Friday, 26 June 2009

Friday 26th

A poor forecast with death and destruction in the form of wall to wall cu-nims later in the day. Dave and Marko managed just over the hour in some strong lift which imediately turned into large blobs of white. A quick return to base before the hail and plague of frogs turned up for a quick de-rig for the journey home.

Thursday 25th

A fantastic day that was almost too easy. Climbs to over 12,000', averages up to 9 knots this mountains were a playground. The wind has dropped and most features you expect to work did so which was unique for the week. DaveT went out to Pic de Bure, photos below. Mike went to East of the lake, Marko went to Barcellonette and into the big hills and David went Orcieres and down to the Verdun Gorge. A few close climbs to the rock and lots of ridge runnning catching the thermals coming up the valleys.

On top of the Pic deBure, going home through the valleys and climbing way from the tow.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Weds 24th

A much more promising day a good forecast and lots of ambition. The day started with towing out over the hills near Hongrie and working the weak small bubbles of lift until they turned into something substantial, trips out to Barcellonette across to Briancon with some very challenging flying in the high mountains as the bubbles were small and the sink was big. Lots of flying very near the rocks made for some fantastic flying if hardwork for 'G'. Mike and 'G' got a very close look at Pic de Bure.

Over the Mountains and Lac de Serre-Ponchon

Tuesday 23rd

A more difficult day to get away, forecast was for moderate thermals and relatively poor conditions. We all launched to the Gauche and spent a lot of time close to rocks trying to climb away in a succession of small bubbles that did not last long. The more successful got away to the local hills beyond and the hard work continued. It turned out to be an excellent learning experience as accurate thermalling close to the rocks was required along with the ability to read the terrain.
DaveT and Marco set out on cross country on foot and walked to the top of the Gauche and took photos of gliders up close and personal. Some samples below of 776 avoiding power lines and running the ridge. All in all a great learning day followed by a group dinner at G's place.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Monday Evening

A good day had by all, everyone achieved 2.5 hours each. Flights were a mixture of climbing up the ridge in thermals after launch onto the Gache, see picture on right. The only difficulty was the wind was from the NW and of course the sun's from the S which made deciding exaclty what would work and where a bit more difficult. Dave Tanner's flight with 'G' being typical with a jump over to the Lure a long ridge with lots of turbulent strong lift and sink with a lot of effort needed to get above the ridge. Then a jump straight upwind though 7-9 knots of sink to cross the valley to connect with a 7.5 knot climb to cloudbase and then connecting with the wave after soaring the shear just in front of the cloud.
A run downwind in direction of St Auban and a nose into the mountains found weak lift with wave suppressed thermals until deeper into the hills, after which strong climbs and sink and a very close look at the some of the hills.

Running to the wave and a close look at the hills!

Changeover completed

David Dunwoody here - just a very quick note to say that myself, Dave Tanner, Mike Sedgwick and Marko Dragosavac had a good day's flying, all managing 2h30 in along and above the local ridges.

Thermals were triggering off the ridges and going to about 9000ft or so; not much in the way of dynamic ridge lift.

It was my first time in the montains, and I was sufficently impressed to forget to take any photos.

Mike and I are flying second today, so I'm off for some bread, cheese and sausage now - got to keep up my healthy diet somehow!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

18th 11.15am

Looking good for a first launch around noon, already cu over the peaks; some of the forecasts (see above) predict showers, but hoping to get a full day.

Day 5 Thursday 18th

Just about to go into briefing. Once again, the sky is blue, so let's go and get this morning's forecast(s). Unless there's some surprises, looks like another day of the same!

