Eye in the Sky - May 2005

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Mon 30 May 2005

Report by Peter Robinson

A cautionary tale. After a comfortable flight to Swanage I arrived with about 2000ft near Durlston. Here I checked upwind penetration and saw there were no whitecaps. I decided to land in the furthest field, where I have landed once before, rather than the field on the upwind side of the Country Park Visitor Centre where I normally land.

As I approached I realised too late that the lower wind had become a surprisingly strong sea breeze. Even on full speed bar I was slowly going backwards. At the last moment I thought I would just get away with it but a gust put me into the trees 30ft from the downwind edge of the field. I was unhurt, standing in a fork 12ft up in a 25ft young oak. I undid all the lines, dropped the harness, and climbed down. Katie, a warden from the park, fetched a short ladder (their long one had been stolen) and bravely shinned up and out on the branches to try to disentangle the canopy but it seemed firmly rolled and entwined through three trees.

Next morning I returned with all the necessary gear only to find that the canopy had disappeared!! And I mean disappeared, nowhere to be found. Apparently it had already gone by 7pm the previous evening. I can only presume that in the sea breeze it managed to work itself loose and fly off out towards Old Harry on the other side of the bay. This being my first ever tree landing I am not familiar with the etiquette – tie down the accessible lines.

The lesson is obvious – all it needed for a safe landing, even in this field in this wind, was a proper approach, not the casual set up I gave it.

On the positive side a tree landing is one of foot-launched flying’s unique experiences, along with throwing one’s reserve. This was a proper tree landing, not just draping the canopy over some branches. Completely losing the glider though is not normally part of the script.

Report by Simon Cory-Wright

Further to the other reports for Monday at Bell, it was a very very special day for me as I went “over the back” for the very first time… and made it to Corfe Castle!! 30-something kms I think (can anyone tell me exactly?). I’m still reeling and buzzing from the whole experience. I was in the same initial climb with (I now know) Craig Byrne, Gary Puhl and Colin Davies plus one other. I should have followed them rather than backing my own mis-guided judgement and heading for what looked like a good cloud over Winterbourne Stickland. Some poor beggar followed me (mad fool – can’t you tell I have no idea what I’m doing?!!) and bombed there while I managed to find enough zeros and one-ups under the cloud to keep going before a second strong climb just past Wareham, which got me to Corfe. On landing a lot of jumping around, punching the air and screaming followed - for several minutes - witnessed only by some bemused crows. Wow, what a totally TOTALLY mind-blowing experience, still can’t believe I’ve actually done it. Now I want more!

Some lessons / observations / confessions from the XC-virgin:

1. If you’ve been thinking about trying an XC, just do it, but be both practically and mentally prepared (I had no money on me, thank god for my girlfriend being around for the retrieve and to pay for the celebratory Guinness in the pub in Corfe!)
2. A DHV-1 glider WILL NOT limit your XC potential (I’m on a Gin Bolero) – maybe you won’t go quite as far, maybe others will leave you behind but man, you’ll still have amazing fun and you’ll do it safely. Bell Hill to Corfe Castle on a DHV-1 as your first ever XC, there’s proof - it can be done!
3. Maybe it was a particularly easy XC day, or maybe I’m not as crap as I think I am, but I was surprised by how easy it was to get a good distance by simply circling when I found lift and speed-barring straight towards the next cloud when I hit sink. No doubt I’ll find out next time that it’s not always that straightforward!!
4. Wind direction when you land can be quite different to that on the hill you’ve left. I did notice the sea-breeze convergence but was still surprised by how much south there was in the wind at Corfe and almost got caught out landing in the lee of the ridge there as a result.
5. Main lesson learnt? XC flying frigging rocks – I love this sport!

Report by Roger Edwards

"Mad May Hare - size of a pony, honest. "

"Wouldn't want our members to miss out on the wonders of the Spitfire Experience. "

"Wot! No wind? "


Approaching Bell, late morning, the sight of angry looking tall clouds and shaking trees brought pessimism down upon us, but turning the last corner and seeing plenty of wings in the air returned the wishful thoughts. Personally I was having bit of a dither, wary of the on-off conditions making a side-landing likely - I haven't flown Bell since my wrist-crunching side-landing there. With gaggles getting away I gathered my resolve and picked a nice big cloud to launch under - well, it looked big and nasty to me but Sean said it'd be OK and promptly launched the tandem.

