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RCM&E July 2001
the rest of the country, since the end of February, all our usual
flying haunts have been closed, although as I write there is a steady
trickle of sites being re-opened, mainly it would seem, perhaps
cynically, those with substantial commercial interests! The Foot
and Mouth crisis is terrible and I agree with the restrictions as
it is a small price to pay to rid ourselves of this horrible disease.
I just wish those in charge had attacked the real problem in the
beginning with the same energy as they closed public access to the
countryside. Anyway enough of the politicking and on to the meat
of the article.
For several years I have had an open invitation to visit modelling
friends in the Channel Islands but for one reason or another (mainly
workload) it has not been possible. Well this year I managed to
complete my winter projects ahead of schedule, fill the shelves
with kits and do my end of year accounts all well before the start
of the summer show season when I had a phone call from one of said
modelling friends. The thought of a weekends flying after weeks
of deprivation suddenly became extremely attractive. Organising
the trip and finding willing travelling companions was easy. Initially
I was going to book the ferry and persuade our hosts to find suitable
accommodation for us on the island until I saw an advert in one
of the national dailies. I was able to book the high speed ferry
to Jersey from Weymouth (journey time approximately 4hrs), two nights
hotel accommodation with breakfast and evening meal, two per car
and sharing a room (twin beds!) for less than £125. The cost of
the ferry fare alone would have been that! Prices vary according
to time of year and the time of writing scheme only runs from March
to October but it could be extended. We hope to go again the middle
of October! Our trip was organised so we caught the early morning
ferry and arrived in Jersey just before midday and left on the 8.30pm
ferry on Sunday evening. This way we had the possibility of almost
three full days flying, subject to the weather of course.
The Jersey Model Aero Club.
is a well organised club with excellent flying facilities. They
have a power site with a tarmac runway in the direction of the prevailing
wind and two more rolled sand runways to cater for other wind directions.
On one approach to the tarmac runway there is the remains of six
foot tall burnt gorse to catch those low on finals otherwise all
approaches are obstacle free. The day we flew there it was a little
turbulent as the strong wind was coming off the sea and over the
cliffs some 2-300 metres away. There are some restrictions on the
power site but the club will explains these to visitors. The site
was closed the Sunday morning we were there due to it being in the
middle of a full bore rifle range. Details of these restrictions
and contact with the club can be found / made via the club website
which is best found via the BMFA website. For the slope soaring
enthusiast the club has a keen slope following with several excellent
coastal sites to suit almost any wind direction but more of that
and the Sites
were able to visit four of the seven sites shown on the very professional
map prepared for us by Chris Munns of the Jersey MAC. We managed
to visit 4 of them and fly 3, all were excellent sites. All are
within a 20 minute drive of St Helier. Of the four sites we visited
two were of the get out of the car, rig the model and fly whilst
the other two involved a 2-300 metre walk from the car park. The
locals said they liked to avoid these sites because of the walk!
No comment. Before describing the sites a word about driving in
Jersey for those who have not visited the island. Jersey is a small
island, some 10 miles wide by 5 miles deep. It is criss-crossed
by dozens of roads, in fact there is a road junction almost every
2-300 metres. There is a 40mph (65 kph) speed limit throughout except
in built-up areas where it is either 30 or 20mph. I personally would
not want to drive any faster as most road junctions have restricted
visibility and are accidents waiting to happen for the unwary. In
anycase what is the point of racing around when most journeys can
be completed in 20 minutes! On the positive side the local drivers
were very courteous and more than willing to make allowances for
Portlet Common (SW - W)
We disrespectfully nicknamed this site Pork-Cutlet, even the local
flyers started calling it by this name by the end of the weekend.
Of the three slopes we flew this was the least stressful in the
'what if' stakes. It is only some 250ft (80M) high, 70-80 metres
long with full access down to the sea. In some ways it is an elongated
bowl as the coastline juts into the sea at both ends. This we found
handy if the wind shifted and was not blowing directly onto the
face of the slope. On the right hand side and at right angles to
the main slope overlooking the beach at St Brelades there is a sheer
cliff leading inland with a path to the base of the cliff. During
our flying session there on the Friday the light wind swung through
90 degrees and we soared these cliffs. At the time the tide was
out and small thermals were also popping off the sand on the beach!
you would expect the lift with the wind coming straight off the
sea is very smooth with an excellent lift to wind ratio although
we did not get the height we got from the higher 'Stinky Bay' slope.
On the day we visited Portlet Common we experienced three flying
sessions in one. When we first arrived the lift was ideal for sports
aerobatic models with semi-symmetrical wing sections. The lift was
more than sufficient to fly more advanced aerobatic models such
as the Turbo Esprit but the Rico-SHEs were much more fun. This was
followed by a period of very light winds during which the wind swung
northerly 90 degrees. Out came the floaters such as the WestWings
Orions and the Eppi-SOAR / Summer Breezes. At times it was a struggle
to keep the models up in the almost non-existent wind hence our
discovery of 'beach thermals'.
