The next RAF GSA Expedition to Sisteron for mountain flyingin the French Alps will leave UK on Saturday 18 Apr and return to UK on Sunday 3May 2015.
So far the Team consists of:
Paul Moslin – Leader / Organiser& Mtn Instr
DaveFidler – CFI / Mtn Instr
TimDavies – Mtn Instr
AndyHyslop – Mtn Instr
NobbyClarke – part Mtn Instr
PeteBrown – part Mtn Instr
RogerWells – trg as Mtn Instr
AlanSwan – trg as Mtn Instr
PhilSturley – Mtn Instr (poss 1 week)
First days flying….or not!
A cloudy start developed into a gorgeous day by 11am and with a very comprehensive met and local area brief out of the way, all crews set about carrying out some glider and trailer fettling with the aim to get airborne after a lunchtime brief from Dave Fidler.
With a booooming Sky above us and bellys filled, we were all eager to get gone until we get the news that the licensing lady had gone home early and wouldn’t be back until 5pm this evening.
R2 also ended up at Malaup with post flight reports of an easy aerotow before having to work hard to gain the rewards of the mountain.
The forecast for Tuesday is looking good and so it’s time to turn in, only after a quick last minute . com scan of the charts.
This grounded all bar the ones with existing French auths but luckily (for them) there were enough of them to carry out the flight checks on a couple of the big wings.
With R2 and 26 on the grid, all that was needed was the busy tug pilot and, before long, they were both on tow. 26 headed for Hongrie where they released at approx 1800 agl before jumping onto Jouere to top up for Malaup for a local area shakedown flight before returning back to Sisteron.
The evening was capped off with a team debrief avec refreshments and another hearty meal in Le Janus restaraunt. On return to the accommodation a few of the team stopped up to check out the light pollution-free night sky, counting endless shooting stars and satellites.
NIGHT NIGHT, SLEEP TIGHT AND DONT LET THE ROTOR WINDS BITE!
Day 2 of flying – Thunderbirds are go!
Before I dive into today’s blog, I must mention yesterday’s monster achievement by team cranwell (tim and roger) who had a whopping 10.8 average climb rate in R2 on its shake down flight.
The forecast proved right for Tuesday with a westerly wind but the sting in the tail of a swing to the east around mid afternoon.
The team brief from Dave Fidler was for us all to get airborne and once we were up, to swap to our chat frequency.
The first 3 gliders launched and soon got into lift around Maloup whilst paul M and I released onto a not so good Maloup ridge face only to have to spark up the iron thermal of a turbo which provided us with plenty noise and very little lift for the conditions.
Before we knew it, the plan for us all to go up and along Ver Cors was abandoned and crews continued with their own students flying.
After a relight, we headed off in the opposite direction to find Ourselves dominating the Trainon ridge up to 7000ft where conditions were much better, allowing us to push right up to Pic De Bure.
Each crew covered all of the local ridges to the north of Sisteron including Crete des Selles, Petit & Grande Ceuse, Obiou and Pic de Bure as well as the ridges to the east, Auribeau, Authon and Vaumuse.
Flights were around the 4hr duration mark for most with people reaching 12000ft fairly easily (in the end for some) and so after the usual putting to bed of aircraft, we all sat around a table of refreshments to discuss what had been learnt from the day before heading into Le Janus resteraunt for some dinner.
Overall, a great days flying for all and some good first achievements including first mountain experience for Ian Webb and first duo Landing for myself.
Photos will be sent out with tomorrow’s blog and the video is progressing nicely (See Facebook page)
Tomorrow? hopefully more of the same!
Remember, it’s only a forecast!!!!
Day 3 of flying – it’s only a forecast!
With the usual morning prep out of the way, we proceeded onto the daily met brief courtesy of the Sisteron club experts. The forecast was for great conditions albeit with light winds with a layer of cloud rolling in from the southwest as the day progressed.
The lack of local pilots present at the airfield and lack of rush for people to get onto the grid gave a better idea of the day.
