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May 2003 - Part I


Monday 5th May 2003

Report from Steve Auld

    After a frustrating day sitting around at Bournemouth the day before (first blown out, then nothing, then blown out again) and watching a strongish wind all day Monday, it finally eased a bit in the evening so shot out on the bike to Barton and took off at about 8.00pm.
Had a lovely stress relieving half hour soaring with only the gulls and one hovering kestrel for company. Watched the sun set and then got down and landed - packing up quick before the canopy got too damp. (It always seems to be particularly damp at Barton of an evening - dunno why...)  
(My wing was totally saturated packing at Kimmeridge!  More to do with a wing that's cold in the evening air laying on moisture holding grass being warmed by the still warm ground after a day of sunshine than anything - I believe. DD)

Saturday 3rd / Monday 5th May 2003

Report from David Daniels

    An early start had me dragging John Welch out to Ringstead in the hopes that I could actually get to the flying part of learning to fly tandem - but a marginal wind increased before John arrived, but we did cover a large amount of the non-flying part.
    ZZ and Ron Smith arrived and started to rig whilst John and I sat in the warmth of my car - but, by the time J and I left neither had launched. Back at the caravan orographic cloud outside the caravan for the next tow hours makes me wonder if they ever did.
    At about 5pm the wind started to ease, and J and I were going to meet up at White Horse before I decided that
I would prefer more ordinary conditions to perform my first real tandem flight than 16mph SSE at White Horse.
    Later, back at the caravan at Durdle Door, the wind eased enough to tell Alastair F that I thought Durdle Door might become flyable soon. He had indicated to me at the meeting on Thursday that he would like to fly there. Between telling him that I thought the wind was easing and his arrival, the wind did ease and we were out on launch as soon as he arrived.
    The air was still a little strong - but with a large flat launch are to check it out I pulled up and managed to slowly push forward into smooth air resulting in me doing a brief flight to the cliffs and back to wait for the wind to ease a little further.
    I already knew that high-tide was only a couple of hours away, and in that short flight I could see that the tide cycle must be near springs since there was certainly not enough beach for a bottom landing.
    After a 15 minute wait and with sunset only 45 mins away I launched a second time and Alastair followed a few minutes later. It was soon apparent that his penetration on his FB Matrix was less than my own on the Electron, and whilst I was able to fly most of the way to Bats Head, Al was less adventurous being that little more pinned.
    After 30 mins, and with the light failing, I called to Al that I was going to land, and he followed suit a few minutes later.
    Had the wind been 2mph less we could have had a lot more fun and easily flown from Lulworth Cove to White Nothe.
    Never mind!! It was a flight - and a first for Al at Durdle Door.

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    Apparently ZZ spent some time on his HG out on the cliffs at Ringstead when the orographic shut in underneath him before he found a gap to fly down through and land.

The wind was again at that "almost flyable but a bit too strong" strength yet again. A text message from ZZ that there was a PG in the air had me (and a few others I forwarded the message to) heading for Swanage and the climb up. No sign of the PG when I arrived - just ZZ on the HG. Nothing ventured nothing gained .... Alastair F and I climbed to the top during which I received a revised text from ZZ "It's blown out!". Nice timing ZZ!
    At the top was also John A rigging and Kaye Escott who had taken advantage of a lull in the wind and grabbed 40 minutes ... albeit with a backward landing toward a herd of heifers! Gavin W arrived a little later and as we sat there the wind not only continued to be too strong - it was also veering toward SSW bringing some bumpy air out of Swanage - a fact confirmed by John after his flight.

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ZZ Launches "Cowd control" at Ballards

    Gavin and I made our way to White Horse - via Kimmeridge for Gavin to see where that site was. At White Horse John W, Garry M and Russell W were sat on the ground. They too had had a lull that had been flown - Gary hitting some mega-lift that he had recorded as 14up! The wind continued to veer and was now WSW and strong - John W fighting the air in his Flare..

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John Welch top landing.

