Thursday, 26 November 2009

Incredible Pakistan - Videos from 2009

Christian Rankl just put up some great footage of his trips in Pakistan this year. I'm going again next year and have some projects in the planning stages, I may even take the video camera. Check it out.

Paragliding in Pakistan from Christian Rankl on Vimeo.

Also have a look at the 2009 Pakistan Expedition by Demian, Rufo and Romain. Fantastic!

And Matty Senior with Brad et al.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Bir India, October 2009

Bir is a village set on a plateau above the Kangra valley in the state of Himachal Pradesh in north India. It's a friendly place full of rural Indians, Tibetan refugees and a surprisingly large number of paraglider pilots from all corners of the globe. The reason for its popularity is the Dhauladhar mountain range, part of the southern Himalayan chain. Many spurs run down from this range and on one of these the Tibetan government-in-exile is headquartered in McLeod Ganj above Dharamsala. The main paraglider launch site of Billing sits on another spur and from which classic flying in spectacular surroundings can be made, either on the front ridge, or over the back in the more serious mountains. It's been on my paragliding wish list for some time and so I finally went on a trip in October, and what a trip it was! It started off with a 10 day guided tour with Jim Mallinson, Eddie Colfox and John Silvester aka the Himalayan Sky Safari boys but I ended up staying on my own for an extended month long flying adventure.

Spur after spur after spur ...

I'll start with an account of the guided trip and then describe some of the classic flights in the area that I managed to do (sometimes several times) with lots of pictures and a few track logs. No doubt it will be a long post but it should give you a flavour of the place and hopefully persuade one or two pilots who haven't been there yet to go and taste it for themselves.

The Himalayan Sky Safari Guided Trip.

First off I think I should start with answering a question I've recently been asked several times by fellow pilots - "Why take a guided trip if you are an experienced pilot already, can't you just go on your own to Bir?" Of course you can! But remember this is India with all its quirks and consequences. If you can afford it then it makes some sense to take a guided trip on your first outing there. You hit the ground running; acommodation, food and local travel are all taken care of. Being relieved from any organisational burdens gives you more time to actually enjoy your hard earned holiday. More importantly you have at hand the people with a wealth of local knowledge and experience of the area you'll be flying in. If you are a cautious pilot (which is no bad thing) being guided will likely give you better flying experiences, as on your own you'll likely be too conservative for the conditions on the day. Finally, the safety advantages are obvious, especially as Himachel Pradesh doesn't have rescue facilites to haul you off the mountain like you have back home in Europe or the US. Having an accident in the mountains of India can have big consequences as some unfortunate Russians have recently found out.

The motley crew. Darwin, Eddie, me, Jim and John (Bruce absent).

Back to business then, what did I do with those guided days?

102km Flat Triangle with Jim Mallinson
I must have been doing OK on the evaluation day as Jim took me 'over the back' on the first real flying day. What a great day it turned out to be as we ended up flying a 102km flat triangle in 4 hours 45 minutes at heights close to 5000m. Thanks Jim!

Me from Jim's perspective

See here for the track log. The route took us initially over the back of the front ridge in to the bigger mountains and then towards Dharamsala the 'high way'. From there we went back to Bir along the front ridge jumping from spur to spur.

Another of me from Jim's perspective

It was a very strange day for me, as I was being 'guided' I basically just followed Jim around the sky. My instructions were to stay near the leader and not go off and do my own thing ... I obeyed my leader and made sure I'd do a couple more turns in the strong climbs, this put me just behind and quite a bit above Jim most of the time. I can climb and control the glider pretty much automatically so being deprived of any decision making meant that my brain wasn't really doing much except to look at the views and take some pictures; a very pleasant experience. After landing back at Bir I didn't feel tired one bit after almost 5 hours of flying but I did feel a tiny bit guilty that I hadn't really earned my first 100km triangle ...

Jim from my perspective, can you see him?

