High Hopes in the French Alps

Plan d’Aguille for Some, Plaine Joux for Others

View from the Aguille du Midi

The wind was calm on the Midi, so the decision was to try to fly the Plan d’Aguille later this afternoon. Dennis and Rozi went up to the Aguille du Midi first, as Rozi had never seen snow, coming from the Southern Hemisphere.  I, meanwhile stayed here… believing it was actually going to be better flying here at home than the Plan today.

As it turned out by the time they’d got down to the Plan, there was not much to hold them aloft so they had landed after a somewhat short flight.. Taking off from the Aguille du Midi, without crampons, a stout heart and protection rope would have been a fools errand, an error  that would only have been made once, if you got it wrong!  Apparently it was precarious to say the least.

Anyway,  I was on my way up to Plaine Joux, and was rewarded with a lovely afternoon evening extended flight accompanied by friendly waving Ben again… we circled around and about, took some good glides, some close scratches and landed at more or less the same time. Dominic Guenard was having a great flight, before going off to St. Hilaire tomorrow. Dennis and Rozi arrived at Chedde to pick me up.  As soon as I’d landed, without further ado I was whisked into the bus and driven back up to launch so Rozi could have his last flight, as he leaves tomorrow, and I could drive the other vehicle back down.  All in all, it’s been a nice few days.


September 22, 2011 Posted by | Flying, Guiding | Leave a comment

The Doussard Downwind Dash

Dennis & Rozi, doing the Doussard Downwind Dash!

We went to Annecy today. Following a happy VW camper en route! Nice to have a trip out and a change of scenery.

This time of year, the charm of Annecy still remains although the pilot numbers are much fewer, the thermals much more scarce and the xc’s (today) were non-existent, well it seemed so. We went up to Montmin, they’ve done a lovely job up there now, it always was good but it just got better. With a terraced area, w.c’s, parking all very accommodating.  Conditions were stable and as it started to improve a high white cloud shield arrived putting swift closure on any hope of air acitivity. Dennis and Rozi had a desperate scratch to get some sort of anything, abandoning the challenge before completly running out of glide steam and headed for Doussard. Meanwhile, I had a nice walk with Tizzy then drove down.

The next stop was Plan Fait, where again the same scenario ensued, only this time more pilots huddled in little clusters around launch, going nowhere. They did manage to get a little above launch, but that was the extent of it. It just didn’t appeal to me, so I decided to give it up for the day so Dennis and Rozi flew again… they were already almost at touchdown when I arrived back at Talloires. So not much doing…

I did however get to sit in an Advance Impress 3… in fact, I didn’t really sit in it, I was engulfed in the the thing! more like a tent… could have fitted a kitchen in there with me! Admittedly, it was a large but I just wanted to have a play… Michel Ferrer showed up in Les Passengers du Vent, shop we had a little he was thumbing through this months action packed XC mag!

It was a day out… which is always nice.

More in Daily Pics.

September 21, 2011 Posted by | Flying, Guiding | Leave a comment

Afternoon Play

Ben and me, (taking the pic!) on one of our mini glides

We’ve had a few nice autumnal days flying. The weather has been extremely sweet and agreeable. Dennis, was out working with Rozi, our client whilst I had other things to get on with before joining them later on in the afternoon.

Enjoyed a lovely afternoon’s flying and was playing around in the air with Dennis and Ben, there were a lot of non locals around today… don’t know where they’d come from but it was an exceptionally lovely aftrnoon. The inversion was present but weak, easy climbs, light puffy clouds and pleasing glides.

September 20, 2011 Posted by | Day to Day | Leave a comment

Weather Change on the Way

Today looks like it’s going to be the best day to fly, as the next couple of days are looking a bit iffy. Dennis and Alistair went out early to do some Spiral Dives, whilst I had the morning off and decided to potter about in the house until the thermals started to improve. It was looking mighty stable all day and as I looked over towards launch and checked the webcams the extent of the excitement was nothing more than a few float downs. I went out later in the afternoon banking on it improving around 3pm, which true to form it did. It turned out to be really nice flying and again climb outable which is good for this time of the year. Just some nice pleasant autumnal flying… before the change in the weather started to show.

A few more pics of the last couple of day in Daily Pics.

September 16, 2011 Posted by | Flying, Guiding | Leave a comment

a.m. Cham, p.m. PJ

This morning in Chamonix (there is a glider, if you look closely)

A morning in Chamonix was followed by an afternoon at Plaine Joux. Conditions were stable again, but enjoyable enough. Chamonix is always entertaining even if its not working particularly well. Just watching the speed riders coming in is one thing, and hearing them before you see them is another!! Yes, there were a few of them about today. Conditions weren’t enough to fly out, but certainly enough to maintain for a while. We decided to go to Chamonix this morning as the Brevant lift station is due to close on Sunday, so we thought we’d get a flight in beforehand. All is not lost though, as the Aiguille du Midi is still open so we can still fly there.