    Gavin's education of Wessex sites was continued by a visit to Ringstead. It was gusty - WSW and rather strong. There was nobody about at all. After a 20 minute wait we launched and as I followed the usual route to the east I discovered that my out-of-prescription contact lenses were not deceiving me - THE POWER CABLES HAVE GONE! This makes the mental strategy of crossing to the cliffs totally easier since you don't have to continually monitor your ability to clear the cables if you need to return to the ridge - and even more significant on the return!
    The wind gradient was significant - and at t/o height over the cliffs I was pinned, so I was expecting a landing down the bottom somewhere as I dropped down and pushed in front of the cliffs by the houses.
    But - there are no cables now - and the air was buoyant! I was 87ft bto when I left the cliffs and managed to scratch back to the very bottom of the ridge and after a couple of beats I was high enough for a top landing!  Whoever removed the cables "Thanks!"
    Gavin was a little pinned at about 100ft t/o, and returned for a top landing.

    Gavin had made an early start to Kimmeridge in the hopes of flying before it was blowing too hard ..... and failed. So 10 minutes after his text he was supping coffee at the caravan. After the coffee we had a look outside and I showed him the ropes to fly Durdle Door - and we confirmed the wind was still WSW and strong - also confirmed by a text from ZZ. 
    A little later the wind appeared to have eased and I downed a bacon sandwich before we headed over to Kimmeridge .... where it was some 6mph stronger than at Durdle Door! Whilst we were sat there chatting Alastair F arrived. 
    Adrian C was climbing Cow Down when I called him, with Stuart M in the air - but he could see the sea-breeze approaching and reckoned it would not be flyable for long. 
    A phone call from ZZ that there were now 3 PGs on the cliff at Ringstead had Gavin and I headed that way, and arrived to watch 4 PGs launch (Peter Robinson and 3 visitors) from the very bottom of the ridge and reach the cliff with very little penetration. I'd already done this the previous evening - and was not getting excited about a 30minute flight on the speed-bar, however Gavin eventually made it out to the cliffs and back, watched by Gary M and myself. 

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Gavin Launches low down
the ridge at Ringstead...
... and returns from the cliffs.

    ZZ, Ron S, Everard, Tony M and ANO were all flying HGs and having fun - Everard making the inaugural flight on his new HG. 

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Everard launches his new wing for it's second flight.

    Wendy was indicating WNW and NW at Westbury and further further north - and, since there was a sea-breeze pushing the cloud well inland, Gary and I decided to give Bell Hill a look and perhaps wait for the sea-breeze too subside. 
    I waited at Bell for 4 hours - during which time Mark Russell put in an appearance - and eventually the wend did go NW and bang on to the hill after a long static band of convergence cloud moved away. The south coast sea-breeze was converging with the Bristol Channel sea-breeze, and the band of cloud - with spasmodic rain showers along its length - sat 15miles or so in front of the hill. Quite impressive - even if annoying! 

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Convergence cloud band in front of Bell

    Unfortunately - whilst the direction was eventually great - it was only 5/6mph. 
    So - off to Kimmeridge again, where Alastair and Jacko were claiming it to be too strong. I was certain that with all the clear sky, not only would the wind subside - it might even go totally calm. 
    I arrived at the Kingston t/o and checked the wind - and indeed in the compression at the top of the hill it was 16/17mph - but was dramatically less only a few feet down the slope. I laid out the wing on the steep slope and was plucked into the air by a wing that was fed up with all the driving about and just dying to fly .... so we did. It was pleasant - stronger some 150ft ato - and strong low on the top of the hill - but other than that - it was great to get the feet off the ground. 
    I landed to let the other two know what I had found and they both launched. The setting sun and the crescent of the new moon made for some essential photo taking. 
    Jacko managed to get a little low over the hill top and elected to land rather than test his skills at pushing forward again - and failed to make any height on his next two attempts to launch in the dying wind. Likewise I was unsuccessful when I tried to re-launch, but Alastair went on to fly for some 30mins in total. 

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Jacko Jacko and Alastair
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Alastair with the moon crescent Alastair

    Looking back through the log-book - I reckon this is the first bank-holiday weekend where I have managed to fly each of the three days - so I was happy! :)

Eye in the Sky - April 2003
>Eye in the Sky - March 2003 - II
Eye in the Sky - March 2003 - I
Eye in the Sky - February 2003
Eye in the Sky - January 2003
Eye in the Sky - November/December 2002
Eye in the Sky - October 2002
Eye in the Sky - September 2002
Eye in the Sky - August 2002 - Part 2
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 and before