The big players of Paul M, Tim, Dave Fidler and Phil Sturley (the other table) ventured to the Moriem Valley enroute to Mont Blanc for some advanced mountain instructor training. The high level cirrus that rolled in curtailed their plan so they turned tail and headed for Grenoble on the way back to Sisteron.
Mick Hunton and Ian Webb did a great job on the ground with the logging and ground support and Will Amor never threw up!
Today Peter Brown was my instructor in R16 and we opted for an aerotow to Treynon where we spent the first 20 minutes “practising our ridge flying techniques” before we were allowed to continue North towards Pic de Burre. Once there we ran back to sisteron but the 25kt headwind and sudden 8/8 cloud cover resulted in a 3000ft loss in the cruise!
We still managed 3hr 39 before the beer call.
Hog of the day goes to Norm Potts ….again with just short of 5hrs in R6.
It’s now time for aperitifs with the locals so I bid you a good evening all!!!!
Posted on behalf of P Bellingham.
Day 4 – roll of the dice.
The day started with a cloudy sky over the region which according to the met brief, was due to slip to the south fairly quickly to produce some great conditions.
With the usual glider prep carried out we moved onto a rather quiet grid.
The predicted winds weren’t as strong which delayed the cloud from clearing.
As the Cumulous started to build, Phil Sturley started the proceedings and self launched towards the Maloup ridge to sniff around for us.
Reports of 3kt lift came over the radio and so dave Fidler and Roger took off in JAC in search of this reported lift.
A very poor tow out from the airfield and very quiet radio confirmed that the conditions weren’t quite right yet as JACs crew were working hard but eventually got away and completed some more mountain instructor training.
Meanwhile, the rest of the crews delayed their start for at least 30 minutes with Norm Potts being the first to launch,cheating straight to Crete de selle and managed to follow an energy line up to Pic de Bur before getting rained on and so he ran back to Crete de selle to park up whilst the rain cleared before attacking it again and reaching Oubiu at cloud base before heading back into the bowl to share a thermal with a vulture over Hongrie.
Paul M and will timed it right and launched next and managed to run all the way along the verrcour with some great climbs peaking out at 9.8 on the averager!
Peter Brown and I were in 16 again and after a very interesting tow to St Genie we struggled throughout the flight to stay airborne with only one climb getting us to 9000ft. The majority of the flight involved sad tones of vario indicated sink or the deafening sound of the turbo.
All about the timing!!!!
Mick and Tim had a great day.
We Released at petit seus in a stonking thermal we climbed to around 8k’ and moved to the Pic de Bure for a 6knt climb to 10k’ and moved up over the vercour. Cloudbase lowered to 9200′ as we crossed over to chartreuse from moucherotte.
Took a climb over Le Touvet and crossed the Grenoble Valley to the ski resort on le Grand Rocher fighting off paragliders on the way. Ridge lift and thermals enables us to track high over Chamrouse to Grande Serre where we sank dramatically. At 7200′ Tim D worked hard to maimtain/gain height working beats along the mountain side assessing our land out options. Eventually a cu formed off the end of rocks. Off we shot and bang >10knts up and 5G in the turn we were back at the 10k’ cloud base in no time. Off to the obiou and Pic de Bure cruising I thought… until Tim pulled the brakes at the back of the mountain. “Right sort that out then” shouts Tim. At that was the theme for the journey home.
As they say, every day is a learning day and I learned a lot about the dramatic effects a change in wind ddirection can have, scraping low on a ridge and about my own skills. Fantastic day!
Lastly, a tale that perfect for the end of day debrief.
After his sniffing for us, he climbed away like a homesick angel and ran all the way to Mont Blanc going all the way around it,Crüe wrong way to complete an epic 500km flight visiting Chamonix, Switzerland, lowrmeyer, before return to Sisteron via the ski resorts of Les Arcs, Meribel, and Val Disere.
Well done to all.
Day 5 – what a difference a day makes!
The plan based on the forecast was for 3 teams to head for Mont Blanc. Ian Webb and tim were in 16, Paul M and I in R2 and Phil and Roger in JAC. Dave Fidler hopped into Phils Ash26 for the day.
Dave took the first launch to sniff out the conditions which resulted in an hour delay for the rest of the grid.