60km Mandi flight
This was a nice day with all of us - that's Darwin, Bruce, John, Eddie, Jim and myself all flying together as a group. I'll explain this route in detail in a following section as it's a classic and probably one of my favourite flights in the area (in fact I did it a couple more times on my own).

Mandi town, photo courtesy Nishant Sharma

Mandi is quite a large town 50km east along the ridge from Billing. On this particular day we first top landed on a spot on the ridge for lunch, the place is nicknamed Camp360 for its panoramic views. We probably spent too long chin wagging and eating as we relaunched a little late and couldn't find that last crucial climb that would have given us a stress free final glide into Mandi. Instead I had a slightly nail biting end to the flight worrying about the myriad of electrical wires spanning the river. Most of us landed on a rocky sand bank on the outskirts of the town but Jim, who was heroically leading out, landed a little short ...

Two days bivving out - Hobbiton and Camp360
I had prepared for the expected (and any unexpected) nights out by obtaining light weight bivouac gear: specifically a sleeping mat, bag, bivvy sack and even a very light weight wood burning stove(!) that all neatly fitted inside my harness. Needless to say I was keen to try it all out.

My kit being used. Notice the whisky, essential bivvy gear ...

So we all took off and flew 30km west towards a ridge nicknamed Hobbiton by Jim and Eddie, this was due to a collection of small shepherds huts suitable apparently for Hobbits. The ridge, a perfect thermal trigger, was pumping as usual and top landing was pretty tricky. It took me quite a few attempts before I finally got the glider down safely. Eventually all of us landed but Bruce had a slightly harder landing than most ... Several shepherds saw us arrive and joined us for a cup of tea made on my new wood burning stove I might add! Then our fluent Hindi speaker Jim had a conversation with the Shepherds who asked to use our satellite phone to order new provisions, lucky them!

Our shepherd meeting. Bruce looks a little uncomfortable ...

We collected wood and spring water and set about making a fire and putting on the dinner, oh and multiple brews as the English do. Whisky was supplied by Bruce and John Silvester showed off his camp fire culinary skills. A great night out, enjoyed unanimously by everyone. The next morning we launched and flew almost 50km east to Camp360 and did it all again. But this time in luxury as the camp was prepared by the Colonel and his staff providing us with a great evening meal and comfortable tents to sleep in. Quite a few other pilots flew in for the party as well. The next morning we flew back to Bir for a well earned shower at the Colonel's place.

The morning launch

That was pretty much the end of the guided trip. A fantastic effort was put in by John, Jim and Eddie to make it a very enjoyable holiday. The following section just details several what I like to call classic flights that I managed during the couple of weeks following the tour.

The 90km Dharamsala Out & Return
This is a classic flight that can be completed almost any day during the flying season. It's not easy however, you have to fly fast as the autumn day starts around midday and is essentially over by 4pm. I managed to do this flight a couple of times on my own and both times I only just made it back ... One of these flights can be seen here. There really isn't anything special you do on this flight, you just jump from spur to spur obviously using the eastern faces more on the way out and the western faces more on the way back. You save time by climbing as fast as you can and only climbing enough to get to the next spur and the next climb. The recognised turn point seems to be just past the slate quarries on a ridge above McLeod Ganj called Triund.

You can see the spurs running right to left off the main ridge.

The 50km Mandi Run
I've already hinted at this before but I really enjoyed the original flight to Mandi we did on the tour so much that I flew it a couple more times on my own. The ridge gently drops over 1km in altitude over its length and gets noticeably flatter towards Mandi. What makes this flight so special is you really don't have to thermal that much and you spend most of the flight just skimming along the top of a ridge waving at the people working in the fields or shouting Namaste to kids playing in their back yards. You really are connected to the ground on this flight, really special.

Unusually high above the ridge to Mandi - it's much better lower.

