Mountain flying trip 2019 – 14th to 21st September
Join us for a mountain flying trip where we decide the destination at the last minute, for the best possible weather. This approach has worked beautifully for the 2016 Sky Surfers’ trips to Puy de Dome, in the French Massif Central, and last summer’s trip to the West Highlands of Scotland during the heat wave (avoiding thunderstorms in the Alps).
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The price includes:
The price includes: accommodation, home cooked food, up to one XC retrieve at the end of each day, and guiding from experienced pilots Dave Harvey and Michel Carnet. RJ Macaulay will also offer coaching. The price does not include travel.
What are some of the possible destinations?
Puy de Dome, Massif Central, France – An extinct volcano with a mountain railway, in the Massif Central, central France. Takes all wind directions. Big grassy takeoffs. The train runs every 20 minutes so it’s easy to get back up the mountain. Epic XC flights towards Mont Dore to the south.
West Highlands, Scotland – using ski lifts at the Nevis Range or Glencoe ski resort for getting up the mountain, plus a fair bit of walking at other sites. Scotland is wild and beautiful. Mixture of hike n’ fly, classic mountain flying, and soaring the sea breeze. Grassy landscape gives many options for take offs and landings.
Annecy, northern Alps, France – Very picturesque flying around a beautiful lake. A bit crowded in peak season, but likely to be much more civilised when we’re there. Enormous landing field. The classic flight is the “tour du lac”.
Mevouillon, southern Alps, France – in the lower foothills of the southern alps, but still with decent top to bottom verticals (up to 800m), means we escape any high altitude winds. Beautiful Provencal countryside, easy launches. Possible XC routes to Laragne and Sisteron.
Val Louron, Pyrenees, France – Round topped grassy mountains for takeoff, but fly south and you immediately hit much higher more jagged mountains, meaning there’s something here for everyone. Large landing area next to a lake. Amazingly beautiful location.
How much is travel?
About £120 return if you travel by road with us (paying your share of fuel, ferry, and motorway tolls). This is based on 4 people per car, and we’ll ask for volunteers to share some of the driving. Or you can take a plane and we’ll collect you from the airport in return for the fuel and any motorway toll cost.
Who is organising this trip?
Albatross Paragliding – a BHPA registered Air Experience School. The Chief Instructor is Dave Harvey, assisted by the very experienced Instructor Michel Carnet. Please note our instructor qualifications are for tandem flying rather than teaching newbie solo pilots.
How will retrieves work?
We request that XC pilots attempt to make their own way back (or nearer) by hitching or public transport (but not expensive taxis). We find that hitching works very well in the mountains especially with a paraglider shaped rucksack. At the end of the flying day we will collect anyone who is still not back.
Who is this trip for?
Experienced pilots and less experienced pilots who are keen to hone their cross country and thermalling skills. The opportunities will range from gentle top-to-bottoms to challenging XC flights, accompanied by RJ. You must be confident in your forward launching technique and ground handling. These skills can easily be perfected on our local sites, and the coming season will give you ample time to prepare. Please talk to us before booking if you’re not sure if you’re ready for this trip. We will be organising several forward launch and ground handling sessions for Sky Surfing members prior to the trip.
What other trips have you run? How did they go?
Dave Harvey organised the last two Sky Surfers Mountain flying trips. In 2016 we went to the Puy de Dome, and in 2018 we flew in the West Highlands of Scotland. Both trips had excellent weather with flying every day in awesome landscapes.
Chris Drabble came with us to the Puy de Dome and says: “The club trip was great fun and a super way of getting to know club members with all levels of experience. We all worked together to make sure everybody felt supported and had the opportunity to fly in areas suitable for their level. I can really recommend this to anybody who wants to fly and enjoy a good holiday.”
Justin Simmonds came with us to the Highlands and said: “We flew every day and saw some amazing sights. Scotland was where it all came together for me, learning to thermal under Dave’s watchful eye and guidance. I would recommend the trip to anyone wanting to meet likeminded paragliders and learn new skills. Dave is also an amazing cook”
Michel Carnet used to be the CFI of a large paragliding school in Brighton and has in the past organised many trips in France, Spain, Greece, and Switzerland. His experience will be invaluable.
The French Alps can be very busy in July and August, and the thermal activity can be overwhelming for a large part of the day. We’ll be booking travel and accommodation at the last minute, so low season is good as costs and availability will be better. We prefer to extend the UK season by going in the Autumn, giving pilots the best chance to prepare in the UK.
Any other costs?
- Insurance: we insist that you have your own search and rescue, medical and repatriation insurance to come on this trip. Paragliding must be on the policy as a permitted activity.
- Beer, or other alcoholic beverages.
- There might be costs for lift tickets to get up the mountain (33 euros for the week at Puy de Dome, £12 per day in Scotland).
- Extra-curricular activities.
Why this trip so much cheaper than comparable trips?
This trip is inspired by the trips Dave Harvey previously organised for the Sky Surfing Club. The aim is to keep it simple, friendly, and cheap. We’re doing this more for fun than to make money. Be aware also that we’re not offering the same level of teaching or retrieve chauffeurs some other trips might offer: one retrieve per day, and guiding rather than instruction.
What’s the difference between guiding and instruction?
We’ll help you to make your own decisions: we’ll research the flying area, talk to local pilots, look at the forecast with you, and discuss. But we will not take responsibility away from you nor make decisions for you. Neither will we be teaching you entirely new skills – rather we’ll be giving advice for you to build on what you already know.
What about insurance?
It’s important that you take out insurance to cover search and rescue, medical expenses, and repatriation. We will ask to see your insurance as a condition of coming on the trip. Albatross Paragliding is not covered by the BHPA’s insurance when we offer guiding – this is not considered a problem by the BHPA, but it does mean you need to be certain you have your own insurance, which covers paragliding.
As a low air timer, how can I stay safe on a trip like this?
Make use of the experienced pilots and guides, but don’t switch off your own decision making! You know yourself, your capabilities, fears, and desires. Just because more experienced pilots have judged the weather to be OK, it might not be OK for you, and the weather might change, or the more experienced pilots might have missed something that you’ve noticed.
What’s on the menu?
Breakfast: Tea, coffee, granola, cornflakes, fruit, yoghurt, pancakes, maple syrup, and (if we’re not having an early start) english breakfast.
Lunch: we provide fresh bread, sandwich fillings, fruit and a dessert for you to assemble your own packed lunches.
Dinner: simple home-cooked food such as roast chicken with mash and greens, mushroom risotto, pasta carbonara, toad in the hole, etc.
What will the accommodation be like?
Simple holiday accommodation with shared rooms. We may rent a holiday home (“Gite”) all to ourselves, or stay in a hostel aimed at PG pilots.
What if you cannot find suitable accommodation?
This is always a risk, but from our experience, late in the season, there is plenty of accommodation available even at the last minute.
What do I need to bring?
Consider bringing the following extra bits of kit:
- Radio – really useful for staying safe and exchanging info mid flight
- Tree landing kit: loop of climbing webbing (for tying yourself to the tree), dental floss for pulling up a line, and a whistle for attracting attention.
- A drinking bag, so you can stay hydrated while coring a thermal. At local sites you can top land and slurp from a bottle, but many mountain sites are not top landable, and it might be a long way to the bottom landing.
What about refunds?
1 month or more before departure you can cancel with a full refund.
If you wish to cancel after that, we may keep your deposit (£100). We will try to ensure this is not necessary (eg. by finding someone to replace you). In the very unlikely event that we cannot find suitable accommodation, or any other circumstances that make the trip unviable (eg. Brexit queues at Dover 😉 ), we will offer to refund people.