Peter, the instructor, yelled run-run-run! And I ran like a devil with fire in the back, and Peter screamed – RUN! and I ran even faster … then everything became quiet. Only the suggestive sound of a paraglider on its way through the air – I flew and it was wonderful!
At the end of April, I was back where everything started. I got my first paraglider license in Sälen’s winter sports area in 1991. We trained and flew from Tandådalen’s ski piste and from Hundfjället. Now I was back for some nostalgic flights. Winter sports facilities had grown somewhat since the nineties, but on the whole, the experience was similar.
The Wall – Hundfjället, is a famous piste for speed skiing. In the north wind it is also a good place for ridge soaring. With my first paraglider I made some unsuccessful attempts during the nineties to ridge soaring but with a glide ratio (L/D) of 5: 1 at best, it needed to blow out of hell to work. Which did not suit a beginner, but I did my best, which usually resulted in me rushing down the wall in something more like parachuting than paragliding.
A lot has happened to the equipment since the 1990s, both in terms of performance and safety. My first glider, an Apco Speed Star, had 10 double cells, 2 risers, cords thick as tow lines and a sink rate of 1.7 m / sec. (at least) It was similar in many ways to today’s speed wings, but without most of the performance. It felt more like flying something between a water-filled balloon and a fluffy cloud, not directly controlled. (At least that’s how I remember it)
Today I have a paraglider (a few years old) that has 45 cells, about double the glide ratio, and cords thin as grass. It has high passive security and feels safe in all situations.
Today’s harness is reversible, so it also acts as a backpack. It has airbag, speed system, reserve parachute and is comfortable as an armchair. My first harness consisted of fabric and a plank to sit on. They have been developed so to speak.
My second harness had a little more padding on the board and a reserve parachute. You sat almost well for a while; it was of the latest model. High-tech and cool. Colorful …
One thing that is exactly the same today as when the sport started, Parawaiting! Instructor Peter Ahlbin, and a collection of expectant students in 1991. I sent Peter many grateful thoughts as I soar over Hundfjället again.
Adeje, Tenerife, the closest place for us Scandinavians to get really nice thermal flying, they said. Weatherproof, they said. No one mentioned hectares of cactus, the calima sandstorm or coronavirus …
My idea was to start the flying season a little nicely, to carefully train the skills for the season. When the local flight guide said that today we fly Jama, and the others in our small group of paraglider pilots – of horror erupted; Oh no – the cactus landing! I knew I was in trouble.
The landing site was quite small, but that was not the problem, it was adequate in other circumstances. But it was thermal, which means that you do not fully know where / when you land. Lifting and sinking relieve each other in an unpleasant way considering all the cactus that surrounded the landing.
If you came in too low, you got to hug the cactus. If it lifted and you went to the right or left, you got to hug the cactus. If you got too far, you got stuck in power lines, before you fell down and got to hug the cactus… I refrained, did not feel like a suitable first flight for the holiday.
I talked to an experienced German pilot and we agreed that the landings were safer at home, where greenery usually meant grass and not cactus like this. I really hate cactus, he said, and that was even before he made his flight and got his knees full of cactus thugs …
Taucho and Ifonche are two fantastic takeoff at Adeje, both with several big and nice landings. From Ifonche I got a nice flight in the area around the fingers and the flat rock. Great views of mountains, canyons, Adeje and the coast down by the sea.
Another flight I unfortunately had to refuse was the flight from the area at the volcano Teide. Too bad, it would have been absolutely fantastic, but security must go first.
I had not seen the landing and had to expect at least 3 minutes of flight through dense clouds before locating it. Without a GPS that you were used to and trusted, the flight was very dangerous. I had just downloaded an app with gps-function but had not gotten to know it yet. Thought it was a badly chosen opportunity to test it for the first time. If you get lost in the clouds, the risk is obvious that you will crash somewhere in the mountains, and so much worse vacation employment is hard to imagine.
The next day it started blowing hard, then came Calima, the sandstorm that burned like a jet engine in the skin. Hard to breathe, hard to see but exciting to experience.
The rest of the holiday was spent on hiking. Not bad employment either.
When the news began to report on coronavirus at a hotel down the coast, that 1,000 people were quarantined, I began to worry a little about the return journey. Being forced to remain in the cactus kingdom for another fourteen days would be a horror. But everything went well. Come home yesterday to bare ground, today the snow is winding down, seems to be tracking again in the coming week.
End of the holiday, wolves and eagles – watch out! I will be back.
We got the first real snowfall and the first attempt to find wolf tracks failed. No hurry just waits some day so they can move. Dreaming of paragliding instead, I have both paragliders on service.
