Saturday, 10 November 2012

MHGC Alpine Expedition 2012 (NOT)

Well the more observant and geographically savvy will have guessed from the accompanying photos that this year’s MHGC Alpine expedition got off to a rather shaky start, in fact it was cancelled due to some rather persistent inclement weather that had settled over the alps.
However after a day of moping about Ian P came to the rescue with the idea of a 2 day trip to the Lake district, Hoorah! Needless to say most of the original Alpine Group plus Stuart M immediately signed up for a 2 day trip to Keswick and the next few days were taken up with logistics and planning (well done Ian). The end result saw various members of the group scurrying around Worcestershire in the early hours of Tuesday morning forming up into car shares and heading for

Day 1.

Ian had managed to arrange for us to join the local school “Air Ventures” run by Gordie Oliver (top bloke) for their morning weather and site briefing at a stone circle just outside of Keswick, which I would highly recommend

(if you thought Alpine weather and flying was different try the Lake district ). Gordies call for the day was Clough Head and the day promised much with light winds and talk of triangles, with a back up of sea breeze soaring later in the day. It was at this point that the two fundamental differences between the Lake district and the Alps became apparent:-
1/ They don’t build roads to take off in the Lakes.
2/ The sea is a lot closer.
Luckily some of Gordies students were persuaded to take pity on us and ferry some our gear half way up the mountain in their 4 x4 whilst Kobus managed to get Gordie to tow his van up which probably saw us half way to take off. The following yomp saw us still a long way from the top but on a spot that would allow us to connect with nearby cliffs and climb the rest of the way. What followed was several hours of waiting with the odd impatient pilot proving it wasn’t possible to stay up before eventually the sea breeze hit giving a soarable breeze on the face that allowed everyone to get off and climb out for some very pleasant flying. Everyone landed locally except Richard D who snuck off down the valley for a mini XC.

Day 2 

The morning briefing suggested Swinside as a good bet and being closer to the sea we expected the sea breeze to arrive earlier and bring soarable conditions as we had watched sites closer the coast become flyable an hour before Clough Head the previous day. Nice site, bit of a climb, more difficult with steep slopes, heather and ill defined paths than expected but 2 hrs later the elderly and infirm made it to the top catching up with the younger members of the group. It was at this point I devised two new rules of paragliding/parawaiting:-
1/ You have to wait at least double the time it took to climb before giving up and flying down. (Also known as recovery time).
2/ On small sites, signs such as circling birds of prey or feeding swallows are enough to justify launching first. On big carry ups it requires Chickens, pigs, goats or other farmyard animals to be hefted skywards before launching first is an option.
And so we waited, and waited , and waited! Annoyingly the breeze felt on the lower slopes had vanished at the top and despite watching windmills turn on the coast out in front and huge clouds build over mountains several miles behind we were becalmed? A trickle of local pilots tried and went down until eventually the call of the chippy lured the rest of us off the hill. Flying down at the end of the day revealed the low level valley breeze was still there which made landing easier for most, (It seems the sea breeze had stayed at low level cooling the ground and killing thermal activity without rising up over the bigger hills allowing us to soar, DOH!) Anyway a swift pint followed by fish and chips in Keswick and we then all headed home, tired but content, plenty of exercise, some flying was had and there are a lot worse ways to spend the day than lying in the sun atop a Lakeland peak admiring the view.

Top couple of days thanks to Ian P for the idea and organisation.

Chris H.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Flew over the Malvern hills yesterday (31st Aug) in my paramotor and took these photos of some of you guys setting up and flying on the ridge. I made sure that I was engine-off as I came close to the hill where you were - no one likes prop wash...

I might get in touch to join the club and get some hill lessons from someone at some stage if that is ok.


Friday, 20 May 2011

Malvern Alpine Expedition May 2011 Friday

Today started with a TTB from the South take off at Samoens for Kobus and Mark T, the rest drove down as the wind insisted on blowing over the back. Stunning views of Mont Blanc though so well worth the walk even for those that didn’t fly. Then it was back to Annecy in the afternoon for a last flight of the holiday. Whilst stopping for lunch at the bottom of Plan Fait the debate over flying from Plan Fait or doing the walk and flying from Col de Forclaz was resolved when a glider launched off Plan Fait only to take a 50% collapse , so it was Col de Forclaz then. Kobus decided the walk was all too much and stayed behind to finish lunch and the rest of us headed for take off. The building clouds kept some of us on the ground but Mark T and Brian P managed to dive off for a quick TTB before things got out of hand , thunder and lightening convinced those left on take off that driving down was a better option . An interesting week with conditions always bordering on the unstable usually ending in thunderstorms somewhere or other nearby later in the day . Overall a cracking week with people flying ever day and most importantly everybody having a great time and no accidents or injuries. Many thanks to Dave Lock our absent host form all the Malvern expeditionary force.
Chris H

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Malvern Alpine Expedition May 2011 Thursday

Today started early with a 9:30 TTB from Samoens NW launch providing everyone with more forward launch practice and a smooth flight down, except Chris H who drove (honestly it wasn’t a ploy, I can do perfectly respectable forward launch). Following that we loaded both vehicles and headed for Annecy and Plan Fait today. Ian’s call on the weather seemed spot on as clouds in Samoens were already building when we left and Annecy was much sunnier (and hot). Arriving at the landing field a quick coffee stop turned into a full blown 4 course lunch all for 12 Euros. Of course all this food plus the warm day resulted in more enthusiasm for an afternoon nap than flying , but we managed to rally and proceeded to Plan Fait take off by mid afternoon. The scale of things here is really deceptive, Plan Fait looked really low down against the background of the mountains however on take off it provided a perfect view of the lake and a very interesting flight down. The after effects of lunch and a lack of much activity by the locals deterred some from flying but in the end Mark T, Brian P and Chris H had short flights before landing at the bottom. Cross wind and thermals made take off somewhat entertaining but other than that once away it was really not too bad, except for the intimidating clouds over the peaks which somehow didn’t seem to bother the locals. A grand day out followed by beer and barbeque
Chris H.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Malvern Alpine Expedition May 2011 Wednesday.

