High Hopes in the French Alps

First Flight on Advance Alpha 5

Inflating the Alpha 5

So this morning, the majority trapsed up to Chamonix, it was looking windy, so it was not going to be an XC day, as the winds have steadily been increasing. I decided not to go to Chamonix this morning, and would prefer another day when it would be possible to XC without getting thrashed about! so I gave it a miss.


Dennis was meeting Gavin down at Bois du Bouchet to take possession of another recent acquisition for the ‘school’ a brand new Advance Alpha 5, – 26. Which I’d be able to fly, although I’d be on the light end as usual. Anyway, Dennis flew it in Chamonix, and had fun on it, so I was on the phone wondering what was taking them so long to come down here to meet me at Chedde, so I could give it a go.

I drove down to Chedde, where Hugh had been waiting patiently for us to drive up to Plaine Joux, but he said that after waiting for some time, not one person got above launch, and that it was so still, flat and stable he decided it wasn’t worth it so he went back to Annecy. Meanwhile I was quite excited to fly a new glider, and after altering my Kama Sutra, by taking off the pod, and re-attaching the stirrup, to make it an easy to play harness instead of investing in another harness purely for fun flying and fly downs after work 😉  I  decided to keep it for this purpose. I’ve sold my Kanibal Race, because it was just too heavy to carry! It was lovely to fly though, and I miss it…

Anyway, I attached my Kama Sutra to the once flown (by Dennis) Alpha 5, and prepared to have a swift flight. But what a lovely glider! I was so surprised, not expecting much of a glide for an EN-A (DHV-1) but it was as sweet as a nut! Beautiful climb characteristics, and a glide that I did not expect at all! It was just a delight to fly. It launched with ease, and I was up, off and above launch in no time.. (the first one, all day apparently). It’s so nice to fly light, with just a helmet vario, and no other instruments.  I had a delightful flight, on the new school wing, and remembered all about ‘fun!’ It felt just so solid, I may end up flying this a bit more than I expect! It leaves me feeling a bit reluctant to want to let a new student give it any rough treatment! It’s such a sweet natured thing…


June 28, 2012 Posted by | Flying, General, Guiding | Leave a comment

Road Works and Cloud Streets

Montmin, almost empty compared to last week at the Belgian Open!

So this morning I had an airport transfer to do to Geneva, whilst Dennis had a bus load heading off to Annecy, the plan was for me to join them in Annecy after the drop off, but I decided not too. The road-works were horrific in St. Gervais, on the road up to Les Contamines, and I wish I’d taken the back road, anyway suffice to say it was not the most pleasant drive for me…

Plan Fait, clouds were much nicer en route back from Geneva.

Then the airport police were out in force and I ended up losing my ticket in the parking machine so had imaginings of being stranded there for the weekend. I was so unprepared and didn’t have any Swiss Francs! I just thought it was going to be an easy run, but not so. Anyway, the woman working in the kiosk at the airport bluntly told me that she couldn’t change the Euro’s I had so I ended up buying a Twix just to get some change. It turns out I ended up having to go to the office to get an ‘out’ ticket anyway, as mine had been eaten by the machine. It was one morning’s frustration, after another, and it was enough for me to just get home and have a cup of tea!

Driving home the clouds looked gorgeous. They looked like flat land clouds, the type you get in England… quite low and almost touchable, they were forming streets very early, and it just looked beautiful. I scoured the cloudscape to see if I could see any familiar parashapes under the clouds but not a one! – Finally when I got home, there were some high cirrus moving in but the flying looked great! Apparently in Annecy it turned out really busy, a typical busy day in Annecy… and the conditions were much better here than there as it turned out.

June 27, 2012 Posted by | Flying, Guiding, Transfers | Leave a comment

It Was Not Just Me Then?!

Well it’s been all go here for the past few days. On Friday, we went to Annecy, where it was the final day of the Belgian Open, we didn’t enter it this year, but it was great to catch up with people. We had a couple of clients who had never flown in Annecy, and the conditions were looking ‘good’ for today. We arrived at Doussard for a briefing, where we bumped into Toby, who was checking out his wing. The wind was already quite strong early on, so the concern about the wind strength was already a factor. After a briefing and a bit of banter, we then did the Talloires shop route, incorporating a further briefing then onward up to  Montmin, to be greeted by a scene of bunched up gliders, and pilots milling about kicking their heels waiting for a task to be set.