This afternoon, we relocated to Plaine Joux, it was quite busy with the military out as well as Annecy Irwyn, with some guests. Roland was flying his speed wing,  it turned out to be a merry throng up there. I was on driving duty, and Dennis was awaiting a delivery of winter fuel in the shape of logs to arrive. Alistair, our guest had a good flight, making the most of what he could muster out of the inverted air, mild thermals and cooling temperatures. He managed a prolonged flight though…..

Tomorrow is looking ok although, there is some deterioration forecast towards the weekend… we’ll see.

September 15, 2011 Posted by | Flying, Guiding | Leave a comment

Air of September


Another flyable day… although having said that it didn’t look like it was going to be first thing. We had a fair bit of cloud clover with low level clagg, so we had to wait for the cloud to lift before we could venture out to fly. As it turned out, the weather was fine, in fact a bit warm for the time of year.

It started off a quiet day.. . As it’s such a spectacular view of Mont Blanc from our launch area, the Shearings coaches stop by on there Annecy and the French Alps tours so all the old folks pop in and have an ice cream whilst watching all the paraglider pilots impersonating lemmings! For me, I find it endearing to hear them speaking in that English tone that only the pensioners can speak, about having indigestion and asking if ‘anyone’s got a Rennie?. I suppose not hearing English spoken in that manner for years makes it sound quite warm to my hearing….

There were a group of school children having a lesson on the launch area..  not learning to fly, I might add, more of a geography lesson or something, so it was all a bit busy but not with pilots! First off a couple of tandems  flew and managed to get a climb out above launch, later… Lucas Bernardin, one of the top French Pilots on his R11, as well as Mathieu also on his R11, were whizzing around all over the valley. Watching the glide that these guys have on those gliders is incredible.. I can certainly appreciate the sense of ‘loss’ they must feel in not being able to fly them in comps anymore, but on the other hand I can also appreciate the ‘loss’ families have felt from those who flew them and never made it home….

Not wanting to get too poignant, it turned out to be a nice days flying. Alistair and me had a nice flight and Dennis flew afterwards, so we were all happy.

September 12, 2011 Posted by | Flying, Guiding, Tuition | Leave a comment

Another Morning in Chamonix

Brevant Lift and Station

that was about as high as most got...

We’ve had a couple of busy days, we’ve two Canadian pilots staying, and we’ve also had the pleasure of the company of some friends from Australia stay the last couple of days… needless to say, the wine was in full flow last night, a first for a long time! We had a day in Chamonix where it was another one of the über stable variety, so no xc’s. It was a stuggle to get anywhere. Dennis topped out just 100 meters above, but that was all, and I was scratching about in search of something that would take me a bit higher than I was, but all I got was the odd ‘beep’ and some good honest sink all the way to landing! So it was a great day for tourists and cameras! Plan Praz was it’s usual busy tandem covered launch, with all the solo pilots waiting around for ‘better’ conditions which never came…

We then returned to Plaine Joux, where I had a lovely late afternoon flight, very autumnal now with smooth air, and rapidly changing treetops. It was enjoyable, and stay-up-able and I landed happy after a couple of nice climbs. There were a couple of gliders that made it out of Chamonix, one being an R11, and the other a U3 I think, but that was about it. There haven’t been any league flights listed from our neck of the woods since the 1st September, although the weather is improving…

Have just got to add this little extra on…. I’ve just been fishing around on the net, for more info on the Moon oops! Mont Blanc landings this year and came across this photo link site of Damien de Baenst’s fabulous docuphoto of the whole flight, with his tracklog to boot!! Some great ‘calender’ shots in there I’m sure.

September 8, 2011 Posted by | Flying, Guiding | Leave a comment

Serene September

August has come to an end as September serenely arrives with slightly cooler temperatures, and today… rain. It’s to be expected I suppose. Can’t complain about the rain with all the heat we’ve been having recently, I think everything could do with cooling down a bit…

We were out yesterday, where there were a few flying. Not many and not going anywhere but a couple of gentle floaty top to bottoms were had by most. We’re starting to wind down on the flying clientele just now although it’s not over yet! We do sometimes get some unexpectedly good flying days in September, October and on the rare occasion early November… although the days are shortening so not so long to fly.


We’ve had some nice pics from the Belgian Paragliding Open, where they sent us a link to the photo gallery… there are some great pictures amongst them, and we’re sorry we missed the presentation evening it looked like a great night.

I was having a look at a couple of photos taken here at one of the competitions earlier in the year and found this one… thought it looked really interesting with the lenticulars over  snowy Mont Blanc and the contrasting dark green lower hills with climbing gliders in front, thought it captured the atmosphere pretty well… so here it is…. if you click on the pic the gliders will become visible.

Apologies for the lack of blogging recently, just found ourselves much busier than expected…

September 4, 2011 Posted by | Day to Day | Leave a comment