Sunday, March 23, 2014

Once you have tasted flight...

Leonardo's insight amazes me. He is predicting how an event 400 years in his future will change people's perceptions. And - of course - he's right. Just as a painter can't look at a color without wondering how to make it from a basic palette, a pilot can't look at a cloud without considering flying conditions.

Today was never a flyable day, but it was interesting seeing the foehn cloud and gap caused by the wind (the Mistral deflected by the local valleys) passing over the Montagne de Coupe.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Rough Ride at Greolieres

The flying at Greolieres is on the S side of a big E-W ridge (the Cheiron). The meteo wind (especially aloft) is normally from the N but lower down the anabatic breeze, valley winds and thermals usually overpower it and give pleasant flying (which can sometimes get bumpy when you get up to ridge height). Sometimes, though, although the forecasts look fine, it doesn't work and it is just too bumpy to enjoy the flying.

Today was such a day; I took off with about 6 pilots from the Nice area. Climbing up was easy but it was very bumpy; I had no collapses but just keeping the wing open was hard work. Maybe early in the season you don't want to turn down air-time, so I waited a little to see if things would improve. But there isn't really anywhere else you can easily go to at Greolieres (airspace kinda traps you there), so all I could do was to try a few different altitudes but they were all unpleasant. So just shy of an hour I joined the other pilots in the LZ (they had all come to the same conclusion as me).

I had lunch, drank some tea, did some kiting and went back up for an early evening flight. By then things were a lot more comfortable and I flew with a couple of locals. Normally you rocket up the Cheiron in a thermal but we very slowly ridge-soared upwards and had plenty of time to enjoy the scenery.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Snowshoe Hike

Blue skies, high pressure, low winds, sunny, warm days and cold nights. That's the weather pattern here for the last week and it's predicted to stay the same for another week or so. The flying is good but it isn't great. Up aloft, there is a strong stream from the E or NE, and once you get above 2000m things become a little bumpy.

After flying yesterday, I decided on a snow shoe hike in the medium mountains (up to 2200m) today. Very pretty, though the snow was a little bit soggy. Glad I put on lots of sunscreen!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Spring Flying

Coming back to the main ridge from Sapee
After lots of hike and flies in December and January, February turned out to be a no-fly month. Most forecasts were encouraging today (RASP was the exception), so I was keen to get into the air! I guess I've been spoiled hiking with lightweight gear this winter - my normal XC gear seemed very heavy. The snow got deeper as I got higher and I was glad when I finally got up to launch.

Over St Lions, looking towards Barreme
I changed my socks for some dry ones on launch and layered up before taking to the air. Lots of punchy thermals gave plenty of lift. As usual on a decent winter's day at St Andre it was very cold higher up. I did some goldfish-bowl flying around launch (with trips to the Allier, Sommet de la Sapee, Mouchon) before landing back at La Mure after 2 and a bit hours as the batteries in my gloves died.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


I'm just back from a 2 week visit to Shanghai for work. It's a fascinating place and it's changing very quickly; I was last there around 7 years ago and I think they had 4 metro lines - now they have 14. It's also seems more accessible for westerners - more signs include English or Pinyin (Mandarin in Latin characters). Some more pics.

I'm back home now to the peace of St Andre. The weather is lovely and and I'm looking forward to some outdoor activities.