Sunday, 1 June 2014

Our amazing trip to the Isle of Wight

Jack, Clint, Rob and I crossed the Solent (with a little help from a Wightlink ferry) at 8.00am on Saturday 31st May in very light wind conditions under cloudy skies. Our friend Chris had already armed me with sites to fly at and on leaving the ferry we headed up to our first slope of the day on the Isle of Wight.
St Boniface Down, Ventnor (Slope 1)
 A beautiful long curving slope located just above Ventnor with a sea facing slope and a inland facing slope. You could drive to within a fifty yards of the slope. We flew the inland side with the wind coming from a NW (ish) direction. It took us some attempts to get up high but after Jack showed us how, we all contacted strong lift and enjoyed gentle relaxing flights. Rob did a good job flying my Algebra and had a decent flight. Not ridge lift nor thermal as the lift was smooth and stationary, so I'm thinking it was some form of wave lift as we had two wave gaps in the cloud that didn't move for most of the time we were there.
I had a few Interesting flights with one ending up half way down the slope in dense undergrowth. Chris did warn me about them snakes.
Jack got to fly with a Kestrel and Clint captured this wonderful shot of glider and bird
After a couple of hours the wind had dropped and the lift disappeared so we packed up and drove to our next slope.
St Boniface Down Map
Culver Down, Bembridge (Slope 2)
A twenty minute drive from Ventnor and take the Culver Down road up to the large monument. Not much wind but what little there was from the North. Out came the Dream Flight Libelle DLG and we had several hand launches from the North face of Culver Down. Jack was flying and got into a thermal with a Buzzard. It was a sight to see. Stopped in the CafĂ© for some food and then drove a little further along to the next car park.
Culver Down (Slope 2) Map
Culver Down, Bembridge (Slope 3)
Parked the other side of the pub and dragged out the Libelle again. The first launch was a classic. hand launch with me falling down a big hole just as I let go of the model. I was on my backside and only just avoided a collision with the disused concrete gun emplacement - Phew!. The wind was turning and just on to the Southerly facing sea cliffs. After a few trial glides out over the cliff edge it was working and getting better all the time. Quick, everyone back to the cars. another change of car park, this time a little further down besides the concrete bunkers.
Out came the floaters and we were off flying out in super smooth lift above the sheer chalk cliffs of Culver Down. A little scary if you thought that if anything goes wrong it probably bye bye model. Some fantastic flying was achieved and we al flew while seated on a conveniently placed bench. Then a quick change and out came the Ninja's and Clint' Pzzaz.
Now there is something very disturbing about chucking your model off a sheer facing cliff when you cant see what's below other than a massive expanse of sea. Muggins chucked his Ninja over the barbed wire fence to be greeted with smooth lift (unclench buttocks) and the most wonderful of views.
Another hour or so of slowly increasing wind (well it did hit 10mph at one point!) we were all buzzing with adrenalin and in ore of the location and the fantastic flying.
Rob saw a few gliders flying way off in the distance. So the decision was made to decamp over to where these guys where flying.
Culver Down (Slope 3) Map
Culver Down, Bembridge (Slope 4)
Back down the road about half a mile we pulled into a car park with views over Sandown Bay. We were greeted by a guy trying (and partially succeeding) to slope soar a Twin star twin electric plane!
The slope was strange with a tree lined ridge about a hundred yards away which you had to get passed before the lift would kick in. Flew the Libelle which handled the conditions well and shot up in the lift but the foamies where a little more challenging. My Ninja flight started off with me watching the model pushing into wind and heading downwards below the level of the horizon. Keep pushing forward (all the times getting lower) and eventually past the trees and into the lift. From there it was plain sailing with thermal and ridge lift. We all flew again with Jack and Clint flying there floaters and Rob flying his Libelle and my Ninja. Interesting slope but not as good as the big cliffs at the end.
Culver Down (Slope 4) Map
Isle of Wight Pearl (Slope 5)
A 30 minute drive back along the Island to a flying site I flew at the week before. Out came the foamies and we walked to the cliff edge. Some wind, so launched my Ninja. Wrong decision and a beach landing below was called for. That will teach me...Back in the cars for a short journey back to meet the 6.30 ferry and back home at 9.00pm.
A totally mega day out with some great guys on the beautiful Isle of Wight with lots of amazing flying! Time to book the next trip?

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