It was great to see Stefan again, and to catch up with some other regular Belgian comp pilots, where friendships have blossomed over the years! As well as some familiar local faces. The wind was looking too strong with the valley wind funneling through, as well as an airmix of a strong Northwestly, it wasn’t looking great. It was flyable for those who wanted to fly, but not taskable, not at that time of the day anyway. I had the car keys, and Dennis flew, along with our two clients, it didn’t look that appealing, it was all a bit of a mess.

I drove down to Doussard, to pick them up, then we made a trip over to Plan Fait, where it was empty! So our clients had another fly there, with the whole of Plan Fait launch all to themselves! Whilst at Plan Fait, we saw a gaggle of gliders all heading out to Le Roc des Boeufs, and when they arrived a whole load of them got stuck there on the other side, scratching and scraping around for ages.. we wern’t sure if there was a task or if it was just a free fly, because whilst a gaggle had gone across, there were loads just milling around up to and near Les Dents du Lanfon, some getting pinned… and not looking like they were flying with a purpose.  Not the best conditions in Annecy this week, sadly. The last flight was another one from Montmin, and Dennis wanted to fly my glider to see what it felt like being on the top end of the weight range, always a good thing to check out a gliders reaction at different weight ranges, and today seemed like the ideal time.

Back down at Doussard, the competition pilots were coming in, in fits and starts… the Enzo, and Icepeak brigade were making their early arrivals, whilst the majority of the rest of the field where some were left feeling disappointed by having been made mincemeat of by the new phase EN-D’s. It’s all a bit controversial methinks… There had been a task set, as there was a ‘goal-line’ in Doussard, but not many made it, and most of them just decided to glide back instead of attempting the task.

It wasn’t easy to set a task in the conditions, so they did really well to get one at all!  A little bird tells me, it’s all change at the Belgian Open from now on.. but I’m not going to tell you lot about it! It remains to be seen, and it shouldn’t come from my mouth anyway!

*          *          *

So yesterday, Saturday we flew Chamonix in the morning, which was ok, cloud was quite low though and began to lift very slowly… I made the mistake of trying to get a climb out over ‘the Pump’ and then glide over to Le Brevent, but the Pump was all bits and pieces, it would have been better in hindsight just to have taken a straight glide over to Le Brevent, and hang around there for a while, and climb up as base lifted, but I didn’t, and ended up in Bois du Bouchet with everyone else who took that route! A few managed to just scrape over but no significant height was gained in the transition so it would have been a bit of a gritted glide over.

The air was lumpy, and not so nice either. After I landed and caught up with our clients, we had some Australians join us who had driven up from Chabre, having just flown at the Chabre Challenge where they said they had been unlucky with the weather there also, a couple of others, Hugh and Stewart, we all landed, and after the discussion of ‘what was it like for you?!’ the resounding chorus was… “O! It was not just me then!”

After Chamonix, we flew here in Plaine Joux, where we had arranged to meet some of our friends from the Belgian Open, having given them our address, for gps co-ordinates and phone numbers, it was great they had turned up and we had a lovely hours flying with beer and nuts at home later.  So it turned out a really nice day… It looks like deterioration is on the cards from now until Tuesday, and sure enough the wind has picked up and the day’s been binned.  Hence managing to update the blog.

Anyway folks, I’m sorry about the photos I took loads of photos, but since this computer keeps on wanting to update and is trying  to extract more dosh from me, in the form of an ‘update’ I had to try to upload the photos in a different way, and I thought they were all ‘saved’ but they weren’t and the whole lot have been deleted… so sorry no photos, and they were good ones too… drat!

June 24, 2012 Posted by | Flying, Guiding | Leave a comment

Updating the Backdates…

side by side… well quite close

Up date from the back dates…

An Advance Angle

I haven’t been on the blog again due to my computer wanting to keep doing some updates of one thing and another, and having to contend with a few crashes! Well at least having a crash in this manner all flesh and bones are left fully in tact! (and I’ve had some pretty close scrapes over the years I can tell you!)