Conditions were pleasantly exciting and I soon got into "I'm 'avin' you my son" attack-mode and worked my way up in some nice choppy thermals, going over the back with about 1200ft. This climb didn't get me to base but allowed a gentle drift. Sean was ahead and doing well, but I wasn't able to keep up with him as he was on the speedy tandem.

Past Winterbourne Stickland I could see Marcus W and a.n.other quite low below, looking as though landing was imminent, yet they managed to hold it off for quite a while, with a.n.other starting to climb and giving me a nice mark for my next thermal.

I ended up losing this around the back edge of the big cloud and my hunting only picked up one or two beeps, so I headed off for a likely looking cluster of barns with a wood behind, hoping for a low save. I got excited as the plan seemed to be working but I lost whatever it was because it was either too short lived or, more likely, my thermalling ability wasn't up to staying with it. I ended up at Winterbourne Kingston for 12.5km - not a patch on those who made it to the coast but still a best for me, with an altitude best thrown in for good measure as well. It seems the theory that my new found terror of the ground would improve my XCs is holding water - two out of six flights since impact.

The only bummer was that an accident had caused the closing of the road past the pub so I couldn't go and have a pint whilst awaiting my retrieve.

Top tips from this flight:
Don't forget your sunscreen else you'll end up lobstered and panda like.
Make sure your water bottle lid is on properly before you put it down to pack up,
Don't land miles from a road on a hot, sunny day, especially if you have committed the above two sins. (Though it does make for some different photo opportunities.)

Report by Richard Westgate


Forest Farm, arrived to find spread out and small patches of sun, stepped off the hill into an unexpected (sometimes) 6up at 13.30, easy ride down a cloud street to Hay-on-Wye but then with spread out to the south and west. Drifted into the blue to the east and battled with weak, rough wave broken Cu until Hereford where eventually found another 6up to base at 5500ft. Long glide to next cloud towards the Malverns, couldn't find a descent climb and cloud spread out leaving me in shadow, diverted to the north over Ledbury to get back into the sun and ended up landing there. Quite a difficult day. Neil H and Stuart M got away later for 50km flights down to Abergavenny.

Report by Jon Harvey


Westbay, The alternative t/o.

Arrived with Keith B to find wind strength around 20mph so para-waited, which was a sensible decision as eventually wind dropped to around 15mph. launched (made up for all the alpine launches in Spain last week) and found wind up high was westerly, but still able to make headway westwards. A happy couple of hours airtime.

Report by Craig Byrne


We had a brilliant day at Bell today with loads of pilots flying and many getting away from the hill.

Sean L even made Swanage with on the tandem :-)

I flew from Bell all the way to Durlston Country Park in the company of Colin Davies with Gary Phul speeding along to join us, the flying was amazing taking climbs into clouds and some fantastic convergence over Wareham. Colin and I flew so close most of the way we were able to have a good chat on route, and finally work out how to land in the fresh westerly sea breeze.

Report by Mike Bretherton

I arrived at the hill at 10:30 and already several people were flying several hundred feet up. I launched and after missing one opportunity to go Xc I took another below hill height but it seemed pretty consistent. Unfortunately the thermal broke up and I aborted soon over the back and had quite a turbulent landing between loads of trees. When I returned to the hill it was quite windy, so I choose a lull to launch in but I was hovered upwards quite quickly, it was very thermic. I soon hooked a thermal over the road where the gate is and as I did not think I would make it back to the hill I went for the Xc again. The thermal soon broke up and I was bumbling on a zero at only 300ft ATO. It was very hard work and I scratched at 300 ft for about 3 or 4 km. Eventually I managed to get some better lift from a plateau top and got up to 3500ft but not quite to base. My cloud was braking up but the better clouds were east into airspace so I headed south into the blue. I managed to get some broken lift out in the blue but I could not get anymore decent climbs and I came down just short of Wareham at 21.2 Km. After I landed, several other pilots under much better clouds came sailing past at base, I presume that several must have made Swanage.

