Dealers for South East England

Massif Central Mountain Paragliding Trip – 8 to 15 June 2024

Massif Central Mountain Paragliding Trip – 8 to 15 June 2024

Total price £685 + Travel.

Join us for a mountain flying trip to the Massif Central, flying over extinct volcanoes and 1800m mountains in central France. If the weather forecast is bad in the Massif Central, we may change the destination to another mountain range, with a final decision on the Thursday before departure.

The price includes: accommodation, home cooked food, up to one XC retrieve at the end of each day. The price does not include travel, but for no extra charge we can collect you from Clermont Ferrand train station or airport, and we can also transport your wing from the UK. To travel with us by car costs an extra £175 return.

£685

Further Information

The destination:

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. It 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. 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. If you’re coming by plane or train, please don’t book travel until the Thursday before departure.

How much is travel?

£175 return if you travel with us by road, sharing between no more than 4 people. Or you can take the Eurostar to Paris and then a regional train to Clermont Ferrand, where we will collect you from the train station. You could also fly to Clermont Ferrand airport, but bear in mind there appear to be no direct flights from the UK. Plane to Lyon followed by train is also possible. Please don’t book 3rd party travel until the Thursday before departure, as we may change destination at the last minute if the weather dictates.

Who is organising this trip?

Albatross Paragliding – a BHPA registered Air Experience School. The Chief Instructor is Dave Harvey. Michel Carnet or Martin Ayers may join us depending on numbers. Please note our instructor qualifications are for tandem flying rather than teaching newbie solo pilots.

What level of guiding or instruction will you offer?

The rules in France forbid us from instructing or guiding without French qualifications. Rather than taking care of you by making decisions for you, we will all share information and make decisions together about where to fly each day. This leads to better awareness, learning, and safety. In order to come on this trip, you should be confident at launching (including forward launching in light winds), landing, and making independent flying decisions. If you need intensive coaching, for example to improve your launching and landing skills, the time to do this is before the trip – get in touch! Tandem flights will be on offer for anyone who wants them, at no charge.

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?

Pilots including lower air timers looking to grow their confidence in a mountain environment. 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 – we can give you coaching on this before the trip – please make use of this if you are in any doubt. You should be prepared to walk up to half an hour with your glider. These skills can easily be perfected on our local sites. Please talk to us before booking if you’re not sure if you’re ready for this 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, under Albatross Paragliding, we returned to Puy de Dome, where we also flew mountain sites in the Monts de Cantal and around Puy de Sancy. In September 2020 we did a trip to the Bavarian alps in Germany (see the video here). In October 2021 we went to St Andre in the Southern French Alps. More recently we’ve done a short trip to Corsica and several trips back to the Massif Central. The vast majority of 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

Any other costs?

  • Insurance.
  • Beer, or other alcoholic beverages.
  • There might be costs for lift tickets to get up the mountain (40 euros for the week at Puy de Dome).
  • Extra-curricular activities.

What about insurance?

It’s important that you take out travel insurance that includes paragliding, medical expenses, and repatriation. It’s good if search and rescue costs are also covered. 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 organising trips – this is not considered a problem by the BHPA, but it does mean you need to be certain you have your own insurance. We normally use the Co-Op. Dogtag.co.uk provide better cover for search and rescue, but their prices are higher.

As a low air timer, how can I stay safe on a trip like this?

Meet with us and get some coaching before the trip. During the trip, keep talking to and getting advice from more experienced pilots in the group, 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. Generally speaking, the calmest and most reassuring flying weather will be before 10:30am and after 4:30pm – make use of these times.

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 or croissants.

Lunch: we provide fresh bread, sandwich fillings, and fruit 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. Local cheeses and homemade desserts. We will probably eat out once during the week, with a contribution from the food budget of 25 euros per person.

What will the accommodation be like?

We’ll be staying at a holiday home close to the main flying sites of Puy de Dome, Puy de la Tache, and Puy Gros. Please expect to share a room with one other person – let us know if you want your own room and we’ll to our best to arrange this.

What do I need to bring?

Please bring the following extra bits of kit:

  • Radio – really useful for staying safe and exchanging info mid flight
  • Tree landing kit: loop of climbing webbing or 2m of rope (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?

Four weeks or more before departure you can cancel with a refund less £200 (ie. we keep your deposit).

If you wish to cancel after that, we will do our best to find someone else to replace you, but a refund less £200 will be conditional on this. In the unlikely event that the trip becomes unviable for any reason, we will refund everyone in full.

Booking Conditions

Payment

The total price of this trip is £685 not including travel. To travel by car with us costs an extra £175.

Requirements

  • Qualified to CP level or above
  • Capable of unassisted launching, landing, and making own flying decisions
  • Have your own paragliding equipment in good condition, including wing, harness, and reserve.
  • Have your own insurance covering paragliding accidents and any associated search and rescue, medical expenses, and repatriation costs.

Information we need

Please describe your paragliding experience (hours flown, any mountain flying experience) and confirm any special dietary requirements (please say whether life-threatening). We will also require an emergency contact, please provide us with a name, phone number plus any other contact details you wish to share.

Refunds

Four weeks or more before departure you can cancel with a refund less £200 (ie. we keep your deposit).

If you wish to cancel after that, we will do our best to find someone else to replace you, but a refund less £200 will be conditional on this. In the unlikely event that the trip becomes unviable for any reason, we will refund everyone in full.

Risks

In order to stay safe on this trip, you should avoid groupthink and keep alert in 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.

This trip does not include guidance nor instruction. As a group, we will share information and discuss options for each day’s flying, before making a decision together about which flying site to travel to. Each pilot remains responsible for their own decision making – nobody is obliged to fly, and each of us must satisfy ourselves that the forecast and flying site are suitable before taking off. Your awareness of this will help you stay safe.

Weather Outlook

Good flying weather is forecast for the 22nd June.