A super day flying with Dave on the tandem showing me tips on how to thermal, look for sources and that you have not landed until your feet touch the ground!
We had two flights, a shortish one and then a xc landing near where we are staying.
It wasn’t only just a learning session- it is Dave after all and we laughed loads!!! We sang to our hearts content….. Which was greatly appreciated by our audience on the ground (not), maybe we will keep our day jobs!!!
There is something special about flying with the birds that are almost so close you can touch them. Pretty sure they we wondering why we were in their air space!!
Chaps also did well in their flying too. 4 of the group flew their socks off- nice one guys 🙂 Fab day all round.
Just heading out for dinner….. Laters!!
Sunday evening and another day of flying is over. Once again we had a huge breakfast and briefing before the drive to launch, which included another bumped head as Tony was not quick to duck and got clonked by the overhead sign at the farm entrance, but once again neither cranium or sign were damaged! The heat was intense today despite the cirrus cover, it really was like standing in an oven (although none of us have actually done that, but you get my drift!)
It was going to be a day of weak climbs as a layer of cirrus covered the sky, but we set a hopeful task anyway, this time to the south towards Roldanillo. Lee set off first and after a sledge ride almost to the bottom, managed to work a weak thermal and made it to base after some really patient work. As he set off to the next thermal on the far side of the town, Frank, Tony, Andy and I took off and climbed together in a nice core. Unfortunately Frank had a problem with his harness so had to fly down, but the rest of us topped out and pushed on to where lee was now in the next climb. Once away from the mountain the climbs were very weak so after another top up climb, our gaggle headed off toward the low spine back ridge to the south. Unfortunately the ridge was just not working, so after scratching around, Tony and Andy pushed on to the edge of the ridge to land by the road, while I turned out to land with Lee.
Meanwhile, Matt and Nik had taken off and after a climb to base they pushed out, having been told the ridge was not working. They got a couple of reasonable climbs out front to the east of the town but Nik eventually got grounded while Matt found a good thermal and worked his way back towards base. At this point we called him to let him know that if he managed to get back to the launch and top land, we would cancel the rum fine that he was due to pay for forgetting his radio earlier in the day. As you would expect, the challenge was too good to resist and he worked his way back before making a nice top landing thus cancelling his debt!
Back at launch, Mike, Frank, Tony and Andy decided to fly again and with no task set they had a nice cruise about before landing at the bottom field. Tony had a great flight, managing to get to base and staying there for well over an hour before being forced to land by a big rain shower…….nice way to keep your wing clean Tony!
The flyers then had a meal in the town with a bit of dad dancing thrown in before joining the rest of us at the lodge. Once again, not a day of big distances due to the weak conditions but great fun nonetheless. Tomorrow the plan is to fly as far as possible towards Roldanillo then into the new finca for a week at our favourite site…….
It’s now Saturday evening and we are all sat here relaxing at the beautiful Finca at Ansermanuevo, enjoying a rum while looking out over the infinity pool to the lights sparkling in the valley below.
The last day at Piedachinche involved an easy morning with another leisurely breakfast and a chill out and swim before loading up the gear and heading off to launch. With conditions looking good we set a task to the North, keeping the crew close to the main highway to make retrieve easier as we had to drive to our next location. Early on the thermals were weak and the first pilots away struggled to make much altitude and began to go down. As the later pilots launched the thermals were stronger but a strong northerly had kicked in so the climbs close to the mountain were character building to say the least! As we pushed out towards the first turnpoint, the headwind made progress extremely difficult and we were all grounded without making the first turnpoint…….bugger! Nik did very well, managing to push on ahead of the rest after a really nice low save, one of those satisfying moments when the feet are out of the pod for landing and the next minute you are climbing away with a huge cheesy grin. Also,a big well done to Thee and Frank who both did their first cross country flights after some commendable thermalling from launch, good work dudes.
After all pilots were retrieved, we headed up to Ansermanuevo where we transferred to the jeeps for the crazy drive, all hanging off the tailgates or sat on the roofs as we thundered up the mountainside. Once unloaded we settled into our rooms then straight into the pool with a well earned cool beer.
