Postscript 03

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Ready to go on 18

Ho-hum -  another day in the office...

The Flying

This year John and Ariane spent more time at Sisteron than the rest of the group, staying for almost the whole of June. John records that every one of the 24 days of his visit was flyable, of which only one was clearly unsoarable. Most pilots flew between 4 and 6 hours per day with cloudbases in the high mountains usually above 12,000ft (maximum 16,000ft) and with average thermal strengths of 6 knots or more (maximum 16 knots). Cloudbases in the valley were also very high for this time of year, helped by temperatures in the mid-30's. Storms were prevalent but could be easily avoided by looking out of the window and listening out on the club's flying frequency. Unusually, there were no north-westerly mistral days (good for wave) and only limited opportunities for wave flying in other wind directions - but then most pilots tend not to go to the Alps for wave anyway.

All pilots commented that they had achieved more this year than they had on previous visits and felt that they had made real progress in their mountain flying. This was helped in no small part by the high cloudbases but there were several 'technical' days which required some thought as to how best to get into the high mountains.

The flying was intense and made great demands on all of us but, despite this, there were no accidents at all nor incidents worthy of note.


Information provided by the club following our departure reveals that our group of ten pilots flew a total of 475 hours from 107 flights, giving an average of nearly 4 hours per flight. The lowest hours were 26 from 6 flights and the highest 118 from 22 flights. Of the 107 flights, only six required relights due to a failure to connect with any form of lift. And, of course, there was only one landout.

Although most pilots stayed within the southern Alps between Bardonecchia and the lac Ste Croix, this was enough for 300km triangles or 400km+ quadrilaterals. The furthest points visited by our pilots were Fayence in the south-east, the Montagne Ste Victoire in the south, the Vercors in the west and the Matterhorn in the north.  

The Club

Everyone at the UASD Sisteron went out of their way to make us feel welcome during our visit. Jerome, the chef pilote and Christophe, the president, in particular, resolved any difficulties that arose before they became a problem to us. Most of us had managed to deal with the bureaucracy before we had arrived but for those who hadn't, they were quickly able to fly a day or two later, having had faxes sent to the appropriate authorities on arrival. 

The tug pilots were efficient and professional, delivering us to our thermal at the right height and with the minimum cost.

The weather forecasting facilities were superb, offering excellent interpretations of downloaded internet data in easy-to-understand formats. It took several days to appreciate how much information was being presented but, once used to the format, we could easily plan how far and in which direction we should fly.

At the launch point, Claudia went far beyond the call of duty in ensuring that the launch turnaround stayed as brisk as possible. She gathered ropes, directed tugs, hooked us on and was still there in the evening to record our arrivals, all done with a smile and without complaint. In her spare time, she fitted in a little instructing, too.


Christophe Alexandre

Tuggies rest at the Launch Point

For non-pilots who wanted sightseeing flights, gliders were set aside for 3-hour trips into the Ecrins. Jacqui, in particular, loved her trip with Jerome up to the Glacier Blanc in a Duo Discus. 

Would We Come Again?

What do you think...?

For more information about our trip, please email John Bridge.
For more photos, visit the gallery.