Friday, March 25, 2011

Into the Mountains

The flying forecast looked really good for Friday and not so good for Sunday - a good reason to exchange some Friday flying for Sunday working. I was a little late setting off and I could see wings in the air as I hiked up; it was obviously pretty strong and I saw a couple of substantial collapses - always thought provoking. By the time I reached launch everyone had either landed or headed off. Conditions were a little gusty on launch; the clocks have not changed yet in France and I realized - in solar time - I was a bit late to be launching.

Once in the air, though, conditions were lovely; strong, but smooth (by St Andre standards, anyway). There were enough clouds to help mark the lift, but not so many to be threatening. It was cold, and I knew the batteries in my gloves would give up after 2 hours, so I didn't commit to any long distances.

After flying for an hour and a bit I had a choice whether to head back to St Andre or to fly deeper into the mountains. I decided to keep flying North, and followed the Verdon up to Allos, landing just after my glove batteries ran out. A local gave me a lift to Colmars and I took the bus back to St Andre (all of 3 Euros). It's just great to be able to have such good flights in March, but a little frustrating to land because of the cold. 

Monday, March 7, 2011


The butcher's shop in St Andre has changed hands. I went there this morning and bought a pintade ( guinea fowl, I think) for my Sunday evening meal. I got a big surprise when I unwrapped it this evening; a head looking at me. Yep, it still had head and feet … 

Mind you, it tasted pretty good once it was cooked. Probably as near a 'hunter' experience as I'll ever have…

Sunday, bumpy Sunday

Today's forecast degraded over night. it was encouraging enough to go up the hill, but long before getting to launch I doubted it would be good. The wind was too strong, the sky was too blue and then I saw a couple of wings struggling at launch height.

I flew for about 30 minutes before deciding to land. Some of the thermals were really abrupt, like flying into a brick wall. But they were all broken up; I could only get 250m above launch. It didn't really feel dangerous, but I didn't see any point flying all afternoon in super-rough air with limited terrain clearance.

The air was messy enough to avoid the main LZ. I landed at La Mure in gusty conditions and spent an hour talking to an old gentlemen. He had seen me land and offered me a lift back to St Andre but he settled for a chat.

 A not very impressive tracklog

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Very Cold Triangle

Every pilot hopes for a good flying forecast on Saturday! Today's fit the bill, so I headed eagerly up the hill. Surprisingly (and a little spookily), launch was deserted but conditions looked great as I ate my lunch. 

Normally at St Andre, you launch and go straight up. Today I spent an uncomfortable few minutes below launch before finding organized lift. Conditions were very nice but it was cold; the views were exceptional. I knew I could only fly for a couple of hours and I wanted to keep the logistics simple. So I decided to fly a little triangle I've flown before; this took me over Le Petit Cordoeil, where I hiked last weekend.

Clouds became more and more of a problem as the day went on. There are many places around St Andre with limited LZs, so this gives fewer escape routes. But a combination of going round some clouds and using a lot of bar below others did the trick. 

The batteries in my gloves gave up after 2 hours; I rushed back to St Andre, landed and spent the next 10 minutes warming my fingers. Considering it's the start of March, a pretty good day - and tomorrow's forecast is even better!