Will Amor took to the skies in R6 for the first time and turned in a respectable 4hr flight around the bowl, topping out at 11000ft! Awesome effort!
The big wings took a very expensive €98 aerotow to Authon where they pushed East with height before heading north encountering some great thermals before reaching the snow capped peaks around Seyne on the edge of the prohibited zone courtesy of some selfish German airline pilot.
Once into the bigger stuff around Grand Berard, polishing rocks (at 10,000ft!!!) the pack started to spread out with PaulM and I lagging way behind as Phil and Tim pushed on. We parked ourselves at St Crepin until taking a monster thermal from 6000ft to 12000ft
We decided to go off to the Briancon valley to do our own thing getting as far as the artillery gun emplacements up at Mt Chaberton. How on earth they got them up there and lived there for months on end, I will never know! See pics.
For more information see
Tim moved over to the Glacier Blanc topping at 14000ft for an easy run home for a well needed beer after an extremely hard day in the office.
Phil and Roger chose a challenging route following Dave Fidler and our tag along, Derren Francis, up the Brianson valley and Maurienne valley to Encombres and Roche Noire to see if Mont Blanc was go or no go which it wasn’t and so they opted to run for home down the Belledonna but they only got as far as Grand Serre by which time they were at their safety LD of 1:20 and so after not finding any more lift, ran back up Belladonna to get 20km North to top up to 8000ft before cutting their ever increasing losses and so landed in at Grenoble and as I write this, they are still being recovered from their land out in Grenoble!
0230am they got back I believe!
Peter and Mick were in 26 and focused on some low down ridge running training, using the whole of the bowl as far north as Pic de Bur.
Norm spent the day on the ground manning the front through gritted teeth whilst Will Amor ripped up the skies in his new toy!
There’s always tomorrow.
Long day, many hours and km flown!
Day 6 – A rest is as good as a change.
The forecast for Saturday appeared to be spot on with low hanging clouds masking every hill and mountain in the bowl with on and off rain. This allowed the team to do essential admin be it tidy and refuel the vans, change travel arrangements and for team minions, we had to move gites!
No more wifi on tap!!
To be honest, the break from flying was welcomed as it had been a pretty arduous trip so far.
The day was topped off with a change of evening meal venue. We went to a local b&b run by an English couple who fed us well, kept our glasses as full as we would allow them and provided us with excellent hospitality and company.
Forecast tomorrow is rain, with rain, and some more rain.
I am due to depart for the UK tomorrow evening from Nice and so I am handing over the blog baton to Ian Webb.
For me it’s been an excellent trip with some great guys and amazing flying.
Cheesy as it is, this sums it up……
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
— John Gillespie Magee, Jr
Guess the object.
At the evening mea, our host passed this object around and asked us to guess what is?
The pattern is all holes.
He didn’t know what is was either!
Weather from yesterdays brief was for a rained off day. We gathered at Gite No1 for a brief at 11:30 and decided that some of us were up for trying as the weather had improved with weak thermals to 2500’. The wave clouds were beckoning for some though and we had crews for R2, 26 and R6.
R2 had Dave Fiddler and Mick Hunton, task was to beast Mick to see if he was competent to solo R6. After 2 1/2 hours on Jouere, Trainon and Maloup he was deemed sufficiently capable and ushered into R6. A successful 55 minute sortie followed, with everyone waiting for him to land and get the celebratory beers in. Well done Mick.
Norman Potts had the first sortie in R6 where he towed to Hongrie and moved onto Trainon and Chabre where he had a mix of ridge, thermal and wave to 9,500’. He had to relinquish “his” glider though after 2 hours 55 minutes for Mick to have his conversion/solo mountain flight.
Ian Webb and Tim Davies took a tow to Trainor via Hongrie, and released ……..working through Jouere and onto Maloupe for some rock polishing practice. Ian took some brilliant GoPro footage of R2 beating along Jouere. it was only when he switched off the camera that he discovered the lens cap was still on!!!!
Meanwhile the two Pauls drove to Nice to drop Paul B off for his flight home. The noise levels have already dropped considerably!!
