High Hopes in the French Alps

Whirlybird and Westerlies

Gendarmarie Whirlybird Rescue Training

June has been hopeless weather wise, if it’s not rain, it’s wind, if it’s not wind it’s rain, low cloud or unpredictable rapid development..

strong Westerly landing...

It hasn’t been the best month for flying,  not so far anyway, just the odd part day seems to be the June trend at the moment so it’s been a bit of a scramble for what we can glean from partially opened windows.

Today was no exception, on launch early there was already a stiff breeze, as well as  the added excitement of the local Gendarmarie doing practice rescue whirlybird routes. We launched early and I wasn’t finding the air particularly pleasant, it was ok, easy enough to climb out but then the wind would make it’s presence felt and upset the airmass. Making for a not unpleasant, but not joyous ride! I hung around for a while just feeling what was going on. There was an early Westerly influence and Westerlies are not good ’round here.

I enjoyed the flight I had, playing around with various techniques and applications I don’t feel I’ve quite grasped yet but working on, so today’s flight was an opportunity to at least attempt to perfect these more subtle manouveres. So I landed after a short but worthwhile flight.

We’d all landed and went back up for a second go. The West wind presence was much more dominant now. There were a few locals who flew, one of them was Olivier, who is such a versatile pilot he’s got a Get Out of Jail Free Card, so can fall out of the sky in an amazingly controlled manner at any given moment, unfortunately for me I don’t feel I have one of those cards not with an unlimited amount of exits anyway, so I retired to the bus and enjoyed a lunchtime picnic.

We waited in the hope that the wind was going to drop, but it had only just arrived so it wasn’t going to depart so soon by my reckoning. Anyway, I wasn’t exptecting anyone to fly although a hang glider took off and was up in no time, but that’s great as his aircraft is built for stonger conditions. Most if not all other paragliders had landed and left by now. I was expecting us all to drive down, but then noticed a glider inflating. It did surprise me that it was one of our guests…

A bit reckless I thought! but hey… if someone wants to fly and is qualified, we can only offer advice it’s not obligatory to  heed it, it’s entirely their choice – live and let live I suppose. The rest of us left our gliders safely in their sacks. Well it didn’t sit comfortably with me and sure enough a very lucky back garden with friendly tree saved the day. Still no harm done although the friendly tree lost a few branches. The owners of the property weren’t home but the house number sported a keen parachute so it turns out they were very accommodating when explanations and a bottle of peace wine were offered later in the evening.

An eventful day…..

June 16, 2011 - Posted by | Flying

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