Paragliding in the Alps at Plaine Joux with the Nova Phantom.
With the end of the air display season near I took a trip down to Chamonix to enjoy some slower paced flying.
Taking the RV7 down its just under 3 hours flying to Sallanches, Mont Blanc airfield. Myself and Nigel Pickard, the Spartan owner here at gransden came with me to complete his initial paragliding training with Air Sports Chamonix Richard Taylor an Englishman is his instructor.
Typically its approx 2 days ground handling, class room theory and a tandem flight and you’re ready to take the run down the hill and fly. With an instructor at the top and one at the landing zone. Its time to put the training to practice, prepare the equipment and harness up. Your instructor will double check everything for you also.
Radio contact from top to bottom giving precise instruction your guided all the way.
Its quite early so the valley breeze and thermals have not yet started. I do a quick top to bottom using my Nova Phantom 24 square meter canopy, following Nigel down. We are using Plaine Joux launch area as this is accessible by car, the usual launching area at Brevent is not accessible as the summer season is over and the lifts have closed. The more experienced site at Aiguille du Midi launch is accessible but not for students.
Back to the top and I see a few people are managing sustained flight with the “house” thermal. This soon builds while I prepare, then launching to join the thermal. The Nova Phantom is very easy to thermal and is easy to stay with the pack and end up at the top of the pile. I’ve flown it for approx 30 hours now, one of my first flights was to 10,000ft from Brevant, that was a rough ride the higher I got. Gliders started circling me going up at the same rate. My glide ratio is approx 10.1 – 1 the high performance gliders around me have 60 – 1 glide ratios. Not once yet have I had a collapse, tips flapping yes but nothing more. The video below shows the story.
Coincidentally this weekend was the 44th Coupe Icare, This is a flying festival and tradeshow that takes place at St Hilaire du Touve. Set at what looks like 2600ft above the landing zone with spectacular views backed by vertical rock faces. Two launch areas are used, the main launch has a paragliding fancy dress theme where some spectacular costumes and props are put to good effect.
Not only paragliders, hot air balloons, model aircraft, paramotors and then a couple of full size air displays take place. All in all a very enjoyable weekend.