A day or to be more accurate a morning of TTB’s at Samoens for most of us except for Mark T and Ian P who spent the morning getting a new tyre on Marks car after he picked up a puncture at Annecy yesterday. Mark finally made it to take off at lunchtime only to have his glider snag on something on take off and put a small rip in his wing. This resulted in Mark and Ian spending the afternoon driving back to Annecy to buy repair tape, really not Marks day! As a consolation Brian P and Chris H patched Marks wing for him whilst he cooked tea for the rest of us, well done Mark. The morning had been interesting with no wind on launch forcing all to forward launch. Kobus betrayed his foreign origins by executing perfect forward launches every time, the rest of us were a little less polished. The canine launch marshal kept us all in order though. As it turns out Mark and Ian missed nothing in the afternoon as the valley overdeveloped and we settled for a quick walk around the village and a spell of tidying up. Mark and Ian returned to tell of wonderful conditions at Annecy and topless beaches, so unsurprisingly we have declared tomorrow an Annecy day.
Chris H.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Malvern Alpine Expedition May 2011 Tuesday
Today was an Annecy day meaning a relatively early start for the house which some of us found more challenging than others due to a late night, eating drinking and talking Pararubbish. It seems the French also do traffic jams but after a longer than expected drive we ended up on the fabulous shores of lake Annecy, both cars meeting at the Dussard landing field. Fortunately Kobus had decided not to fly today so we had a duty driver , sorted! (thanks Kobus). Most of us had two flights from the Col De Forclaz take off, which is very smart by the way with an Astroturf set up area and take off plus seating for spectators and even toilets (of a sort). Watching the SIV students going through their manoeuvres was interesting to say the least (rather them than me) but we all had very pleasant flights, I managed to climb out above the ridge immediately behind take off and the views of the peaks behind were stunning, however they were half shrouded in cloud and looked better from afar. All together a grand day out finished off with a beer on the way home. Life is really tough in the Alps.
Chris H.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Malvern Alpine Expedition May 2011.

The day dawns bright with blue skies and more friendly looking cumulus, hopefully we are in for a much less stressful day, as indeed it turns out to be. Today everybody flew including Paul M and Kobus despites Kobus having reservations over the size of the LZ he made a perfectly good landing all be it a little short but so did most people, valley winds really take some getting used too. Most people had 3 flights generally extended TTB’s but with some thermal ling around . Mark T having a great evening flight themalling around take off at the end of the day, until I took off and jinxed it. As Ian P does his master chef bit plans of Annecy tomorrow are hatching whilst the odd cool bear and glass of vino slips down nicely. Life can be so tough sometimes!

Chris H, who most definitely is not head coach just in case anyone gets ideas whilst I’m away!.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Malvern Alpine Expedition May 2011.

After a long drive South the Malvern expeditionary force arrived safely at David’s place in Samoens. (Thanks again David) , only to find it raining cats and dogs. However weather forecasts suggested improving conditions and an outside possibility of flying on Sunday.
Not raining, we decide to head for the LZ for a briefing where Ian P imparts his local knowledge , mainly consisting of expected valley wind direction, likely areas of lift and sink, and the warnings of terrible consequences for those not landing in the designated area. (Turns out the white markers designating the LZ on the site guide are real and not just computer graphics). After Ian’s Briefing locals doing TTB,s convince us its worth a look, so up we go to the North Take off, where Ian P, Mark T , Brian P, & Chris H carefully assessing the conditions decide to fly down before the snow gets any worse.!!!!
Ian is off first and scoots across the valley to the sunny side climbing to 1000ft ATO and is obviously on a mission but isn’t responding to radio calls so we cant be sure. Mark goes off and heads for the landing field and appears to be low and on his way down when Brian launches and I follow him off. I plan to fly to the blue hole across the valley and see how things develop but probably just go down , however its lifty all across and I make 300ft ATO without trying . Brian takes a different route and climbs even more. By this time the sky is really looking a bit active in places and I eventually reach my blue hole and core sink down towards the LZ ,wonderful! The weather is changing all the time and not knowing local conditions its feels the ground is the place to be. At this point Ian is down and points out over the radio that the valley wind is from the opposite direction to expected (well done Ian) , Mark is on finals, I’m setting up an approach and unfortunately Brian was too far up the valley to reach the landing field, he had been upwind but changing conditions meant he was now downwind and was forced to land out. Retrieves by Kobus and Paul M Top Job!
Subsequent analysis of the photos suggested we were a bit too keen to get off before conditions deteriated. , French pilots flying 30 mins later had a smooth TTB but later in the day it overdeveloped and poured down. Interesting place!!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

2011-03-24 Kettle Sings

Thursday, 10 March 2011

2011-03-06 Malverns "Kettle Sings" and nearly in spring

After the winds finaly reduced the afternoon was lovely.