Bleary eyed competitors gathered on the north launch at St Hilaire this morning for the start of the 2011 St Hil’Airtour.
With cameras clicking and even a helicopter buzzing the takeoff filming the race started at 8:15 am with a Le Mans style start. The racers had to run from the side of the launch mat round a flag and up to their waiting assistants who handed them their sacks. They then raced off up the hill.
The weather conditions are difficult to call here, it’s a lovely sunny day but there is quite a bit of wind aloft. Early reports from the Dents de Crolles suggested it was too windy to take off up there. Some pilots have still walked up while others are waiting at launch for conditions to improve. Another group, including Charlie, are walking north along the plateau to another takeoff where they hope to fly from and head to the next turnpoint at Colombier in the Bauges and then on towards the flying mecca of Annecy.
You can follow the pilots in real time at http://www.airtour.fr/live/live-tracking/ Charlie is pilot No 21 just click on the small compass next to her name to follow her in Google Earth.
Report by Marcus King