The final 15km is a little more stressful as the landing options are few and far between and don't forget about the wires, they're everywhere. So you need to keep a keen lookout if you're unlucky enough to be getting low. One of my track logs can be found here.

Flying over Victoria bridge to land on a beach near the burning ghats and temple.

The big one: A 60km high flight to Manali
I've known about and heard about this flight for some time, it's a committing flight through the big mountains 'over the back' northwards to the buzzing town of Manali. I managed to do it this year with Tom and Scott, a couple of Scottish pilots staying at the Colonel's.

Heading towards Danesar and onwards to Manali.

I talked over the route with John Silvester before I attempted it and what became obvious is that you just pick your own route through the mountains to connect with the Kullu valley as late as possible - the exact route depends on the height of the cloudbase and what mountain cols you can get over. As it turns out we had 'only' a 4800m base and had to skirt around Danesar and its lake. Near there Scott and I got separated (he missed a climb I took) and Tom was 30 minutes or so behind us so I was on my own. I just took a couple of climbs and glides and another col and flew out into the Kullu valley at Manali. Then I managed a simple glide to the Solang landing area in the north of the town. Scott joined me 10 minutes later and finally Tom arrived in orbit above us 30 minutes after that. We had a quick bite to eat and then endured the 6 hour jeep ride back to Bir.

Scott on glide towards the big stuff.

What a great flight it was with spectacular views. But it also felt a very committing flight as going down early meant a very long walk out and a long bus ride back. I'd certainly always carry the bivvy kit just in case ... The track log of the flight can be seen here.

So that was my month flying in Bir. A great way to end the 2009 flying season.

Thursday, 3 September 2009


I missed some unusually great flying days in the French Alps recently. The 19th and 22nd of August will be go down in the annals of French paragliding as some of the best in the last decade. There were a lot of high flights and amazingly 13 pilots even managed to make a top landing on Mont Blanc at 4810m (15774ft). It's a shame I wasn't there to experience it but at least I get to see some videos. In a couple more weeks I'll be in the Italian Dolomites and then India for some great flying, weather permitting ...

Massif du Mont Blanc, 4200 m à l'Aiguille de Bionnassay, Dôme de Miage. from Stéphane Boulenger on Vimeo.

And here's the way we do it in England, a bloody great video!

Pimple Queens XC Clinic from pimple queens on Vimeo.

Friday, 7 August 2009

25km from Coombe Gibbet

Tom Kane and Carlo Borsattino Skywalking

I managed a 25km flight (with turn points) from Coombe Gibbet today in what I thought were quite tricky conditions. It was all a bit scratchy at first but I finally managed to climb out with Tom Kane to a pretty low cloudbase of around 3700ft. We had three climb&glide cycles (one of them a very low save) before finally decking it. I landed in an organic farm and one of the owners drove me to the train station in Whitchurch; he seemed to know quite a lot about paragliding and was obviously used to gliders landing in the area. Some other Thames Valley pilots did better so it'd be interesting to see what gets put up on the league.

Tom Kane on glide

Sunday, 2 August 2009

32km from Rybury

Kirsty Cameron at base high over the Wiltshire countryside.

There was a sudden break in the atrocious weather today so I went to Rybury for a fly. It was quite busy with people skimming this tiny hill but I managed to climb out with Kirsty Cameron and avoid the chaos. Briefly at the roughly 5000ft cloudbase there were three of us circling; there was Kirsty on her Skywalk Poison-2 and Chris Jones (I think) on an old Nova Mamboo. We all went on glide in different directions no doubt each with their own tactics in mind. Mine was to fly to a nice looking cloud that I thought was building but was rewarded with nothing much. So I continued on a glide towards Hungerford hoping for some lift from the town but got a lazy climb before I got there. Whilst climbing in weak but usable lift I noticed Kirsty circling high in the distance and Chris and another glider climbing well underneath her. I thought they were reachable on glide from my position so I broke the cardinal rule of never leaving lift and went on what turned out to be a death glide towards them. I hit major sink along the way and that left me with very little height to work with when I did hit the bottom of their climb. I ended up landing and watching them glide in to the distance. It was a bad decision and I should have stuck with my climb and got on with my own flight instead of trying to join the others. Kirsty ended up flying to Reading for 65km or so, nice. Still my little 32km was a nice flight with some great views over the Wiltshire countryside.
As usual I landed at a nice pub! I watched paragliders fly overhead whilst having a pint in the sunshine, not so bad I guess.

