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Full Version: The Slovenian trip 14th 21st June 2007
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russskydancer

John and I arrived at Ljubljana airport with the other pilots on the trip, I with anticipation and trepidation, the first of Paragliding in this beautiful country again, the second of the fact that I had only flown for 30 Min's in the last four months, due to my little mishap at Rhosilli.
We stopped at a restaurant near the airport for a meal on the way to Brett?s place and I ordered a large pizza thinking of the puny things we get back home, big mistake, I had forgotten about the size of the meals over there, it was about the size of a dustbin lid, and I failed miserably.
The next stop was Brett?s new place near Sorica, pronounced Soritsa in the mountains above Lake Bohinj, at one time it was a hunting lodge for game, now used by thermal hunters of the paragliding variety, after we unloaded the gliders and kit of the other pilots we headed down to Lake Bohinj where we were staying to unload, unwind, and look forward to the next days (hopefully) flying.

Friday 15th Lijak
We sat having breakfast on the veranda of the hotel, soaking up the awesome views of the mountains around the lake, things could be a lot worse I thought, yeah right, things couldn?t be much better at that moment, chill time, john phoned Brett who said that we probably wouldn?t be flying that day but to drive up to the house anyway, we duly arrived to find that conditions had improved and that we would travel south to Lijak to fly the ridge, great I thought my first flight this year at a site I have flown before to settle my nerves, when we got to Lijak there were no gliders in the air so we had lunch then headed for Kovk to try our luck there, it was not to be, we were treated to the spectacle of an thunder storm on the next ridge to us, with big Cu Nim sucking all the nearby air towards it, OK I thought maybe not a good idea to fly here at the moment, which thankfully was the general consensus, so we decided to head back to Lijak to see if it was flyable there.
As we approached Lijak we could see quite a number of gliders in the air, and some pilots at the landing field, so we drove to the car park then walked to takeoff to join the throng of pilots there, unpacked clipped in and took off for an excellent flight in the thermic conditions there, though it was quite scratchy lower down with a lot of pilots trying to work the narrow lift band, the air above the ridge was much easier to fly and I enjoyed a 40 min flight playing in the air above takeoff until the lift shut off and I headed to the landing field to join the other pilots, great I thought a perfect first day.

Saturday 16th Gerlitzen Austria
I was really looking forward to flying in Austria and I wasn?t to be disappointed. Gerlitzen is an spectacular place to fly with a huge top to bottom flight but no great height gains due to airspace just overhead, but what a flight take off is at the top of the mountain after 2 cable car rides to get there, my first flight was fantastic a long glide out over the lake heading towards the landing field, then I spent about 10 Min's themaling above the castle on the far side of the lake before touching down on the landing field after a 30 min flight. John had mentioned that he had been chased out of the air by thunder storms on his previous visits there, not today I thought, but I was wrong when we got to the top of the mountain again for our next flight conditions were starting to worsen in the valley in front of take off Cu Nim were building ad rain squalls and a gust front were approaching us so we headed to the restaurant to sit it out, not bad I thought 2 thunder storms in 2 days but we flew yesterday once we got away from it so I was optimistic.   Then the storm hit us and we were treated to a first class sound and light show for the next couple of hours, when it had passed over and things had settled down again we headed to takeoff to check things out, the wind had switched to the other side of the ridge by this time and we would launch towards the cable cars, OK i thought  as long as I crab to the left after I take off no problem, the wind was quite strong so I reverse launched after some of the other guys and started to head to the left away from the cable cars and trees, it was at this point that the weather gods decided to have a little fun with me, firstly I lost about 50ft altitude hmm getting quite close to the trees now but still OK, next I lost part of my left wing I recovered then I lost part of  the right wing then some more height, sheet I thought though I wasn?t so much scared as embarrassed at the thought of draping my glider over a pylon/tree I will never live it down I thought, so I crabbed more to the left looking for more ground clearance, but the sky gods still hadn?t finished with me and the followed a few more collapses until they took pity on me and guided me out over the lake for an thankfully uneventful and peaceful glide to the castle again then the landing field, where a swift change of underwear was needed, 20mins of quite interesting flying this time, thanks John what a mate for sharing your thunder storm with me.

Sunday 17th Kovk
This was the day of the big skies and also the day that our lady pilot put the big boys to shame.
We arrived at kovk after passing Lijak where there didn?t seem to be much activity to try our luck there, conditions were strong thermic with big height gains to be had and maybe even jump the gap and head to Lijak, not an easy prospect from this side, one because the ridge is lower this side and two because the wind was not in our favour either, some of the guys got away before conditions got too strong and headed for the gap, John among them to try to get across and though he battled valiantly on I think 3 attempts he didn?t quite make it and got drilled about 2/3 of the way across and had to fly back to our ridge, well done mate valiant effort.
In the meantime the rest of us sat on the hill and parawaited for the wind to drop enough to allow us to take off, in the meantime the acro boys showed  their skills and much more heavily loaded acro wings who could launch perform acro and land in the strong conditions, while some of the local pilots entertained us by showing us how not to launch in strong conditions and got blown all over takeoff.
It was at this point that a petite lady pilot who incidentally had cracked some ribs just a few weeks before, and was also light on her glider, laid out, clipped in, performed a perfect reverse launch and took off to the cheers of all and sundry, well done Liz you are an exceptional pilot and you showed the boys how to do it.
I must admit I was pretty scared of the prospect of flying big skies again, with having so little airtime this year so far, but watching Liz?s take off made me realize what a wuss I was and helped me to get my head sorted and fly myself, well I?m glad I did because the conditions were perfect by then and I had a first class flight in the thermic lift, and only landed because my shoulder was aching quite badly by then, still 50mins and a big grin on my face said it all.