21-28 May 2005

Report by Mark Fisher


Hotel California Spain
An enjoyable week had by all courtesy of Dirk and Tracy. For some our first thermal flying. Quite scary for me on the first day it was very rough and throwing me around everywhere in my harness, there was an inversion much of the week the temperature got to 37 degrees on the hill and we seemed to be the only ones mad enough to be sitting out in the midday sun.We flew everyday but one at Cenes and Ottivar in the Sierra Nevada.

Others in the group were Jon and Kath Harvey, Keith and Babs,Martin (Retrieve) Paul and Claire, Paul Ebert ( Condors). Mark Elliot (Dales) and Alan Webb, Gary Pocock, Jon Wood,


Fri 27 May 2005

Report by Alastair Florence

Rob from Southampton, tip of the day, dont listen to locals, we know nothing.

Arrived at Ballard estate green in time for me and Rob to watch Sean L and another bomb out on the beach. Didnt seem much point in walking up then. I convinced Rob Knitson might be worth a look. It was off to the East here perhaps not suprisingly so gave up and went our seperate ways assuming that was it.

After half an hour at home the wind seemed to be changing so I went back down to the beach. There was now a definate SSW element so i went to Kimmeridge. Got in the air as soon as possible and had about 45 mins of not epic but good fun flying in little lifty bubbles popping up from some ploughed land in front. It was a battle to get over 70ft but good practice milking the lift for those thermic days when you just struggle to get off the hill. Landed for a chat with Mike D who arrived wingless (still drying off the cow saliva following knitson incident no doubt).

I then made the mistake off trying to get to Swyre Head end of the ridge and got dumped much to Mikes satisfaction. Gave up trying to fly back and walked after nearly getting sprawled out face first in a nettle patch. I decided to make pig of myself on the way back by having another 20 mins at St. Aldhems. Beatifull evening with the sun going down over the hills and loads of Peregrines and deer down below me.

Wed 25 May 2005

Report by Mike Drew

Got a phone call from Marcus W about lunchtime to say he was heading to the White Horse. A quick wind check confirmed it was SSW so decided to give Knitson a go as it is only up the road. Spoke to the owners at Knitson Farm to let them know that I was going up, and promptly drove to the top.

Conditions felt great so it wasn't long before I was enjoying myself at around 300ft in smooth air (smooth for Knitson anyway!).

After about 15 minutes I looked down and saw a couple of cows up against my car, but thought nothing of it. About 10 minutes later I looked and around 30 cows had smothered my car and the car was shaking! Promptly landed, unclipped, and ran up the hill to shoo the cows away. At this point one of the cows took a liking to my windsock and was quickly swallowing it. As I ran towards the cow, it started backing off with the windsock still in it's mouth, and this had the effect of bending the pole. As I reached the pole, the cow spat the windsock out and the pole flicked up and hit me in the head!! Whilst I was rubbing my head, a second set of cows had cleverly out-flanked me and were running, yes running, towards my wing! I managed to get there before any damage was done and packed very, very quickly whilst getting surrounded.

When I finally got to my car, they surrounded me again and refused to let me go. Only with a lot of horn beeping and creeping forward did they finally release me. Closer inspection of the car later revealed two bent wing mirrors and a huge amount of cow saliva! So, if going to Knitson, BEWARE THE MAD COWS!

Sun 22 May 2005

Report by Richard Mosley

Decided to fly Rockly sands early, pathetic I know, being only a gorse covered 40 ft Lump, but had an appointment at 10.30 and the correct forecast later of high winds.

Well there I was, a couple of nice flights to land once on top & beach, before you know where you are it's 10am and my wife turned up just as the wind seems to pick up considerably.

I decided to fly to the left and land on the beach. As I headed for the small gorse covered cliff there was a gully. With the now strong wind and lack of penetration and the angle of dangle I was slightly below cliff height. I felt a small tug on the left of my harness, a long wavering stalk of gorse had deployed my parachute, it fell and landed beneath me at the base of the cliff, it was at maximum extension without actually having inflated, if it did i knew i would be off like a rocket over some unpleasent terrain!

