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Lex and his first 300+ Km FAI Triangle

August 4, 2017

The European summer has been packed with amazing flights and we have received stories from all over. The next story comes from the South Tyrol in Italy where Lex Robe follows his instinct and, against the odds, finds his way to his first 300+ km FAI triangle from the Grente in the beautiful Antholz Valley, Enjoy:

“On our way to the takeoff we were a bit unsure about the weather. Hardly anyone of my flying mates followed my public Facebook “Grente-invitation”, heavy rain from Emberger Alm until Italy and finally just us 6 Austrians and just 2 locals with a tandem believed in the day and climbed to the summit of Grente Alm above Anterselva. Although we started a little late we were rewarded with an already turned on airmass and especially with plenty of height alreday in the first thermal. So the initial risk of early takeoffs to bomb out was successfully defused and the way to the Großglockner (highest peak of Austria) was a no-brainer: High cloudbase and low winds allowed a safe extension of the first Turnpoint to the east.

After tagging it, battling 10-20km/h headwind along the 120km from Großglockner to the end of the Ridnaun valley was the name of the game. While all other pilots aborted their flights due to the westerly wind, we on our High-Performance Ozone wings were able to surfe the skies rather comfortably – and even in a very efficiant manner: These 120 headwind-km took me just over 3:35 h with an average speed of 31 km/h – also including the long soaring-period which was required to overcome the completely shaded and therefore thermically dead Ridnaun valley. As I was early enough I was completely motivated to find my way somehow through to Sölden, but the starting sleet shower destroyed that dream prematurely…

I had to glide all the way back to Rosskopf near Sterzing to find some heart- and hang-warming sun again. But flying was easy now as the Westerlies were now helping a lot and combined with the high cloudbase of 4000m fast progress towards the Dolomites was a nobrainer.
The south saw its typical strong development, but today the voice of overdevelopment was silenced: I was able to make cloudbase at 4400+m and simply glide with the North-Wersterly winds towards South. At trim speed to minimize my sink on my path into the blue. As it was still early for this high summer day, I dared to even glide to a monumentally huge Rockface I have not even known before: the Civetta. A vertical mountain shell that looked like a 1000m eroded coral. Just insane. And I was soaring it. Close by. What a moment!

I dared to fly even a little further south before I turned my head north again to the take-off, which was still 50km away. At 6:20p.m. sun was still high and burned onto the perfectly ligned West-faced Ridges ahead of me. So I always believed it could be possible to get back again, as the forecasts showed southerly winds in the lower regions. And that was definitely what I needed. Though I was never forced to survival mode, I was happy to find myself supported by the correctly forecasted winddirection. Conditions were still “on”and after a conservative entry at the Kreuzkofel mountain range, I knew I had it: a well-formed cloud with still a high base-level at almost 4000m was helping me to get the last climb I needed for the loooong and always so rewarding glide back to the LZ.
And just like the cherry on the cake, the Northerly wind in the height has completely vanished and the glide ratio made me even scream for joy. I made it, my first 300km-FAI triangle of my life! Another time proven: Never dismiss a good but complicated day too early, never!
When you look at the final glide picture you can see, I still was landing somewhat early for that day, the clouds were still working! At 8:20 p.m, I put my feet on the ground again, after ten and half hours of carving the South-Tyrolean Skies. With the Zeno I could average at 29,6km/h – great especially with the longest leg in headwind…

I’m still stoked. Thanks Ozone for creating such a pleasurable wing to fly!”

For Lex’s track, click here

Congrats from all the team at Ozone.