Sunday 22nd August – Anna’s First Tandem!

On a wet and drizzly day at Barton, we met Gary Puhl from the Mighty Wessex, who had kindly agreed to give Anna a tandem flight. The weather didn’t look promising with rain the whole drive down, but it was forecast to clear in the afternoon. We got to Barton and it was cloudy and wet so decided to skip off for a pub lunch. After that the weather wasn’t much better so we sat in the car to wait. Every so often the rain would stop, but only for long enough to get the gear out and wet!

Eventually, with the weather not looking like improving, Gary set the tandem up in the very light drizzle and strapped Anna in. With me as anchor man and Anna briefed, the wing was soon above them, but the wind appeared to be too light, typical! After a little bit of a ground handling master class from Gary, the wind seemed like it had picked up a tad, so the command was given to run. Off the edge with a scream of excitement and they were away. Gary hugged the cliff scratching his way back up and managed to turn and fly back past us just above cliff height. Within another beat they were at a comfortable height and could relax.

I filmed a bit and took some pictures from the ground for a while before deciding to join them in the air for a bit of aerial filming. I couldn’t seem to find somewhere to park the wing that was in the airflow, but with the help of my ground crew holding the wing up my launch was not bad at all (even if I do say so myself!). It was quite refreshing flying around with the drizzle in your face in the lovely English summer weather. After around 40 minutes of boating around the rain increased so we all decided to land.

Anna was over the moon and can’t wait to start learning to fly herself. I have lost a retrieve driver but gained a flying partner!

I can’t thank Gary enough for taking Anna up on the tandem, just need to save up for a new wing and training for Anna now.

Oh and you don’t realise how big a paraglider is until you try to spread it out indoors to dry!


An update to my Bell Hill XC

I have finally edited the video of my flight. Thanks to my lovely wife for helping to choose the music.

The weather is very windy and rainy so no flying for now. Tomorrow afternoon looks a possibility at Barton on Sea and Gary might take my wife Anna up for a tandem!

Ringstead Bay – Saturday 8th August

Well Sunday was promising to be fantastic at Bell Hill, then the good weather moved to Combe, and then in the morning the good weather seemed to have disappeared! After looking at RASP hoping for somewhere that maybe, just maybe might be flyable, it was looking a bit pants. Hmm the south coast looks like it has a breeze and it is looking like WSW or maybe even SW. After talking Neil into a 2 hour drive to Dorset we decided to head to Ringstead rather than St. Albans as I hadn’t yet made it to the cliffs despite flying there twice already. Neil had never been to Ringstead so it was going to be a new one for both of us.

The whole drive down we were looking at the trees not moving a bit and thinking that we have made a horrible mistake. But we pulled up at Ringstead to a 14mph SW breeze!

Neil was off first and after boating around the bowl for a bit went down for a slope landing. I took up as the wind picked up again and the air was surprisingly thermic and rough. I gained quite a bit of height and pointed towards the cliffs. I flew over the trees giving me a lifty line and made it to the houses where I did a few beats to gain back some height. Once over the main cliff the lift band was massive and the air the smoothest I have ever flown in (hence the large amount of photos!). Neil soon joined me on the cliffs and you couldn’t drag us away from the cliffs. Flying out over the sea and doing spirals before racing back to the cliffs to climb back up, what a laugh. It was lovely to be able to kick back and enjoy the view for once without worrying about going down or keeping the wing above your head in rough thermals. I certainly wouldn’t trade thermalling to base for this, but why not have your cake and eat it!

My vario battery died about two and a half hours in and a bit later the call of nature decided it was time to land. An easy glide back into the rough(er) air of the bowl and straight into the back field for a nice touch down next to Shamus.


Combe Gibbet After Work Mess-Around!

2nd August 2010

Well, they say the best flights are the unexpected ones. Sitting at work staring out of the windows cursing my luck at missing another classic day, just typical! Well home time arrives and I head home. The weather check reflex shows that Combe could still be flyable and with nothing else to do, what is there to lose?

Grab the gear and back out the door. A quick chat with Neil confirms he is thinking the same as me so we agree to meet on the hill. I make good time and somehow miss the traffic but arrive to see no wings in the air. Damn!

I could use the ground handling practice anyway.

Walking over to launch I see a wing pop up, and another, and soon there are people flying. My pace quickens past the gibbet and I waste no time getting my gear ready and soon I am in the air. The wind is light but there is the odd thermal still so good height is there for the taking. I wouldn’t describe the air as rough, just a bit up and downy! After 20 minutes everyone is starting to sink out so I head in for a nice top landing to save the walk back up. Neil arrives now, just in time to see everyone land!

We both practice our ground handling until the wind teases us with a sniff of lift. Nobody is sure and nobody wants to be first. Sod it I will go then, and off I skim along the ridge, legs up to avoid the ground. Half way along a bubble of lift, a few turns and I am above the ridge, just. I fly back past take off smiling and that is enough to tempt Neil into the air, along with a few others. After a few scratchy minutes everyone dives in for slope landings, with a lucky few top landing.

This sets the pattern for the rest of the evening, with lulls followed by short periods of flying. Nobody seems to mind and we are all just happy to be flying instead of working! A beautiful summers evening, shame the pub was closed afterwards.