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August 2002 

Saturday 31st August 2002

Report from Steve Auld

    Well, I don't know what happened before I arrived at Bell around 4.00-ish, but it wasn't bad when I had a little fly around, to get the feel of it. Landed to chat with Dave M. "No, nobody's got away, except Pete Robinson, of course..." I took off again and promptly hooked a thermal which took me to cloudbase, still almost over Bell... I saw some others to the south of me, but headed off to where two other gliders were circling... Brian and Jonathan, both on Bandits... Not sure where J bombed out, but Brian made it to Knitson (34.75km) and I made it to Swanage (36.75km) - for the first time and a personal best.
    Attached are a couple of shots of Corfe Castle from about 2000AGL, second one zoomed in... The red glider landed in the field off to the right of picture. Don't know who he was
(Simon Blencowe - CP+10 and no vario for 31.25km. D), but he was with us all the way from Bell Hill, but always about 2000 feet below us at cloudbase (max height around 4500ASL).

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Simon Blencowe's red Electron buzzes Corfe Castle at the end of his maiden XC for 30km
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Most of the Purbeck peninsular - by Steve A. Full pic is a hi-res 1,024x768 @ 550k - but well worth viewing!

Report from David Daniels

    This day deserves a separate report from my previous 9 days.

    After a non-flyable Friday and the promises of post-frontal NWs - I was out of bed and on Bell Hill at 8am in cloudless blue skies and warm sunshine.
    Within minutes there were the wispy beginnings of thermals forming a couple of hundred feet above the hill. Thermals @ 8am? Yup - weeks of warm weather had the ground warm and the post frontal air was cool!
    The wind was only 4mph, and after kiting the wing for about 15 minutes I was lifted off the ground for a quick trip around the magic tree and back to t/o!
    At 8:45 I had thermalled to 233ft ato, and shortly after 9am to 286ft. Unimpressive in terms of altitude - but that was "cloud base" for the wispy embryonic clouds that there were.
    ZZ was the second early-morning-idiot on he hill, soon joined by Andy D and Gary P at about the time the wind went rather northerly and a move to Monks was being considered.
    Bob D had been stirred into his bi-annual flying day by ZZ, and with the area around Blandford seething with the traffic going to, or trying to get past, the annual Steam Fair, ZZ called Bob and suggested he avoid Blandford by coming via Monk's Down .... and phoning in a wind report in the process.
    The hill was now getting busier. New members Paul and Kaye arrived on motor-bikes in their bid to get past the traffic, and after an hour or so of Gary P's "I think it's Monks!" comments as he kited and flitted out over the bowl at regular intervals, the wind kicked back to the NW but with the clouds closed in the thermals seemed to fade for a while - and the flying commenced in earnest with cars and members arriving in droves .... however many a drove is.
    Jeremy M, Stuart M, Dave M eventually decided Monks/Winklebury was not really working and arrived at Bell too, Stuart launching the tandem with young Oliver in the front seat.

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Stuart M launching the tandem with Oliver.
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... and a second flight.

    Thirty cars were counted at the peak of activity, and at one point there were seventeen wings in the bowl. OK - you cannot get 17 IN the bowl, but in it, above it and in front of it as the lift band expanded in all directions and from the far end of the bowl to back over the gate.
    The flying was far from "exciting" and soon there were a number of the more seasoned members nibbling on their packed lunches (mine provided by Russell W as a result of a flippant comment I had made to him on the phone earlier) whilst may low air-time members enjoyed superb ridge soaring in excellent and very buoyant conditions.
    Most noticeable was Gill L who spent her second post CP hour, and part of her third, on top of the stack under the base of some large dark clouds on her Pilot One wing, and sporting an ear-to-ear smile on landing.

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Gill L at the top of the stack!

    The conditions on the hill were "gusty" at times, and the humid air seemed to aggravated ground handling with many examples of fluffed launches from pilots at all skill levels.

    Stuart landed with an ear-to-ear smile stretched across young Oliver's face, and the tandem was quickly taken over by Dave M with <<to my amazement>> Bob D being ushered to the passenger position - and 20 minutes later he too returned with an expression of total exhilaration (despite enduring some of Dave's steeper turns and other aerial antics) and commenting on how nice it is to be able to see where you are going!

