June 25, 2012

Vol Libre

Afternoon flight over the Bosson Glacier. Dylan Taylor Photo

It's not everyday that you get passed mid-air by a guy in a big white wing suit. But on my third flight of the day yesterday, I heard a swoosh, looked out and saw a big white human squirrel about 200 feet in front of me, tracking out into the Chamonix Valley. Wow. I didn't see the launch, but I guess he jumped from the Brevent. I didn't see the landing either so I imagine he hung a hard right and cruised down valley and might still be flying.

Since getting out here at the end of May, I've been spending almost all my free time practicing Vol Libre at the valley's spots. There's been a lot of sled rides, but it's still pretty engaging for a rookie pilot - especially in the stronger afternoon conditions! I've gotten SERVED a few times trying to launch in conditions beyond my skill level and I can say that there's nothing quite like getting dragged around by a giant piece of space-age fabric while hundreds of people watch in disbelief from the Aiguille Du Midi. Seriously, everyone should experience this at least once per lifetime.

Climbers on the summit of the Mont Blanc Du Tacul. Mt. Blanc in the distance.

Looking out at the Mont Blanc Massif.

Dylan got real close for this shot. 

Ian C - a good friend from the college years - made an appearance in Chamonix for a few days!

 Ian and I rallied a day trip to Annecy and managed 3 fun flights. I was fortunate enough to accomplish my first landing in a random farmers field. Of course, I was warned that this could happen if I strayed in back of the launch without significant height, but you know - what is good advice if you actually listen to it?  

DDT cruising downtown Chamonix.

Wish I could say that I took this in flight.

This one too.

Looking down at the Chamonix Valley.

June 03, 2012

All Mountain Flying

Chris D and passenger flying in the shadow of Mt. Begbie, Revelstoke, BC. Big thanks to Chris D at Revelstoke Paragliding for getting me back in the air!

Despite Air Canada's best efforts, I managed to arrive in Europe with all my baggage. I must commend Air Canada - the world's best worst airline - on mounting an excellent counter offensive to my travel plans. Through their total and unwavering commitment to incompetence and horrible customer service, they have lost yet another customer. Congratulations! I would rather fly through the States and and be interrogated by US Immigration than suffer through another AC check-in experience.  

Before leaving for Europe, I made a mini trip to Revelstoke to re-learn flying. It had been almost six months since my last flight in Colombia, and I was worried that without a little refresher, I would likely kill myself in no time at all. Chris D hosted me in Revy for a couple of days - imparted a glut of knowledge - and put me back in to the air safely. Thanks Chris!

Mickael R hiking Lady Mac above Canmore.

Fixing the entanglement.

A brave forward launch from Lady Mac.

Good Rockies vistas.

Bob from XC Magazine prepping to launch from the Midi Plan in strong conditions. 

Bob launched like a helicopter in the strong afternoon breeze. This was my second flight of the day and I waited for another couple of hours for conditions to simmer down. It was well after 7pm when I finally lifted off.