The next club meeting will be on Thursday 6th December at St Rumon’s
Minutes of the Last Meeting
Click here to view the minutes.
Won again by Ana. A picture of Fergie, who, since leaving Prince Andrew, has taken up football management and paragliding.
Quotation of the Month
“Nobody’s perfect. You know what happened to the last man who was – they crucified him” Geoffrey Boycott
December’s meeting is a week earlier than usual and will be more a informal affair with free pasties kindly provided by Fergie.
Restrictions at St Agnes have been resolved. See the updated site guide here, and please observe the limits that have been negotiated between the club and Perranporth ATC.
New Club Logo
The new logo designs are here. Please send any comments you have on the design to me and I will read them out at the meeting.
The link to Skywings magazine is here.
Download the new BHPA Elementary Training Guide here.
Occasionally we do encounter horses on or around our sites. Often they are being ridden on the beaches or along the public rights of way. Avoid landing or flying near horses. Paragliders should not inflate their wings near horses. If you can’t avoid being in close proximity, try to get the rider’s attention so they can manage the animal’s behavior.
Accident in Yorkshire
Link here to a tragic paraglider accident. I’m sure the Club would like to offer it’s condolences to the family.
It’s getting near to the time of year that we should all think of servicing our wings, harnesses and other equipment. Equipment failure and degradation is a potential cause of accidents that can easily be negated. Loss of wing performance can creep up on a pilot over many months and go un-noticed until either a material failure or dramatic loss of lift results in an accident. Read your wing’s handbook to find the servicing schedule. We are lucky to have Phippsy on hand to advise on what needs to be done and to get the gear and parts we need.
Verbier by Graham Koller
Back in May I had booked a week’s holiday in September at Hotel California southern Spain to fly the Sierra Nevada. It was now end of July and due to a combination of working on the house, work and poor weather on my odd free days, I had not flown since February, a 40min flight at the Frost Bite (St Agnes) and before that at Algo the previous October.
I was worried, the Sierra Nevada sites have small tricky landings and in September the thermals are powerful. Not the sort of place you want to fly after nearly a year’s layoff. So I was desperate to get in a week’s flying before setting off for sunny Spain.
Verbier Summits came to mind, I’d been to Verbier for the previous two years and had intended skipping it this year, but the take off and landing fields are big and grassy and you start the day off with a 20 minute sledge ride in silky smooth air. Just the ticket to get back into the game.
I contacted Mike Beblas in the first week of August, explained my situation and he squeezed me in. So a week later on a warm dry Friday night I set from Marazion at midnight and drove to Heathrow terminal 5 to catch the first BA flight out to Geneva.
It’s the third time I’ve made this journey and I’m always impressed how slick it is. Hardly any queues at either airport, just 95 minutes flying time, a 5 minute walk to the rail station, straight onto a waiting train, a scenic 1 hour 45 minute train journey along lake Geneva into the Rhone Valley / the start of the high alps to Martigny, transfer to an alpine train (also waiting) for the short 35 minute 400m climb up a side valley to Le Chable. Verbier is 500m above Le Chable nestling in a bowl half way up the mountain.
This year Verbier Summits have changed their usual format of hiring a Ski Chalet complete with chef and its own landing field on the edge of Verbier to owning their own bistro with apartments, 5 minutes walk from the station in Le Chable. The accommodation is first class; the food is simple but tasty
Saturday is transfer day so there is no guided flying, time to chill out, get your bearings and meet up with the other guests. The bistro has become a hub for the village, there’s a real buzz, attracting expats and locals for food and drinks throughout the day.
Verbier Summits is run by twin brothers Mike & Stu Beblas. They operate a paragliding school, tandem flights and guided holidays with two other instructors Tom (school) and Joey (guiding) so usually there are around 8 students and 4 pilots stopping at the apartments, with 4 to 6 day visitors for tandem flights and sometimes one or two local pilots dropping in ad hoc. You would think with that number of people it would be chaos but all goes smoothly with no hanging around. The beginners (pre EP) are bussed up to the nursery slopes above Verbier. The other students (EP to CP) follow the pilots to the gondola station up to the main takeoff at Les Ruinettes. There are two landing fields, a small one (Montagnier) 15min walk from the gondola station on the outskirts of the village, used by the pilots only, as it is a little tricky with no room for error and the main big landing field (Champ Sec) which is a 10min drive up the valley. They have a small fleet of new transport (2No 8 seater busses & 2No 4 seater pickup trucks) that they use to ferry everyone around.
The typical day starts with breakfast at 8:00, briefing by Mike or Stu at 8:40 and split up into the various groups by 9:00 for the short walk to the gondola station (next to the rail station). 25 minutes later we were at the Les Ruinettes take off site at 2200m setting up for first flight against a stunning panoramic backdrop. The air is still and a cool 8 deg C with the sun just risen over the back of the high mountain range behind us / to our left. The takeoff is a broad grassy area enough for 8 gliders in two rows to be laid out and extends for a 100m down the slope at roughly 1 in 4 gradient, no problem if you fluff your takeoff.
