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Are you getting ripped off on your flying trip?

November 5, 2012

the short answer, you more than likely are..

time and time again i fall witness to groups heading out to exotic places to either learn how to fly, improve their flying skills or explore unknown places with an experienced pilot in the lead. about 60-70% of the time i talk to people about what had really been offered to them that made them want to book, more often than not when i hear the answer i find that what was offered and what was delivered were completely different.
during the last month in Bir i have seen several groups come and go through different guides/schools and what i have observed is.

1: book with a person that wants to be in the air as much as possible this will mean that you will be in the air when ever its possible. (if you book with someone that is only in it for the money then that’s all they are interested in. now don’t get me wrong everyone is in it for the money otherwise you would be getting help for free but the goal is to book with someone that wants to help you become better).

2: book with a person that has a know reputation you will normally get more out of the experience as they want to keep their good name. (when it comes to Bir there are several people that can show you the do’s and dont’s like Debu or Gurpreet these are world class pilots that know the area very well).

3: booking in a large group you may think that your saving money but your not going to get the hands on help that you have paid for. (prime example is an XC course that a Russian school is running, where they have one instructor at take off and another at landing, leaving the students to do their own thing in the air, nothing against Russians as there is another instructor that has a smaller group and flies with them all day every day).

4: anything involving XC training you want to have an absolute max of 3 people per instructor and even that is too much in my view. sometimes its better to pay extra and have the instructor all to yourself, which will give you the best value for your money. when flying in any sort of group you are either holding someone else up or having to wait for someone.

5: a fun and party orientated instructor is fine after you have finished your course, but if they are hung over every day or second day then your out of pocket as they are constantly roaming in search of an excuse not to have to go up the hill.

Don’t fall for a smoke and mirrors show.
during a trip if you have doubts as to the quality of the instruction that you are receiving, take a stand and either demand that something improves or demand your money back. you need to remember that even on a long trip you at the end of the day are the customer and adopt the old saying “the customer is always right”. if you feel that you have been charged for something that is not being delivered then demand it. talk to the instructor and say what you want to get out of the course. at the end of the day you are paying for a service so make sure you get what you pay for, unless there is bad weather there is no reason why you should not be flying and using every day to its full.

in my next post i will talk about what to expect when heading out to exotic places around the world, normally found in 3rd world countries from a safety point of view.

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lightening up for India October – November 2012

October 3, 2012

Our next adventure will be taking us to India, after spending a bit of time in Mumbai i am hoping that the time we spend in Delhi will be more pleasant.

We are heading over to Bir Billing for a bit of a holiday and to catch up with some friends that will be there through out October and November, Not forgetting to take advantage of the weather and go big in the big mountains both on the solos and tandems. Anyone that wants to tag along or go for some over night trips get in touch and we can organize something.

Solo Setup for anyone wanting to know what i am flying with when going to unknown places:
Harness:
Supair Delight, cutting weight down to a minimum using the Supair Connect

Rescue:
Apco Mayday Light

Backpack:
Supair Adventure 110L (much sturdier than the light weight packs on the market both for airport handling and back country snags on bushes and rocks etc. Big enough to fit all the bivy gear with ease.) down side its 2kgs rather than sub 1kgs.
if you know that you will be landing in nice places each time and you dont have to pack alot of things after the flight into the pack then you would probably be going for the lighter version. i prefer to have something that can easily fit everything and stand some punishment along the way.

Wing:
Triple Seven Rook (pl version), en version

Electronics:
flymaster live
compass beeper (backup vario)
Spot Tracker
mobile phone with good battery and a small solar charger (solar charger only if i intend to be away from base for more than 3-4days otherwise all electronics hold there charge long enough)
a good 2m Radio dual band is preferred but you dont want to skimp on something that you may rely on in a sticky situation.
Don’t forget to also have a relatively good compass, even with the advances in technology it still sometimes points you in the wrong direction.

also
A Basic First Aid Kit
head lamp
down sleeping bag with bivy bag . (you can always sleep in your wing but you know 🙂 im a sucker for comfort)

Heading out tandem,
Wing:
Axis Vega 3 (Vega Duo)

Harnesses:
Gin Safari Pilot Harness
Supair Altirando 2

Rescue:
Tranquilizer

all other equipment is same as for Solo.

safety note:
1: before going out alone see if there are any local pilots with knowledge of the area that can give you advice on what the do’s and dont’s of the area are, where you can fly safely don’t let pride become a safety issue for you. everyplace has one or two places that become dangerous in certain conditions ask so your at least ready for it when it happens, with a plan B ready to implement.

2: advise someone of your planned route before your flight also arrange a check in time to call by to say that your safe this can be with friends, local pilots or even your hotel manager. leave a copy of your travel details, passport copy, insurance, glider information especially the colours with your friends or the hotel.

