High Hopes in the French Alps

Computer Comp!

Pouring down with rain all day today… no matter, we have enjoyed watching the live play at the British Open in Slovenia… as well as get on with chalet stuff we tend to put off during sunny flyable days, although it looks like we might have a few more days in the chalet to come… Not sure about the Slovenian weather, looks like tasking is going to be difficult here on in.


May 31, 2011 Posted by | Day to Day | Leave a comment

storms ‘a brewin’

Ed... with Plaine Joux launch all to himself!

Another day with Ed, he’s doing exceptionally well just need to do some work on his reverse launches and he’s almost there.

Well, there’s not really been any flying for us the last couple of days, and it looks to stay that way for a while considering there is a change in the weather on it’s way. I don’t know what’s happened to all those lovely smooth thermals that we used to get, it’s all ‘fractus’ clouds these days with hard sharp edges, the heat of the ground is so unnatural for the time of year and the vast amount of foliage after rain just dries again so quickly releasing punch infested hot thermals, in various shapes of bendy bullets, all that and little bit of wind thrown into the mix make for some turbulent thermal tide rides!

There were some flying yesterday and it looked ok, although we got reports on how rough it was! Even the hang glider pilots chatting to them today, they were saying how they were buffetted about just keeping stable took enough of an effort. Well we had to keep our student pilot restricted to the safe times. I had a fly and an unwanted exciting time of it… so have decided to leave it for a couple of days now until this new front passes through. It’s thundering with some hailish rain now…

The Ozone Chabre Challenge in Laragne is set to get underway next week, and at the moment the first leg of the British Open is in progress in Slovenia, interesting task today. Well we were all set to fly in the 2nd leg at St Jean Montclar, later in the year but didn’t get our confirmation in, in time… here’s hoping we’ll get there if places become available. Will have to start pestering some people about it!!!!

May 30, 2011 Posted by | Flying, Tuition | Leave a comment


deceptively smooth looking

Weather’s been a bit up and down, what with it being rainy, and a bit stormy increasing winds, then some lovely sunshine although getting a bit stifling in the heat so a mixed bag of weather has been the norm recently.

lots of hangies about this weekend

We’ve been squeezing in a bit of flying around the valley but not much more than that as we are working with a relatively new cp pilot who is doing really well.

The Northerlies yesterday made for some interesting but not pleasant flying conditions, all very ropey with screaming highs, plummeting lows and wind washed thermals all very uncomfortable. More work tomorrow morning but the winds have calmed down now so the flying conditions are generally improving.

May 29, 2011 Posted by | Flying, Tuition | Leave a comment

Get Gary, He’s ATO!!

Gary... above launch!

Would have been great to have flown in Chamonix today, we had restrictons so couldn’t go. I decided to drive as I’ve been feeling a bit more needy in the flying department recently, and would have loved the extra excitement of Chamonix, so I offered to drive for Dennis and Gary.

substantial cloud growth!

They had a couple of good flights, and Gary managed to climb out above launch for the first time!! so he was happy and did a merry little dance on landing!

On the drive down Rory suddenly popped up  on the radio, having flown from the Plan again… sounds like it was another good one. He was asking me to phone someone to say he was still flying, didn’t quite unravel the message, the reception wasn’t brilliant, so couldn’t help. Later he phoned to say he tried to get back to Chamonix where it was already raining, so didn’t quite make it.

After midday it was time to keep a watchful eye on the development and land before being devoured by cloud. The weather is set to be a bit lousy tomorrow but Monday is looking better… fingers crossed, maybe we’ll get to Chamonix… I hope so.

May 21, 2011 Posted by | Flying | Leave a comment

Short but Sweet

the ever increasing cloud I flew away from...doesn't look so bad now!

Green Dragons headed back yesterday after some great flying and an added bit of Chamonix excitement! It was a bit of a slow start for us this morning with chalet work to do and Gary arriving sometime before noon. The forecast was ok for the most part until the forecast storms arrived so we did get to fly but again only a swift one. Well Gary and me had a fly as Dennis had the drivers job. On launch it was a get up and off quick smart as the cloud was already beginning to build all around the valley but it looked like it’d be ok for an hour or so…

There wern’t many about, as launch was clear, so I was away quite quick. Gary followed a bit later.. it was suspiciously smooth but ‘nice’ so I stuck with it, it was mostly sink until I found a few blips which led me to a 5 m/s almost straight up climb. Looking around I saw the straight edges of what looked like icing clouds but wasn’t sure. I really wanted to get up to base, but then again… maybe it would be wise to fly out and have a look back. I scanned the clouds to see if there were any other gliders about, and saw one white gradient really high, spiralling and acroing his way down so the thought did cross my mind that it may be wise to fly away. I have to consider the fact that having to do fast descending acro manouveres or prolonged corkscrew tight spirals in my case may be to much without having to consider a blackout as well, so for me avoiding the need is the correct course of action!

