02 August 2007

30 seconds...

Today finally got of the ground, after 4 weeks of rain, wind, work and business travel. Already yesterday I was ready to go to the Suomenlinna fortress island, but the wind was too strong. Today the forecast was for a perfect 7 m/s from the SW, and I took the 11:00 ferry. The island is just in front of downtown Helsinki and the ferry takes only 15 minutes.
Unfortunately the wind was dying rapidly. While I walked the 15 minutes on the island to the site it look still very good, and even as I layed out, but once I was in the air it was just a tiny bit too weak, or too much from the South. I managed to fly some 30 secs, doing one full turn and then scratching the south ridge (the picture above is from last summer). I tried once more without any ballast or other stuff in my harness, but too weak is too weak. And after all my running I'm some 4 kg lighter than I used to be. But it was nice the be out and I did an hour of kiting and other ground handling.

The Suomenlinna island is low island and we use the fortifications as (very small) ridges. For various reasons it is a demanding place to fly but with the right precautions and guidance from local experts it is a nice addition to our smörgåsbord of sites.
In front is open sea so the winds are usually smooth, but the numerous large ferries and freighters pass by close and cause dangerous turbulence, and we always land before these vessels cause trouble. After all it never hurts to get extra launching practice. The landings require attention too, as there is very little space; and in the summer months there will be tens of tourists standing right where you want to drop your glider....
Of course all those tourists make pictures and videos. Heimo, the guru for this site, must be the most photographed paraglider pilot in the world. In may the Finnair in flight magazine ran a story about Suomenlinna which only picture was this:

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