3: see what frequency others  are flying on and either use that or keep note of it so if something goes wrong (rescue ride) you can inform them as your going down or at least try to.
4: if you do by chance need to relay information on the reserve ride down you have a limited amount of reliable radio time until terrain becomes an issue. so speak clearly, slowly and passing specific information. Name, glider, position from “X” takeoff including direction and km’s, specifics like gps position no one will remember. eg, reserve reserve reserve this is John Doe on a blue white gradient 50km’s west of Bir takeoff on the front ridge. wait a few seconds for a response from someone if nothing then say again.

5: when it comes to safety i cant stress enough that putting money ahead of your safety is the worst thing that you can do, so when it comes to your safety equipment please get things that you can rely on. at the end of the day, you get what you paid for, so how much is your life worth?

Thanks to our new Partners in crime helping us to lead a normal life 😉
Triple Seven Polska

Travelling to Nepal

July 19, 2012

Im sure that this has all been covered in other posts but seeing that there is some more interest from people searching for information about Nepal, here goes.

When to come,
for relatively reliable conditions the season starts September and runs all the way through March.

What you need when arriving at Kathmandu:
Pilots will need around 10 passport photos all up, for Visas, sim cards and all the flying permits. these you can even get at the arrivals hall.

Apon arrival in Kathmandu you will need to fill out two visa forms, make sure you have both before heading for the visa que. (one is A4 size and the other is half this size)
For visas up to 3 months you will need basically a dollar per day (3 month visa is 100usd). They only accept main stream foreign currency at the visa payment desk so have Dollars or Euro.

easiest way to calculate money here is 1eur is about 100npr, fluctuates anywhere between 90 and 113.

Money needed in KTM
Taxi to Thamel (main tourist spot), approx 500 npr
Hotel, they range from 800 to 16000 per night. we normally stay at Hotel Kathmandu Terrace which you can find on booking.com, as its 800 for a room and is located in the heart of Thamel. also they can organize your travelling needs.

KTM-PKR
now you have a couple of options for getting to PKR from KTM, all depends on your budget, time and what experience you want to get out of your trip.

cheapest tourist buses run at 400npr per person, leaving every morning at 7am. these take around 6-7hrs to cover the 220km journey including 2 food and toilet stops of about 20mins. a great place to meet people and share stories while seeing some of the terrain in this part of the world.

private car or taxi, you can get some pretty luxurious cars for this part of the world, these can leave when ever you like, can stop along the way on your request. they make the trip between 4-5hrs depending on the season and traffic.

remember there are chances of very long delays if there is a mudslide, accident, breakdown on the route as its pretty much the only road.

then you can fly, takes 20 mins and costs between 50-100usd once again depending on time of year. Flying to PKR make sure to sit on the right side of the plane so you get to see the Annapurna from above.

once in PKR
it will take you a couple of hours to sort out all the permits you will need to fly here.
First you will need to visit CAAN located at the airport (if your flying in take the time to go to the office there before going into town), without the flight permission slip you get from them you cant get your NAA (office located above Annapurna paragliding in town) members card which you need in order to fly in PKR and finally head on over to get your free APPI card from Blue sky paragliding.
from memory all this will cost you approx, 100-120usd.
without these you will not be allowed to fly from Sarangkot

once you have all these you can head on up and go flying.

Local Expenses:
hotels, guest houses and cottages. prices range from 300-15000npr with plenty of cheap/clean accommodation in areas where most of the local pilots stay.
food, depending on what and where your eating daily you can be spending upwards from 300npr
transport to takeoff, 700npr for a taxi or if there is room in one of the tandem jeeps you’ll pay 200npr 

please remember once at takeoff as per the site rules Tandems have priority for takeoff.
as of last season thermalling in the house thermal is right hand turn to try and cut down on the amount of close calls.

Beginner Pilots not taking part in training or SIV organized by one of the local outfits are not permitted to use Sarangkot as a takeoff, they are to use Toripani or Mandra Dungha located further along the main ridge line or Dicky Dandha located about 6kms to the north of Sarangkot.

other places to fly while in Nepal are Sirkot and Bandhipur.

If anyone will be interested we will be running guided tours this year so check out our previous post Here

see you all during the up coming PKR season.

Nepal & India Guiding 2012-2013

July 14, 2012

This year we are offering fully Guided tours for pilots wanting to improve their Cross Country potential using some of the most iconic sites in the world.

Places we will Visit,
November through March we will be operating in
Nepal;
Ø Pokhara,
Ø Sirkot,
Ø Bandipur.

India, October and then April
Ø Bir Billing

We will also be catering for Non Pilots that have a strong sense of adventure also pilots that would like one on one instruction using one of our high performance Axis Venus 3 tandems.