I went on a nice glide at 1876m flying over Chedde where Gary had landed… thought he’d be showing me all the thermal activity in the valley, but it appears there wasn’t any!  I played around at Tête Noir then decided to head back to Plaine Joux wasn’t sure about the cloud though. It was very messy and difficult to get a climb back out and the temperature was really heating up lower down, if I’d perservered I may well have got another climb but decided it was only going to be a short one today.  It’s raining now with the odd thunderous rumblings.

It’s looking like this weather scenario is set for a few days to come. So morning flying is the best and only time it seems…

May 20, 2011 Posted by | Flying | Leave a comment

Change of Scenery…

arriving at Plan d'Aguille - launch on the right.

The morning was forecast to be ok, but later to deteriorate. It was as forecast so we were out early and at Bois du Bouchet to meet Gavin and Rory for a flight from the Plan d’Aguille.

looking down to fairer skies - the big stuff was behind!

It was a nice change to go to Chamonix and enjoy the quieter season at the lift station, no queues!

It was looking ok, a bit of cloud build up but nothing too much. It was relatively quiet on the Plan d’Aguille launch with only a handful of pilots. John turned up laden with ice axe and crampons having been to the top and deciding it was too cloudy so retreated down to the lower level Plan.

Gavin was the first to go, then a couple more, Rory, me, John and Dennis. I could see Rory scraping about on the Brevant side, where I  joined him.. after a lovely half bar glide across the Chamonix valley. John was following and Dennis had caught up in no time. There was a lot of scraping about and significant cloud growth. We all managed to climb out although John decided it wasn’t such a safe bet considering he had an ice axe poking out the back of his harness and a pair of crampons stuffed in there so his plan was to land at Bois de Bouchet.

Meanwhile, Rory was ahead of me, and I took a line over Pormenaz where I caught another climb, but took it only partially up to base as there was a distinct straightening of the cloud formation and it was heading in my direction. So I held a regular bar and kept a safe distance. Dennis had taken a different tactic and chose the technical route around the front of Pormenaz at what looked to me quite a low altitude, but perspective can play tricks from certain angles.

We all made it with some fun and feisty moments, wrapped up in a couple of luxurious glides and thermalling with beautiful birds… what a wonder! Again, the day was sadly cut short by storm development both in Chamonix and our valley.

May 18, 2011 Posted by | Flying | 2 Comments

Green Dragons Fired Up to Chase Thermals

Group Photo

We have some Green Dragons with us at the moment, a last minute decision to come out as the weather was looking a bit better in this part of the world than the UK apparently. Also it gives the new CP pilots a chance at some height and thermal practice. It’s great to see Andy Shaw and Mike Agnew here, having flown with Mike in Slovenia, it’s nice to see him in our neck of the woods, slightly different alps than the Slovenian ones.  It was much appreciated that we got a  lift up to launch too!

One of the guys, Chris has a ‘Stealth Hanglider!’ with the amazing ability to disappear once launched, I wonder if it has one of those cloaking devices?! Dennis had to point out to me when he had landed as he looked like a shadow on the landing field! It’d look great in the snow though!

Early on the thermals were very weak, So when Mike had his first flight it was just a bit early in the day, he made the most of it though. When Andy drove back down to landing to pick them up for another flight, we set up to go. Dominic arrived with his R10.2, talking about flying to Gap! wow what a flight that was of his, last year around 243kms or thereabouts so he knows the route!  Denis Versin and some other locals as well as some visitors, were arriving full of anticipation. It was looking so promising to start with, with gorgeous clouds popping delightfully off over the Aravis. The difficulty would be to get a climb out of what was a thickening inversion up to  fussy cloud fragments towards Varan. The forecast was looking like it was going to be a good xc day… and it would have been had the development not been so swift, the inversion not so dense and erratic, the thermals not so ill formed, and the NW/NE wind showing up uninvited! Other than that it would have been excellent..