So on to the recent flying. We’ve had some nice days, namely from Thursday, onwards it’s been flyable. Just a bit windy in the odd corner but floaty in the stronger winds. Dennis has had the camera, so he’s been doing all the snap-shotting, which makes a change… Here are a couple of photos of the recent few days, and there’s a lot more in ‘daily pics‘. There’s no doubt about it, Dennis is much more of a dab hand with the camera 🙂

Chamonix ‘Brevant’ lift has now re-opened so hopefully a few more flights out of Chamonix are on the horizon! Weather permitting of course.

June 18, 2012 Posted by | Flying | Leave a comment

Tandem Test, for the Harnesses

Tandem Tip

Weather as we know has all been a bit… well, wet! for want of a better word…

bloomin’ marvellous!

Still, after Dennis set up the harnesses, we thought it a good idea to go and try them out. They are new Tandem pilot, and passenger harnesses as our other ones were getting just a bit dated. It was just about flyable so we rushed up to launch before the forecast rain arrived and managed to squeeze in a flight. Actually the air was lovely and mellow, and it was a pleasant flight. Sylvain was with a student, and it was great to see Jerome again, he hasn’t been around for a while, as he’s been spending most of his time in Chamonix. So it was good to see his smiley face down valley….

Other than catching up with everyone, not much has happened since, as we are all awaiting a weather change…

June 10, 2012 Posted by | Flying | Leave a comment

Comspiracy Clouds

No flying today! wonder why, probably due to the weather…

Well I had an appointment in Chamonix this morning, at least it was an appointment on a non-flyable day! Still, Dennis received a couple of new harnesses yesterday, so he’s been happy pottering around setting those up. The weather is certainly a mess…. wonder if it’s got anything to do with the cloud seeding and chem trails that are happening ’round the world?! conspiriacy theorists, feel free to keep me informed!

Cloudbase hadn’t quite reached ground level yet!

En route to Chamonix, no fly weather!

June 8, 2012 Posted by | Day to Day | Leave a comment

Whacky Winds

Seb, after numerous attempts at top landing in dodgy windy conditions.

The flying taken a few days ago. It’s been a bit wet recently, this morning Dennis went out with Ian, where it was possible to scrape a couple of ploufs out of an early morning launch, although with all the rain we’ve been having, the conditions were all a bit bizarre! Strange winds up high, stranger winds mid level, and another contradiction on landing, so all a bit of a mess! Anyway soldiering on, a couple of flights before it all went completely beserk, was a good effort!

above launch, with some very slow forward motion

Some hang-glider pilots arrived from the south,  even though the conditions were far from perfect they managed to fly! Some people will fly in anything! Me, I like to keep a safe and healthy distance from such expressions of heroism! I’m quite happy being the observer.

The weather is the talk of the business, and at the moment it’s not looking like much is going our way until the weekend, then it’s looking ok!

June 7, 2012 Posted by | Flying, Tuition | Leave a comment

Couple of Nice Days

Plan d’Aguille launch

We have enjoyed a couple of nice days, but today it’s all turned in again…. 😦

Chamonix Valley

Dennis has been busy with Stewart, Luke and now Ian. They had a trip out to Annecy which turned out to be a really good day, and Dennis met Stefan there, the lovely chap who organises the Belgian Open, I’d like to meet up with him again, the Belgian Open is on next week, and we have a client who is based in Annecy at the same time, so me may well get to meet up.  It’ll be a heaving mass of busyness I should imagine! Unfortunately, we had to pull out from this years competition, due to having to make a living! so our competitive experiences this year are what we make up ourselves.

The other morning, Dennis and Luke went up to the Plan d’Aguille for a flight, which apparently turned out ok, although was not the best conditions. A bit slappy coming through the wind gradient…

Here, it’s been ok but the West wind has been a bit strong. The other evening we had some lovely flying but with the wind strength the forward movement was slow, the air was gorgeous though… like chenille silk, heavy but smooth. Everyone who flew were just inching along, so we were all hanging around almost motionless on occassion. It was lovely though.

By the time we’d all landed and driven back up to collect the other vehicle the front had moved in and completely changed the sky to a different animal all together.

Dennis had the camera so took some pics. makes a change!

June 6, 2012 Posted by | Flying, General, Tuition | Leave a comment