All in all, a good day considering the previous days forecast.
Days of admin, tea drinking, maintenance and field visits.
Tuesday 27 Apr 15
Yesterdays forecast promised wave……however no-one told the weather so the system didn’t materialise as expected. We had very strong northerly with the promise of Gold Heights though.
Dave gave a thorough briefing on airway heights and possible open wave areas.
Roger Wells took off in R6 with a tow to Gache where he crossed to Chabre on his second attempt. He got a good climb to 12000’ and was “advised” to push on to Crete des Selle and Pic de Bure. Very rough air was encountered so he turned back and connected with wave between Crete des Selle and St Genis where he climbed to 15000’ and Gold Height.
Norman Potts had a solo flight in 16. Towed to the Gache and after 4 unsuccessful tries at crossing over to Chabre, he fired up the turbo and crossed. Having set a low point, he climbed to 15500’ and then realised that there had been a battery malfunction so wasn’t sure if his trace would be OK. So he descended, set a new low point and did it all again, climbing back up to 15300.
Gold height achieved, and nearly 7 hours in the air.
Pete Brown and Ian Webb took a tow in 26 to the Gache and spent 2 1/2 hours at up to 6000’ with several attempts to cross over to Chabre, the final one in massive sink so decided enough was enough and came in to land.
Tim Davies and Mick Hunton then jumped in 26 and towed to the Gache. They got enough height to cross onto Chabre arriving at 5500’. They then climbed to 12000’ in wave and pushed onto Pic de Bur. They encountered very rough air and made their way home, pausing to lose height to assist Dave Fiddler. They then hit lots of sink so called it a day and headed home. A first wave flight for Mick.
When Roger returned with R6, Will Amor was ready and waiting to get airborne. He took a tow to the Gache and stayed there for 2 hours.
Landed at 19:50
Paul Moslin took JAC solo to the Gache and onwards to Chabre where he got to 10200’. 3hr 45 mins.
Dave Fiddler then took JAC to the Gache, worked up from a low of 3500’ and pushed on to Chabre on his 2nd try.Once there he contacted wave to 7000’ and pushed on to St Genis and more wave to 8000’. At d’Aujour up to 14000’ in 5kts. Onwards to Pic de Bure in 10kts of wave to 20500’ securing his Diamond height landing at 20:15. Eventually we all managed to pack away and get some well earned beers and food.
All in all a good day. 2 Gold heights claimed and a first encounter with wave. Everyone flew, with the last glider landing at 20:15
Sisteron Day 10.
Wed 29 Apr 15
R2. Pete and Ian took a tow to Auton via Trainor. Passed via Hongrie to Malaup and played with some ridge and thermal activity. Contacted weak wave south of Malaup and worked back to Hongrie. Took a good but rough climb and progressed onto Sisteron town and Molard, identifying the field with one tree which must not be landed in. High point was 8400’ in wave.
R6. Norman towed to Hongrie and thermal to 6800’. Worked his way around the bowl with some wave to 11,500’
R6. Will towed to Authon via Trainor. Dave Fidler asked him to push onto Auribeau as sacrificial lamb to check on conditions, which were good. The rest of the fleet followed. He then moved on to Jouere and around the bowl hunting the wave. Got to a high point of 8000’ in thermal.
?? Tim and Mick. Towed to Trainor and worked their way north via Jourere, Les Monges, Blayuel, Clot Ginoux and Tete Grosse. Hit big sink and moved onto Colombis and back to the ridge at Jouere. High point 8500’
JAC: Dave and Roger went off to do mountain instructor checks on Roger. towed to Trinon where the first lesson was not to release too early as this results in a stint of rock polishing. after dominating Trainon they set off north as far as the Barcinolette Valley. They then returned home via a south east route, landing after 3:35min. Roger cleared for mountain instructor.
Paul Moslin towed to Trainor and worked his way through Auribeau, Autonand the Nibbles before getting a call from Tim steering him towards Les Monge where he picked up an 8kt climb to cloudless at 9000’. He then went on to Pic de Burre and the Durance Valley where he contacted wave and climbed to 11500’.
Another excellent days flying enjoyed by all