We got up to a beautiful sunrise this morning and a fantastic breakfast spread prepared by the wonderful staff. After morning briefing we took the short drive up to launch and got prepped. We set an out and return task but the northerly drift was going to make things difficult, a day for tactical flying. Thee and Frank went early, closely followed by Tony and Andy, all of them managing to get early climbs before pushing out to the flats to start the task. Once again the thermals were weak and scrappy making any distance difficult, but Tony managed to push on Northwards after some good work in the climbs. The rest of us were away shortly after and formed a good gaggle ready for the push North. I held with the gaggle of Nik, Matt and Mike while Lee pushed on ahead to mark the next climb. After topping out I led the guys on the glide to the next thermal where Lee was climbing strongly with a big gaggle of vultures. It put a grin on my face to see them all cruising out to the flats side by side. Despite some faffing by the chuckle brothers we managed to contact the next climb and worked hard in the weak lift. Unfortunately Mike dropped out at this point and made a nice landing by the main road after a valiant effort, while Nik, Matt and I pushed on. We could see Lee and Tony ahead, with Lee trying to get to Tony to help him out as he had been working the route on his own up to now. Matt and I managed to hit another climb, working it with more than a dozen vultures which was just brilliant. Nik pushed on but was unlucky and had to put down in the the same field where Lee and Tony had landed a few minutes earlier. Matt and I topped out and pushed on for a few more km before dropping in by the main road. Although no big distances were flown, it was a fun flight as we had to work hard for every foot of altitude and the vultures were stunning as usual.
Andy, Thee and Frank made a second flight later in the afternoon, Andy having a jolly little time flying the route we flew earlier and landing on the road where Matt and I had, which was a great effort as he had no other pilots to help along the way. After a few beers in one of the brilliant local bars in town, we headed back up the mountain for a swim and a chill out. Laugh of the day was at Niks expense as he managed to headbutt the bottom of the pool as he dived in, though thankfully neither the pool or his cranium were badly damaged in the collision!
More fun and games tomorrow……….
So here we are on a beautiful Friday morning, ready for another great flying day. We are moving on to our second location today so the plan is to load up our non flying kit on the van while we try to fly as far North as possible to Anwerma Nuevo.
The flight over from the UK was a bit of a drag as usual but we arrived at our Finca on time and the next morning we had a leisurely breakfast by the pool, followed by the usual admin brief and sorting out of phones, GPS, general admin and a nice swim. The first day was initially due to be a non flying day but as we got everything sorted in good time, we headed off for an evening flight at the site just South of Piedechinche. After a fun ride up the mountain in the back of an open bus, the crew all enjoyed a nice cruise down to the landing field as the sun set. Laugh of the day came thanks to Thee, who obviously did not do a proper pre flight inspection on the hammock, and had a short flight to the ground, landing on her arse with great style….nice one girl!
Day two started with another leisurely breakfast by the pool, then it was into town to pick up snack lunches and off to the launch for a couple of shakedown flights at Piedechinche. It was not the usual Colombian morning we enjoy as the katabatic wind roared off the mountain and the cloud swirled around us, but confident that it would improve we chilled out with a bit of Donkey petting (make of that what you will!), trying out the mountainside swing that swung us out into oblivion (most scary!) and the usual shenanigans that grounded paraglider pilots get up to.
Sure enough, as the valley heated the conditions improved and we got ready to fly. First flight was just a local boat about to get everybody comfortable in the air and into the landing field, with an optional out and return to the town. Everybody got away well and had a nice cruise about, Tony had a crack at the task and landed out after a valiant effort, while Andy completed the task after some really nice work in the light conditions. For the last flight we set a run out to the town with a landing at the steakhouse, a most convenient Goal! By now any thermic activity was very light so it was going to be a tough ask. Tony managed to max out a really light climb and made goal, so a big well done to him, while Lee, Nik and I all had a bash from lower down and enjoyed out landings along the road where the locals once again made us feel very welcome and insisted on helping us pack our kit. The day finished with a fantastic steak meal and a moonlit swim in the pool with a rum chaser……..I love this country!
So the countdown has started and we’re off on Tuesday for the 2014 Colombian paragliding trip. Lots of packing to be done and gliders to be packed…. I’ve got a feeling its going to be a good one!
So it was once in a lifetime opportunity last year but were are off to do it again this year. Colombia is a wonderful and diverse country to visit and to Paraglide in some of the best locations in the world is a dream come true. Out tour starts on the 14th of January flying out from London via Madrid to Colombia. We have a great group going and it’s going to be fantastic!
We will be blogging as we go so join the blog by subscribing.
The video from last year.