David Dagault – Record Flight with the BBHPP
It was truly an amazing week of weather in the Alps, with stellar cloudbases and relatively light wind. On August 20th, Ozone’s Chief Test Pilot and Designer, David Dagault, flew from Col de Bleyne near his home in France and landed 9:40hrs later in Sion, Switzerland, after 333km of flight. Fortunately, Dav packed his passport when he prepared his equipment in the morning 😉
Dav’s flight is a new French record, and possibly the longest flight ever completed in any mountain range anywhere. Dav’s entire flight, from beginning to end, was through alpine terrain, flying through peaks of up to 4000m.
Dav was flying the Baby HPP, and averaged 35km/h for the flight. His max altitude was 4190m, and he was in lift of up to 9.6m/s (1,889fpm).
In Dav’s words: “The flight could be described in several parts: First, it was a struggle in very stable air and some technical route finding from Bleyne to Estrop.
Then, conditions became easier along the Dormillouse and crossing the lake of Serre Poncon… and then conditions improved even more as I flew to the NW. The climax of the flight was dream conditions with a top altitude of 4190m in a 9.6m/s thermal above Coiro (near La Mure). I then stayed between 3500 and 4200m all the way along the Belledone massif. I was so high and gliding so well that the Belledone looked like a hill beneath me! It is very unusual to pass through this area so easily.
After that, it was back to ‘reality’ and I had a really hard battle with stable air in the low layer. I had to change my plans completely. I decided to only follow the highest peaks I could find, in order to hopefully get the few thermals that would be able to push through the lower stable layer of bad air.
So I went further East, and crossed the Maurienne valley to the Lauziere, and then crossed the Tarentaise to jump into the beautiful green Beaufort valley. I was then in survival mode, jumping from one summit to the next, with only a few hundred meters of gain each time. That was hard, and I felt that the end of the flight would be compromised.
But. then, I saw beautiful clouds forming on the west face of Mt Blanc! I knew that if I could get high enough in that area I’d be back into the ‘magic air’ a little higher. While I was soaring above Lake Roseland I managed to push further north and jump into the Contamine valley.
And with that, it was a dream come true. The big west faces were there for me, and I managed to catch a thermal that gained strength as I gained altitude. I was back to 3500m by 7pm and the sun was low in the clouds, glowing a beautiful orange light. The cliffs, the glaciers, everything was like a dream: I was surrounded by the most beautiful things that I love in flying. I was then able to push further north, with a detour above Brevent then back into the Chamonix valley, gliding as far as I could and happy to be able to land so far away.
But I had the Baby HPP, and although I didn’t realize it, my flight wasn’t yet over 😉
It was 7:30pm and I was 200m over the ground above the Col des Montets (border France/Switzerland) when I got a fantastic surprise. It was just a little something, which I decided to turn in… then took me up to 2500m! That climb would never have been possible were it not for the fantastic sink rate of the bbHPP, and then it was: ‘Martigny, here I come!’
From there it was basically a straight line, being pushed by the South wind and the valley wind of the powerful Rhone valley. I glided for what felt like forever until I touched down just past Sion at 8:10pm. I was happy, tired, and with an indescribable image in my head of this flight.
And then, who would believe that I would be back home by 9:30 in the mornng the day after?! Thanks to the great train system in Switzerland, I was in Geneva airport by midnight and I then took the first plane back to Nice in the morning.”
Here is a link to Dav’s flight on the French distance Cup: http://parapente.ffvl.fr/cfd/liste/2008/vol/3968
Congratulations Dav, on a truly amazing and incredible flight!