Cross-country paragliding, 12 points.

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Cross-country paragliding: distance, but not just distance!

The main reason I took up paragliding,
To go from one point to another and back again, to go beyond just gliding downwards, to decide on your route and make it happen, to go cross-country, even with a lot of experience, it's still magic (at least in my eyes) to be able to use these aerial paths, invisible to the human eye, but nevertheless accessible to experienced pilots.

Cross-country: let's list our needs...

Desire, of course, is the driving force behind paragliding, and to do it reluctantly would be a bit ........

Ambitions: To get started in cross-country flying, you need a reasonable, achievable ambition in order to be rewarded with success. Some very fine distances have been achieved by champions who have given cross-country flying an exceptional level, and these same pilots will enjoy themselves just as much on a small cross-country flight with no great scope, carried out locally with friends or, on the contrary, in appreciated solitude.
Weak aerological conditions mean that fine cross-country pilots can reap the rewards.

Skills: A good theoretical grounding is essential, to understand breeze patterns (in the mountains), air mass movements and the effects of wind and weather, and to anticipate them by reading forecasts carefully and, above all, by constantly observing changes.
Steering skills enable you to be observant, analytical, strategic, route-focused and make choices...

The experience of several small cross-country flights allows you to combine them into one big flight. Competition experience is a plus for those who know how to draw useful information from it.
Another form of experience, but by no means the least, is that of others. Cfd ( federal distance cup ) The Xcontest, Flymaster or Syride. These sites allow you to see what flights have been made, making it really interesting to compare what has been done in the same place and at the same time as your own flight. Very easy to see on the xcontest

For Cross, the qualities listed in no particular order:

A first base, the good adequacy; wing Pilot harness, (especially not to rush in a equipment race As your experience of long-distance flying grows, you'll need to be careful not to get carried away by overconfidence.

Thermalling: Knowing how to use a thermal to gain altitude, analysing its drift and changes in rhythm. Once you know how to climb in a thermal, you need to be able to think about what to do next as you climb, and make A, B and C plans to be ready to deal with the changes imposed by the air mass.

Humility: A paraglider pilot in cross-country flight (but this applies to all other types of flight) has a duty to knock politely on Mother Nature's door and ask permission to pass through. It would be foolish and dangerous to try to force the issue.

Choices: Depending on the weather conditions and your ambitions, the choice of a cross-country course must be made with discernment. But if you've got the skills to manage safety, flying a bit randomly and following the inspiration of the moment can also lead to some wonderful surprises.

Availability: Obviously, on a cross-country flight as on any other flight, your mind must be free of all commitments in order to keep up the distance while maintaining the concentration necessary for safety. If the ambition is big, you have to plan to spend the whole day and why not part of the night for the return hitchhike.

Adaptability: Despite the effectiveness of weather forecasts, small imponderables often disrupt the well-laid plans for a cross-country event.
The greater the distance, the more time Mother Nature has to change her mind and demonstrate her sense of humour, or her mood swings.
So let's be prepared to change our plans and give the cross-country a different direction, or cut it short for safety's sake, never mind the distance, there will be other days to fly.

Observation: Gather as much information as possible around you, so that you can react quickly when making decisions. The further away a pilot can observe and store information that is not necessarily useful at the time, the more he will fill his database with explanations of changes in the air mass.

Opportunism: with good observation skills, the maximum amount of information stored enables you to anticipate surprises and jump on the good deal when it comes along.

There's certainly a lot more to say, so don't hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions 😉

Good flights,

CrossAlain Anthony course
Cross-country course in the Bauges


About the author :

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Alain A.

After discovering paragliding on the bars of Gréolières in 1988 and then at Menez Hom in 1989 I was lucky enough to learn at Club Airevasion in Polynesia in 1992. A passion that quickly led me to cross-country flying, competition and, of course, teaching. I was on the competition circuit from 1993 to 2011, and then joined the French team from 2006 to 2010. And this international experience is an undeniable plus, which I can now share with my trainees. After working in Signes at Envol de Provence, then Verdon Passion in Moustier sainte Marie, I'm currently based in Annecy, an ideal region for free flying and teaching. As co-manager of Les Grands espaces and technical director of the "Les Grands espaces" school, I remain passionate about great flights, new discoveries and contact with pilots who come from all over the world to join our courses.

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