I'm afraid I do almost all my flying at St Andre and seldom take a wing elsewhere. But, in the depths of winter, the snow and the cold can get to me and I drive down to Greolieres for a day's flying. It's quite a transition - winter to spring, mountains to the Med, snow to sun, boots to trainers and a more social flying experience.
Looking N over the Cheiron to bigger hills
After a few gray days here, a good forecast drew me down today. In fact, I got carried away by the sun and didn't dress up quite enough. Up on the Cheiron, I was cold. I did the standard 'out and back' to Coursegoules but by then needed to warm up. I got low again and soared just above launch before landing after 2 hours.
The flying forecasts here seem break down in the winter. I'm sure there are people who can explain exactly what is going on, but WYSINWYG (what you see is NOT what you get) becomes the rule. I've lost count of the times 50+ Kph winds were predicted, I went on a hike and it's been essentially calm at ridge height. In winter I'm generally looking for a nice safe hike and fly, yet some forecasts try to apply summer criteria ('conditions inexploitables') to acceptable conditions. Other forecasts come to farcical conclusions, like the top of lift being 500m above launch 4 hours after sunset.
Anyway, despite the forecasts, I had a typical winter hike and fly off Chalvet today. A lot of hiking for not very much flying, with a distinct absence of vario beeping.
Yesterday was windy and wet and I hid indoors all day. This morning there was a light dusting of snow on the peaks, sun and a cold, strong wind aloft. I kept low and had a long hike around the Thorame valley and enjoyed the fall colors.
I was hoping for a hike and fly this weekend, but the winds aloft haven't cooperated. I settled for a lovely hike today in the Corradour and Coyer. I set off a little later than I intended and had to rush to get back down just before dark. Fall is very scenic here!
Toussaint (all saints' day) is a holiday in France, together with the 11th of Nov. St Andre gets a lot of visitors for these holidays from pilots hoping to extend their flying season. But today the weather didn't really cooperate - flyable but, with very little sun and a low inversion, maybe not soarable. Launch was crowded but without much action - vultures were seen flapping and almost all launchers sunk without trace.
But it clearly wasn't going to 'turn on' and seemed as likely to get worse as improve, so I launched and enjoyed an unusual flight for St Andre. Very marginal lift, mostly ridge soaring and lots of traffic around launch (pilots that sunk out came back up for second or third flights). A few thermals took me to a maximum of 200 m over launch, and I also had to work my way up from 150 m below launch more than once. Lift was scarce enough that you had to concentrate to stay up. I managed to mow up and down the ridge to the Antenae to avoid the traffic. From around 3.00 the lift weakened and things got a little quieter; I concentrated on staying up and landed just shy of 4.00, after a little more than 2 hours in the air.
The contrast to the normal flying here was a nice change and it was about as good as you could hope for from such an unpromising gray day...