I then made a mistake, but maybe instinctive. I could not let the chute inflate so I pulled hard on the brakes, legs shot up in the air, chute behind, Iwas dashed unceremoniously against the side of the cliff. I unclipped damn quick and survived albeit bruised. What was the best course of action? B line stall and PLF or stand on the speed bar and big ears? Either way it knocked the wind out of me! I hate gorse even more now its out to get me.

Wed 18 May 2005

Report by Jon Harvey

Arrived 9.30 ish and strength ok, but slightly easterly. few phone calls made and away. straight to GC. no stopping, G/S around 20mph. Return leg very much slower, and arriving at W/B, saw that John P, had just launched, with Tony B getting ready. Latter went to Charmouth and then the long, slow struggle back. Max height was around 1100ft ASL. 1.5 hrs, airtime, before conditions became blown out, by midday.

Tues 17 May 2005

Report by Marcus Webster

Arrived at Hambledon Hill at around 09.40 to find myself all alone with NE wind bang on the hill at 10-17 mph under a mainly blue sky with small clouds starting to form. I laid out my kit and phoned Peter `C` to see where everyone was (he was on a tow launch course so couldn't help).

After lots of nervous pacing up and down, I launched at about 10.15 and spent about 20 mins in front of the hill being bounced about going between 600ft ATO to below take off as the cycles came through and wondering if a bottom landing might not be my best bet as by now a top or side landing was out of the question.

Before I could chicken out I found myself going up fast and passing 800ft ATO so decided to go with it and try not to fall out of the thermal as I did last week on my first XC from the same site with Roger Edwards. I got lucky and stayed with it all the way up to 3855ft ASL (wow what a view my highest to date). Then followed an hour of drifting down wind fighting to keep my height in small rough thermals passing south of Bell Hill at 2500ft and eventually coming down in a field west of Cheselbourne. The GPS showed a straight line distance back to take off, of 16km. Three lifts and 1 hour later I was back at Hambledon hoping for another go, to find the Dave and Ian Franklin on the hill followed shortly by Keith Wright. But alas the best of the day was over and we all landed at the bottom after short flights.

Report by Roy Menage

Arrived at Ringstead at around 6:15pm to find a gentle on-shore sea breeze and no other flyers in sight. I decided to test the air and found it buoyant enough to stay just above take-off most of the time. There followed over an hour of air time on the ridge punctuated by the occasional need to side-land when the lift dropped off. All in all, a very pleasant way to spend the evening. The only irritation was a lost mobile phone. Fortunately, I was able to find somebody with a phone who called mine which was heard, and found, ringing in the grass.

Sun 15 May 2005

Report by Mike Bretherton

Arrived at the hill (Mercury) earlier than normal at around 10:30 but already the wind seemed ideal with thermals rippling through launch. I waited for a wind dummy but when someone launched it did not seem very lifty considering the wind speed. My friend Adrian Leppard had a go and although the wind dropped it was much more lifty. We had a few flights but nothing particularly great. Eventually we both ended up slope landing over the fence and we waited ages for the wind to come back on. When it did it was the southerly sea breeze making it game over.

Report by Marcus Webster

A morning of domestic chores completed, we headed over to Swanage as a family, where I dropped Julia and the girls within walking distance of the shops! then headed off to Ballard Down with fingers crossed. Roy M arrived as I was unpacking the car and we walked up together. Our pace quickened as we saw two wings launch and fly out to the end of the white cliff. Arrived at take off just behind Jacko at about 15.30 and there followed forty five minutes of smooth flying at up to 80ft ATO followed by the three of us landing on the beach within minutes of each other. A yellow wing was flying over Durlston Bay just the other side of Peveril Point at the same time.

Pictures by Richard Westgate


Report by Pete Chalmers

Monday 9th May

Decided against the long drive to Leckhampton as recommended by Richard Westgate so ended up dodging the hail at Combe (see Mike B's report), then saw Richard fly overhead to rub salt into the wound!