The pub with paragliders overflying me!

Friday, 17 July 2009

Curse the British Weather

I am writing this watching and listening to the rain and wind hammer against my living room window and I'm cursing the British weather again. Why is it that the UK seems to be a magnet for low pressure weather systems lately? They bring the strong wind and often the rain so it's not been very conducive for paragliding for the last couple of weeks. And it's past midsummer already! I expected to be flying a lot more and as I've turned in to a bit of a cross country snob it's been even more frustrating. But there have been some small windows that have just about been flyable and some people have managed to put some flights on the league, but nothing epic. I've managed to get some very windy flights in at Bunster Hill in Deryshire, the Long Mynd in Shropshire as well as locally around here at Chinnor Hill. But I've not managed or been particularly inspired to go cross country so I still have only one flight in our UK league. I'm waiting patiently for the 'Big Day' but Murphy's law dictates that I will be doing something else when it comes along and so will miss it ... I do have a couple of pictures from the last two weeks below. I wonder why England looks so green?

Looking down at Long Mynd on a windy & cloudy day.

Cherry picking a flyable window at Chinnor before it became too windy.

Friday, 26 June 2009

SIV above Lake Annecy with Jocky

photo: John Porter approaching our caravan park.

I just returned from a very enjoyable SIV course in Annecy in the Northern French Alps. SIV is a French acronym for Simulation d'Incident en Vol or in English Simulated Incidence in Flight. Basically you get to put your glider though all sorts of configurations that you'd usually prefer not to see it in and then learn how to deal with it. So you learn things like recovery from max amplitude spins, flat spins, canopy collapses, stalls etc. All this is done above a lake with a safety boat and comforting radio guidance. We stayed in a nice caravan park at the South end of the lake right next to the SIV landing field. The course was organised by Jocky and his team at Escape and was flawless. We also managed to do a bit of free flying each side of the course with a few flights from Marlens, L'Anglettaz and Semnoz as well as the popular Forclaz and Plan Fait launches.

I met a great bunch of pilots who were on the course with me. Paraglider pilots seem to come from all walks of life; we had oil workers, kitchen worktop specialists, graphic designers, nurses, trainee fast jet pilots and even a professional cage fighter!

An SIV course is thoroughly recommended ! ...

Friday, 22 May 2009

80km in Greifenburg Austria

The weather has been pretty awful in the UK with a constant low pressure system hanging around giving high winds. So after looking at the forecast for Austria I decided to pop over to try and do some big triangle flights in Greifenburg with Trias a Scottish pilot. I had my mind set on a classic 115km triangle and so went to the take off in Embergeralm to have a go at it. This is the first time I'd been here and was pleasantly suprised with the setup; a nice take off area and next to it a place to have coffee and cake. You have to pay a small fee for this convenience but it was money well spent I felt. The main landing area in the valley is similarly setup and although there is no cable car there is a regular navette or minibus service that takes you to launch for 5 Euros. So I managed to fly two sides of my triangle for a total distance of 80km but the last leg was difficult and so I landed near a train station to make an easy retrieve back to the hotel. The cloud base was quite low at about 3200m as we had more humid southwest meteo winds, but with drier easterlies the base can get much higher apparently. It was challenging flying but fun so lets see what the rest of the week has in store. My flight can be seen here

