Friday, September 20, 2013

The Red Nova Club does Allos

Gliding onto Chamatte - I'll
arrive just above ridge height

Things were very slow on launch and Nigel asked about my flight plan. I said I hadn't flown to Allos this year and fancied rectifying that. Nigel said that he and Dieter had the same plan. 

I took off pretty late - quite a while after Nigel and Dieter - and it was slow going. On days like this, the traffic calms down quickly once you leave launch. I milked all the help I could from other pilots - especially vultures! - but by half distance I was flying by myself. 

Nigel and 3 Red Novas
I stuck with it, the top of lift slowly raised and in the end I arrived over Allos with a ridiculous amount of ground clearance. Far below, I saw a pilot land in the standard LZ. I spiraled down and found Dieter and Nigel - red Factor 2 and red Mentor 2 - waiting for me as I landed with my red Mentor 3. 

Flight plans don't always pan out like they did today! 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Oregon Tourists

Dan with the South Launch in the background

Dan and Mary-Beth have been visiting from Oregon. Since Dan retired a couple of years ago they've become paragliding tourists, spending the Northern winter in Australia, and clocking up tons of flying hours in both hemispheres. They're doing a 1 month European swing and came here after a great trip to Annecy.

It was interesting for me - how do you explain flying St Andre? It's not a very accessible site and I remember my first flights here felt very exploratory.

Conditions weren't great but they weren't bad either (better than this season in general, but worse than a typical start to Sept). Dan had a bunch of flights but work commitments limited my flying with him. I think we had 6 flights together, including my first evening flight of the year. His last flight here was probably his best. Despite an unpromising forecast and lowish ceiling, we flew a nice little loop out to the west and landed together at La Mure.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Mercantour Hike

Mistral conditions are great for hiking but bad for flying, so I headed to the Mercantour national park for some high altitude hiking. A seven hour hike - no mountain tops, but three high (2600m) passes - left me nicely pooped at the end of the day. The scenery was stunning (though my camera died after a couple of hours, so you'll have to believe me). Wildlife was pretty much limited to lots of plump marmots, waddling into their dens as I approached - they look ready for their hibernation!

I must admit I spent a lot of the hike looking at flying possibilities heading towards Italy and they did look pretty promising. But afterwards I did some checking. The rumors that the park rules now allow XC flying turned out to be incorrect. Despite some minor changes, you have to be have 1000m terrain clearance over the national park and that essentially rules out almost all flights towards Italy from St Andre. Bummer.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Le Chateau de Seisset

I had a morning big ride today that passed through Clumanc. Clumanc is a commune but isn't really a village, it's more a collection of several hamlets, farms and isolated buildings. One of those buildings is the Chateau de Seisset (there is also a Ferme de Seisset) . It's an impressive building but more like a bastide than a chateau and it only seems to be occupied for a few weeks in the summer.

The amusing thing is that someone has decided the whole idea of chateaux isn't republican enough ("we didn't fight a revolution to have castles..."). So this someone puts up sticky tape to hide the "Chateau de" from the signpost put up by the commune. Every now and again it gets removed but a few days later, it's back again.