12 August 2009

St. André - St. Vincent

Gorgeous, it was. The weather, the views and the flying on the 11th of August. After a week in Gréolierès had moved to St. André les Alpes, known for strong conditions and great cross-country potential. Around 10 the navette took me and a bunch of others to the south-east take-off. Many opted for an early morning flight but those with plans to go far waited for the thermals to kick in. A bit before noon the first pilots managed to stay up and soon the sky was filled with gliders of all kinds.
I'd planned to fly North towards St. Jean and St.Vincent, the area where the British Open will take place next week. Once a few gliders were really getting above the launch I got into the air, climbed up and started to follow some early leavers. After some 5 km I joined a group of three others and from there on we kind of flew together. Going north the mountains get ever higher but luckily the thermals took us even higher. After a couple of tricky crossings we reached the Dourmillouse massif which appeared to be a kind of gliding highway. I could simply race the ridge for the last 10 km! Numerous sailplanes that passed under, above, and between me and the ridge provided for some additional excitement.
At the end I cranked up a bit more height and went into "wait and see" mode. One of our group continued north across the lake and when I saw that he managed to get up on the other side I decided to follow. Some others seemed to go down at St. Vincent. My crossing was not so successful and I had to work hard to get up a bit. Once I thought I could make it back to the St. Vincent ridge I decided to do that and land after an intensive 4 hours in new territory (see track). A local pilot, Pascal, was kind enough to provide a ride to Digne from where it was easy to hitch-hike back to St. André. Thanks!
Most of the time I had my hands full with controlling the glider but during some glides I (barely) managed to make some pictures.

1 comment:

Mika said...

Cool!! Did I have to get back to Finland just now...?!! ;)