Saturday, 8 April 2017

Jaca 2017 - Week 4 Day 6

At last, a great day. We have flown every day under intense sunshine and so the average has been very good, but I would sacrified a day to get a brilliant day, but it happened anyway. After quite a late start the thermals were really popping. It was the classic technique: transfer from Stage One to the Firebreak ridge then up the Stage Three, dodge a blizzard of paragliders and then along the snowy stuff to Ordesa in the K21. Jim had to go early and so lucky Nan was able to fly as long as she wished. Weighing up the performance of a K21 again the conditions further on, we turned back and headed as far as possible west. We drifted down to the start of the firebreak ridge again which suddenly generated a thermal to 9000ft, so we explored the dragon's teeth ridge to the east before coming back to de-rig.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Jaca 2017 - Week 4 Day 5

As usual the day started with brilliant sunshine. After a while, it seemed a shame not to have a launch. Both Lasham gliders and assorted Finns took off and fell down. After a pause further attempts were made. Athough the inversion was strong, a huge tow or a inching your way up the "firebreak" ridge would get you to the high stuff. Towards the end of the day, when hangar packing seemed next, Jim volunteered for another tow, and managed a further 1:30hr on Stage One in the Duo while dicing with the local vultures and Astir. The airfield restaurant put on a sumptuous feast which left us all staggering away and doing deals from the local pushers of Gaviscon.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Jaca 2017 - Week 4 Day 4

The wave was predicted to need a long tow and so the tug trundled up the Hecho valley at a height which required the tugees just to hang on through the usual rough and tumble until it was safe to release. Passing the normal hot-spot near Hecho village the height still seemed rather low, so we and the tug carried on up the valley where it became even rougher. After casting off in some rotor we discovered how to lose all weight in 1 second. We went back to Hecho and after some messing around in some better-behaved rotor we eventually climbed up into the smooth lift and cruised about serenely. After feeling highly superior for a while, it was time to find somewhere to go down. Tricky, but we made it back, though there was a place where we were going up at 4 knots with half air-brake. The same trick on the second flight was not possible. We never connected and after valiant attempts in fleeting surges, we declined to the point where landing back seemed probable. At this point Jim Pritchard revealed his avian ancestry by climbing up in the valley to the inversion layer with his fellow vultures. A few fruitless attempts were made to get back up into the lumpy bits, but eventually the flight became local soaring. On one sortie northward, we hit a gust so strong that we even thought that we might have hit a solid object. Dinner and De Colores at Toya's tonight

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Jaca 2017 - Week 4 Day 3

Every day seems to start the same but ends differently. There was more of a north-easterly coming from the mountains and it got stronger during the day. The start was the earliest so far (1pm) and led to much wolfing of tapas. If you connected with the thermals low down, it was possible to climb up to 3000m downwind of Collorada and just cruise about. The second flights were supposed to be where the first flights left off, but they never are.  Mid-way through the day you are trying to find some descending air to get back for the hand-over. Half an hour later you launch telling P2 how easy it has been and then you struggle to get away and so appear totally incompetent. We eventually climbed up again in the middle of the valley and tried to get into the high stuff again, but there was a long blue gap to the Pyrenees because the wave was going down there. Suddenly every thermal shut down and there was a mass landing. Even after waiting for the rush to subside there was still a surprise in store for us. The down wave in the valley was there on the downwind leg as well. OK it was probably started 100 feet lower than recommended, but normally you always end up with too much height on the base leg, except for today. Blimey! That was exciting. El Porton tonight for eats.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Jaca 2017 - Week 4 Day 2

'Twas brillig and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wave...This was another day that dawned bright but with some cloud that took until 1pm to disperse. The wind was stronger and so there was the possibility of wave. The usual surge near Javierregay in these conditions rewarded the brave who pulled off tow at 1500 above the site. The problem was where to go after that from 7000 feet. Various excursions up the Hecho valley resulted in scuttles back to almost circuit height before the K21 cruised off to the the ridge running up to Canfranc from Jaca. At just the right moment the cumulus that had been cycling burst forth once more and it was possible to climb up to 8700 and then up to the snow-line. Having learned how to do it, the next flight should have been a repeat. However the trip up the Hecho valley caused the same scuttle back to exactly circuit height and so the K21 landed. Everyone had long flights and the day was finished off at Anaya at Puente la Reina.

Jaca 2017 - Week 4 Day 1

This week's team includes: the variably named Nan Appleyard/Worrell, Jim Pritchard, John Caton and Jon Bareford with David Williams and John McCullagh as instructors. The weather was brilliantly sunny and after scraping ice off the windscreen, it seemed like the cloudbase would be awesome. It wasn't. Firstly there was no cloud, except in the distance, and secondly it was difficult to get above 6000 feet. Jav in his K6 disappeared for the rest of the day after two attempts with extremely high tows but the rest of us could only just stay airborne, though fortunately for long periods of time. With the ground only a few hundred feet below most of the time, there was little opportunity for photos. Most of us headed off to Casa Fau for a unending selection of tapas selected by Mike Evans. JM

Friday, 31 March 2017

Week 3 Days 3&4
Day 3 High pressure is still in command. A largely blue day anticipated  with a slower start. No wave expected. As forecast largely blue except the top of the Pyrenees where there were a few wispy cumulus clouds. It was better than expected, although difficult to find initially once located it was strong thermals +6kts average and remained active in the same locations all day going to 8300ft  at the second stage allowing easy access to the mountain tops. Once at the top soaring  along  in ridge/thermals lift could be done at speed without turning for miles. Graham  McKiddie and Paul Hicks claimed that one flight alone such an experience it had made their week. Sometimes one looks back in disbelief thinking, did we really do that! Is it really legal!

Day 4 The high pressure has finally been edged away to the east and fronts are anticipated with rain and thunderstorms towards the end of the day. It was thought a no fly day. However there was just a glimmer of hope that some flying might be possible. High cloud covered the area to the east and directly over head but to the west some signs of a clear area appeared. It all looked  like it was never going to get started before the high level thunder storm clouds went bang. We sat on the ground uncertain and indecisive until the tug pilot asked if he could go home. That was it, we launched. Suddenly lift was everywhere, in the valley in the hills and at the tops. The strength of the lift was at times of the clock. The main problem at times was avoiding getting sucked into cloud  which was at about 8500ft at the top. Very fast runs were possible at max rough air. However this party ended with a bang. The promised storms arrived very quickly, suddenly there was a flash to the north west! Game over, everyone rushed back to get on the ground before the conditions became too bad. Now lightning strikes were frequent and getting close with rain beginning to hit the airfield. Everyone landed safely in time to avoid the final downpour with hail and the expected thunderstorm right over the airfield. An exciting day for all particularly for John Caton and Graham McKiddie. Wow! what next!