Primel-Tregastel, France Temp: 50 F; 10 C
Subject: Good finish to a bad day
I’ll sum up today: a bad day turned into a good day. This morning I checked the immediate area for south facing slope due to the persistent south wind the last few days. Staying on the north side of Brittany makes it very tough to find a south facing slope.
After consulting a very detailed IGN map, I drove over to the very well to do town of Carantec, about 30 miles away. This is on the other side of the Bay of Morlaix; in a straight line across the water it is only 5 miles. But this is Brittany and most travel from one point to another is rather tortured due to the terrain. There was a fairly high south facing slope there, 200 to 300 feet, but no access due to every inch being private property with very expensive houses on large lots. The wind was blowing 30 knots and the gulls were cruising beautifully over this ritzy area.
The next other possibility was not as high, but back on our side of the bay. This was the 5000 year old burial tomb called the Tumulus of Barnenez . The angle here was not quite south, but access was tough, through some very soggy six inch grass for about two hundred yards.
So the morning was partially shot, chasing around vainly looking for south slopes. This is ironic due to the fact that within 5 miles of the place that we are staying, some great north and NW slopes exist in one of the least built up areas of Brittany called Beg Gracia.
Later I went to Menez-Hom, a 100 round trip mile SW of here. Nothing there but total rain with fog, and plenty of wind. I returned to Primel-Tregastel about 3:00 PM, somewhat disgusted, but found that it was not raining here. The wind had switched to the west by this time (5:00 PM). My wife suggested going to Le Diben, a village about a mile away. So we jumped in the car, where I always keep my 3 planes that I brought along on this trip, and we went to a place called Pointe Annalouesten. We could see Carantec across bay where we had been this morning. Nothing like a local guide for good advice!
This turned out to be an almost perfect slope: a “drive up and fly” spot. I flew my PIXEL for the second time ever. The wind was blowing about 15-20 knots, the landing zone was small, but who cares with a good wind and a great slope. This slope was only about 100 feet high, but the gulls were cruising by motionless, the best indication of a flyable slope. After about 10 minutes of zooming this plane all over the sky, I decided to fly the heavier SAGITTA for this wind. Landing the PIXEL turned out to be fairly easy here. I did not realize that every inch of the LZ was covered by 8 to 18 inches of the thickest undergrowth that I have ever seen. What a pillow to land on! You can pound the plane in pretty hard with no damage due to the softness of the undergrowth. However, this pillow is very thorny as my legs found out as I walked though some of the deeper sections to recover my plane after landing. Millions of mini bristles to catch your pants and give you more than a few scratches.
The SAGITTA flew but was a little bit of a struggle for altitude on this slope than the much lighter PIXEL. After about 15 minutes flying my largest plane, I landed it on the pillow of thorns, and flew the PIXEL again for another 20 minute flight, with another nice “pillow landing.” See the jpeg. All in all, a nice finish to a bad day of rain.