I always find the first flight of the day magical. You need a determined alpine (forward) launch with the still air but once in the air it is silky smooth. I like following the contours of the steep sided valley slaloming in and out around the tall pines and passing by wooden chalets at eye level just metres away. With 1300m height difference between takeoff and landing there is a minimum of 20 minutes flight time.
As soon as your group is packed up its straight back up to the top for the next flight. Throughout the week I don’t think I waited more than 10 minutes for a van to take us back to the gondola. For added comfort the landing zone has a large parasol and enough chairs to go round.
The second flight can still be a bit scratchy usually not gaining any height above takeoff unless you’re a sky god like Joey, afterwards its off to the bistro for lunch.
The big one is usually after lunch. The temperature has risen to over 30 deg C in the valley and the thermals are between 4 and 6m / second up and small in area. Its rough and needs a lot of active flying. In past years I have struggled to get more 200m above takeoff but this year I stuck with it and topped out at 3100m, 900m above takeoff. The view opened out to a 360 deg panorama of the Swiss Alps. I was still slowly going up, circling in the thermal but steadily drifting over the back mountain ridge into area of complete wilderness, just rock and snow. Had there been other paragliders near by I might have continued for a while along the ridge in the general direction of the Matterhorn(only 40km away) but instead pushed out to the next peak on the landing field valley. On the way I had a full frontal collapse followed by a stall, dropped at 6.6m / sec before snapping back into flight. I then proceeded to get drilled until I reached a ridge well below the peak I was aiming for. You can see my flight on YouTube here
For those with enough energy there is usually an evening flight, just before the main takeoff goes katabatic. It’s usually a top to bottom; I’ve never found that magic lift though. Then it’s back to the bistro for the all important beer and chat about the day’s flying.
The weather for my week this year was exceptional, you can usually expect to lose one to two days in a week’s flying in this area of the Alps.
The cost for one week’s guided holiday including accommodation & breakfast was around £700. Lunch (sandwich) evening meal and beer came to a further £180. Six day pass for unlimited use of the gondola was around £80. Rail transfer pass (return) from Geneva was around £90.
Switzerland is expensive, but I’ve always thought that the location and hospitality made it worth while and now that I’ve had a taste of what’s possible I will be back.
The web site www.verbier–summits.com/ speaks for itself. It was also recommended by XC magazine in it’s best places to fly in the world supplement.
Views from Mike Cowley
Though I had a great time, and built on last year. I learned some hard and painful lessons, 1) If you can, you need to fly at least every week if possible; it’s not like riding a bike – you can’t just jump on and carry on where you left off, you have to keep it up. 2) Everyone knows that launch and landing may only occupy a few seconds of time, and things can happen fast. If in any doubt about about your launch, better to kill it there and then and try again, rather than wait until days later after you’ve recovered.
Flew there last week for the first time, a great day, and thanks to Adie, Phil and Alan for their words of wisdom. I would strongly suggest that all new pilots fly this site as soon as possible. Better to experience sink & rotor and be dragged and bounced among the sand dunes than on some rocks or barbed wire or gorse bushes on a hill. OK the next day you may feel that someone has been at you with a baseball bat, but I never realised what a fine line there was between a good flight and getting into the chaos of sink & rotor (should never have gone behind Phil), a valuable lesson that included keeping your hands off the brakes and using speed bar.
Former member and very close friend of Nigel Eagle, Kev Taylor has just launched his new business venture . With a couple of his mates he has designed and built a portable events venue. Read the article and see the photo here from thisiscornwall.
On the xc Magazine website there are videos and articles that are available to everyone. You can register with the site and get news and other info sent to you, such as their ‘Tuesdat Tips’. If you subscribe to the XC magazine, you get the chance to win prizes and get access to all the magazines resources. Click on this link here
The link to the website events registration page is here.
The date for the parachute re-pack is confirmed as Sunday 17th February 2013 at Carnmoggas ( location here ). Price is £15.00 to include buffet and refreshments . See what happened at the last re-pack here. Register on the events page.
Don’t forget to register for the lectures on the Events page. Cost will be £1pp per week which is used for a celebratory buffet after the exam. We have held the pilot lectures at Portreath, if you have any other suggestion for a venue (St Rumon’s?) please let me know.
Here is a link to the Met Office YouTube channel. There is lots of info and videos as well as a link to their main site. Click here.
The Club christmas party will be held on 14th December at Gwel an Mor.
A nice video from Bob Moore at South Devon, click here.
Small Landing Area
Think Perran is small and tricky? watch this here.
Still waiting for someone to send in their own profile. Ask me for the question template.
Carbis Bay still restricted. No take off or landing from normal field.