Interlaken, Switzerland

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 before touching.

We had flown with a German pilot who also landed nearby and we got to exchange pictures.

Too cool.

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 pictures below.

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 quite impressive.

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.

A 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.


Before heading out on the morning adventure that led to our flight.

© 2015 Jeff Goin   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!