26 August 2009

20 Days

Closed my French flying vacation with a nice flight at St. Hilaire, famous for the Coupe Icare flying festival. After the prize giving ceremony of the British Open at St. Jean and a short night, started up my good old Fiesta at 6 AM and directed it towards Grenoble. After couple of hours arrived in Veroppe, home of Finnish pilot Sami. After a family breakfast we drove to the St. Hilaire launch. Over the years I'd been passing by this famous site several times but never when it was flyable. This time it was. The entire mountain was baking in the morning sun, and when we took off around 11:30 we found some lift, despite the air being very stable. That stability combined with the northerly wind make those thermals very narrow and hence turbulent; impossible to stay inside the core. Taking such thermals a couple of meters from a giant rock face is daunting indeed. At times I managed to get a bit above the cliff and then dared to take a few pictures. After a good half hour landed for a last French lunch in the restaurant right next to the landing field.

Unfortunately it then was time say goodbye to Sami and his family, and indeed to southern France. A run of 20 consecutive days of flying in sunny weather had ended. In those 20 days flew just over 48 hours and hundreds of kilometers. In the process extended my knowledge of the area a lot, never before did so much cross-country flying there.

Anyway, jumped into the very hot car and start the long drive to Finland.
I took the route "around" Switzerland, to avoid the Swiss motorway fee, but that was a mistake. The toll charges for the French part from Geneva to Mulhouse were a bit over the 30 euro Swiss fee, and it is at least a 60km detour. Otherwise it all went smoothly, despite warnings of heavy traffic. All the way to Stockholm the weather was nice, and in Sweden it indeed looked quite good for flying. The sunset over Stockholm as seen from the giant ferry to Finland could be called "impressionistic" (picture below). In the morning arrived in Turku, Finland, on schedule and after a mere 2 more hours of driving was back home!

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