Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Flight of the Year

I spent the last few days in London as a tourist and got back to St Andre late on the 30th. This gave me time to get a last flight of the year; and it was a very simple, standard hike and fly. I landed in the normal St Andre LZ; the last few times I landed there, it was covered in snow. The snow has melted and I hadn't realized that this had left the LZ very, very muddy. By the time I walked off the LZ, my boots weighed about 5 Kgs each!

At this time of year, you always think back to the years flying (and the year generally). I no longer keep a careful log of my flights, but I posted 52 hours on Leonardo, so I'm going to guesstimate I had about 80 hours in total. I was a bit disappointed in how little flying I got in during the spring (due to work demands and poor conditions) but apart from that, I feel I've had a great year. Some fabulous flights without any incidents at all (no collapses, no bad launches, no bad landings, no dramas at all). In fact, landing in a muddy LZ was as bad as it got!

Let's hope for the same in 2011!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

December Hike and Flies

I'm used to Oregon and over there the winter months just drag by. Gray skies and lots of rain make flying difficult and even hiking is hard work.

But the early part of the winter has flown by here and I can't believe it is Xmas already. There have been plenty of days of bad weather - mostly snow, sometimes rain. But here precipitation falls quickly and you seldom get a run of bad days. St Andre is just at the altitude where the snow can last for weeks or it can melt in a few days.
The result has been plenty of sunny days; normally with a lot of snow on the ground but right now it has almost all melted. I've had several hike and flies (and, of course, a few hikes too); I take my lightest gear and the hiking is a pleasure. There have been two general problems. First, the hiking can take a lot longer when the snow is difficult. Second, there are lots of days with light winds in the valleys and strong winds at or just above ridge height; unfortunately, you can seldom launch on the way up, so you have to choose your days carefully.

I'm using my electric gloves and they make such a difference, both in the hiking and flying. Today is Xmas and I managed to get in a quick hike and fly, using the W launch of Chalvet. Door to door, when the snow is easy, is a tad under 3 hours. The christmas duck is in the oven, I'm about to light the fire, the ski season has just started - not too bad! 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Snowy Hike and Fly

Another very cold night with a big blue sky and snow in the morning. Light winds made a hike and fly the obvious choice and I considered a few peaks. For a bunch of reasons (mainly avalanche risk and not having that much time) I choose the normal S launch at St Andre and took my lightest flying gear and warmest clothes.

The hike up was beautiful, with the snow getting deeper all the way up. On the summit there was essentially no wind; the S launch is not at all steep and with the deep snow it wasn't obvious I could even get off. I made a couple of take-off 'trenches' in the snow and dug a little edge to stop my wing sliding down the hill. To make matters worse, I had my little speedwing and what little wind there was changed direction once I laid out.

Anyway, I just got off and had a very short flight down to the LZ. Despite this being my first sled ride at St Andre, I really enjoyed it!

A few pics

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sunshine and Snow

Most of this week has been beautiful; cold, lots of snow with a blue sky. I've been fairly busy and had a cold at the start of the week, so I didn't get out as much as I'd have liked. But I felt better today and had a very pleasant hike. Most of the paths had either no tracks on them or just animal tracks.

A few pics