Day 4, Wednesday 17th, the view from the front seat

Day began with Andy engrossed in Bob Le’Eponge* on one of the five channels available on the TV in your team’s gite.
Once we had dragged him away from that, we did the – by now – routine of;
1. Attend 10.00 am briefing. A sweepstake is running on how long the meteo briefing will last. This is actually more of a variety performance in which the local CFI or deputy presents (at least) three conflicting weather forecasts. Everyone then does a Gallic shrug and says, “well, we’d better go fly anyway and see what happens.” No change there, then, just like home. Today Tim won the sweep with 19 minutes, closest to the 20-minute actual.
2. Prep gliders and position on 2nd row at launch point. On G’s advice, we avoid pole position – let the locals find out if it’s actually rubbish before we launch. (So far, it hasn’t been.) Disperse to (variously) early lunch, or swim, or more coffee, etc etc.
3. Re-convene for launch of premiere vague (that’s French) which today was Andy with Colin in 776, and Graham with G in 775. Start-of-convection and first launch was a bit later today; both gliders launched at around 1400, and flew for about 2 hours 15mins, working their way from the local hills and ridges, north and east to the mountains around Barcelonnette and the north end of the ridge system known as the parcour. Cloudbase over the highest peaks today was about 12,000 ft. Colin was particularly amused to see a Nimbus 4D gliding to Blayeul 2000 ft below ridge top height: they (Andy and Colin) later saw it speeding down the parcour on the way to Les Ecrins. The words, “French Team” were heard, along with an expression (can’t be repeated here) of, comment ca c’est dit?.....admiration for their nerve.
4. Land back, freshen up the instructors, change one set of P2s for the others, and send them off again. Tim/Colin set off at 1700 at which time the sky was still working well (goes on around here to at least 1930 or 2000) enabling them to head north-west to Pic de Bure, before running to the east to the same area visited by the first flights, then back to Sisteron. Nicki and G also went to Pic de Bure and some of the ridges beyond, but then ran back via the western ridges to Sisteron town for some sight-seeing of the Citadel before returning to the airfield.
5. Tidy away gliders and relax. Today, free beers (no, really) from Aeroclub de Sisteron on the club patio. Awesome (see below).
6. Fall over in heap and get ready to do it all again tomorrow.

We’ve had four flying days out of four to establish this pattern, with only the first Sunday clouding over and cutting things off after the first set of flights. Each day has provided more opportunities for Colin and G to show new Alpinists the basics of reading the local terrain and handling the complex mixture of thermal, ridge (and a bit of wave) lift. And sink, and more sink….but we won’t mention that. And then there’s the scenery. One of us (I will not say who) is given to saying, “Awesome”. He’s been saying it a lot.

PS Flarm (especially in its home environment) is really good.

PPS It’s hot.

PPPS Missed the Day of the Year So Far at Lasham on Sunday. Yeah, we know.

A bientot, Graham

* SpongeBob Square Pants. Try to keep up.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Naughty boy yesterday.
Those people who have flown at Sisteron before will know there system of accounting for gliders that are airborne, so at the end of the day they can see if anyone is missing. As with any system if you try hard enough you will find the holes and that proved to be the case with our tail dolly’s. We left one tail dolly on the launch point trailer at the end of our flight, so the duty instructor went around trying to match the dolly with a glider but because our dolly’s have comp numbers and they use aircraft registrations it caused some confusion. Anyway as the group leader I got a slap on the head this morning!

Another slightly confusing weather forecast.
Well I came out of the morning briefing with very little understanding of what will be happening today apart from the fact the all the different forecast models show light winds. So the gliders are out at the launch point ready to go and we are all hoping that the mid level cloud that I can see to the west will just burn off.


Writers block.
Sorry for the lack of a report yesterday evening but the effects of five hours of flying close to the rocks had left me unable to think of anything other than food, Drink and sleep. So I have written a quick review of yesterday just to keep you up to date

The promise of rain in the morning and a sunny afternoon turned out to be completely wrong as the sun shone from 6am this morning. The 10am weather briefing failed to give us any more clues as to what was going to happen today. Anyway the closest to reality turned out to be the one issued by the French national gliding centre at St Auban.

So we looked at the sky and cumulus over the big mountains and decided at 12:30 that it was time to launch. Not an easy run into the high mountains on the first trip of the day but well worth the effort with cloud base at 10,000ft over the parcour . For me the second flight was almost a repeat of the first. Although ‘G’ launched only 10 mins behind me his second flight was very different as he was caught by the approaching high cloud and took nearly an hour to get away from the local hills.


Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The morning after.
Due to the influence of three beers while writing the Daily blog last night I just kept clicking correct with the spell checker. So I now feel the need to make some early morning corrections to the names of different hills and mountains that we visited yesterday to ensure the authenticity of this report.

Malaup is a hill about 10km North of the airfield and is a common place to tow to when there is a southerly wind. With the strength of the wind yesterday it meant the you were very quickly out of gliding range of the airfield and it is not until you are climbing near the top can you see the next airfield at La Motte-du-caire

Serres is an airfield about 25km North west of Sisteron and it is operated by the legendary German pilot Klaus Ohlmann. It certainly looked like the takeoffs would be interesting yesterday with two large hills up wind of the airfield.


Monday, 15 June 2009

Ridge, Thermal, Wave and Convergence.

We were all set up for launching on runway 36 when suddenly the wind picked up from the south and forced a runway change and a mad scramble to the other end of the airfield. Usually in this exercise someone looses out on grid position but because no one really wanted to launch we didn’t loose out.

We launched on to a ridge called Mallop and very quickly decided to push west towards Sarres. This proved to be not one of our smartest ideas due to the wave influence on the hill killing the lift. Anyway we got away with this one and the ran away to a more friendly area.

The second flights proved to be more relaxed over the same area as we now knew what was happening so we climbed on the ridge then thermaling up and moving west towards the rotor CU. I finally topped out at 10500ft just west of the airfield.

No great distances were flown but everyone flew for 2.5hrs each today and came back with large smiles on there faces.

More Brits arrive.
Due to a planning issue we found ourselves with no food at the accommodation so we had to divert to the local pizza restaurant in Sisterion, which turned out to be an excellent with more food than I could eat for £14.

Finally the Brits outnumbered the French at the morning briefing. We all spotted the deliberate mistake of showing yesterdays satellite pictures. Anyway the real weather for today promises a short window of good conditions with high cloud rolling in late in the afternoon. The humidity at the moment is about 80 percent so couple that with temperatures in the high twenties and I am getting hot writing this in the shade.

Got to go as we are about to start launching the first gliders at 12:30.


Sunday, 14 June 2009

Early finish to the day.
At the briefing the threat of an early cut off to the condition was hinted at but due to the language difference we failed to pick up on the timing of it. Suffice to say that the high cloud rolled in at 3pm and switched the conditions off in the low mountains. If you were higher up your flight lasted about another hour before you needed to return.

Anyway the Lasham team had good fun with Nicky practicing her rock polishing skills and Tim getting a close look at the out landing field at Sayen. Sorry for the lack of pictures today it was due in part to spending too much time close to the rocks.

We now have a full team with the arrival of Tim, Nicky, Graham and Andy. So when ‘G’ and myself turned up at the airfield the gliders were checked and ready to go.

The briefing today was a far less lively affair thanks in part to the absence of French pilot's butting in with there opinions about the weather, launch time, Tasks and so on. Thanks to the lack of banter we were able to get a good grip on the weather forecast despite the language barrier. So the weather to day will be good in the mountains with thermals up to 4000 meters but a risk of showers in the high mountains.

As I sit in the shade and write this temperature is 27 degrees with a max for the day of 31. It looks like the first launch will be some time after 1 pm and buy that time I will already have emptied one of my Camelbak’s. So it’s off to lunch and another update and pictures when we get back from flying.


Saturday, 13 June 2009

Sat 13th at 20:45.

Agood day out in the Alps. It proved to be a battle with the hills near sisteron and La Motte for over an hour before we connected with the good climbs and made our way to Blanche and then headed north into the Ecrins. Having been told at the briefing of 5000 meter cloud base we in the end had to settle for 4000 meters (13500ft) near Briancon. From here it was an easy run home through the Pas de la cavele back to Sisteron in time for cold beers.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Sisteron 2009.
9th-26th June