Anyway, we did what we could, if anything it was another day of Delta bonding, good thermal, and good inversion busting practice. It was indecisve weather… which doesn’t assist my thought patterns at all. Dennis and Denis were thermalling together and both went on glide to the shale cliff, I was having an enjoyable climb and was happy to watch them both zoom off in a couple of sink lines.. next thing 180’s and they were both out of there.. where I saw Denis take what looked like a full stall. It was no drama though and all was well.

I enjoyed my flight but could see the cumulus towering, getting darker at the bases and it altogether taking on a much more ominous appearance, this was enough for me to know that there was no xc for me today.  I clocked Dennis flying off across the valley, he radioed to say he was heading home.. That seemed feasible, as when I was high, I could see the water on the lake looked quite placid and undisturbed so thought the wind wouldn’t be a problem!! Wrong!!!! – Dennis ended up cutting it short and landing in a safety field, a field we’ve both used on occasion when we’ve been caught out. Unfortunately though, it played havoc with his hay fever!

Meanwhile I decided to land back at Chedde where Denis Versin was packing up, and  Dominic was there also, not sure where he landed but I didn’t see his glider, not quite a Gap day today then.  Anyway, I picked up the bus and went to retreive Dennis, who was having a  bit of an ordeal with the pollen count!  Not long back at the house we could see it was already precipitating at take off, and in other close but isolated areas. The day was all but done by then, as it would most definately have gone katabatic on launch..

The Green Dragons were certainly enjoying their thermal chasing getting some good thermalling and great climb outs! under the sound instruction and supervision  of Andy and Mike,  shame the day was cut a bit short…

May 18, 2011 Posted by | Flying | Leave a comment

No Flying but a Fun Photo..

Weather has been weather, much needed rain… everything was beginning to look parched, the grass was drying out and taking on a distinct dried sand complexion, but all has been refreshed.

What is it? arigato gozaimasu or syonara..?

Consequently no flying. Over the weekend a small group ventured into Italy to check if it was any better the other side of the mountain, which turned out to be a bit of a wasted trip. A couple of beats along from the Plan d’Aguille to Flegere was all that was permitted by the weather. Since then not much else, except a lowering snow line!!

Today is not looking too good we already have lenticulars over the mountain with darkening cloud cover, and alto cumulus with dropping temperatures. Still looking on the bright side it’s en route to improvement.

We received a few photos from Alex and Natalies visit, have to say this one got me guffawing! anyone would have thought we were connected!! Very polite from a Japanese etiquette perspective don’t you think? Well that’s the full extent of my Japanese O, except that I can count to 10 as well!

May 15, 2011 Posted by | Day to Day | Leave a comment

Groundsuck be Gone!

spot the glider..

So I’ve missed a number of days of updates… been a bit rushed.

Instead of backtracking I’ve decided to just continue where we left off and fill you in on the last flying day, which was yesterday,  if you were free to fly. We have just completed a ten day flying course with a one to one client who we dropped off back at the airport yesterday, and as we haven’t been to Geneva for a while we decided to do a bit of shopping, as Balexert is an excellent shopping centre, not that we do much!

It was flyable in the morning although wasn’t to last so we gave the day a miss, and today storms are forecast and the cumulus were already towering  early on, although still flyable for a while, now it’s raining with thunder cracks and lightening strikes so it’s all very dramatic and giving me a bit of time to do this!

The most recent flight I had was the 9th of May, it was lovely to get back up to cloudbase being around 2600 meters, and go on a glide across the valley after what seems like an age of suffering with ‘groundsuck!’ so finally touching cloudbase  was a real delight, and I can’t wait to get back up there again…

This last week Dennis got to fly a couple of different gliders, the Ozone Ultralite with Oxygen reversible rucksack/harness and Huw’s Paratech P28 glider, both of which he really rated. Apparently the Ozone Ultralite was exceptionally stable and agile and the harness unexpectedly solid and comfortable, he was very impressed, apparently the brake travel was a little on the long side. All in all a couple of very respectable gliders.

May 11, 2011 Posted by | Flying, Tuition | Leave a comment

Picture Update

Apologies for being a bit slow on the blogging front just now… so many things going on!

Here’s an extremely basic update…

1st May – Great day for students, the sky was full of them!

2nd May… a great day for flying, great for everyone, although there was foehn in Chamonix early on, it didn’t have an effect here. The Southerlies gave the valley a distinct ‘ridge soaring’ feel which is very rare but enjoyable. We have a one to one on Direct Instruction client with us and the conditions are so favourable at the moment…

the last couple of days in pictures.

May 4, 2011 Posted by | Flying | Leave a comment