Monday 18th
Chill out day.
I decided to have a chill out day today, to rest my shoulder and recharge my batteries for hopefully more flying on the last couple of days, John drove off to meet the other guys and I took a walk around the lake, firstly to get the lie of the land have a look at the takeoffs and check for bomb out landing places just in case, and secondly to do a bit of the tourist stuff, take some pictures, try out my limited Slovenian phrases on the locals, and watch for their hopefully appreciative responses (oh no another bloody tourist).
I met up with John, who had returned because it was not flyable today, on my second lap of the lake (getting a bit hot and sweaty by now) and we decided to sample the cuisine at the lakeside restaurant, accompanied by a couple of long cold beers, and boy did I need them.
It was at this point that John the observant fellow that he is told my to hurry outside and take a picture of the cloud formation on the far side of the lake (it was giving us the finger) and that said it all, definitely no flying today.
We met up with some of the others that evening, who had decided to have a meal in the village, we spent a couple of pleasant hours there watching the moon come up, looking forward to hopefully flyable day tomorrow.

Tuesday 19th
Lake Bohinj
Yes finally conditions were looking good for flying the lake, I had been hoping that we would have a chance to fly here before we went home, we all piled into the minibus for the drive to the top of the mountain, and the walk to the lower takeoff, I wasn?t disappointed the views were stunning and the launch looked straightforward and not too difficult, so keen person that I was I unpacked, clipped in and was first in the air to get a feel for the place, in the site brief Brett told us to keep in fairly close to work the lift, gain some height, then push out along the ridge to the right, top up then maybe explore across the lake, part one was fine I took off and started to work the lift around takeoff, this is where the plan started to fall apart and I realized that the sky gods had just received their sacrifice (ME) and it wasn?t long before I was heading for the landing field but with a big grin on my face, I cant think of a better place to bomb out.
After I landed conditions improved (what a surprise) the sky gods had been appeased, and some of the other guys were pushing out along the ridge, some good flights were had and some big grins were on display on the landing field, well done lads.
The guys who had landed first made their way back to takeoff to have another go, of course by this time the wind had picked up was blowing across takeoff right to left, and gust fronts were approaching and making pretty patterns on the lake (the sky gods must really have it in for me) so we sat it out for a few hours until conditions improved, which they did about 5pm, then the air became virtually still with little thermals bubbling through now and then, so we all launched one by one and headed safely down to the landing field.
We had a meal at the lakeside restaurant that evening, and were entertained by the Trout (Piranha) who were voracious feeders and could reduce a whole Pizza to nothing in about 30secs, it was at this point that yours truly decided that it was time to cool off and have a dip in the lake, you will note that I had the good sense to wait until the others had finished their meals, not to put them off, and I had a pleasant swim in the cool waters with one eye at all times on the Trout (I remembered that Pizza and wasn?t taking any chances).
All in all it was a great first days flying at the lake for me.

Wednesday 20th
Lake Bohinj again
Today looked more promising and conditions more stable, so we headed once more for the lower takeoff, incidentally the cable car to the top of the mountain on the other side of the lake and upper takeoff was not running, hopefully next time, so we laid out and took off as before, Mark was the first away and started finding lift and worked along the ridge to the right, things were looking good, so one by one we took off only to find that the early expectations were not to be, I worked the air for a while but once I dropped below takeoff I couldn?t regain any height, but a good flight anyway and 20mins airtime.
We made our way back to takeoff to have another go but it was not to be the wind had picked up again and was off the hill by 45 to 90 deg so we decided to call it a day and head back to the landing field.
That evening we had a BBQ at Brett?s place and the others guys were subject to the dubious cooking skills of yours truly (well at least they all survived) and we had an excellent evening together to finish off the trip.

Thursday 21st
The long voyage home
The minibus was in for repairs so myself and John had to blag a trailer from the hotel (we did ask first honest) to carry the our gear to the airport, the journey was not without incident but we all duly arrived safe and decided to have a meal at a nearby restaurant while we waited for the flight, once again I ordered a Pizza (do you see a pattern forming here) aha I thought remembering the first one I will order a small one this time I should manage that (wrong) it could have fed the whole table, and I failed miserably again.
Anyway we got to the airport without further incident, unloaded our gear, and bid farewell to Brett and thanked him for an excellent weeks flying and company, which was as always first class, then the dreaded check in, and remembering my little incident on the way out where the staff cast suspicious eyes on my carry on bag and asked me to put it in the gauge to see if it would fit, well John had got it in that time with a little persuasion (his foot) we had packed a coffee jar in the dammed thing which, firstly, caused it to jam and it took 3 of us to try and extricate the bloody thing, along with the helpful suggestion that we may take the gauge with us, and secondly, caused me to have a panic attack at the thought of arriving in Slovenia with only the clothes I was wearing (never a dull moment in my life) this time I managed to wing my way through check in by talking gibberish, the old standby always works.
The flight home was fairly uneventful, though we did encounter some turbulence over the alps which had caused the flight to be a little late taking off, we got through customs and here is where I  managed my biggest boob of the trip, not paying attention as usual I thought I heard John say that we would meet the other guys at the long stay car park (I?m really sorry guys I?m not the type to just walk off without saying goodbye and it really upset me) So here belatedly is my goodbye and apologies, and I want to thank you all for helping to make this holiday one I will always remember, thanks guys you are the best.

So all in all another first class paragliding holiday in Slovenia
We flew 5 days out of 7 on 4 different sites
And brett once again proved to be a first class Guide/host, thanks mate keep up the good work
And finally watch this space for our trip planned for next year, we plan to trailer/van our Motorbikes and Gliders to Slovenia for 2 weeks of biking and flying.

Take care; see you all on the hill real soon.
Humphrey.