Laragne 2010

The travelling went well and the accomodation, hosts and guiding by Chris White were all fantastic too!

The 1st day we flew XC north to south from St Vincent almost to St Andre (around 38km) and up to 3106m asl (1870m above launch) max 7.9m per second best lift, 3 hour 39 minute flight in big scary mountains.

The 2nd day was blown out so pottered around for a bit and I cut my foot jumping into not very deep waterfall!  Lovely scenery though.

The 3rd day was a little windy still on launch at Chabre so we were all a bit jittery and did a lot of para waiting / procrastinating. Eventually after getting Martin off a few of us flew for some nice soaring / thermalling for 1 hour 19 minutes, then shot over the back to fly 7.5km back (almost) to our accomodation.  Then we all took off for a nice evening soaring flight at another site to the west and got another hours flighting.

The 4th day is looking like a good day to go from Chabre, so all up to the top for a warm up flight / top to bottom (nice 34 minutes for me).  Then back to the top for the main flight of the day. The planned route was to the north and off we went.  Everything went to plan for me, Bill and Simon (with Chris on the tandem with his son) and we landed 3 hours 7 minutes later at goal 45 km to the north at the pass. We had 7.1 m/s max lift today and up to 2618m asl in more big mountains. Then beers (landed conveniently next to a bar)!

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Big Saturday

From very early Saturday looked good so I was keen to get out.

Headed out with Simon and passed Ean on the way who kindly provided a lift up through the fields to the wall in his Land Rover.  At the top it was blowing about 10-14mph and there were some good looking cloud streets from South Barrule.  Had a quick scratchy flight and slope land as Watty and Damian arrived.  We then all moved round to face a little further South and as Watty and Damian were setting up I took off again for another little scratch.  This time however there was a lot more lift…really good in fact so I hooked in and was getting beeps the whole way round – looked down and was close to going over the back, not especially high as had just taken off but the lift felt very good so stuck with it and continued to thermal.
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Paramotoring Trials and Tribulations

Nice light winds yesterday for the first time in a long while, perfect for a bit of paramotoring.

Loaded up the van, and headed off to the field just over the road. With the recent weather and a second child having just arrived it’s been five months since my last flight… so a thorough pre-flight examination of the wing and engine was in order. An hour or so later and all is looking ok.

Laid the wing out nicely into wind, a very light breeze coming from Kirk Michael. Strapped myself into the motor to carry it to the wing, and fired it up as I walked for a gentle warm up. Started first time (phew). Stop the engine, and dismount to attach the risers. Strap back in, heated gloves, helmet, flight deck, etc. Ditched the radio as no-one to talk to. Struggle to my feet under the weight of it all, fire up the engine, all ready for a forward launch. Check wind direction one last time. Bugger. It’s just turned and is now coming directly from the coast. Wait a bit to see if it changes back. Nope. Kill engine, dismount, move wing to face into wind…


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Annecy with Escape XC

Click for bigger interactive panorama

Phil Swales, Mike Swales, Richard Watson, Jamie Teare, Simon Atherton and Myself went to Annecy on a Paragliding holiday arranged through Jocky Sanderson and his company Escape XC, I think we all had Personal Bests for distance or duration, a brief rundown of the flying is as follows:

Si got away from the madness in front of launch (40+ gliders soaring a ridge smaller than Ballaugh..lots of near misses) and made it back onto Les Dents and then across to the Rocs des Boeufs where he scratched for ages.  He was soon joined by Watty but whilst Si was still scratching Watty made it out and got to Doussard, Si eventually landed in front of Rocs des Boeufs.  After an hour and a half in the madness in front of launch Phil, Mike, Jamie and I opted for the Landing field at Talloires.

Launched with determination to get away from launch and back onto Les Dents… glider however was pulling hard right into the trees.  I was trying to look up at lines to see if there was a tangle but couldn’t see anything in the quick glances I could steal whilst trying to avoid mid-air collisions.  My suspicions were confirmed when Chris White came on the radio saying that it looked like I had a tangle in the brake lines at my right wing-tip.  I headed away from the hill to try and clear it, but it was locked in and I had to land.  As I packed away I watched everyone manage to get away from Launch. 

