Mountain flying trip 2020 – 12th to 19th September
Join us for a mountain flying trip to the Massif Central, flying over extinct volcanos and 1800m mountains in central France.
£390 plus travelPay A £100 Deposit Today!
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.
Massif Central, France – One of the best known flying sites in the region is Puy de Dome, an extinct volcano with a mountain railway, in the north of the Massif Central. Takes all wind directions. Big grassy takeoffs. The train runs every 40 minutes so it’s easy to get back up the mountain. Epic XC flights towards Mont Dore to the south. There are countless other mountain sites in the area, surrounding the Puy de Sancy (highest peak in the Massif Central) and the Plomb du Cantal to the south.
If the weather is bad in the Massif Central, we may change the destination at the last minute. Other possible destinations include Val Louron (French Pyrenees), Mevouillon (Southern French Alps), or the Scottish Highlands.
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 3 or 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. The best airport for the Massif Central is Clermont Ferrand – but please don’t book any flights until the destination is confirmed.
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. Extra points if you can fly straight back to the holiday house.
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. You must be confident in your forward launching technique and ground handling. You should also be prepared to walk up to an hour with your glider. 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. In 2019 we returned to Puy de Dome, where we also flew mountain sites in the Monts de Cantal and around Puy de Sancy. All three 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 is invaluable.
Spring and mid-summer thermals in the mountains can be overwhelming. We feel that September is the best time to avoid the crowds and do some amazing XC flying at a time of year when it’s mostly finished 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 (35 euros for the week at Puy de Dome).
- 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, steak and chips, etc.
What will the accommodation be like?
Simple holiday accommodation with shared rooms. We have an option to reserve a holiday home in the village of St Donat, just south of the Puy de Sancy. It has a nice communal area as well as a games room with billiards and table tennis. It is possible to land in nearby fields. We will confirm this destination a few days before departure, once the weather forecast is available.
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.
- A quickpack bag, because nobody likes to be concertina packing their wing when the train is leaving.
- Equipment to allow you to wee in flight (eg., for males, a conveen sheath and tube).
What about refunds?
1 week or more before departure you can cancel with a full refund.
If you wish to cancel after that, you may do so if you have Covid symptoms and no negative test result. Otherwise, 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 the trip becomes unviable for any reason, we will offer to refund everyone in full.