    So -a really good day ... so far!  And it gets much much better!

    At about 2:30pm the clouds started to develop ever larger blue patches between them until we were again bathed again and the probability that the much fantasised "3 o'clock thermal" started to increase. It was late, of course, but (for those that managed to find themselves somewhere in the air in the rough vicinity of Bell Hill at the time) worth the wait as it seemed that half the club's membership were vanishing to the gods spread the whole length and breadth of a large inversion-flattened cummulus.
    Stuart took the ride for as far as he dare with the tandem and no bags to walk out of a land-out (much to his annoyance) claiming that it was perhaps the largest UK thermal he's ever been in, as he watched everyone else flying off the the SE at cloud base.

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Those that were in the air got carried away!

    The one thermal took Keith W, Dave M, another Dave, Martin H, Jonathan H, Steve A, Simon B, Brian M off and scattered them between Bere Regis and Swanage.
    Most notable was Simon - 10 hours and no vario - who landed at Corfe Castle for 31.25km!

    It's estimated that a total of some 300km was flown during the day that saw flying end at about 7:30pm - that's 11 hours of flying! A hill record?

    Record or no record - there was loads of flying to be had by pilots of all skills and experience - many red ribbon members logging in excess of 2 hours - and many very happy people leaving the hill.

Report from Craig Byrne

    Last day that Combe is open till March 2003 AND WHAT A DAY!
    I left the hill quite low in a strong thermal and ended up low for ages over the wind turbine behind the hill before reaching base just before Whitchurch, then also got a low save over A303 in the roughest thermal I have ever encountering in UK flying! Tucks galore all the way back to base then another long glide and scrappy thermal which took me towards New Arlsford just kept find weak stuff over hay fields then landed near Bramdean 42k.
    Just a short walk into the village and I found a good pub, with Dave 'The Ferry' Jones winging his way to pick me up (Massive thanks for the retrieve Dave).
    When we arrived back at hill was still flyable, but just weak scrappy thermals so we went home.
    Was a fantastic day for Combe to close on ROLL ON MARCH :-)
    Mike B, Adrian B, John P all had good flights. Here is Mike Bretherton's flight report.

Report from Mike Bretherton

    Had a great day at Combe today very busy and rough on the hill at first, it was nice to relax and go XC.
    I got back to the hill from my first XC just as that gaggle you saw later got away, I managed to climb out about 20 mins later.
    I had a very low exit from the hill over the trees and climbed to about 800ft where it died, then I went over to the westerly facing ridge near the aerials before the wind turbine as the ridge looked like a good trigger point with the NW wind.
    Like Craig I scratched very low around near the aerials for ages before I caught something consistent to climb out over the windmill and I got to base 4300ft ATO just before Whitchurch sharing a thermal with a sailplane. Then the cloud started to decay and I lost 4000ft on a glide to the A303, got something there but I was very low and the lift was very weak as it was now about 16:30. I managed to bumble along at about 300ft for about another 5Km before finally landing after Stoke Charity.
    I had a call from John Pinchin who saw me go overhead from his landing position at Stoke Charity only about 1Km away and we met up. My friends were still flying the hill till about 18:00 but it got quite blown out and they had to big ear it down, one landing at the bottom. John had a lift coming and he gave me a lift to a pub where my friend who had my spare car key came and met up with me later in the pub.
    The hill was pretty rough earlier and I had a few big collapses too. I think you climbed out with Michel Carnet (Yellow Vibe with Sky Systems written on it). He phoned me later to say he thought it was so rough he just wanted to go over the back so he could land somewhere safe and he thought you where me (as our wings are the same) going over the back so he followed. He managed 72Km and a couple of his other flying mates did 80km and 90Km.
    Its the first time I have done 2 Xc's in the same day.

