Cross Country at last

10 April 2011

Charlie at Col de Bleyne
Charlie at Col de Bleyne

Phew. I’ve been slightly twitchy about the fact that the Airtour is looming, and I hadn’t done a single XC flight this year. Luckily the drought is over.

Had a lovely flight from Col de Bleyne today, to Saint Andre and part-way back. Cloudbase was fantastic, 3,500m, and at Saint Andre I had a south-westerly pushing me along towards Lac d’Allos. The only thing stopping me from going that way, and it only just stopped me, was that the cloud I was under was beginning to look a little large.

With overdevelopment forecast for the day I decided to be cautious, and to attempt to fly homewards instead. Good call. Within minutes the cloud was looking definitely scary, and the vario was shrieking as I flew to the edge of the lift and dropped out of it, fully expecting something nasty to happen with the wing and amazed that it didn’t – just dropped out of it, fully intact, and carried on flying. I love the Swift!

I was already beyond the Saint Andre landing when I was first sure that the cloud was a cu-nim. The white milky spreadout was rapidly growing and extending southwards. My only option was to run south as fast as I could. I speed barred along the Crete de Serres as far as I could go, the back of the hill that the Vauplane ski resort is on.

Hanging on the big ears lines, speed bar on, I willed the glider down. The wind in the valley was strong, which is probably normal here but I was nervous that there could also be a gust front. I misjudged it a bit, setting up at the back of the enormous field over a line of trees, and then coming down vertically over them! Thank heaven for wind shear. At tree height the wind reduced and I made it into the field and touched down gently, bizzarely noticing every grass blade, and very grateful to be down. I was shaking when I rang Marcus, who was already in the area and coming to get me – result!

The XContest tracklog is here.

XContest tracklog of flight from Bleyne to Saint Andre, 10 April
XContest tracklog of flight from Bleyne to Saint Andre, 10 April


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