Thursday, July 25, 2013

Nice movie about the Red Bull X-Alps

The Red Bull X-Alps are the yearly highlight when it comes to paragliding. Enjoy the footage of the extraordinary event, taking the competitors from the old city centre in Salzburg all across the Alps to Monaco:

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Belgian nationals coming up

Next Sunday, July 28th, the Belgian and Catalan Open will start. 60 Pilots have already registered. A very diverse field with absolute hotshots and occasional competition pilots. So, if you're looking for a friendly comp or for the ultimate training for the British Nationals, the week after, also in Ager, come and join us.

And burn a candle for epic Catalonian flying weather!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Looking back at the French Open - in short

The French Open have been an interesting comp for me. I can't recall having flown anywhere before where valley wind systems influenced the flying as much as they did there. Of course, the daily overdevelopment in the high mountains sucked in a lot of air and helped those valley winds. I sure should fly some more on the north side :-)

On the other hand, it was also my first true comp with the Moyes RX. And I'm really happy with the increased handling in turbulent air. When it comes to speed, I was able to compete with the lead guys, but I made too many mistakes which made me land. Next comp is the Belgian nationals, so it's time to get my act together again. Just a little more conservative should already help a lot!

On the Covert side, the harness is as comfortable as ever, but even with the slider being moved further back, the head-down balance is minimal. The slightest push on my bar changes my body position. I'll have to learn not to push on the bar at all. The main issue is that I'm always getting into the "standing-man" position in turbulences. Not what you want to do exactly during those times when you need maximum roll authority.

When it comes to sportsmanship, I was surprised at the number of times I saw people exiting clouds. I recall one time where 3 gliders were able to do a transition which I wasn't able to do, because of an estimated 300 m height difference. I will change my attitude towards this. No more silence, because it is just not fair towards others.

And then there was the hot topic of security. Quite a lot took place in that department. First of all congrats to the local organisation. They had the difficult task to run a competition with almost 100% thunderstorm probability. They put a lot of effort in assessing the conditions and I thank them for that.

On the other end of the safety spectrum was the tense time we all experienced on launch when a tandem paraglider pilot had taken off without closing his leg loops. We all watched how he was dangling for the paraglider, even trying to wrap his legs around the little passenger girl. Luckily, he had enough strength in his arms for a few minutes and it all ended well. But we all feared the worst for quite a while.

Lose leg loops in paragliding are pretty much the same as forgetting to clip in the harness to the glider for hang gliders. It is a very bad mistake to make and it should be part of any pre-flight check (but we all know nobody's perfect). Yet, that same day, I was surprised to see a hang glider pilot in my landing field, who was clipped in, but just as well could not have been.

The guy was using two 250 kg carabiners!

He figured out that paragliders used those, so it should be enough to carry him as well. 500 kg is more than his 100 kg clip-in weight, right? Well, we use 3000 kg 'biners for a reason. Imagine what his 250 kg carabiners would have done in this situation! I really hope he stopped using them, at least I told him his was lucky to still be alive...