Friday 24th to Monday 26th August 2002

Report from Craig Byrne

    The BCC Finals weekend 24-26th August SE Wales.
    Most of The Mighty Wessex Team began to arrive in Crickhowell on Friday evening ready for a weekends flying in The British Clubs Challenge final, after Fridays thunder storms cleared we were lucky to fly Saturday and Sunday The Hangies even managing a task Monday (But it was too windy for PG)
    24/08/02 The Blorenge / Task 1 Open Distance. After the long hike to take off conditions were weak in fact we were in a BIG blue hole with great looking CU everywhere apart from near us :-( It was a day of many launch's walk ups and short hops before most headed of on glides down the valley, landing by The Main Hereford road. The best distance was 9.5k for the day so after a few beers in The Bridge its back to Crick for the BBQ in the evening.
    25/08/02 Pandy / Task 2 Open Distance. Arrived at take off to find quite low base overcast and quite windy at first! Window open its looks slightly better and I head off down the ridge towards Hay Bluff. I spent almost 3 hours going in out of cloud no more than 300ato then slowly the base began to lift small cu and sunshine in patch's out in front of the hill.
    Land for a quick call of nature; eat lunch fast and launch again into the improving conditions, one gaggle leaves the hill but all end up low in next valley. I spend quite a while working the lift as the wind is now increasing decide to go with next good one, I finally get a nice climb and keep working it towards Sugar Loaf where I eventually make base.
    I wait for a while letting a patch of sunshine heat the valley towards Abergavenny and as soon as whispies begin to form over the valley head off on a glide, I don't connect with anything over the valley but have a very buoyant gliding loosing very little height. I finally find a thermal and drift up the cliff and old mine workings next to the Blorenge but loose it after 800ft and end up on a glide towards Blaenavon where I land just short of the hill 16.4k but next to a hangie from The Joint Services who kindly gave me a retrieve and beer :o)
    Mike B made Castle Meadows 9.4k
    Wessex were 3rd overall but had a great weekend, I was lucky and came first solo pilot - so gain a place in The Nationals next year!.

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Craig @ Blorenge Take-off @ Blorenge The Mighty Wessex

Monday 26th August 2002

Report from Matthew Charlesworth

    As David said it was crap for the floppies but OK for the hangies if a little off to the east when we started. I seem to have been appointed to be chief wind dummy at the moment, so was first off into good, but lumpy lift. The bowl area to the left at Monks seems to collect both slope lift and thermals so I started there and got to over 250mATO. The others joined in and it even seemed a little crowded with 5 of us up together. For such an overcast sky (it was sunny at the coast), there was plenty of thermal lift coming through but there were no true cores, just patches of up, to get a few turns in. I had an hour and a half and the others about the same or a little more. We top landed at the road end of the "Winklebury" field that had been harvested as the others were still in crop. My new glider now has three flights with me on it, totalling over three hours in airtime so it looks like the investment has paid off..

Thursday 22nd to Thursday 29th August 2002

Report from David Daniels

    Thursday 22nd
    Warning! Compton Abbas Wendy is reading about 30 to 45 degs to many!
    Anyway, that's the conclusion of everyone that heard ENE and found NNE, or even back a bit further when we got to Monks. Why go to Monks when Wendy is saying ENE? Because every other indicator (other Wendys, internet, Mk I eyeball) said Monks.
    The trouble was, the wind backed to NNW soon after Dave M, Pete ? and Ron S joined me there.
    We reached Bell to find john Blessing strapped in and praying hard. Not hard enough, though, since nothing happened - Alan B, Jonathan H and Martin C joining the Wessex para-waiting team.
    Alan, Dave, Pete and I went to St Albans head - Dave and I managing one flight along the cliff and back only inches from the cliff edge working every last mm/min of lift.

    Friday 23rd
    There's no wind and then there's absolutely no wind! Today started as the latter with the sea operating in perfect mirror mode.
    The sun was out on the coast and a sea breeze was looking possible, then probable and then arrived. All 3mph of it from 10:30am until 1:30pm.
    At 2pm I called Alan B to let him know that it had picked up and went to fly Durdle Door - launching from 20ft in front of my caravan there. he breeze died, I scratched up to Hambury Tout and managed to land back only a few feet below t/o.
    Alan arrived, we launched anyway and immediately I discovered that the wind had gone SW but provided enough lift to gain 50 to 100ft above Hambury Tout. It was too light and too SW to hop west past Durdle Door - so the 45 minutes were sequences of going as far as one dare to the West and then dropping back onto the cliff edge over Man-of-War bay and following the cliff back up to  Hambury Tout.
    A few tight 360s had some of the tourists walking the coast path between Lulworth and Durdle Door clapping. (Sad individuals!)
    We could see three wings over Ringstead that seemed to be struggling to keep much height.
    We landed and within minutes heard the loud rumbles of a CuNim just a couple of miles inland that neither of us had seen.

