Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Summer Time vacation ends with F3F Swiss Record: part 2, Vacation training

From 6th to 13th of August, we've spent our first family vacation week in Grasse (Alpes Maritimes), small city of the Côte d'Azur laying against the first mountain slopes a few kilometers from the coast of the Mediterranean Sea near Cannes and Antibes. Grasse is considered the world capital of perfumery, but its major characteristic in my point of view is its location at midway between the beaches and the slopes of Caussols, and also a region where some cool F3F buddy pilots live all year long.
I drove three times up to Caussols during the week in Grasse. On Monday, I arrived at the state observatory parking lot around noon to discover that the very strong wind was already there, but blowing from the wrong direction! It was a strong and cool offshoot of the Mistral blowing down the Rhône Valley and reaching Caussols. Although well oriented slopes for flying this wind in the immediate vicinity of Caussols exist, their landing areas are always a thick pack of large rocks and stones and bushes! No chance to safely bring down a 3m glider on the places I visited while driving back down to Grasse.
On Tuesday, I drove up again. Theoretically, the influence of the mistral would lessen against the southeastern wind and so there was a fair chance to fly in Caussols. At first, I was alone on the northeastern slope. Since the wind was a little off and still a little weak, I launched my Stratair/Ultegra DLG for a first test. I almost came out badly: out of trim, it lost altitude quite from the start in what appeared to be an inversed thermal! After a few seconds, I was almost sure to loose it in the stony slope far down. I fought hard to seek some uplift, far away down, and finally was successful, slowly circling the lightweight to gain whatever was to gain. After 5 minutes or so, I recovered initial altitude and lift on the edge was getting better. After half an hour or so, I landed the DLG safely in the grassy hole next to the slope.
As I prepared my Target, a young guy came up with two heavily repaired semi-scale gliders and a cheap 2.4GHz Esky transmitter. He made a few flights although his Rx battery didn't take up much energy during the last charge after a short... I wouldn't have taken such risk, but he managed to fly more than once between quite unorthodox and wobbly landings! I helped him replace some of the loosely taped hinges to get more accurate deflections and better control. After a while looking at the fast Target and asking questions, he finally quit. I had a nice session with the Target, the slope being mine. But after an hour, the wind was definitely off angle so I decided to move my gear to the northwestern slope which should get wind straight on. There, I flew my white/red Cyril F3F in incredibly good lift and strong winds. It was much easier to have a feeling for this slope where we had had the second contest day during the Eurotour. But this is also due to the fact that the conditions were much stronger than during the contest... and I am always better in stronger winds! Soo this was a very good training day.
Matthieu Mervelet preparing one of his gliders
4m Fox short before maiden flight
Next day in Caussols was planned for Wednesday with Allan Cohen, his father Paul Eythan, Matthieu Mervelet (winner of the last Eurotour contest there), and Sébastien Lanes. We met around noon, wind was blowing fine from the perfect direction, sky was blue, everything was there to make it a perfect training day. On the parking lot, there were also a group a semi-scale glider pilots preparing their gear. My local F3F buddies did not expect them to be there, since their usual flying afternoon was Thursday. It soon became clear that it would be difficult for us to do serious F3F training along the slope edge with 4m semi-scale accro gliders roaming around in large circles... I nevertheless had a few hours of flight, mostly on my Target which behaved very well all along. Since I set it up for the first flight a few weeks ago, I didn't change anything in the deflections and mixes and it astonishes me how well it works.

[COMING NEXT: Summer Time vacation ends with F3F Swiss Record: part 3, Font d'Urles, a new future world record site?]

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