High Hopes in the French Alps

X-Alps – TP 7 !

We were on launch with Al, on the big day that Christian Maurer was en route to collect TP7… Dennis had a call from Gavin to say he was on his way… so scouring the landscape as well as we could we could just make out a couple of canopies… armed with my instamatic camera! I took a couple of shots….

These are they, I can’t be sure but I think Chrigel is the white glider ahead… I’ve circled them to make it easier to see…

Amazing feat this is, I can’t believe it! – We’re still rooting for our British contingency, and hoping to catch a glimpse of Jon Chambers and Steve Nash… well you never know! Keep the fires burning… guys, it’s incredible just to be part of this legendary event!! but for us mere spectators, it’s just as fantastic to watch.

Red Bull X-Alps 2011



July 25, 2011 Posted by | Flying, Tuition | Leave a comment

Cold Cold Cloud, Clearing Later

Al, with thick dense cold cloud and optimism!

So the weather’s not been brilliant to say the least, no shortage of rain for a few days, then a bit of a respite for Al to get some flying in at last! We were up on launch waiting… waiting… waiting… for the cloud to finally clear. It was cold up there hanging around, then we had a dominant, consistent backwind, swiftly followed by sleet! I wished I’d got my winter clothing on… it really felt like mid winter. Snow had settled back on the Brevant, as well as Mont Jolie, Varan and Pormenaz! It really was unexpectedly cold.

We perservered and took a swift launch when we finally had a face breeze. The cloud finally lifted and the day began to improve. It was extremely unstable, so after a couple of flights we decided to do a bit of ground handling.

I wanted to ground handle my new little wing, which arrived yesterday… and hadn’t been inflated yet. We tried the lake, which was too breezy, then Batistock, which was virtually zero, so the only choice left to us was to have a go at flying. So we bussed it back up to Plaine Joux where the wind had dropped considerably, there was barely a breath for launching.

Al, was set up and took a great launch, in a momentary face breeze that came and went. Meanwhile I was setting up, and had to wait a while before anything of any acceptable strength came through. I didn’t want to fly straight away, as I wanted to fully inflate the new wing before launching. Sometimes, when they are fresh out of the factory a full inflation is worthwhile just to fully open up the cells all the way through to the trailing edge as it may not be fully inflated and remain a bit compressed, from packing.

A couple of inflations later a nice take off, and away we were. It felt great, the perfect size for me! The response was so much better, and I felt happier… a good solid feel compared to the inattentive action of the bigger one! Can’t wait to get to fly it a bit more now… could really do with the practice and bonding time.

A few more in Daily Pics.

July 24, 2011 Posted by | Flying, Tuition | Leave a comment


It’s absolutely pouring down this side of the Alps, so no flying for us…. However, it’s no biggie, why? because the XAlps is on, and we’ve been glued to our computers watching the tracks, it’s fanatastic!!! So here’s the thing, what are you doing looking at this blog when you should be here, where all the action is???

Normal, services will resume when the weather improves 🙂

One snippet of news though, we’ve managed to secure our places at the British Open in St. Jean Monclar!

July 21, 2011 Posted by | Day to Day | Leave a comment

Rain Stopped Play…

Marcia, and Rainclouds... before it rained

Well, it wasn’t looking good….  my expectation…. no flying today, but just when you expect it not to happen….. hey presto! it does!

So now that I’ve suddenly got some new found enthusiasm, I couldn’t wait to get up there and get out and play on the little Alpha again… well my glider still hasn’t been despatched. So might as well have some fun, and hopefully retain that fun element a little more instead of taking this whole life, deal, glider thing far too seriously! 🙂

It was going to be cut short by the rain, there was no doubt about that, it was just a matter of when the heavy cloud decided to offload. I took off, and was playing with another re-arrangement of my flight deck, so the flight was useful just for my flight deck set up if nothing else. I was flying around for a while doing a very mild bit of climbing and sinking, and level flying, for as long as I could before the rain spots appeared on my glasses. So that was it, time to get down, and quick.

So I thought, what exercises haven’t I done for a while? well, I haven’t done  big-ears and full bar for a while, so I tried that one, hmm… nice rapid descent, still loads of height so a nice regulated spiral, some more wingovers, and a lot of fun getting down. Whilst the rain spots started to gather more momentum.

Marcia, was having a fun flight, I flew over Plaine Joux to watch her second perfect unassisted reverse launch, and she had a very nice positive flight. We both landed at more or less the same time. Having both gleaned as much as we could out of the weather.

That was about it, the weather’s certainly arrived … so no flying for a couple of days maybe….

July 18, 2011 Posted by | Flying, Tuition | Leave a comment

Putting the Fun back into Flying!

..bit of soaring, and a view across the valley to home..

We knew the weather was on the downturn, and for me after checking the forecasts knew that yesterday was the better day, was determined to have a fly today.

