19th August : Saint André SW TO
212 km zig zag - 7h20mn
See flight on OLC
See flight on OLC
A good forecast for the day, but with probable thunderstorms in the mountains.
I had recently met German pilots Peter W. and Friedrich at Laragne and we had decided to go to Saint André for a few days as it had got a bit stable and inverted at Laragne.
|Crossing the Ubaye valley onto the Grand Berard (the summit in shadow)|
|East of the Morgon : the storm looks active !|
|At same moment, looking to the west much more inviting !|
I got up on the Mont Colombis and as the wind was west, it was drifting me towards the Morgon, the rain seemed to have stopped there but it looked like the thunderstorm behind was active. At about 2800m and nearing the Morgon, I suddenly noticed the Serre Ponçon lake that leads out from the Ubaye valley was getting covered in white waves. I realised straight away that it was the gust front coming out of the Ubaye valley. That's the great thing about water : it let us "see" what the air is doing ! At my altitude, I felt none of this lower wave of air but I instantly turned back west and flew as fast as possible back to the Colombis and a good 10 km away from the gust front. Here things were much calmer and I was out in the blue and sunshine again.
At this point, I'd decided that there was no way I was going to get back to Saint André on my glider and decided to try and fly back home instead, which was about 60 km away. It worked, and at 7.45 pm I landed back at Ribiers, in a calm clear evening sky. The only problem was we were camping at Saint André ! Anne very kindly drove back to get me and we were back at the campsite just after midnight, a very event full day !
|Getting up on Mont Colombis, looking east to where the gust came out of the Ubaye valley|
PS : today quite a few PG's got to over 5000 m and landed on the summit of the Mont Blanc !
|At 7.30 pm, I overfly Ribiers where I live and land here|
|8.30 pm, after packing up the glider, this was the sky looking to the north !|
21st August : Saint André SW TO
|The first 50 km were very fast !|
There were lots of hangglider pilots out today including Peter and Friedrich. Peter was seriously injured in a hanggliding accident about 16 years ago and now needs a little assistance on TO as he can hardly run (which makes some launches like the south side of Laragne impossible for him). He has a large pair of wheels on the base bar of his Combat 13.5 GT and lands in prone. His disability hasn't stopped him becoming one of the best HG XC pilots in Germany and is currently in 2nd place in the German league. Once he's up and flying you can tell that he's a brilliant pilot, who knows more about mountain flying than most of us. Today he flew a 242 km circuit on only his 4th flight ever at Saint André !
Friedrich helped Peter take off first and I got off, followed by Friedrich. Again we went up the Colmars/Allos valley. Conditions where great and we got up to the Grand Berard next to Barcelonnette much quicker than 2 days ago. I was with Fredrich -we hadn't seen Peter since Saint André. The huge cloud above the Grand Berard started to rain, so again I decided not to go further north towards Briançon, but to go to the NW and Mont Guillaume where I met up with Friedrich again. (He decided to go back to
Saint André and nearly made it, landing a few km short at Thorame Basse).
|The Chapeau de Gendarme, on the south side of the Ubaye valley|
|La Petite Autane where more than 10 feathered friends showed me the thermal !|
|Looking north towards Sisteron, the thunderstorm that I flew around to the west and south|
|Two happy pilots : Peter and Mark back at Saint André|
So yet again another day where the overdevelopment had reduced the day from being really great to just really good ! I didn't have any real game plan after the Grand Berard, and you can see on the trace that I flew a sort of "round circuit" which "only" gave 216 km FAI triangle. Had I had flown with a bit more intelligence it would have been at least a 260 km triangle. I need to do a bit more preflight map studying !