Tuesday 10th May

Going to take Richard's advice today so left home at 0600 enroute to the Midlands to meet him along with Neil H and Sean L. When the cloud thickened and the rain became heavy just North of Banbury I thought I had made another mistake!

I was greeted by Richard with a cooked breakfast and the news that it was a trough across the Midlands and it still looked good to the West. After food and more research we set off in convoy to Corndon Shropshire, to the West of Long Mynd.

The sun was out and sky looked promising when we arrived. Richard asked me what my goal for the day was and I thought beating my UK distance record (41Km) would be a reasonable one. He suggested a goal of staying in the air for 4 hours (ha ha!). I nodded and we were set up ready to go by 1130 ish.

We all launched together just before 1200 and Richard and Neil followed by me got quick climbs. Sean was not so lucky and decided to land and remove vegetation from his lines. He eventually got away for about 20kms and a long walk from the boonies!

For the first 10km I somehow managed to stay higher and in front of the boss but inevitably they overtook above me. I put it down to their superior wings not my lack of ability!

Lots of climbs over beautiful countryside before losing it near Newbridge-on-Wye for 47.8kms. I had achieved (my) goal but at 1.50 mins failed miserably at Richard's! Neil(69.3) and Richard (70.3) landed after the cloud spread out and shut off the lift. Still Neil also made a PB, a great day.

After retrieving back to the Six Bells in Bishops Castle we had a few pints of the aptly named "Cloud 9 Bitter". Over the road for dinner then to Mark Leavesely's place nearby to crash for the night.

When studying the satellite pics on the computer, before bed, Richard noticed a classic sea breeze front on the N coast of S Wales. He was kicking himself for not heading that way to pick up the convergence when they saw the spread out ahead, that is what makes a champ!

Wednesday 11th May

After some indecision and a false start, Sean and I were at the top of Corndon when Richard decided that the Malverns would be best. Down we went and chased them South. We arrived to see Rich and Martin (crab)F climbing out followed by Neil. Sean and I launched and Sean got a climb after about 10 mins. I scratched for about 20 and was beginning to think yesterday was a flash in the pan before getting a good climb and went over the back in a light easterly.

I was completely on my own and behind the pack but managed to get frequent climbs that were generally not that strong but rough. I didn't manage base on any as they seemed to fizzle out about 3500' asl. My targets today were more conservative, first 10km, then 20km, then 30km, then 40km. I couldn't believe it as I passed them all. Progress was slow and I got great views of places like Hereford and the SAS HQ! My next target was 50km and a new PB when I got a great climb into the bottom of a cloud at 4500'asl. I speed bar'd out on a glide then flew at trim speed in gentle sink but no more clouds of note. I was hoping the ridge in front, the foothills of the Black mountains would give me something but no. I landed on a fairly remote farm 5km SE of Hay-on-Wye. Only 2.5km short of Hay Bluff for 50.2km, fantastic.

I was driven into Hay by the friendly farmer and eventually retrieved by Steve Arnold who was on his way to pick up Martin who had landed just short of me for 46.6km. Sean had done similar (not sure exactly) and was on his way to pick up Rich (71.3) and Neil (74.3 another PB), near Bluilth.

Thanks guys for helping to make it an epic couple of days, it has certainly encouraged me to leave the Wessex area if conditions look good. I would suggest that anyone thinking of it send off their £5 to Malverns club for a life time helmet sticker, apparently they do check occasionally. Mine arrived this morning!

