Easter Paragliding Grundkurs in Interlaken
Following paragliding taster day experience, I used Easters with one day off to make the whole course.
As most of the other participants had some flying experience, thus I did not have such a significant advantage over them, and we proceeded faster than last time. Also, the weather was luckier for us, so immediately the first day, we went to a higher hill, where we did flights around half a minute. As we had to walk all the distance we flight, we were pretty tired - walking so much is the reason, why is paragliding considered a sport.
Flying with such views was awesome! The highest flights were up to 50 meters above the ground.
Our practice hill.
One of my longest flights ended within sheep cattle - thermals helped me to get quite far and I was scared to continue over the horizon, so I turned it towards sheep. They did not care at all :D.
I had still too much energy after 10 hours of walking up the hill, so I went for a hike. This is Mürren valley, with a view to Breithorn and many waterfalls in the steep cliffs. I wanted to visit one of these waterfalls, but it was a closed - touristic attractions in the valley are open just until 17:00.
The view from above of the closed waterfall. Unfortunately, it was not visible even from the touristic path, but the views were worth it.
Mönch - 4107 m high.
All I have seen from the Trümmelbachfälle.
Friday was similar to Thursday, as we continued with more flights on the training (100 m elevation) hill. Just in the afternoon, we practiced ground handling in the strongest safe wind. It was a lot of fun, some wind gusts took me 2 meters in the air even on the flat ground.
On Friday’s evening, I went for another trip, this time I took a funicular, which I mistook is for free for everyone accommodated in my camp. It was not for free, but 16 CHF was fine. From the top, I could see the flying area for the next day - lift-off was on the top right field, landing below my ear.
Whole interlaken from above.
Due to the difficult wind situation (Föhn was forecasted to get stronger every day), we started with the first high flight already on Saturday. A bit scary was the fact that we had almost no theory, so many of us were asking basic questions just before lift-off.
Last picture before the flight - Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau.
We had three tasks for the first flight - try weight steering, make a full circle and make a selfie - we do not have to hold the brakes the whole time.
I took the documentation task seriously. I have taken even a video.
My favorite picture!
The first flight was a bit scary, we had serious thermals, and the föhn was also quite strong, so it took me above the lake. I did just that single flight, as it was just getting too strong. I learned interesting things about wind - it can change easily with altitude to completely other direction - around 50 meters above ground changed the föhn into “lake wind”. And during the day, when we did more ground handling, this level of wind change was slowly going down. Eventually, the lake wind disappeared - within one minute, the wind direction changed on the ground as well. Something I would never notice if I would not practice with the wing on the ground.
Later, we tried how reserve looks like. A few minutes later, they were brown of cowshit :D.
On Sunday, we moved to a valley without the föhn, and we flew a lot. I did 6 flights, trying many maneuvers (swinging side-wise and front-back-wise, figure eight, close pair flights), emergency situations (partial collapses, ears), and around noon even thermals. It was not that difficult to double the time in the air, but also I was unsuccessful in getting above the take-off altitude, others were luckier. I was glad to try several wings, except one wing, which scared me by not opening ears by itself, were all awesome.
A lightweight wing - these 3 kg of fabric and lines keep me flying.
Views from the launching site.
Every flight was over that waterfall :).
Close-by flight, we were less than 10 meters from each other, the selfie camera optics make the gap wider.
On Monday, we were supposed to do 4 more flights. As we were more experienced, we immediately started catching thermals.
Finally above the launching site.
All went nicely, I was planning to go to a stronger thermal, used by all experienced gliders, but one advanced guy from our group went there ahead of me…
End ended up in a tree, as he was flying too low. He was hanging there for 6 hours, waiting for rescue to climb to him in 40 m. He was not injured, just scratches, but it was a shitty experience for him. I wonder, wheter I would end up on a tree flying before him.
We stopped flying after this and finally studied some theory. The course ended with dinner, so I got home after 22:30.
Easter Monday tradition
I could not miss the Czech Easter tradition - pomlázka. Searching for a widow was straightforward compared to Norway, what was harder was searching for girls.
Late Easters was no issue for young branches, as I was in high altitude.
Only girls, I met on Monday, were two women from the paragliding course. I hit one and explained the tradition, and except she was not speaking English, she was accepting it. The second one was sitting, so I waited until she stands up, then hit her and got a small face slap. I was not hitting them hard, they could barely feel it, but just these Swiss girls were boring. At least the paragliding was such experience so I could not say the whole Easters were boring.