August 18, 2014

Back in Plazac, back in the air

I enjoyed my trip back to England to see my family, my first in two years actually, but it’s always nice to get back home again, isn’t it. I’d had a flight planned from before I left so I’d been getting quite impatient in the meantime to get airborne again. Here’s a pic showing my intended route in green and the track I actually flew today in red.

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I planned to fly west from Galinat to Cendrieux, which is just a dot on the map really, and then onwards to the large village, or small town even, of Vergt. I then planned to head south to my next waypoint St Marcel where I would turn slightly left for Moliéres and then turn left again to head up to St Cyprien and back to Galinat. The whole flight was planned to take just over an hour.

I took off at 03.12 pm, later than I would have liked as I’d originally planned to make it a morning flight. Wim has always advised flying in the early morning or early evening and never was this more appropriate than today. The high was only about 23 degrees Celsius and most of the broken cloud that we had today had cleared by the time I took off, so I expected conditions to be fairly smooth. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I experienced turbulence almost immediately after taking off and during the flight, this became quite severe as I’ll mention later.

My left turn out of Galinat took me over La Roque St Christophe and I took the following shot as I flew over it.

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This is a remarkable place as it’s what might be referred to as a ‘troglodyte village’ in the rock face cut by the Vézère river in prehistoric times. It consists of caves and walk-ways created and inhabited by prehistoric man although at the height I was flying, not much detail of these can be seen. It’s well worth a visit if anyone’s in the area and although this area is full of such places, not all of them have been restored in the way that La Roque St Christophe has and some even, which might be major attractions elsewhere, are just closed off to prevent vandals entering them and causing damage.

Cendrieux came up as planned but as I couldn’t see any feature there worth photographing, I didn’t bother. So the next waypoint was Vergt. I was flying at around 1500 ft and as I approached it, the turbulence wasn’t too bad. Although it was a bit bumpy, I managed to shoot the following series of pics.

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But as I began to make my left turn to head south, the turbulence began to increase quite substantially. There was no obvious reason for this but a few moments after I’d completed the turn, it became very severe. By then, I’d descended to about 1200 ft so I thought it wise to begin a climb to see if I could get out of it. That did indeed do the trick, but not until I’d climbed to 2000 ft where there were still quite a few severe bumps, but nothing like as bad as at the lower altitude. For some reason I also kept experiencing quite violent lifting of my right wing necessitating some very rapid control responses in order to maintain any semblance of level flight.

On my way south to Moliéres, I spotted a very pretty little village which I’ve since found out from Google Earth was Pressignac. Here’s a pic I shot of it, unfortunately while I was still at 2000 ft.

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My next waypoint was Moliéres, which turned out to be a hamlet on the top of a small hill and I took the next shot as I turned left to head for St Cyprien.

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As I headed towards St Cyprien, I spotted another interesting village that I would have passed directly over, so I eased slightly south of it and took the following shot as I passed by.

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Once again, I had to consult Google Earth to identify it, and it turned out to be the village of Cadouin. It is noted for its spectacular medieval abbey, which is clearly visible in the above shot (the large walled structure). My last waypoint was St Cyprien, which I’ve flown by and taken a picture of previously, but from a different direction, so today I took another, below.

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Although Galinat should have been only another 11 minutes or so further on, whenever I approach the airfield from the south-west, I always have difficulty spotting it. And today was no different. My solution is always to head for Thonac and then turn onto a heading of 151 degrees, which is a straight-in approach for Galinat. Sure enough, the trick worked again today and I was soon set up for a landing. But not without a few bumps yet again, which made things tricky enough to call for quite a high level of concentration.

The flight lasted for 1 hour 10 minutes and was, I think, the most turbulent that I’ve experienced since being here. There’s an old saying that ‘it’s better to be on the ground wishing you were flying than to be flying wishing you were on the ground’. It wasn’t quite that bad today, but the bumps and turbulence did rather take the edge of what should have been a really enjoyable flight. But any flight that you land and walk away from is a good one, they say, so I guess today’s was one that just has to be put down to experience 😉