    Saturday 24th
    A strong off-shore breeze started the day on the coast, with Wendy giving almost nothing from the NNW. Clear blue skies soon had the breeze blowing onshore and when it reached 10mph I launched from Durdle Door ..... into almost no lift! 15 minutes of wing-brushing-cliff scratching eventually got me as high as the cliff top with a landing to avoid a walk up from the beach.  A strange and unpredictable site.
    The clouds were now showing more activity and were pushing in from the NNW, so off to Bell where there were already about 20 cars and a few more wings poised to launch into the next cycle. Many new members toting their red ribbons.
    Peter R and ZZ were the significant get-aways of the day - ZZ being the sky-god of the day with just under 50km to Sherfield English.

    Sunday 25th
    Compton Wendy was giving ENE but, as already mentioned, I'm not sure this one is telling the truth at the moment.
    I'd arranged to meet up with Gill L, so for want of anywhere better, we met at Monks only to find that Wendy had been pretty accurate with the wind blowing from the hill behind Winklebury. Ron S arrived, as Gill and I went to Okeford where we were joined by Alan B, Gary P, Simon, Nicole, Kris and John
    Gary tested the air that looked, and proved uninviting - switching directions and strength with no warning.
    Russel W called to say that he had heard people were flying at Monks - so, in convoy fashion with several new members not knowing the way, we returned to Monks.
    One intrepid paraglider was in the air looking a little pinned, and one Hangie (Ron S) showing how much easier was their life in these conditions.
    The wind was on the hill - but continually strong and gusting freequently, with bands of substantial Cu coming in that looked too ominous even for Gary P.
    Matt C had a relatively brief excursion on his hang glider, with ZZ and John A joining Ron for flights of some three hours.
    Other paragliders were in the air on and off, Stuart M flying tandem, but several (including me) decided that watching Gary being tossed about was better to watch than emulate.
    With a call of "we're off to the pub" Gary, Alan and I drove down to the Talbot in Berwick St John only to find that it's not open on Sundays. 

    Monday 26th
    Crap day for paragliders - but ZZ, Ron S, John A, Julian P, Matt C were all in the air at the same time at Monks.

    Tuesday 27th
    Monks was flyable - John A, Jonathan H, Richard W, Dave M and, returning to the sport after a couple of non flying years, Matthew Redman shook out the cobwebs from his wing.
    I managed a quick trip to 850' ato - only landing in the field behind the trees - but still managed to loose my mobile phone in the 15 minutes between getting out of the car and landing! That's one way to celebrate one's birthday, I guess.

    Wednesday 28th
    Flew Bell hill. Arrived to find five or six people (including Russell W, Dave F) surveying the light wind. Managed several short flights in the thermal cycles. Dave F managed to get away .... a couple of fields away, anyway.
    Mark R arrived and switched on the restitution. About 9 people in the air for a couple of hours in conditions as smooth as the coast on a good day - but with better views!

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Russell W prepare to join others in the evening restitution.

    Thursday 29th.
    SW with low cloud got me as far as Ringstead where Russell W and I sat in the car for an hour watching the orographic getting lower until it was obviously in for the day.

Eye in the Sky - August 2002 - Part 1
Eye in the Sky - July 2002 - Part 2
Eye in the Sky - July 2002 - Part 1
Eye in the Sky - June 2002 - Part 3
Eye in the Sky - June 2002 - Part 2
Eye in the Sky - June 2002 - Part 1
Eye in the Sky - May 2002
Eye in the Sky - April 2002 - Part 2
Eye in the Sky - April 2002 - Part 1
Eye in the Sky - March 2002
Eye in the Sky - 2001 roundup
Eye in the Sky - September/November 2001
Eye in the Sky - July/August 2001
Eye in the Sky - June 2001
Eye in the Sky - March to May 2001
Eye in the Sky - Feb 2001
Eye in the Sky - September and October 2000
Eye in the Sky - August 2000
Eye in the Sky - July 2000
Eye in the Sky - June 2000
Eye in the Sky - May 2000