Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friday at Auta Chia, Saturday at Saletta Slopes

My Cyril F3F got some nice air (picture by Richard Gadan)
Friday was not as good as expected. Since some nice conditions were announced in the forecasts, I tried to drive up to Saletta above Les Paccots. At 3/4 from goal, I got stuck on the snow covered mountain road. It did not melt enough to go through. From there, I could see the wind was not blowing as expected at the slope, but rather at higher altitude on the Moléson mountain. So I decided to step back and drove down.
Saletta western slope is shining in the sun (middle of picture)
At mid-afternoon, the wind seemed to be a little better, so a gave it a try for Auta Chia, 10 km from my place. There, the road was mostly snow free so I could drive to destination. Conditions below the slope were lighter than minimal, but I knew it could become stronger towards the late afternoon, and at Auta Chia, the wind is generally better at slope top. So I prepared my Cyril and stuffed the necessary into my backpack, and climbed to the launch place. I think there was something like 3m/s average, enough for some flying. After 25 minutes unballasted, it became a little stronger and lift was better, so I gave it a try with 260g in the fuse. It went ok for a while, but was a little heavy at some moments, especially when I was too low to come back and had to land in the snow covered slope! My Cyril touched down nicely, but it immediately went into a slide on the snow, straight downslope!!! As in some simulators, I gave it some elevator to take off again [!], but that didn't work out, so I waited until the glider went into a side slide and came to halt. After a thorough check, everything was intact, so I packed my gear and walked down to the car, relieved. Even if it wasn't the greatest day, I could fly for over 1 1/4 hour.
Auta Chia slope from the parking lot
Today, I hoped the high current wind would come down and hit the valleys. At 11 AM, I made a second trial to drive up to Saletta. With the "warm" rain of the night, the snow mostly melted on the road and I could reach the slope. 20 m above the parking, I measured some 5 m/s average, it was not raining, and the cloud ceiling was largely above the slope. So everything seemed perfect for a nice and cold flying afternoon. I've sent some message to Alex and Cédric that conditions were alright, and they answered they would come in the afternoon.
Saletta parking lot  with the Moléson in the background
Cyril on the shoulder, ballast and coffee thermos bottle in the backpack, I climbed to this slope that I had never flown with southwestern wind. On the edge, wind was even better, so I loaded 4 weights into the fuse for a start (260 grams).
Edge of Saletta western slope; my Cyril is as beautiful as the landscape!
I think I never had such good conditions and fun with my Cyril since I've maidened it at the F3F swiss championship two weeks ago! Lift was excellent and the western slope of Saletta has much more dynamics than I previously thought. After some generously large flying, I soon wanted to test the F3F ability of this slope. After a while trying different turn styles, I discovered the right turn had more than excellent dynamic capacity when banking 90 degrees and very progressively pulling elevator for the turn. There is a definite location on right hand where the glider is really accelerating in the turn, which is good for reaching the left "base" slightly upslope. During some 15 minutes, I felt almost as if I were doing some quite fast runs at some southern France F3F event! Once the ideal speed was set, the left base worked too at times, with the same 90 degrees banking and progressive pulling technique. I was enchanted and did not feel my freezing fingers (I can't fly well or work well with covered fingers).
Saletta western slope with view in direction of Lake Léman. You know that because of some international political summit, there's a flight restriction of 46 km around Montreux! We flew in the restriction zone and were not shot down by some FA/18 fighters. This is only because my Cyril bears a Swiss flag design!!!
I've got a military Superpuma in my sight! (picture by Richard Gadan)
My conclusion after more than an hour flying this slope was... that this is a quite perfect place for some F3F contest in 2011! There are two good slopes laying back to back, working for both main wind directions we have in Western Switzerland. It's easily accessible, there's space for some cars, there's a nice restaurant 10 min walk just below the western slope, the view is gorgeous, there's grass for landing. Moreover, in Les Paccots, there are a few hotels and restaurants for people wanting to arrive earlier or stay longer.The only downside for west wind is the landing which is a little tricky. The goal is to touch down at the slope edge, which is grassy with only very few well located stones to avoid. Final can be from either edge side, or from higher on the backside for those having quite strong crow breaks. I tried all three possibilities and wasn't happy with either of them, but that's because I'm too bad a lander!!! For those like me, there is a fourth option in which one walks gently toward car parking place to find a flatter spot for a smooth landing.
I hate landings... (picture by Richard Gadan)
After I (finally) landed, Alex and Richard arrived with one composite glider each. Now we were three to brave the nice and rather fresh conditions. Later on, Cédric joined too with his brand new second hand Dingo he maidened with us today. As soon as we saw him carve some air, we knew he would not go back to his Nyx. This is especially true because he also got a brand new second hand Cyril in the same batch from Toulouse (thanks Laurent for playing the transporter!) As to me, I am glad we will be able to share our Cyril setup experiences together.
Richard preparing his Pike Perfect in front of the Moléson
Alex concentrated under the rocky Dent de Lys
Inspection of Cédric's brand new second hand Dingo before maiden flight
Around 4 PM, we were all cold enough to decide to stop for today, even if conditions were still fine. Alex had left a little earlier, so we were three to enjoy some nice hot chocolate in Les Paccots before each headed home. What a perfect late autumn mountain slope soaring afternoon!
Cold but happy!

1 comment:

  1. A few more pics of yesterday's session...

    http://picasaweb.google.com/100489284511757635566/Salettaz23102010?feat=directlink

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