The wind really picked up at Talloires landing field and from the cafe it was quite entertaining to watch the vertical and backwards descents – including Phil and Mike who were returning from made it look easy but provided no entertainment.  Si and Jamie had headed off back along the Parmalan ridge trying to get to the Hotel but with the weather closing in got stuck in a valley headwind and had to land in the valley – again vertically or backwards with Simon apparently managing to manoeuvre into a postage stamp clearing among some trees.  Watty was high up on the Parmalan ridge just below Jocky and tucking in really tight scratching hard….so hard in fact that it became an unexpected slope landing…with a very long (and quite treacherous) walk out.

A top to bottom and a quick soar before the rain came in.

Post frontal and glorious sunshine we got to launch at about 12 but waited until it was starting to work.  Soon there was the usual queue of gliders on the launch mat.  After launch spent a short while soaring in the madness until I got a decent climb above launch that enabled me to get back onto Les Dents and there soon found another thermal with Watty and Phil which got us to Cloudbase at about 2200m.  Jamie had already set off across the Lake to Rocs des Boeufs and we now followed.  Connected with the ridge and found lift all the way up to the big power lines and turned back for another neat to gain enough height to clear them but just sunk all the way back down the ridge and had to scratch for a while before I got a really nice climb that took me above the ridge and straight to cloudbase again.  Chris White was at cloudbase and I then set off with him back across the lake for Forclaz launch.  As I left Watty and Phil were climbing nicely up to cloudbase and Jamie was still scratching and not having a lot of luck.  Connected with Forclaz at road level and scratched in the gully to the right of launch for a while – slowly losing height.  Eventually was joined by another glider and they showed me the way out and shared a climb with them to base above Forclaz launch before heading off back to Les Dents.  Si had landed earlier at Talloires and had taken-off again and was now really high above Les Dents, Phil and Watty had overtaken me whilst I was scratching at Forclaz and were both nearing Les Dents.  Chris White had waited for me at cloudbase above Forclaz and we topped up at Les Dents before heading across the valley towards Parmalan.  We could see Watty ahead who was now scratching again on Parmalan.  Watty eventually made it above the ridge and Chris connected with the rock face and instantly climbed above the ridge, I was not far behind but did not find any lift and was soon scratching, constantly losing height.  Chris and Watty were patiently waiting above the ridge so that we could fly formation for the final glide back to the Hotel but it wasn’t to be as I was having to move further away from the cliff face as I was losing height and further away from the lift and had to go land in the valley.  Si had now landed at the Hotel, as had Phil and Watty and Chris flew in to join them.  Jamie got above Rocs des Boeuff but opted for Doussard landing field and Mike got high above Les Dents but with no flying partners around enjoyed the views from there before landing in Talloires.  I had a short walk of about 1Km before finding a bar and having a well earned beer.  My flight time was 3hrs and 10 mins.  Some photos can be found here (more will be added when I get them from everyone elses cameras).

 A damn fine days flying to end a really good trip.  Counting down the days till we are back there..and its not too long!

Pioneering Bulgham

Checked with the weather man at 11am Saturday morning to find out that it was to be a dull overcast day with a slight chance of some isolated winter showers brought in on the E to SE wind mainly force 3.  The met man had 5 knots East at the Point of Ayre and 9 knots South East at the Airport; I split the difference to about 112 degrees putting the wind straight into Bulgham Bay!  A few weeks earlier I had been hatching a plan to claw my way back to the top of the Cross Country League hopefully getting a couple of km’s up over Jamie’s High score, anyway, in the process I had chewed the fat with Martin about the possibilities of the site, Martin said that having already flown almost to Bulgham from Slieu Lewaigue he thought it would work, albeit that the landing out options if it didn’t work are a bit limited to say the least!

So Christmas passes, the Cross Country league closes for the year (damn it!) but Bulgham still awaits!  So I called Keith to see if he was flying and explained my theory of being able to fly from there to the beach at Laxey in the days wind direction.  One and a half hours later saw the two of us very optimistically leaving our retrieve van on the prom and heading up to the “Big Cliff”.  Once there we had a quick check of the wind at the proposed launch site to find it a very steady 12mph (I think!) and the sky absolutely full of sea gulls all of which were going up or maintaining and none of which were doing any flapping at all!  A thorough recce of all the bomb out options took place (which of course didn’t take long) and revealed that there are basically two; the first and best of which is the top (or possibly front) of the rounded hilltop on the other side of the tram tracks immediately to the left of launch and the other, sink or literally swim, bomb out in the bracken cover flat-ish looking area 3/4 of the way down the cliff immediately below launch with a guaranteed shitty landing and horrendous pack up and walk out!!!! Continue reading Pioneering Bulgham