13 July 2005

Summer coming back - Orcier

The weather hasn't been favourable lately, on Sunday we went up La Dent d'Oche but couldn't fly as the wind was very strong, and we've had low clouds and strong winds since.

Today the wind abated, and we wait anxiously for its direction to change. At last the weather beacon announces more Northerly flows after lunch, and a few of us meet at the club in Orcier. We pile up as usual in the truck and drive to Le Couteau. Alain, Joseph and Camille take off at first, and with the field clear for us, Alex and I lay our wings. The plan is for Alex to take off first, and for me to close ranks.

I take great care in laying out my risers as the brake line that snagged last time needs some repairs, and I don't want to risk another snag that might lead to that line breaking.

Alex's passenger starts by tripping and falling face down as the wing is not even up, so we pick up the canvas and lay out again. During that time, we glance at our three companions up above the take off. The Easterly component in the wind is strong, and there is quite a bit of dynamic lift on the right of the take off area.

On the second try, Alex and his passenger take off cleanly. As expected, the wind is strong and sideways and in a few seconds they have gained about thirty to fourty meters. I wait a few more seconds for a gust to straighten the wind direction and I launch myself in the slope. As my wing gets to the flying position above my head, I glance at it, and the lines are clear, but the right-hand side is deflating and about to collapse. The windsock has shifted completely to the side, but the take off isn't wide enough for me to run facing the wind, so I abort my take off. I gather my wing and lay it again.

A few more seconds wait, and I attempt my take off again. This time, the gust lasts long enough, and my timing is in sync with it, and very quickly I'm climbing very fast. I gain about fifty meters, and the wind strength drops, and I'm goming down fairly fast. My vario says minus three meters per second. This flight is going to be short if things don't change very quickly. I scratch around, very close to the trees, waiting for the next gust. My wait is rewarded and the next gust takes me up again. I play around for a short while, and then cross the gap to the front of the crest above Orcier. Alex preceeded me there, and I see him fairly high above the top of the trees already. On my way, I manage to catch a few gusts that lift me each time higher, and by the time I reach the crest, I'm quitea bit higher than Alex is.

A few minutes later, Alain and Camille come to the front too.
Three fliers

It doesn't take long to gain altitude, and I'm bobbing between 1300 and 1400m. A short while later, two more pilots take off from Le Couteau and I follow their progression from above.
Two fliers

Time passes and I'm up there, taking in the view. The mountains at the back are clouded, nice bouncy cumulus that augur good flying. Alex has gone to land, it's just a few of us playing in the gusts, the radio beacons around us have been announcing strong winds, and the gusts are indeed getting stronger. I decide to go to the landing while I have a high altitude, as I expect to loose quite a bit of height on the way there with winds that strong.

A few minutes later, I'm safely on the ground, folding my wing after yet another good flight.

Technical data: Flight duration 1:05, Take-off altitude: 1330m, Maximum altitude reached: 1430m, Total climb during flight: 1554m, Max rate of climb: +3.2m/s, Max descent rate: -5.2m/s, Landing altitude: 640m.


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