07 September 2010

A short flight.

I haven't managed to log many flights this year, so it's with trepidation that I watched the weather on Sunday, being my first day with a clear enough schedule to go flying.

When I get to Orcier, there are many cars parked at the landing field. Some pilots have already landed, and I get their flight impression straight away. The wind is pretty calm, but there isn't much lift around. There is a cloudy veil in high altitude, although the temperature is rather warm for the season, there isn't that much energy reaching the ground, favoring a rather stable atmosphere.

It doesn't take long to pile up in cars and drive up to Très-Le-Mont. There are numerous pilots milling about and waiting to take off on the first site, and I greet Jean-Marc, whom I last saw quite a few months ago, after his flying accident. He's obviously well enough to fly again, that's good news.

I move to the second take off site, together with Michel, whom I also haven't seen for a very long time.

We start unfolding our wings together, but I take longer to get ready as I haven't flown for so long, and I want to double-check every thing carefully. That give me the opportunity to take a few pictures as he takes off.


The lake is very still, the small cumulus clouds lining up over the Jura don't seem to move, we have some cumulus over the mountains at the back, but so far the air is pretty stable here, with a few puffs now and then triggered by thermals climbing along the take off slope.

My controls are done, and I take place in my seat. I wait for quite a while for the right puff of air, and I'm airborne. I veer sharply to the left, and then to the right, feeling quite a pull up, but my vario stays silent. I glance down and realize I've forgotten to turn it on. I'm too busy trying to scratch as much altitude I can to let go of the controls, so I wait quite a while until I can free one hand to switch the instrument on, on my way to the front of the ridge. I go through some turbulence and keep my heading as best as I can. My ascent rate seems to stay below one meter per second, but in the dips, my descent rates goes all the way to minus three meters per second. This flight is going to be short if I can't change this state of affairs.

When I get to the front, I meet Jean-Marc, and for a few seconds, I'm above him. He's struggling to gain altitude, so I'm under no illusion that I might not stay up for too long.

The thermal in which we're turning dies off, and we each go our way to try and find another one. I aim for the classic spot, above what used to be the garbage dump in the old days. There isn't much happening there, quite a bit of turbulence, but nothing I can exploit to gain altitude. I leave the ridge, hunting around above the village and find something, but too small and weak to gain altitude.
One more flight
The layer of pollution is clearly visible, a darker gray closer to the ground. this region sees too much car and truck road traffic, coupled with industrial activity.

I have been watching the air quality with horror since I moved back to this part of the world. It's been slowly spreading, slowly enough for the people that did not move away to get used to it.

It's sad, very sad...


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