100 km secret

Another 100+ km flight accomplished, in Bassano, my best flight in this area had been 30 km triangle before. Only 2 other EN-B glider pilots (and 10 on EN-C) published it, but many others failed the chance. Let’s check the reasons, what could hold them back.

The other 2 EN-B pilots made it were not ordinary ones. One is very experienced pilot flying low EN-B glider that day for some reason. The other is a low-medium skilled pilot but (probably) under a direct supervision of 2 best national level pilots.

The basic skills are necessary of course: take off, thermalling, searching next thermal, flying on a speed bar, active pilotage, landing. My 2 friends, no worse pilots than myself, flying with similar or even more performance gliders did not make it.

The conditions were really great. There was practically no wind, flying altitude for this terrain was very high and thermals were strong and common. My friends did the difficult part over the low and shallow ridge and they turned before the easy one – the biggest jump – to Cima Summano and few fast kilometers in high mountains.

The reason was only in their head, as they confirmed that evening. They played this game too safe, leaving the 100km option for next days. But skilled paragliding pilot knows that rarely there are two “hammertags” in a row and unfortunately this was fulfilled again. As soon as you discuss with yourself the “if I fail scenario”, the day is “wasted”.

My first turnpoint was little short therefore I needed to go longer on the other side far away from my planned landing zone. Unfinished triangle widget in XCTrack application helped to find where it is worth to return. Still, the decision was tough as no glider were in front of me but the risk was only in my head. Soon I found a thermal after the 100k turnpoint, I would make it even if there were no thermal.

I do not say to be overconfident!  But if conditions are great and there are no signs of change, practically it was getting better as reaching higher altitude is possible while day goes. Turning back in 13:00 or 13:45 (in Bassano) will make you only half happy.  The conditions were weaker on return route but with little patience everything was fine. I landed at 16:00 but there were visible gliders high above the Monte Grappa even one hour later, despite an early spring period.

Next days the maximum altitude was lower and signifficant headwind on the route to second turnpoint had to be fought. It was still possible to make the same route but it was (for me) approximately two times more difficult.

I hope the reader does not feel I am too pessimistic about my friends. They did awesome job flying one of their longest flights ever! I just suggest not to be afraid of using really great conditions for more than 50-70%! Having a professional supervision is an interesting option if you can afford it but expect you could need several paid trips to hitting a great day.


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