"Free flying in the Mont-Blanc region" brochure is now available in pdf format.
Fly free, Fly together
Fly free is to fly whilst respecting the environment, to respect the airspace and any restrictions, to respect others. Fly free is to fly in the understanding that our presence is accepted and welcomed because we can demonstrate our ability to assume our responsabilities. Fly free is to have the extraordinary ability to decorate the countryside for both our own pleasure and that of those who watch to us.
The weather forecasting centre of the Haute Savoie is situated in Chamonix. The forecasts are generally accurate and should be used to complete your analysis of the actual weather.
Météo France : Tél. 08 92 68 02 74
Remote FFVL weather station (Grands Montets 3.300 m) : 143.987,5 MHz
Broadcasts every 20 mins - can become unreliable in snow/freezing conditions. Direction, actual windspeed, ave wind speed lasr 20 mins, temperature (in French).
All the remote FFVL weather stations are available :
www.balisemeteo.com or 00.33(0)22.214.171.124.80
♦ Particularities of the Mont-Blanc region
The Mont-Blanc region is comprised of glacial valleys enclosed and bordered by high summits ensuing a localised and complicated aerology. Thermal contrasts can be very great giving potential for widespread lift, sometimes very powerful and therefore very turbulent. It's paradise for cross country flights!
Thermal breezes ("Breeze" : a wind other than the dominant "weather wind") can, in the afternoons, strengthen to up to 30 kph but are usually in the region of 20-25 kph. The valley wind can rise up to 2.500 m ASL (above sea level), sometimes 3.000 m ASL. Generally speaking, it is better not to fly whenever the weather wind forecast for 2.000 m is in excess of 20 kph. At this windspeed or above, flying becomes very demanding and it is best to seek the lower, sheltered sites such as Plaine joux. Only very experienced pilots should consider flying in conditions which are inevitably very turbulent.
♦ The foehn
Generally speaking, the Foehn occurs with a Southerly trend in altitude (South through to East - North/East) with high pressures on the Italian side of the range and low pressure on the French side. Looking at the sky is the only way of analysing the presence of Foehn.
Analysing for Foehn conditions.
Presence of Southerly sector winds at altitude on the summits of the Mont-Blanc range.
Presence of lenticular clouds above the summits in the valleys.
Observation of undulating wave clouds, wall of "foehn" cloud, or other types of cloud spilling over the italian side or Switzerland.
Presence of wind in the lower altitudes, may be very strong and gusty (somewhat warm and dry) or just a gentle down valley wind.
During foehn conditions the foehn is not always present at the valley floor. In the Chamonix valley for examPle it may be in a layer between 1.400 m - 1.800 m ASL.
Foehn conditions may exist even when there is little wind present at altitude (eg : 20 kph at 4.000 m ASL) and without any clouds to advertise its presence.
The pilots in the Chamonix valley and plaine Joux are particularly keen and it is rare that they are not flying if conditions are flyable. If you don't see anybody flying it is usually for a good reason!
Advice of the mountain rescue
♦ Your obligations
• Be covered by a third party air sports insurance.
Fly within VFR (Visual Flight Rules)conditions : cloud and night flying is forbidden.
• The injuries to paraglider pilots are vastly reduced by the following elements : back protector, good high boots, flight approved full face helmet and a reserve parachute.
• Rescue operations are assisted greatly by GPS coordinates, having a harness equipped with maillons rapides (screw gate/rapid action carabineers), the carrying of 25 m of string on a bobbin (so as to be able to pull up a rope whilst in a tree) and having a means of securing yourself in a tree. Removing any gliders from a helicopter landing area is important.