October 2016. Barbara and Kevin at Flytaly picked up at the airport and we had to make a detour as the annual peace march between Perugia and Assisi was going on. About 100,000 people who manifested for peace and against indifference. They condemn war around the world and calls for international institutions and individuals to take a stand against violence of all kinds. They came from about 500 cities across Italy to walk the 24 km route – an event which has been held annually since 1961.
An hour later, I took off from Monte Subasio with all of Umbria under my feet. What a seductive panorama! A moment later, I look for thermals over a small village just south of Assisi, when suddenly the sound of drums and trumpets mixes with the whisper of the wind. When I look down, I saw a procession following a small brass band. It was an incredibly suggestive feeling to soar high above the houses and hear the music flowing out of the narrow alleys. A memory that is still strongly alive.
Other memories of the week are summer warm days in October, the scent of wild herbs on the slopes of Mt Subasio National Park, two curious young red foxes near the cave where Saint Francis of Assisi once meditated and lots of other impressions from the stunning village of Assisi. An in many ways exciting religious center, although that not really my cup of tea. And the memory of Italy’s food and wine of course! I am also a great admirer of the complex creation; Grappa.
This year´s Coupe Icare, the 46th edition, was dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci. It is 500 years since he died, this absolute genius of all times, who has meant an incredible amount for the development of human flying.
The church in Saint-Hilaire-du-Touvet had a fantastic exhibition with copies of his very early models for aircraft. As early as the middle of the 1400s, he sketched on the ornithopter that would allow man to fly like birds.
There is almost nothing more spectacular, innovative, acrobatic, and off- the-charts in terms of ultra-light air sports than the programme of the Coupe Icare. The Parabatix sky racers stands for speed and acrobatics in its playful competition, all kinds of madness combine in Icarnaval (where Leonardo and his creations of course were frequently used this year) and the children stand for play and creator joy when they build pinweels, kites, gliders or birdhouses. Hot air balloons, different types of aircraft, delta wings, birds of prey, music and street shows… There was something for everyone!
Like every year since 1974, The Coupe Icare have been held at the joint site of Saint-Hilaire-du-Touvet / Lumbin, in the heart of the Isère Alps between the Chartreuse mountain range and Grésivaudan Valley. It is not-to-be-missed. It is an amazing on-going 4-day show that attracts about 100,000 visitors over 4 days each year.
April, early May, my wife and I traveled by car through France to enjoy the
early spring and play a week in the sand, with the kite and paraglider.
m³ of sand! Very fine-grained, soft as flour, wondering if I’ll ever get rid of
it. It will probably follow my equipment for a long time to come.
Pilat is the largest sand dune in Europe, located along the Atlantic coast, at
La Teste-de-Buch, 60 km southwest of Bordeaux. It´s almost 3 km long, 500
meters wide and 110 meters high at the highest point.
Landes, east of the sand dune is the largest maritime-pine forest in Europe.
10,000 square kilometers planted by man for forestry and for stopping the sand.
(Which still moves about 5 meters inland per year!)
winds and the large soft sandy surface, free from all forms of obstacles, make
the area a paradise for paragliders. Here you can train different start
techniques, perform balance exercises and other ground handling.
can also get very nice flight time.
It was a
useful week for me and my new paraglider.
snowing profusely over our area today, wolf tracking’ll have to wait until
tomorrow. Appropriate to edit video matrealet from Spain instead. Availing a
little flexitime you can’t working evenly… 😉
Club Pilot Plus. The week was designed to derusting
and flights would be long and challenging but most of it blew and rained away.
Thanks to Russ and Ross became the week yet very enjoyable and entertaining. We
got at least a day’s flight with some down flights from El Bosque.
were also really inspiring to hang out with, and what revelers, last night out
I’ll never forget!
is a small mountain village in Andalusia, Spain, often mentioned with great joy
and passion of paraglider pilots. Now I understand why. After two weeks among
these devoted and lovely people, I am lost and longs already back.
The area is
known for its white villages, in part, a remnant of the Moorish era ended in
the late 1400s. The image above is from the neighboring village, Zahara de la
along with griffon vultures, was a dream come true. These majestic birds with a
wingspan of nearly 3 meter seemed almost amused by to hang out with us. A pilot
I met was swerving in thermals with more than 50 vultures around him! An
experience I hope intensely on for the next visit. (Mine came mostly as single
and glared at me a little hungrily)
For a few
days, was the weather gods teasing us. Nice wind but hard to find the way.
Sierra De Lijar.
So we went
to the coast, to Conil, where some just beginning with ground handling before
the rain came after ten minutes.
were fantastic, with magical flight of the Spanish countryside. Style Study of
Stu. El Bosque – take off.
not only the village’s best pub; he also followed us with their mobile landing bar.
How else would we have been able to get cold beer at the last evening flight?
powerful to fly over Algodonales, the village where we lived.
is still in place as a restless spirit of the soul. What a great bunch, hope I
get the opportunity to fly with you again. Love you all.