Winter flying in the Alps

Launching from Mauterndorf

 

Once you have learnt to ride a bike it’s easy. But when you have been off one for a while you might start out with an unintended wobble. The same is true for any hand/sight/balance activity including ballooning.

 As a result the Civil Aviation Authority

climbing to height

(CAA) introduced some thing called “currency” for all pilots. The regulations for Commercial Balloon Pilots say that you must have flown a minimum of three flights in the last ninety days. 

Now in England with our cold, windy and wet winters it can be a challenge to stay current. Plus if you do fly the field that you

View from 10,000 feet

land in is going to be wet and the chances of your retrieve vehicle getting through the muddy tracks are slim. It’s not that we are wimps. Our envelopes will grow mildew within two days if we don’t get them dry. 

In the Alps the ground is frozen solid and covered in snow. So commercial pilots are

View after two hours in the air

forced to travel to France, Austria, Switzerland or Italy to stay current. It’s a hard job but someone has to do it.

 Off course there are some lumpy bits of granite to deal with. And given the height of those mountains we might have to climb to 12,000 feet where it’s cold and difficult to breath. But with the proliferation of extreme excursions like climbing Everest

After three hours open fields

it’s easy to hire oxygen. Boat Chandlers can provide the emergency flares. Army surplus provides the emergency rations and now you’re all setup to be an Alpine pilot.

Actually your not. Understanding what the weather reports mean in real life and especially how the various layers of winds will affect a balloon is better left to

Descending into the valley

someone with more experience than a Brit. The solution is to attend one or more of the many balloon festivals that are run in the Alp’s during the first part of each year.

The temptation to use too many superlatives to describe the resultant flights is difficult to resist. As pictures paint a thousand words I suggest you look at the attached photographs instead.

On the landing run. Note retrieve at edge of field

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