Report by Neil Hutchison

Mon 9th

Hooked up with Richard and headed off to Leckhampton, just south of Cirencester. Rich disappeared over the back at 10:45 while I was still rigging, this was a version of team flying that was new to me. After one false start, (1600ft ato burned to nothing as the whole ridge switched off) I finally got off at 11:25 I was in good company with Adrian Thomas and another glider getting to base at about 3000ft amsl. Conditions were good- very good- in fact way too good and as we headed off to Cirencester showers could be seen in the distance, I hung on to Adrian's boot straps but he lost me over Cirencester. Thought I was landing at Swindon but got hoofed up from a couple of hundred feet. Avoided cloudbase and followed the road through the airspace gap with Swindon on one side and a major downpour on the other. Dipped into cloud briefly before getting to the outer edge of this monster, where I got gust-stalled, Not used to the benign nature of the Zoom I arrested the dive too early and got treated to a repeat performance, I let the glider go a long way in front before slowing the dive and things were back to normal. In front of me was a huge band of rain ( I think people on Coombe had the pleasure of that). I could see Marlborough in the distance so decided that would be a good place to give up er.. I mean look for lift. Landed for a 59km Rich managed a 84km and the day went to Alex with 123km- but he was welcome to it as he ended up going up 3000ft in a CuNimb and B-Lining out.

Tue 10th
Having been joined by Sean the night before and Pete Chalmers the Wessex Possy headed for Cordon near LongMynd to see if we could replicate the previous days flight. Conditions were good on take off and soon all the Wessex were on their way. The early stages were unpredictable claiming a couple of local pilots and Sean's scalps at 20k Rich and I flew together getting Separated once when Rich Climbed out of the Gully from Hell. Pete managed a personal best of 47km well done, the clouds spread out and conditions deteriorated putting us on the deck Rich and I put in 70km & 69km respectively what a day!

Wed 11th
Three in a row? No chance! After a slow start involving some lost keys we turned up at the Malverns as the world and his wife climbed out. We had seen 7 gliders downwind on the way to the site and it looked epic. After a false start Rich got away with Martin Foley, Sean and myself followed 25 minutes later. Climbs were good, the drift slow and the view stunning. I've never flown from flatland to mountains before and enjoyed myself so much I almost didn't notice the frostbite in my fingers. Again the Wessex Crew showed their mettle With Martin 46km Sean & Peter C 50km Rich 71km and I did 74km Without doubt the best three consecutive days flying I've ever had Well done to the Mighty Wessex

Wed 11 May 2005

Report by Roger Edwards

Pictures by Marcus W:

After conversations last night about whether a trip to the Malverns was worth it, concluding that the imminent high for today probably suggested not, I made no effort to get up early. A call from Marcus W roused me about 0930, he already being on Hambledon Hill, assessing the prevailing easterly conditions and deeming them promising. After a lot of unenthusiastic bimbling around - the previous two days had only provided parawaiting and rocky air - I finally arrived about 1300 to find Marcus just launched and soaring nicely in what appeared to be smoother air than we've had of late.

The last flight I'd had, at White Horse, scared the living daylights out of me and has only compounded the nervousness I naturally have at the moment due to the dodgy wrist. 'Absolutely bricking it' wouldn't be too strong to describe how I felt at launch, but by repeatedly telling myself I was perfectly capable of flying and with great words of encouragement from Marcus, I preceded to fluff two launches and finally make a scrappy dive into some convincing lift.

Marcus was right behind me and we worked the gentle thermals together, slowly getting to about 600ft ATO and starting to think about going. Marcus went over the back first and I milked some more height before starting to go with the drift. The clouds were flat, the thermals inconsistent and light, it very much being a case of gently gently catchee monkey. I saw Marcus take a glide and end up landing not far N of Child Okeford - apparently he found himself in sink over the village and was paranoid about ending up in the lee of the hill. I was happily doodling about in zeros over the village so hung in there until I picked up something better, slowly but steadily taking me to 1600ft ATO.

This really marked the nature of the whole flight - slow and steady, occasional zeros to drift in, and fairly smooth considering the old boots thrown at us in recent days. About half way through my wrist started telling me that thermalling to the left was just a bit too much traction for it, so I reversed the turn and continued enjoying the views and trying to stay with the weak thermals. No cloudbase but max alt of about 2800ftASL. I finally lost any lift and went on glide towards a bunch of promising brown fields, but it was to no avail and I ended up hunting for an uncropped field to land in - they seem pretty rare at this time of year.