However, there were three Megève balloons doing the rounds this morning and landing across the way, and there was a double wammy of lenticulars over the mountain, but on checking the wind strength it wasn’t bad lower down, and Varan was looking like a distinct possibility.

As Richard, arrived here in his 4×4 he was more than willing to take a drive up. We havent’ been  to Varan for ages, but it made for a nice change, and the launch area is just so lovely, with views across the valley back home it was great to have a site change.

We were one of the first up there, then the rest arrived! Yes, most of the Plaine Joux schools all turned up too, having the same idea. It was a merry little gathering. We waited for awhile and it was already working quite early. The sky was full of high wind and broken up cumulus so I didn’t feel I wanted to go too high. The day itself did look glorious though. Most of the students were up and off, and from our crew, Richard was off first, then Marcia and finally me.

Richard struggled to get a climb out, Marcia flew just a bit too far out into the valley, beyond the thermal line and I took off, flying the little school Alpha, but this time with my own harness and hung around ridge soaring for a while, which I love doing as we don’t get to do that very often! Then eventually caught a climb up as high as I wanted…. I was getting a bit concerned feeling the effects of the wind so didn’t want to venture too high.

...just crossing the road..

I saw Marcia, head towards Chedde where she radioed in saying she’d landed and Richard landed a while later. Meanwhile, Dennis was driving down, and back home to change vehicles and I decided I’d take a fly across the valley and go home. On the radio to Dennis, I said that I’d probably be back before him, but as it happend it was so lifty in the valley, we both arrived at more of less the same time. It was a lovely glide across the valley… and I’d forgotten how much fun the little Alpha was!

We changed the vehicles, and both drove to Chedde, so we could all fly this time. Back up at launch in Plaine Joux, where the rest of the schools were again… we were all following each other around today! Richard, and Marcia were off, then Dennis and me. Again, I had a lovely climb out almost immediately, on the sweet little Alpha, and was climbing out with an R.10.2! Imagine, the little DHV 1 school glider climbing out with an R.10, that was fun! Suddenly, I realised wow this little glider has put the fun back into my flying!!!

Marcia, Richard and Dennis had landed and I was still having a hoot up there, swooping about, tight 360ing bordering on spiraling, nice wingovers, more fun and a low save over the landing field! Then becoming responsible, as the weather was changing as expected, so decided to land, as we’d got to pick up the other vehicle and Richard, and Marcia managed to squeeze one more flight in, in the ever greying skies.

It turned out a good days flying… because we flew!

July 16, 2011 Posted by | Flying, Tuition | Leave a comment

Brit-ermarchè beginning to improve... lovely clouds!

Low cloud this morning. Dennis had a Transfer to do, so I was working with Marcia, and Richard joined us for a ride up the hill. It was post frontal and although the day started off looking like the cloud was going to keep a low lid on things it brightened up beautifully, and it was certainly xc’able, with cloud base rising to around 2600 meters, which was certainly high enough to do distance.

I worked with Marcia, until Dennis returned and then went on to do some other work. I’ve been a bit low, because I’ve only really got the little school Alpha to fly at the moment whilst I wait for the new Delta to arrive, I wasn’t particularly filled with enthusiasm to want to fly…. which was a shame really because as it turned out it was a good day and I missed it…. dag nabbit!

I did have some other stuff that I wanted to get on with whilst there was a bit of quiet in the house, which is a very rare occurance. I took that to be the opportune moment to get it done, but if I’d known the day was going to be that good, it could have waited…!

Richard flew 23kms today, nice flight and put his very first flight up on the UK XC league!! he’s encouraged me to put my flights up, I’ve been umming and arring about it, but  maybe  I’ll have a go and put some up?

As it turned out today, Marcia cracked thermalling! and is now…. well chuffed with her newly acquired skill, big smiles all round  🙂

Marcia, lives in France but is Canadian, although not French speaking, but has lived here for long enough to speak French well enough. She has been learning to fly with a French school in the South, but has had so much trouble, losing so much in translation it turned out better for her to learn in her own language. Apparently, it has been really frustrating for her as well as the instructors with simple instructions like asking her to fly ‘tout-droite’ and she kept turning ‘right!’ so now she’s finally gained the confidence she was seeking, and is much happier.

Incidentally, the French schools here do have an excellent English vocabulary, but then there are quite a few Brits ’round here, so much so they are even stocking british novels in Intermarchè now!

July 15, 2011 Posted by | Flying, Tuition | Leave a comment

Megève Memories

Megeve Altiport Airstrip

It’s been raining the last couple of days, but today although heavily clouded, the rain held off long enough for Dennis to take Marcia up the hill where she managed a couple of useful flights in practicing big ears and speed bar. So it was certainly worthwhile.

