Wednesday, July 19, 2006

18/7/2006 - Where I have been lately

I spent some interesting time in Freiburg including a trip to the hills where I went on the Sielbahn. When I got to the top of the hills there was a long walk to an observation tower. I also went into some old mine tunnels. When I came out of the tunnels it was raining and the rain and thunderstorms seemed to follow me always.

On Sunday, I took the train from Freiburg to Vinon. I actually had to get 6 trains (one by accident!). On the very first train to Basel I got off at the train station Basel BBF which is the German Basel, Not the Swiss Basel which was 5 km away where I should have been!!! Luckily I approached the train driver of my last train who had just got off. He arranged to put me on another (empty) train which was just leaving for the next station so I did not miss out after all. I then caught another 3 trains to Marseilles which was hot, dry and crowded.

It seemed to be full of people just waiting and so I became one of them. I was then able to ring up the Australians at Vinon and got directions to the nearby town of Manosque. Another train to catch so I rejoined the waiting people. Eventually after that last ride I got to Vinon at 18:45. I had left Freiburg at 05:15.

Yesterday (Monday) was a public holiday in France. I went to the supermarket with some of the other Australians. After we got back the gliders were finishing, in the middle of one of the worst thunderstorms I have seen for a long time. Peter Temple (one of the two Australian Pilots here) landed on the airfield in a place where wheat had recently been grown. He could not see anything at all and with 65 knots indicated on his airspeed nearly stalled onto the ground as he was so wet! No one saw him land as it was raining so hard. Other gliders landed later in big pools of water which sprayed up so much it was not possible to see the rear of the glider.

Water flooded out many tents. So my first impressions of France are somewhat mixed. When it is not a thunderstorm it is quite warm and dry, much like Australia. The competition has been cancelled for today as more (and worse, how could it be?) thunderstorms are expected. It was very lucky yesterday no gliders were damaged or pilots hurt. One pilot has been hurt in the competition so far. The New Zealand pilot has gone to hospital for surgery today. He outlanded on Sunday and when he saw his crew he was so happy he ran towards them, slipped and burst his Achilles tendon. Very dangerous gliding competition! I do not know what the the other Australians will do today, I will join them probably.

I also have arranged for a flight with the tow pilots here.

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