I had made it to just past Sturminster Newton (Haydon). Yeehaa! 18km, a new record for me, or so I thought. Later turned out that I had misread the GPS and it was only 8.5km. Damn. Then again, given my condition and that it's only the fifth flight since snapping my wrist I have nothing to complain about and am pretty chuffed with it. And let's not forget to congratulate Marcus on his first time over the back. And to say thanks for retrieving me I have included a couple of photos of our latest XC-hound running through his pre-flight checks. He was so keen that he slogged back up to the top for another, sadly unsuccessful, attempt to get away. All in all a thoroughly excellent and unexpected day.

Tuesday10th May 05

Report by Rod Smith

Monksdown NNE NE 16mph+ Had nice flight on hangie wihth strong thermals at times. Made 2400 ft ATO. Clocked one hour and forty minutes before strong sink got better of me and had to bottom land with visiting pilot Bertie on his H.G . Dave and Neil Franklin were para waiting but at least they flew their model aircraft. IF ANYONE HAS FOUND A CORKSREW ANCHOR AT the TAKE OFF AREA ITS MINE. left behind when I bottom landed .

Mon 9th May 2005

Report by Mike Bretherton


Flew Combe today but it was not as epic as the forecast had bee suggesting. It was very strong first thing so I went to work instead, but the wind moderated by mid morning so I was soon off there with Dom Schettini and arrived just after midday. On the hill I met up with Peter Studinski and Craig Byrne amongst others. The wind was almost non existent and it was very sunny for about an hour after arriving. Towering cumulus were abundant with some giving heavy rain and hail showers but there were a fair way off.

After some nice flying, a gust front came through and we were all gale hanging. One of the Brumel hooks on my speedbar became detached rendering my speedbar useless and I ended up having to crab along the spine to the east in order to land were it was flat over the back. My friend Dom was also having some difficulty but he was a little higher so he opted to go straight over the back and he managed 2 or 3 km but had a long uphill walk back. Before we landed the hail started and continued with rain whilst we packed away. I received a call form Dom saying he was sheltering under his wing as the hail was especially heavy where he had landed. Once back on the hill our wings were soaking wet but the conditions improved and we had quite a lot of nice flying which dried us all out nicely.

We left at about 5:30, hurrying our packing away as we saw another shower coming in. For some reason a couple of the Thames Valley guys just continued flying as the gust front came in and we just made it to the car before the rain started again.

Sunday 8th May

Report by Matthew Charlesworth

Upwards of a dozen hangies were at Bell on sunday with a strong'ish north westerly blowing. I had to be away early as usual so flew in the late morning in broken lift which low down was very bumpy but smoothed out if you got high enough. I gather it improved a little in the afternoon (I left at 14.30H) but it was great to see so many people on the hill. We had three visitors from the Condors as well, I didn't get the names properly, one who flew. It was, I think, their first visit to the site and I hope that we made them feel welcome. Roll on summer.

Thurs 5 May 2005

Report by Roy Menage


Arrived at Bell with Roger E at about 10:30 to find several wings in the air and joined them by 11:00. It was already quite strong but I got a good flight before joining the others on the ground. By then, the wind was picking up but since a couple of others were still in the air, I decided to join them again. 20mins in a good thermal to nearly 800ft ATO (a personal best) was followed by continual sink as I was getting blown back into the top field. Managed to get down safely with nothing dented but my pride. Make mental note to self... land in the bottom field in strong consitions.

Since it showed now sign of easing, Roger and I left about 2:00. So, where were all the hangies then???

Report by Mike Adkins

Arrived on my local hill at 0855 - no one there, but conditions good. So I sent up the wind dummy and he decided it was OK, indeed thermic, so he stayed up for an hour. Derek S and his mate Tony arrived, soon followed by Russel W, Roger E, Gill LG, Neil H, Pete C, Gary M and others. By 1045 the wind had freshened a little and it (and the thermals) carried away Neil H and Pete C, to name but two - I don't know how far they got. Now I'm at home again, waiting for the breeze to ease, but I may very soon return!