Later the wind returned to the west and strengthened to a steady
Force 4-5 (16-20mph). Out came the Turbo Esprit and the like. This
flying session made me aware of the size of the slope as these can
models consume a lot of sky. There were 5 or 6 models in the air
and we were all doing cross-wind aerobatics. Discretion being the
better part of valour I decided to land as I did not want to mid-air
one of my breakable front line models this early in the trip.
landing area consists of short heather / gorse scrub. The air is
smooth but there is a slight incline which means the model is landing
in lift. The technique is to come in lower than you would normally,
shorten the crosswind leg and use the wind to kill the speed on
the final crosswind turn into wind. Downhill landings can be a little
disconcerting as in trying to put the model down the speed rapidly
builds up to 'chicken out' level. If this is the case DO NOT go
into the must land at any cost mode, abort and go around again.
Remember he who runs away ....
Summary - a very relaxing slope with good access (parking is adjacent
to the slope), good clean lift and a thick pile carpet to land on.
Landes (Stinky bay) (SW - W)
spent Saturday of our weekend break in this area as the slope is
only 200 metres or so from the power site. The cliffs are some 400ft
(120 metres) high and are best suited for westerly winds with a
touch of south. The lift is excellent and again very smooth. There
is plenty of sky-room but the landing spot needs picking with care
as whilst there is plenty of room there is not the vegetation cover
of Portlet Common. Where there is no vegetation there is scree which
can inflict serious 'facial' damage on a model. There are also a
number of old concrete gun emplacements close to hand which can
be found on a 'misdirected' landing approach! Whilst my sub-conscious
concerns re mid-airs were nowhere nearly so prominent as at Portlet
Common you must make allowances for 'mistakes' as there is no access,
except by boat, to the bottom of the cliffs. Graham Hill one of
our party chose to ignore this as he frequently tired to emulate
Mose's party trick at the Red Sea with the 'Vee' tail of his Rico-SHE
at the bottom of his outside loops.
StinkyBay on the 'sites' map Chris Munns of the Jersey MAC kindly
prepared for us credited this slope as being turbulent on launching.
We did not find this in the Force 4 - 6 winds we flew in although
we did find the air lumpy at the power site some 2 - 300 metres
than the comments above the landings at Stinky bay should follow
normal slope practice i.e. downwind, crosswind and final approach.
Keep the speed on, do not go too far back and do not be afraid to
go around again if you are too high. Always cater for the 'what
if' situation by keeping your options open.
an excellent coastal site. Incidentally it got it's Stinky Bay label
due to the smell given of off at certain times of the year by decomposing
Hole (NW - N)
due to a bit of rain and zero wind we were unable to fly this site.
Like Les Landes (Stinky Bay) there is no access to the bottom of
the cliffs. There is a short walk from the top car park of the Priory
Inn to the slope which is stepped. Judging from bits of modelling
debris we found it would seem most of the flying takes place on
the lower step. This would make sense as the upper slope lies in
the lee of another slope which would make the air turbulent and
interrupt lift production. Best wind direction for Devils Hole is
280 - 290 degrees but it will work over a slightly wider arc. Hopefully
on our next visit we will be able fly this site and report back.
Incidentally the food in the Priory Inn is not bad and excellent
value for money (it's the VAT that makes the difference!).
D'Olivet (N - NE)
spending a very long lunch hour in the Priory Inn waiting for the
rain to stop we first visited the Devil's Hole as it was next to
the pub and then visited Jardin D'Olivet. By the time we got here
the rain had stopped and we could fly! This is probably the best
site we visited if only for the views. Again there is no access
to the bottom but there is reasonable access down the slope to retrieve
most mistakes. The vegetation in most parts is helpful, in others
it could impart superficial damage during a normal arrival. The
slope is some 4 - 500ft (150 metres) high. Unfortunately the landing
area is in lift so low tight approaches are the order of the day.
Like Portlet Common the air is very smooth. The wind was very light
when we flew here so we only flew floaters, evens so the lift was
excellent despite the breeze struggling to disturb the frequency
ribbons. There is a 250 metre walk from the car park to the slope
which works best in a north easterly. There is also an excellent
northerly slope with a bench to sit on overlooking a small port
at it's base.
has excellent slope soaring sites and if you live within easy travelling
distance of Weymouth well worth a long weekend visit. There is a
ferry from Southampton but this takes 12 hours to get there as opposed
to the 4 hours of the high speed Weymouth ferry. I would advise
taking three models, a smallish floater, a sports aerobatic model
and something a little more serious. If you do go please contact
the Jersey MAC, they are very friendly and you will find their advice
very helpful. We booked our weekend break through Sundecker who
work in association with Condor Ferries and is a agent for the Channel
Islands Travel Service. Sundecker can be contacted by telephone
on 0845 8001010 or via their website www.sundecker.com . Finally
our thanks go out to Chris Munns, Jim, Simon, Andy and all those
of the Jersey MAC who made our stay so pleasant.
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