June 6 - 17, 2008: Soaring the French Alps
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2008 Jun 12 This place was carved for paragliding
which the town has embraced.
Lets face it, tourists come here for a reason. Amazingly, paragliding
isn't usually it, but that tells you something about its natural beauty.
At this moment I'm standing at an open window of our hotel, a quaint
little 3-story affair just off the square, suckling internet from some
thoughtful donor (thanks, whoever you are). The view is incredible. Too
bad about it being so damp. But before the rains came, the three of us
managed to get airborne.
The Neederhorn rises majestically above one of the lakes that gives
Interlaken its name. Sun heating in the morning begets clouds early on.
Air rises, condenses and the clouds continually form right near the
paraglider launch. This morning we took a bus and gondola up to the top,
complete with paragliders and went to check it out. Clouds
intermittently cloaked our route out to the valley but we laid out,
hooked in and waited. Eventually an opening emerged straight out and
above that let us all three launch at once.
What an incredible flight.
After nearly an hour of soaring we headed back in to land fearing
stronger valley winds and got what we worried about. They venturied
between mountains and, by the time we descended to within a couple
hundred feet, we were going backwards.
Landing options were everywhere and all the landings were on our feet
and uneventful. I had time to get my camera out and record Thad and Phil
who did flawless little high wind touchdowns with a C-riser pull just
We had flown with a German pilot who also landed nearby and we got to
Each day a decision is made as to where and when we go and, for the
moment, we're staying at Interlaken. Here are the highlight
2008 Jun 14 Forwards
rule, reverses drool—here anyway.
No wind? No problem. Here's a mountain...just forward fall down
its steep hillside and the glider has to come up. Thad scores the new
award for the ugliest inflation that still resulted in flight. It was
The past few days have been a whirlwind of finding
sites, finding people and making the best of some unimpressive weather.
The views are stunning and these poor tourists just have no idea what
they're missing. Yesterday we played tourist ourselves and visited some
amazing caves and waterfalls. Afterwards, just as we got on the road to
head back to our hotel, Phil spotted a glider. Thad saw another landing
and it became obvious there was a flying site nearby. Good sniffing guys
because what that turned out to be was a place where some renowned
aerobatic pilots were practicing. Then getting together with the
gorgeous Acro champs Judith and Seiko was a special treat. Judith was
out practicing her tumbles.
This place we flew, Murren, was just more
amazement of terrain. After launch I was stopped dead in my tracks at
the valley's beauty. I could not soar, I couldn't practice anything, and
could barely work my camera. It was so stunning. I flew down that valley
feeling like the music from Jurassic Park should be playing in my ear.
We've continued to fly morning and evening. Phil even did a little
cross country flight today, winding up near the train station that we
caught up with him at.
Today's flight from some high mountain was cold and amazing. We
landed, as we have several times, because the weather looked dodgy.
number of extremely talented pilots have been showing us around and just
hanging out with them has been a pleasure.
Tomorrow morning we're heading for Annecy, France, in search of
something a bit dryer. It would be nice if it were a bit more
soarable which doesn't look promising. But the, just seeing the launch
site will be cool as well as simple being in France. Unfortunately, I'll
not be able to meet Stefan Obenauer in Germany. My next European trip
will have to start with Germany.