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Category: Switzerland

Kung-fu Paragliding

Kung-fu Paragliding

Today is day 9 of the 14 day course and so far I’ve done 11 solo flights, some of them lasting more than 20 minutes. I can now launch the paraglider fairly reliably and land using a left hand approach. Sometimes I need a bit of instruction over the radio to ensure the final approach is at the right speed and height, but each one is better than the last. Before landing a paraglider it’s advisable to stand up in the harness and get ready to run, but initially I had a tendency to start kicking my legs considerably before landing, especially if the ground seemed to be approaching too quickly. People seemed to find this pretty hilarious, but fortunately I managed to stop doing it before anybody got a video.

Today, others stole the landing lime light though. One person landed on a parasol that the rest of us were sitting under moments before, and another landed so short that our instructor had to jump on his motorbike and speed down the valley to get a new vantage point to guide him in from! Most of us land in the field most of the time though!

From now on I will be learning to gain height by using thermals and to soar using winds blowing over ridges. These techniques need more specific weather conditions than simply gliding down from a mountain top, and I’ve had to sit out quite a few flights because the thermals or wind have been too strong for a novice pilot. It’s a little frustrating, but hopefully I’ll be going up rather than down for the first time quite soon.

Above are some pictures of a typical flight; The first shows people setting up their gliders on the mountain top ready for launching; The second and third pictures are taken from the launch site and show people who have been in the air for only a few seconds; and the last two pictures show the landing field. I haven’t taken any aerial photos so far as I’ve had to concentrate on maneuvering too much, but I’m getting more confident so I might take my camera up at the end of the course.

Paragliding

Paragliding

On Monday I began a 14-day paragliding course in Verbier (Switzerland) run by Verbier Summits (www.verbier-summits.com). The course is a combined elementary pilot club pilot course and provides the minimum amount of training needed to fly unsupervised. During the first two days of the course I have learned only to take the paraglider out of its bag and attach the harness because the weather has been too bad to do anything else. I am hoping that conditions will improve soon so that I can get through the required syllabus in the available time. While waiting for the weather to improve have been for some short walks in the mountains behind Verbier. I don’t go far because I need to be back in town quickly if conditions improve, but here are a couple of pictures showing Verbier and the weather I took this afternoon.

Switzerland!

Switzerland!

Hello!!

FINALLY an update πŸ™‚ Here are some photos of our trip to Switzerland over Christmas and New Year, it was wonderful! We were so lucky with everything… got to Switzerland ok even when lots of flights were cancelled due to fog, had enough snow to ski while many resorts didn’t… had 6 days of perfect weather for skiing… Jumped on many trains that we should have missed, we were just waiting for our luck to run out, but it didn’t. It did start raining on the day we were leaving, I guess it was time to go home πŸ˜‰

First of all, the best impression of our skiing trip can be found/downloaded HERE It’s probably best to right click on the link and save the video on your computer before watching it.

Now some photos…

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Paul & me after the first day of skiing

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On Christmas Day πŸ™‚ and Zermatt way down in the valley

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Lunch! And Zermatt at night from our balcony

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The Matterhorn early in the morning

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On our way again… passing Leuk (“Nice” in Dutch!) and the Gruyere train

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Very cute village… Gruyeres! Though it was quite a climb with our luggage

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More views from Gruyeres! And it smells like cheese there!!

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But this is what we actually came for… The H.R. Giger Museum

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Some more photos of the museum… fascinating!

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HAHA I turned 25 AGAIN πŸ˜‰ (a very welcome mistake of Celia and Gert-Jan!) We stayed at Celia’s place for a few days to celebrate New Year, there were many people there!

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We went for a hike in the Jura mountains

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Paul trying to find the Matterhorn (actually visible from there!!) from the top of the mountain

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At the restaurant… soup with Gruyere cheese πŸ™‚

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A well deserved break… The whole group: on the left side of the table: Alex & Katja, Maribel, me and Anja. On the right: Gert-Jan & Celia, Paul and Richard aka Woest.. Only Vincent is missing, he took the photo

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Paul in Bern, we went there for a couple of hours on the 31st

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PARTY!! The Theme was the 4 elements (air,water,fire and earth), I think Katja deserved the 1st price as best dressed πŸ™‚

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Paul with VERY red hair and GJ with his head in the clouds πŸ˜‰

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Celia and Amanda (her sister) and Paul & me… happy new year!!!

That’s it… I got back to working life very quickly as I had a few meetings right after I came back. And now only 2 weeks till I am leaving for Antarctica… very exciting, of course I’ll keep you updated!

Hanneke