Finally! I finally managed to go further than I have before! 45 km further to be exact.
This is all thanks to Jon Erik really who did all the weather-forecasting and told everyone that Sunday will be epic for attempting to go the length of the Lyngen fjord. Silvia and I went along and with the amount of flying we’ve had lately, we would’ve been happy to even fly at all. So, with absolutely no expectations, we trudged up the hill to start while Jon Erik was saying we’re a bit late, but otherwise everything looked good.
Last time I flew from this site, I managed not to know that it was really windy aloft and I ended up being pushed backwards into a gully, where I got tossed about a fair bit before sort of crash-landing in a pile of snow(luckily!). So I was a bit apprehensive about the whole thing.
This time though, everything looked wonderful. Hardly any clouds and the few that were there, hardly drifted at all. Nice and strong, but not too strong thermals on launch. Lately I’ve been feeling the fact that I’m not flying my old Mantra M4 on 100 % anymore and I’ve even been a bit worried and uncomfortable while flying. But, with about 8-10 GOOD pilots around me, I figured I could sacrifice some of them and see if they survived before I launched myself. Actually we ended up pushing the most rookie one of us first, he sky-rocketed effortlessly and then the race was on!
I can’t begin to explain how good it felt to WANT to get air-borne! Silvia and I agreed before going that we would try to stick together and stay within sight if we could. Off she went and off I went. Since we had started a bit late(way past noon!) the best lift was in the beginning, and some of the others reported being in lift that exceeded 11 ms!! I was very glad not to encounter that kind of lift early on. If the air is bumpy, I always need 10 minutes or so to get comfy and “back into things”. But we climbed easily to the top of the ridge and started searching for something to take me higher. Silvia had already done so and was waiting up high. Flying past my landing/crash-site from earlier, I gave it the finger and kept thermaling to catch the others.
I topped out the first thermal at around 1750 meters and the view of the Lyngen-alps from that height is just ridiculously nice. I can’t begin to describe it. And Jon Eriks predictions were confirmed. No wind aloft(a slight breeze the way we wanted to go!) and the whole fjord dead-calm! Doing cross country can’t get much more comfy than this.
All the others who started before us had soon landed early, and Silvia and I ended up swapping the lead as one was climbing and the other gliding out the height towards the next lift. The thermals were a bit bumpy here and there, but by now, I was thoroughly flying so when we ended up low(below 500 at one point!) and caught up to Espen Prestbakkmo in some choppy thermals, I didn’t mind. There we were, the three of us, battling various sudden and shifting thermals close to the ridge. I kept tossing the wing back and forth in and out of some lift. No soft turns! Keep everything properly flying. As soon as I had height above the ridge to turn, it got easier and I circled up towards a small wisp of cloud at the top. I tried to reach it, but couldn’t quite get there.
After a few more of these arriving a bit low and fighting your way back up, Silvia declared that she’d had enough of tossing about and went to land in one of the fields below. That’s when I realized we had been flying for nearly 2 hours! And the kilometers had literally flown by! I was nearly at the point where the plan was to cross a pass over to the other side of the Lynge-alps. This was when Jon Erik came on the radio and said he was trailing behind a bit. That’s when I realized that I was in front. Thankfully, Espen was right behind me, but no one was in front of me. That felt weird, but oddly nice.
No one left to help you decide what to do. So I arrived low(500-600ish) on the wall of the pass across to the other side. I knew before I got there that there had to be lift there. It was down-wind and the sun had been backing the bare rock-face all day. Not surprisingly, up it went at a steady rate. Looking through the pass I couldn’t see ANY nice landings. It’s all just scree-slopes and rocks all the way down to the road before the sea. So I decided to get as much height as I could before going through. So Espen and I found a nice steady thermal and kept going round and round up to about 1200 meters, when I pointed at the pass to say I was going for it. It went fine! There was no sink at all and we arrived at the other side with as much height as we had going in. But gliding through those mountains must rank among some of the most dramatic, or majestic, or calmly violent things I’ve ever seen.
Arriving on the other side, the wind had turned south so we were now in the lee of the huge peaks of Lyngen. This made progress quite tricky. Jon Erik caught up with me as was stubbornly trying to thermal up and away from the lee. But alas, after a few turns and tosses, I decided to land while I still had height to reach the biggest fields I could see. Rule number one, always go for the biggest landing you can find.
As a final little twist, there was quite a bit of south(I was down to 3 km/h forward speed against it), yet at around 50 meters above the landing it turned 180 degrees and we landed in a smooth 3-4 m/s on a lovely green field where all the others and the retrieve were waiting. Absolutely wonderful!
It took me days to land my head(not a good thing when you have exams coming up)! What baffles me the most is how uncomplicated and straight forward the whole trip was. You just have to be there on the perfect day. It was trick at times, but never worrying or scary in any way. So, thank you Jon Erik for finding this day and bringing everyone along. Thank you Silvia for waiting. Thank you Espen for keeping me company(even if you didn’t have a radio). And many thanks to Arild who picked everyone up. I didn’t realize how long the trip was until we had to drive all the way back.