17 August 2007

Walking on the gliders...

The whole morning, I have my eyes upwards, checking the cumulus forming in the sky. I am convinced this is going to be a good flying day. The rain of the previous day has loaded the air with moisture, the fairly strong sun is creating a lot of instability and there isn't a very strong wind yet.

I get to the field fairly early, one car is leaving, but they're full. Too bad. I wait for a short while and Michel arrives. He's in the group of very good pilots. We chat a bit while waiting to see if anybody else arrives. It's a pity to "waste" a car going up half-empty. The weather beacon has been reporting a light North-Westerly wind, and that's very encouraging.

After waiting for over twenty minutes, we take my car and drive to Très-Le-Mont. Take off will be at Le Couteau. On the way up, we see that the group I saw departing is taking off. When we get there, the last of the group leaves the area, he must have been using the thermal that often develops to the right of the take off, but he wasn't able to gain much altitude and had to head for the ridge.

I'm ready and wait for Michel to take off. He messes up his first attempt, and while he's laying his wing again, I take off. I timed it pretty well, the ascendence on the right is there and I'm about twenty meters above the field in a few seconds. A few minutes later, Michel joins me. The area is a bit too small for two pilots to be comfortable, and I loose a bit of altitude. I see Michel head for La Chapelle, but I'm slightly too low to follow him. I circle a few times more but the thermals have abated and I have to move to the ridge. On the way there, I cross a thermal and quickly come back to circle it. I gain enough altitude to come back above take off. A few more turns and I judge I'm high enough to cross the pass to Les Hermones.
Les Hermones
Half-way through the crossing, I gain more height in a thermal fow. Things look pretty good. I can see the trees moving on the side of Les Hermones, there must be a fair amount of activity on the slope. A few minutes later, I am in the thermals and quickly pass the height of the church. I can see Michel is very high, probably close to cloud base, but I'm getting a bit cold and decide to remain fairly low. I progress to the end of the mountain, just above La Dranse, snap a picture of the antenna and turn around. I'm low and get caught a few times in downdrafts with nothing to climb back up. I decide to make a dash for the thermal below the chappel and make it right at the bottom. Fortunately, it's still very active, and I manage to climb back a a very short time. three to four meters per second is a good ascending speed...

I soar in fdront of the chappel, to entertain the crowd of kids and enjoy the scenery, but I'm getting cold, and suddenly the thermal activity ceases. In a few minutes I'm suddenly very low. Time to escape towards the ridge. I make it with only a couple dozen meters to spare, and the thermal I was hoping to be there saves the day: in a few minutes I'm again very high.

Les Hermones

There are pilots all over the place, and from the corner of my eye, I spot a glider. It's not the type we see usually around here. He's quite a bit lower, and remains in the area, where "our" gliders normally leave when we get to their height. I'm way above him and I can clearly see insite its cockpit. There are two people. I'm not 100% sure they've seen me, and since they're clearly not from here, I decide to leave the area.

Fly high 2

I was planning to gain a bit more altitude before I crossed over to go home, but this will have to do. A few minutes after my departure, as I'm fiddling with the camera, I feel a gentle tug on the harness, and the vario begins its chime. I'm climbing. I take a couple of turns, just to be on the safe side, but more to enjoy the view from an unusual height.

Allinges from the top

I get to cloud base and the perspective from here is amazing. The clouds are reflected in the lake.

Getting to cloud base

I progress forward and pass the castle from a height I've never achieved before. I go over my house, and I'm still a thousand meters above ground. I go further, to Le Chateau de Lauzenette, that I normally see when I go mushrooms hunting.

I still have plenty height to spare, and I come back to the castle. A lot of people are milling about, as usual on such a beautiful day. As I pass one of the viewpoints, I hear my name being called out. Jean-Marc, another paragliding pilot, is there taking pictures. I see him take a few when I go past, and he gestures that he wants to take some more from the other castle. I go away to gain a bit more height in the thermal and give him time to move to the other side. A few turns in the thermal give me enough height to go in front of the further castle. There's a pretty strong updraft there too and I take a turn in it. I push the brake too low and initiate a spin. Oooops...

Fly high 2

I release the brake immediately, and the wing re-inflates instantly, I turn to avoid the tower while imagining the newspaper headlines "Habitant d'Allinges casse la tour du chateau"...

I do a few more turns over the castles and head back home. Gisèle and her brother are outside and wave as I fly overhead. The kids are excited and run around. I want to land in the field below Gisèle's house, but a sudden downdraft makes me lose too much altitude, I do a U-turn to come back to my usual landing field, and on the second U-turn, very tight, at very low speed, the left wing stalls and I'm on the ground a bit sooner than I anticipated. Fortunately, I was very low and there's nothing bruised other than my ego. Good thing there was no witness.

Fly high 2

I check my vario, this flight was a bit over two and a half hours. What a ride!

Technical data: Flight duration 2:45, Take-off altitude: 1330m, Maximum altitude reached: 1830m, Total climb during flight: 4275m, Max rate of climb: +5.2m/s, Max descent rate: -4.2m/s, Landing altitude: 640m.


Blogger Jallen Dragonhide said...

I could feel my pulse quicken as I read this flying log... That is quite a height with a paraglider!!! wow! And the pictures are wonderful!

I bumped into a comment from you on HelloPhotoKitty, and its been a while since I checked on you.. So.. HOWDY There!

-Tim aka Jallen Dragonhide


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