Last weekend saw me paragliding again in China. My first flying since a short break and paragliding in the Philippines in January. The conditions were ideal and I did my best cross-country flight ever. 34 km from takeoff to landing.
On the map it looks very straightforward. Fly from the takeoff to the next ridge to the north-west. Fly across the valley and over the city of Fuyang, crossing the big river. Fly along the side of the river and over the next hill. Land.
Path of the flught, flying at Fuyang, China
In the air it's not nearly as straightforward as that. Here are some pictures from the flight.
Okay…Here's the takeoff. It's a great day and the thermals are already kicking off at midday.Surprisingly it's a weekend day (Saturday) and only 3 paragliders at takeoff. You can see thermal clouds in the sky (the small fluffy ones), indicating potential for a good day flying.
Soon after takeoff and immediately going up into a thermal. Looking south along this ridge from takeoff. It often gives a reliable "house thermal".
Looking back at the takeoff site, shows what a great flying site it is. My plan was to gain some height and fly across to the first ridge and then the second ridge seen in this shot. And then to continue along a series of hills, keeping the large valley, the river and Fuyang on the left-hand side. It didn't work out quite like that…
Another good shot showing the takeoff site. Maurizio has laid out his white canopy, ready for takeoff.
This shot shows facing to the north of the takeoff and the next 2 hills. The large river is on the left-hand side, with Fuyang far away in the distance, out of sight.
Gaining over 1500m height above the takeoff. Maurizio has taken off and is the small white canopy below. He quickly gained height and comes up to join me.
Now we are on our way, travelling north together. The large river on the right-hand side. It's getting hazy up here.
Now we have reached the next ridge. The takeoff is far behind.
Now we have flown together and eventually reach the city of Fuyang, about 20 km to the north of takeoff. I still have it in mind to fly along the hills to the right hand side, keeping the city and the large river on the left.
However the prevailing wind was taking me across the city. Not a nice place to think about landing.
However there were plenty of thermals around. :-)
Another view looking down on Fuyang. Around this time I lost sight of Maurizio, and was flying alone. Right from takeoff one of our radios wasn't working and so we had no communication together.
Now crossing the city of Fuyang, the large island in the river getting much closer. You can see it in the map above.
Now I'm over the large island and looking back at Fuyang. Made it across safely…phew !! you can see the road bridge crossing the river. The orange road in the map above. It so much easier to know where you are looking at this on the ground… than when you are flying above it.
Now looking north of Fuyang, to the hills on the left of the river (West). I'm thinking of flying to the hills and hoping to get some more lift over there. However the hills are not a friendly place to land. They are covered in trees. It's too hazy to see any further.
Made it to the first hill… But going down. I didn't find the lift I hoped for on the first hill. To be honest, after flying for 1.5 hours I'm getting tired and more looking for a safe landing than a way to fly further. I am aiming for the white quarry in the distance
The quarry is getting closer and achievable. I eventually land safely, just on the other side of the quarry.
I found a car park to a tourist centre. It's the hillside you can see behind the quarry. A mountain walk area. It wasn't my best landing… But it was safe. I put the canopy in a small tree. But no harm done and no damage to the canopy. :-)
So that was it. My best flight ever in China… Or anywhere else for that matter. Getting back was much easier than expected. The tourist centre called a local taxi for me and one hour and £20 later I was back at the takeoff site. What made this particular flight both challenging and interesting was that much of the flying was across flat land, rather than flying the mountains. A new experience for me. Fuyang was very intimidating to fly across, but gave a lot of good lift. I should not have been so timid… Maybe…!
How about my friend, Maurizio ?? He's a much better (and braver !) pilot than me. He flew over 75km and broke the site distance record.
A great day paragliding in China....and hello to all friends and family in UK. :-)
By Steve Millard