Coupe Icare 2015
2015-09-21 The greatest show above earth for Paraglider Pilots
the center of paragliding's universe for four days and it's becoming
more the same for paramotoring. The main attraction is a costume party
of flight but a lot of folks come for the vendors.
Just getting to the place is cool given that it's the Alps.
Tim and I came to cover the event, see the people, see what's
new, get material for a new project and to experience Alpine
flying on the side.
We arrived on flood-Thursday when vendors were getting a late start
overcoming storm damaged on the infrastructure. What's
amazing was to see how the place gets transformed from mucky nothingness
to a attractive displays of our goods and services.
There were lots of paramotor vendors including the latest electrics,
three to be exact. They're mostly a free flight launch tool but keep
making small strides. You can get 10 to 15 minutes of tear-it-up power
or 50 minutes of cruising for about $10k and 65 pounds.
1. A remarkable transformation turned this scene into
First Alpine Flight
With 100's of onlookers and pilots vying for a hill position, it's
intimidating launching from here. Friday was open flying so we all took
the opportunity to give it a go. Calm winds and a late afternoon hour
meant it would be a sledder but that would still be fun.
Tim Kaiser and Jeff Jeff Hamann (PPG Bible Cover
Jeff) had never done an Apline flight so this was a big deal.
Half the paragliding world queued up for a launch position and
organizers doled out spots as pilots launched. Essentially everyone
there was a gem but for one remarkably obnoxious a$$ who pushing people
aside as he crowded to the front of the line. Wow. It was a long queue,
taking at least 30 minutes from line to layout.
Tim and Jeff pulled off their no-wind launch brilliantly. I had
already landed and captured their arrival. Nice job.
Saturday started big gig, a costume parade of paraglider pilots
launching from the primary slope. Wow. There is no bad view and some of
the best pictures are after they're airborne.
Bad weather played havoc with launching and only a few of the costume
flyers made it off. Ideally, winds should be light or out of the south,
and presumably they usually are. Not this time. Pilots would set up and
wait for a cycle where the wind was either calm or blowing in (up the
hill). During those brief periods, organizers would launch pilots as
quickly as they safely could. Still, a number of slightly downwind
launches were made and a number of them almost made. Inflating downwind
is hard, doing it with costume accoutrements? Yeah. That's heroic.
If you weren't launching it was pretty nice excepting the periodic
sprinkles and chilly gusts. After only a couple hours of launching, winds blowing down the hill
forced them to call it off.
Choices abounded. Of course it all depended on the weather which
meant it was easy to miss things. Parabatix, for example, was something
I was hoping to see but didn't because the time I went it got blown out.
Parabatix is mostly a show with the theme being fun competitions in an
small space. Being more show than competition means the pilots don't
push so far into deadly limits making it safer. Sponsors pay for the
show to be performed like any other show, carnage is not sustainable.
Judging from the videos it ought to be a fun watch.
to the Movie tent and watched part of a movie but, not surprisingly, it was in French. And
this one was about mountain climbing. No doubt there was a flight down
at the end but it takes hours to climb and minutes to descend so we
headed out again, plus it
was in French. We're both sadly mono linguistic with some impatient
sprinkled in. And an Alps-full of natural beauty sprawled just outside
the tent. We didn't stay for long.
One cool show was about raptors.. A
man and woman team worked the crowd showing off their trained birds of
prey. You could be forgiven for feeling a bit bad for the birds but they
are actually free flying, lured by food. They were all apparently
rescued from some natural calamity. They were huge. We see them at a
distance, sometimes soaring with them in our craft, but don't appreciate
how big they are so seeing them land on a small child is quite
One of the cooler things was an airshow from above. We're on a
mountain, after all. Even for those who aren't much into air shows this
This thing we do is dangerous. That sad truth was displayed
viscerally while we lunched next to launch. Chad Bastian and Tim Kaiser
watched the last part of a paraglider's last day of life.
Chad says the pilot, was just off the hill, maybe 100 feet up, flying
away from the hill and, for whatever reason stalled his glider. Chad saw the trailing edge heavily
deflected, then one side went back, spilling the glider into a spin. It recovered
in the dive and disappeared behind trees. We can speculate that rocks
intervened before any significant level-off occurred.
almost certainly video but none has surfaced yet. He fell in a spot that
was hard to get to and it took quite a while for a helicopter to show up
since the nearest one was apparently already responding to a serious
traffic accident (third hand info).
Our thoughts are with those close to this 34 year old Spaniard.
Information on his rescue came from here.
On Sunday a hang glider pilot,
who was doing a acro demonstration, crashed and died. He was,
apparently, performing a loop when something broke catastrophically. He
through his reserve but it got caught up in the wing.
In spite of the limited show due to weather I'm glad I came. It was a
bucket list check off worthy of the effort.