10 April 2011
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.