Advanced Paraglider Training
The following story provides an insight into the benefits of attending an advanced paraglider training course, such as the XC/SIV course run by Jocky Sanderson.
An Assault on the Senses
by Chris White
You know how it is, a Welsh winter, either too cold, too wet or too windy to go flying, sometimes all three. I read somewhere that Jocky Sanderson was running and XC course in St. André. I had been on an XC/SIV course in Turkey two years ago and had taken part in the Pilot Trophy the same year with Jocky.
So in February, after the Foot and Mouth epidemic had started, I phoned him and asked if Megan and I could sign up for the course on our Bi-Beta Tandem along with our friend Brian on his solo wing. Jocky said he would be delighted to have us along and also agreed to put me through my Dual rating.
We arrived in Nice Thursday afternoon in 70 degrees sunshine. Jocky picked us up from the Airport and we headed off on the two hour drive to St.André.
For those who haven‘t visited the Maritime Alps, the scenery starts off superb at the coast then just gets better. At Easter a lot of the mountains are still snow capped although the weather in the valleys is more suited to flipflops and shorts.
Friday morning dawned frosty and bright, so after a good breakfast in the Hotel Monge, we gathered in the garden for a 9.30am briefing, introduced ourselves and Jocky and Ans Khan familiarised us with the area helped by 3D maps and photos. We piled our kit onto Steve‘s landrover and the 12 of us drove up to the 5,000ft west take off.
After another briefing, Meg and I were first off on the tandem, helped by Ans and watched over by Jocky. We cruised around getting used to the conditions, while waiting for the rest of our group to launch.
Once airborne we thermalled to base at around 10,000ft and headed north towards Cheval Blanc, then east over the Lambruisse Ridge. Some of the group had landed by this time, the rest of us opted to land at Thoramehaute because after and hour and a half at base the cold had got the better of us.
Our first days flying in France had been a near spiritual experience, it was Megs first XC, her first time at cloudbase and her first real experience of thermalling (she did quite a lot of the flying). Flying can be a solitary intense assault on the senses, and being able to share these experiences with your partner amongst a group of friends can bring a whole new dimension to your flying.
We flew the majority of nine days of the course mostly at St. André but also at Gourdon and Monaco. The times we weren‘t flying were spent eating, drinking or playing volleyball. We also had a days skiing at Allos (about 40 mins from St. André)
On the little train from St André down to Nice Megan, Brian, and I felt we had only scratched the surface of the potential of St.André.
I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in the Pilot Trophy in St.André a few weeks later. We flew all four days of the competition. It was by far the best flying I have had with lot of competitors recording personal bests.
I would like to thank Jocky and his crew for two epic trips and for memories I will carry with me for the rest of my life. It was a great opportunity to meet up with old friends and make some new ones. I would also like to thank my winning team-mates Martin, John, Frog and H, and everyone else who participated.
To anyone who has contemplated signing up for one of Jocky‘s courses, all I can say is ........
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