Sunday, 3 May 2009

62km from Nant y Moel in SE Wales

I did a great little 62km flight yesterday from Nant y Moel in SE Wales on one of the rounds of the British Club Challenge. I'd never flown in SE Wales before and was looking forward to flying from a new site, but as soon as I turned up I was doubtful that any decent cross country flights could be made as the sky was grey with a low cloud base. But as I was there for the Dunstable club I persevered and although hard work I managed to pull off a reasonable flight; perhaps even one of the best of the day. My strategy was to stay over the higher ground and away from any sky that looked grey and overcast. This meant I had to glide cross wind in a more northerly direction between climbs, I think most other pilots went further to the south in a more downwind direction. I passed over Merthyr where the British Open hang gliding competition was starting and joined a gaggle of hangies in a climb, probably much to their annoyance. Once high enough I carried on my merry way to get a more peaceful climb a few kilometers downwind only to find several of the hang glider pilots zooming over to join my climb, nice to reciprocate the favour! The rest of the flight was the usual mix of glides, getting low and climbing out. But when past Abergavenny I was faced with the choice of which way to fly to get past an airspace restriction, the D-147 danger area which is the Madley Satellite Earth Station I could clearly see from the air. I chose to fly north of it as the sky looked better, but it was the wrong decision and the one that put me on the ground. I landed in a sheep filled field and a nice lady drove me to the nearest village where I waited in the pub for my retrieve (Thanks Steve and Tanya).

Tracklog can be seen here or here.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

A Great Time in the French Alps

Yours truly in restitution with Mont Blanc behind. Photos by Tom Payne

So after Austria we drove to France and met up with James and Joe who that night persuaded us to 'Ninja camp' in Annecy which involved my drinking a load of wine and sleeping on the ground, not so great for a 40 year old with a recovering back injury. Again Adam and I were a couple of days early for the course so we did a couple of flights one at Planfait in Annecy and another from St Hilare du Touvet.

Tom Payne (2009 X-Alps competitor!) was the organiser of this weeks mountain masterclass and as soon as I met him I realised that he had put a lot of effort in and that I was going to learn a lot from him. He brought along two helpers Toby Colombe (a very experienced local paragliding guide and XC pilot) and Quentin King another XC hound local to the area. We spent considerable time going over maps of the Northern French Alps learning about valley winds and convergence areas and generally getting a good understanding of the aerology of the entire area. The meteo winds were not ideal but they managed to select some great sites to fly from. We did a great little 40km XC from Montlambert which was hard won and very rewarding as well as visiting new sites to me such as Chamoux and Verel. We also flew from Planfait and St Hilare again.

Quite a wierd experience for me was an evening flight from Chamoux where I took off at 7PM and landed at 8:30PM struggling to get down! It was of course restitution or magic lift but I've never had it so strong and smooth; climbing to over 2000m in 2-4 m/s lift without really having to turn was a quite strange experience for me, especially as it was so smooth you could feel the wake turbulence from other gliders.

A fantastic weeks flying and more importantly it has given me the knowledge and confidence to plan some big XC's in the mountains. Thanks to Nicky Moss of Axis Paragliding UK for organising the trip!

Posing again for a Tom Payne photo ...

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Zillertal Open 2009

My first paragliding competition! A bit nervous obviously, mainly because of the start gaggles; the thought of 100+ pilots flying aggressively close together did give me some concern ... Wagga and Nicky both very successful comp pilots (British team) gave me lots of tips and dispelled a few of the nerves I had. Although it was just a local Austrian League comp it was attended by most of the Austrian Team and had a few of the big names there. It was a two task race-to-goal comp on two successive days.

Interestingly I found the race starts not too stressful. Obviously we were all competent pilots and although the flying was close and aggressive everybody was observant and predictable.

