O. at 0600hrs.
Thu 01 Sep 2016
Report from Ringstead
It was a full day of flying from 1045 to 1845 with no major incidents.
Ruth flew for the 1st time in 18 mths, Jerry S flew for the 1st time in 2 yrs, Stuart M called in on his way for "Ironman" training. Too many Pilots to mention.
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