Tues 3 May 2005

Report by Thomas Bevan

Arrived at 11am to find a fresh 20-25mph SW however the day was beautiful. decided to take the dog for a walk to Lulworth. Upon my return at 4pm found the wind had eased to a steady 15-18mph SW, however it had become overcast with oragraphic over White Nothe & also Portland. There was a bank of light sea fog in the channel,

However it looked flyable & within my personal envelope for solo flying but watching the sole model flying & the crows getting chucked about with poor height gains the warning bells were sounding.

I spoke to the modeller & a quick telephone call to the weather station at Portland confirmed my suspicion. The wind was due west & being pulled onto the hill. The clouds behind the hill were also showing due west.

Ah well the hang glider stayed on the car! Thankfully the traffic was light on the way home.

Mon 2 May 2005

Report by Alastair Florence

Out the window the wind direction looked SSW so headed over the road to Knitson. Started off very light, barely enough to scratch but thermal climbs to 200ft so worth the scratching (almost literally scratching my backside on the gorse). Mike D turned up and scratched and climbed a bit as well. A dark cloud helped the wind pick up which was now off to the east a bit. A few spits of rain persuaded Mike to land but I thought I would sit it out. I was rewarded with an hour or so of buoyant, and boisterous conditions. It would have been easy to fly to Corfe but a battle to get back against the SSE wind so just went about 1 km in each direction. Its great to have so much ridge to yourself, even if the air is a bit scary at times here!

Mike was probably getting bored watching as it was now a bit strong on the launch pad (as I discovered when I came into land!!!) Wings were up on Ballard so we headed off there and met Sean L on the way.

Mike was first away but by the time Sean and me were sorted it was blowing a hooly. Mike was big earing and speed barring to get to the beach. Even half way down the hill was a bit to lively so we canned it and went somewhere else.

Report by RW

Arrived early at 0900hrs as the forecast was to be blown out. I had the hill to myself for nearly 2 hrs and then the flyers arrived throughout the day with varying conditions, max 18mph with an occasional shower but flying continued throughout the day with numbers increasing. Dave W went on to Bmth & was signed off, well done Dave. Again the usual suspects, noticeably absent were Martin H & Brian M.

Sun 1st May

Barton - Pictures by Joe McCarthy


Bournemouth - Pictures by Lawrence Toogood


White Horse - Pictures by Mike Bretherton

Report by Russll Whyte

This was one of the busiest days I have seen at the "Horse". The track was overwhelmed with vehicles ( most sensibly parked )?Please ensure there is enough trackway left for the farmers vehicles folks! The majority of pilots were there by midday and enjoyed several hours of fun flying. At one stage I counted 23 wings in the air & more than 30 individuals on the hill.It must have been a Bank Holiday as I normally have the hill to myself. The usual suspects & many more!!

Previous Eye-in-the-sky reports

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Eye in the Sky - Apr 2005
Eye in the Sky - Mar 2005
Eye in the Sky - Feb 2005
Eye in the Sky - Jan 2005
Eye in the Sky - Dec 2004
Eye in the Sky - Nov 2004
Eye in the Sky - Oct 2004
Eye in the Sky - Sep 2004
Eye in the Sky - Aug 2004
Eye in the Sky - July 2004
Eye in the Sky - June 2004 - Part 2
Eye in the Sky - June 2004 - Part 1
Eye in the Sky - May 2004 - Part 2
Eye in the Sky - May 2004 - Part 1
Eye in the Sky - April 2004 - Part 2

Eye in the Sky - April 2004 - Part 1
Eye in the Sky - March 2004
Eye in the Sky - February 2004
Eye in the Sky - January 2004

Eye in the Sky - December 2003
Eye in the Sky - November 2003 - Part II
Eye in the Sky - November 2003 - Part I
Eye in the Sky - October 2003
Eye in the Sky - September 2003 - Part III
Eye in the Sky - September 2003 - Part II
Eye in the Sky - September 2003 - Part I
Eye in the Sky - August 2003 - Part III
Eye in the Sky - August 2003 - Part II
Eye in the Sky - August 2003 - Part I
Eye in the Sky - July 2003
Eye in the Sky - June 2003 - Part 2
Eye in the Sky - June 2003 - Part 1
Eye in the Sky - May 2003 - Part 2
Eye in the Sky - May 2003 - Part 1
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