The first task was extremely frustating for me as my new Flytec 6030 all singing and dancing comp vario died on me and I was forced to use my backup GPS which I've never bothered to learn to navigate with (duh). So I attempted to learn how to use it mid flight with lots of traffic around me wearing thick gloves, not ideal! It wasn't very successful and I ended up following other pilots around the sky most of the time. This strategy worked some of the time until I flew a few kilometers too far past a turn point to a free flying pilot that wasn't in the comp! The acronym RTFM comes to mind 'Read The Fxxxxxg Manual'. The good news is I did the task and got in to goal, the not so good news is that I went over the goal line in orbit 2000m above the valley floor over an hour after the winner got in! I sheepishly handed in my instrument in the download area and sneaked out before the laughing started. You live an learn.

The second task was much harder and a lot fewer pilots got in to goal, so the fact I only got half way around didn't bother me too much and I got a reasonable amount of distance points. I did however stay up in to the night learning how to use my GPS. I also was keen to fly faster and so pushed on low not taking climbs to their maximum and using a lot of speed bar. Not really the best strategy for the day. Again you live and learn.

Anyway although I only came 37th I did learn heaps about comp flying and am really keen to do more.

Zillertal Open 2009 Results.

A five hour flight (almost)

Climbing above the Ahorn Spitz (click the image to see the sailplane between my lines).

So this was the first day of the course run by local guide Kelly Farina. We all headed up to the Penkenberg launch where we had a weather briefing and given a 102km task to fly around the local mountains. But conditions were strong with climbs around 6-7 m/s and strong north winds to contend with. Not unexpectedly things were especially rough in the sunny leeside climbs, so much so that only 10km in to the task Kelly cancelled it for safety reasons. Most of the guys soon landed but Kelly, Wagga and Joe heroically carried on trying to take a wider line further out in the valley which was reasonably successful. I was a little disappointed and as I'd already flown to the end of the valley a couple of days previously I decided to go exploring. I had in mind the task of climbing up over the top of the Ahorn Spitz mountain which looked spectacular still in its winter coat. But that was only going to work later in the day when the sun would warm its more west facing slopes (the other obvious faces would have been leeside), I therefore had several hours to kill before I went for it. Not keen to get a kicking by staying in the leeside conditions deep in the western side of the valley I decided to try and soar the north slopes of little side valleys on the more windward eastern side despite the limited solar heating. On the main valley crossing I spotted a lone glider doing exactly what I had in mind and joined it, it was Adam! Together we worked weak little climbs on the Gerlossteinwand. Eventually I got enough height to safely head over the top of its ridge to fly around the corner into the main Zillertal valley where I got a much better climb that took me to cloud base. Now high on the eastern side of the valley I decided to fly south and try to get above the Ahorn ski area which would be my base for an assault on the Ahorn Spitz and also where I could kill some time. Unfortunately whilst climbing out above the ski resort I noticed Adam over a kilometer beneath me struggling to get up and regretted not radioing him about my climb when I left him in the side valley (although to my defence he did look like he was doing ok when I left).

Watching the skiers above the Ahorn Ski Resort

I then just relaxed and waited patiently for the afternoon sun to come around. I'd play little games such as aiming my gliders shadow at the all the people sitting at the tables outside the resort restaurants who would subsequently peer up at me hopefully not too annoyed. I'd also fly close to the cable car when it started its regular journey down in to the valley waving at the skiers. I drank a load of water, ate a bunch of fruit bars, had a leak (no not on the skiers!) and with the sun arriving and feeling refreshed I headed around the base of the Ahorn Spitz to look for a climb. After noticing some cloud forming I connected with a great climb that took me all the way to base; two sailplanes spotted me and joined me in the thermal one just above and one just below. It was great climb and we ascended 1235m (4050ft) in 10 minutes at an average climb rate of around 2 m/s to a max altitude of 3050m (10,000ft). High enough for me to fly close to the iron cross on the summit and see the footprints of climbers. After that I went for a fly up the valley skimming base before finally calling it a day at just under 5 hours flying. A great day out all in all.