Richard our other client has some exercises to complete at Megève Altiport for his PPL or something, not sure what exactly it’s all about 😕

It does remind me of the time that Dennis took me on a lovey light aircraft flight around the valley as a birthday treat, some years back! Here’s a pic of the airstrip… on return after the spectacular event.

It’s been unusually quiet, seeings as it’s Bastille Day today, wonder if there will be any celebrations later..

July 14, 2011 Posted by | Flying, Tuition | Leave a comment

The Front is Back!

Changing Conditions

This morning, Dennis was attaching Marcia’s, Go Pro camera on her helmet, it all seems to be in order and working although up on launch the positioning looked like it might have been pointing down a bit. Can’t be sure.

It was going to be a bit of a shortish day, the weather was forecast to deteriorate but sometimes the forecasters get the timing wrong. After one flight, which I had the pleasure of flying down after launching Marcia, on board the Alpha, I could feel some strange air, which was whittering on about interferences not beingvery far away.  I enjoyed the open harness and cool air again,  considering it was so hot! by the time I’d landed I was sweltering.

Mathieu was out again, wanting to have a second flight on his brand new acquisition…  On the way up he was explaining how just hitting a bubble of lifting air he was back up another 400 meters! Dennis and Mathieu both had a fly. During their relatively short flights the West Wind had turned up, so put a handbrake on the rest of the day’s flying.

We have another pilot join us today, Richard, who has been flying for a good number of years, so he had a quick fly down, but took off early enough before experiencing the West Wind phenomenon.  The conditions were not good for Marcia, so we drove back down to Chedde.

The rain wasn’t due to arrive until late, so Dennis and Marica went out to do a bit more Reverse Launch practice….

It’s not getting any better and there looks like a substantial cold front moving in,  it looks like a day to  catch up on other things tomorrow, before it gets flyable again…. !!!

More in Daily Pics.

July 12, 2011 Posted by | Flying, Tuition | Leave a comment

Mathieu, and his Mean Machine!


We were out early, working with our most recent one to one client. Marcia.We were continuing to work on her launch and landing techniques, and it’s all coming together. It was very busy on the nursery slopes this morning with a lot of pilots training. The summer pony trekking crew are set up here again, as is usual for this time of the year, and the trekking train were off on their  merry little trail.

We managed to have a long day where Marcia had a few good flights and landings we were both of us  occupied in working with her. Plaine Joux was busy with lots going on, Boomerangs, Little Clouds and the regular glider pack were around, so it was entertaining as I was waiting for Marcia to come back up to launch to have another go.

After launching her on her third flight, I had a fly down on the sedate little Alpha, having a lazy time of it… it’s so sweet though. Funnily enough as I was carrying a bit of ballast, I had to rock back and forth a couple of times to try to get out of the harness on landing… it was lovely to feel the cool air swirling around my ankles though… I’d forgotten what fun it was without always being in the pod! Before I launched, the thermal strength was already increasing so we had to keep an eye of that for Marcia.

On landing, Mathieu was waiting, to take charge of his brand new steed in the shape of a spanking new R11…. an absolutely beautiful looking glider… although surrounded with controversy at the moment.

Mathieu's First Meeting

We went back up again where Mathieu set up and we all took some steps back to admire the mean machine! Dennis flew the Delta this time, and it did look all up and down… so I’d already decided it wouldn’t be good for Marcia. By now the hangies were setting up and launching too, and I made the suggestion that Dennis fly to Batistock, and we’d drive over there so at least Marcia could continue with her ground handling, which as it turned out was the plan that materialised. It was very easy to go up as the inversion was breaking,  Dennis had a good fly and made Batistock easily. Meanwhile Mathieu was still up in the air, although whether that was his choice or not, we wern’t to know!

Marcia, continued with her ground handling practice, whilst Dennis dropped me off back at the ranch, before returning to carry on with the ground handling instuction. It’s just been so hot recently.

Some more in Daily Pics.

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

Painted Bangers

Painted Banger!

On our way to Plaine Joux this morning there were already some warning clouds forming, so the day was destined to be another opportune window day. How long it was going to remain open for was looking like just the morning.

We did some training up on the back slope.  Marcia has a good keen run and I had no problem in wanting to launch her. So she had her first flight today.

She managed one good flight  before the weather set in. When she’d landed I’d had enugh time to drive back down so she must have gotten in at least 15-20 minutes flying. Unfortuantely, there was a little misunderstanding in that the radio was a little static but we managed to sort all of that out, and all is well.

The rest of the afternoon, Dennis did some much needed reverse launch, practice with her down at Batistock, as the rain held off and there was enough of a constant breeze to get some inflations in.

There were some ‘fun bangers!’ parked along the road today… advertising a type of Demolition Derby event. Sound’s like fun.

July 10, 2011 Posted by | Flying, Tuition | Leave a comment