26 September 2007

Autumn is here...

...but it is exceptionally warm this week and several pilots have been ridge roaring in the Saimaa lake district.

19 September 2007

Madeira in Madeira

We're on a short ad hoc vacation in Madeira. Today did a top to bottom flight from the Pico da Cruz down to the Lido. The wind was too light and too cross to stay up. Besides one flies right over all the hotels, and more scary, has to avoid 6 construction cranes. So not a good place to scratch the mountain. Instead flew out over the sea early and then back in over our own hotel, fun! Then concentrated on landing in the park at the Lido, which was actually easier then expected. All in all a nice way to end the day. And the walk up is a good workout.
So really feel that I deserve the dinner we'll have tonight. We'll do a Portugese evening tonight with fado singing and the local famous wine!
Later this week should try to fly the scenic north side of the island. The trade winds are northeasterly this time of the year.

11 September 2007

Grounded by flu

Apparently caught a flu in rainy Stockholm. Today barely managed a walk. Of course the weather was very good. Sun, little wind and nice cloud streets with a quite high base for September. Didn't hear about anyone flying though...

09 September 2007

Sand, sun, and fun in Løkken

Thursday morning left the Netherlands with my navigator set for Løkken, Denmark. After enduring major traffic jams around Hamburg got there a bit before 6. I headed straight for the beach as conditions seemed excellent: sun, a nice northwesterly breeze and a couple of gliders in the air a bit more north.
So quickly got ready and launched from the beach. It was perfect and I soared all the way to Rudberg's Kudde, the higher hill approx. 8 km more north (in the far distance on picture). Flying back was a little slower as the wind had picked up a bit. But it was very smooth so easy to apply a moderate amount of speedbar. After some 50 minutes or so was back. An amazing flight and a really cool way to chill out after a day of driving!
Friday morning headed out early again, but by the time I was ready the wind was already too strong (see picture). I tried to do a bit of groundhandling and dry my wing, but only got it dirty with more wet sand. After breakfast with Danish pastries in the village, found a nice grassy and sunny field to dry and clean my glider. Once packed up headed for Frederikshavn, where I went for a swim, and sauna!, in the very nice swimming hall. In the evening then took the ferry to Göteborg and once there drove to Stockholm for a last ferry trip straight back to Helsinki. So after some 6000 km, 25 days, and a lot of flying back home again!

04 September 2007

Two more days in the sun

As the group left for Finland on Sat evening, I could fly on my own on Sunday again. The Norwegians who replaced the Finns and myself were up the mountain in Gréolières early in the morning and those that launched after 11 could stay up and get high. The conditions were now better than any of the previous days, with a nice cloudbase at approx. 2200m, but without over development. I considered flying cross country to Col de Bleyne, but decided that I could use an easy day and came down after 2 hours to have lunch. Then walked again up and launched a bit before 4 and had another 2 hours in very nice conditions. This time did 3 small triangles: from the start up and to the easternmost ski-lift, then south across the valley to the corner of the next mountain. From there to the Cipieres "castle" and then back to the start. I tried a bit different glide lines and different amounts of speed bar.

Monday morning drove to the famous St. Andre Les Alpes. I'd never flown there and it looked flyable, despite forecasts with strong winds. After a short briefing by the folks from the Aerogliss school, a nice French hangglider pilot drove me and a German paraglider pilot to the launch. There a huge group of German pilots were launching and after some 15 minutes they managed to stay up. I joined the crowd, but after a while felt that the maneuvers of the German students were a bit too difficult to predict. I also wanted to land early, before the landing field would get too windy. My XC Trainer computed ever increasing wind speeds aloft, and I knew it would be strong down in the valleys. After a nice half hour flight, landed nice and safely.
I've found the calculated wind speed and direction one of the most useful features on the XC Trainer; a vario combined with a GPS. Of course it is calculated, not measured, but after a couple of nice circles it seems to be quite accurate. As in this flight at St. Andre I really like to keep an eye on the wind changes during the day.

After a quick and simple lunch then started to drive North. Originally had intended to go flying in Chamonix, but all forecasts predicted bad weather there for the whole week. So instead drove to the Netherlands to visit family and friends. The current plan is to drive on Thursday to Løkken in Denmark to do soar the amazing dunes there.

02 September 2007

Finns Leaving Gréolières

The Finnish group of paraglider pilots enjoyed more good days all through the week. Tuesday with flights in Gourdon topped with evening flights at the stunning Roquebrune site above Monaco. It was not easy to start as landing is allowed only after 7 PM and at that time there is little or no wind from the front. But in the end 5 pilots managed to run themselves into the air and have a nice flight down to he beach.
Wednesday was cloudy with storm warnings and we went to the Gorge du Verdon where we enjoyed the scenery and watched how more than 20 huge vultures flew across the gorge.
Thursday morning again went to Groudon but the conditions were weak and turbulent. In the afternoon a few pilots joined me for an afternoon flight in Gréolières; and our walk up the mountain was rewarded with excellent conditions and long flights. It was actually difficult to get down! On Thursday I myself flew a demo Ozone Mantra 2 glider (see picture above). After some 20 minutes I got used to the light handling and started to make really use of the smooth excellent conversion of every movement in altitude; it is a very nice glider indeed. If only I could find a sponsor....
Friday was a Gréolières day again; the weather was no longer stable and the sky quickly overdeveloped (see picture below). But we had our timing right and everybody got a nice flight; and most another nice flight in the afternoon. In the evening we had our last dinner at the famous Barricade restaurant; with pizzas and various french alcoholic beverages! As the good weather continued we all had one last flight on Saturday morning. Then a quick shower and down to the coast. After a lunch in Valbonne and a quick swim at the beach in Nice it was time to get to the airport....