Looking east over the Ahorn Spitz

Zillertal Valley, Austria

Looking north up the Zillertal Valley

Adam heroically managed to do 95% of a 14 hour gruelling drive through the night to a little town in the Zilleral Valley in Austria called Mayrhofen. We had decided to arrive a couple of days early so that we could do some free flying on our own and get used to the spring alpine conditions before the course started. This turned out to be a good decision as the dreaded foehn wind came through later in the week putting a stop to a lot of the flying. There was a moderate southerly wind at altitude so we managed to do a nice 33km flight up to the end of the valley to the north and part way back; the following day we had northerly winds so we ended up doing more of a local flight closer to Mayrhofen. It was great to be flying high over alpine terrain again.

Axis Mountain Masterclass 2009

I've done quite a lot of flying in the month or so since my last post. Thanks mostly to being selected for the Axis Mountain Masterclasses "intensive courses aimed at developing alpine flying skills with a strong focus on mountain cross country; including aerology, route planning and cross country decision making".

As I had limited internet access on the road I will follow this up with a few separate posts covering the highlights of the trip.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Spring Cleaning

video by Markus Kinch

We have had a surprisingly good period of weather locally this last week and so I've managed to get out a few times and do a bit of flying and sort out my kit for the big Alpine flights coming up in April. Spring is most definitely here and the thermals have awoken from their winter sleep. I even managed to do my first cross country flight of the season from Chinnor, not exactly a huge flight but nice all the same. We had quite a strong temperature inversion which meant that I could only climb up to about 700m (2300ft) in the thermals but this was enough to get me to West Wycombe which is close to the London Air Traffic Management Area [LTMA] although I think there might have been scope to take a more northerly direction to get a bit further but it wasn't really the day for it. But most of all it gave me a chance to try out the modifications to my harness as I've put in new ratchet pulleys (as used in dinghy sailing) and also installed a three step speed bar. Together these modifications have taken the load from my legs that I was suffering from last year in headwind transitions when on bar.

I also tested out my reserve system at the Thames Valley Club 'Big Fat Repack' by sliding down a zip line from the top of Reading sports centre and deploying my rescue parachute. It all worked fine and opened reassuringly quickly. I then carefully repacked it all back in the harness, lets hope I don't have to use it for real ...

A big thanks to Markus Kinch our local veteran hang gliding pilot for making nice videos of the days flying.

video by Markus Kinch

Thursday, 26 February 2009

The 2009 Flying Season is Almost Here

Photo by Markus Kinch

Well it’s been a while since my last entry. Not a lot has been happening flying wise as apart from being in the cold and wet European winter I’ve also been steadily recovering from my accident that occurred in Bassano at the end of last year. Thankfully I’m almost back to normal with just some residual pain that should slowly diminish with the aid of a bit of physiotherapy and time. There has been some local flying though and especially nice were the soaring flights over the Chiltern Hills in Oxfordshire after the unusual winter snow. Everything magically came together to give us a great winter day out with fresh snow, sun and the wind at the right strength in the right direction.

You can’t start the year without some free flight goals and so this year I’ve made some. So in no particular order here they are:

(1) Get through the year accident free!
(2) Do an SIV (Simulation d'Incident en Vol) course.
(3) Get better at ground handling and kiting my wings.
(4) Enter 6 qualifying flights in the British XC league.
(5) Get a 100+ km XC flight in somewhere.
(6) Put at least 100 hours flying in.
(7) Enter a paragliding competition.
(8) Fly a classic route in Europe that I haven't done yet.
(9) Fly somewhere big again – Hindu Kuch, Pamirs, Karakorums etc.
(10) Attempt a small vol-bivouac trip somewhere.

I don’t expect to get them all (I’ll try very hard to get the first one in), but it’s nice to have something to aim for. I already have plans in the pipeline that should address at least some of them. I'm looking forward to it!

Video by Markus Kinch