Learn how to plan those long out and return, fai triangle flights.
Covered will be:
Ø weather forecasting,
Ø optimal route planning,
Ø routing options,
Ø thermal prediction,
Ø decision making,
Ø flying comp tasks

What’s needed,
Ø National Pilots licence and IPPI card
Ø Certified Glider, Harness, Reserve Parachute.
Ø 70cm or 2m radio
Ø GPS
Ø Travelling Insurance
Ø Emailed Flight log record (used to match pilots into different level groups)
Ø Mobile phone

Recommended equipment
Ø Spot Tracker
Ø First Aid Kit
Ø Thermal Blanket

Limited numbers are available as we like to keep the groups to an absolute max of 3 students per instructor for both safety and quality of experience reasons.

for prices and exact dates (guiding dates are flexible as we don’t charge for non flyable days) please message us.

A Brotherly Visit

June 10, 2012

Spending nearly 2 weeks surrounded by bad weather in Europe i decided that it wasn’t worth waiting there any longer than absolutely necessary i only managed 3 flyable days where one of them was dodgy to say the least.

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Not having seen my Big Brother since he was finishing his CP earlier this year i decided to stop over for a couple of day and say hi to him and finally meet his girlfriend 🙂

sitting at Vienna Airport looking for a flight im glad to see that some countries are wifi friendly and offer their travellers free wifi, as without this i would have had to pay about 250eur more for the ticket, Thanks for the help Bro.

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Not sleeping for around 24hrs before the flight i was really looking forward to getting on there and crashing trying to catch up on some lost Z’s as all my devices were out of juice. As i boarded and sat down in my seat i noticed that Emirates was going to become a favorite airline for me.

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with everything hooked up to charge i ate my meal and drifted away to lala land for almost the entire flight to Dubai, waking shortly before our pre arrival drinks were being offered and preparing for the approach over the lights of Dubai.

A holiday from a holiday

June 1, 2012

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When you get to call this sort of stuff your ‘work’ its hard to justify that you are going on a holiday. After a while you do start to lose the plot and you do find the need to get away form it all for a bit. Personally i had been in Nepal just over 8 months when my visa was running out and i had to choose either, get a working visa or use the ticket that i already had to go back to Europe for a week or two. so after weighing up all the costs it looked like i was going to be heading to Europe for my little ‘holidays’.

The trip there was long, Kate adn I left PKR on Thursday to make sure that we don’t get stuck here during a Bandh with no way of getting transport to Kathmandu before our flight. This meant that we would have 2 full days in KTM before our flight out to Delhi. i never really like to be in KTM, for some reason it makes me feel like I’m back in Mumbai with its over population, dust, noise and the congested streets. The one thing that it has got going for it is that the smells of Mumbai are missing.
We managed to find a couple of nice places where you can chill out with wifi access good food and some of the freshest drinks around.
For great morning fresh roasted coffee in the morning you hit up Himalayan Java

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The next place you should visit is OR2K for their Fresh mint drink and great food all with a great atmosphere in the heart of Thamel.

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Both places have pretty good speed networks for those of you that want to kill some time or get in touch with friends and loved ones. even during power cut they have 24hr back up power, yes even the capital gets hit with power cuts when there isn’t enough energy to satisfy the needs of India. Yep i know i wrote India, no spelling mistake as the majority of Nepali power is sold to India putting it own residence in the dark. So use your luxury items wisely as once your out of power you will need to wait for the switch to get flicked again before you can charge. You get used to having everything plugged in ready and waiting for even an hour of power to come and boost that laptops charge.

Our flight to Delhi was finally up and we got on board for the quick jump across for our nice half day layover at the airport, by half day i mean almost 14 hours.
I’m getting used to having really bad connecting flight to and from places so for me i find it pretty relaxing to watch as all the “jet setters” hurry around the terminals.

I was the first to leave Delhi in the early am, with Kate leaving for Moscow about an hour and a half later. The flight went smooth and quickly as i fell asleep with my headphones on as soon as i finished eating breakfast. A 6hr layover in Brussels went quickly before heading to Warsaw. As soon as i arrived i got to the train station and headed south. By the time i had arrived in Katowice the final train across the boarder to the Czech Republic had left and i was forced to spend the night.

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got to ride in the original 😉

The next morning i left to make the first train at 7am to Brno in the hope of picking up the new tandem as it was meant to be ready 2 days before my arrival in the EU, unfortunately it wasn’t and I headed to find a hotel in the area to figure out a plan B. While sitting in a cafe in the evening i noticed some photos from Rolf a guy that i had met in Nepal, apparently he was now at the British Open in Meduno Italy.
Well i have a week to burn i may as well go see some friends, arriving at the LZ in Meduno i found several other fellow Tandem Personalities there competing.

i spent 2 days as a wind dummy not to feel guilty about the free ride up and try to take some photos of the Gaggle, once the organizer called the comp on the final day due to the weather Rolf and i scrambled to find a ride with someone to another location where the weather just might be a little better. We managed to find on to a place just south of Salzburg, from which we decided to head for Zell Am See.

Let the Adventure continue 😉

Dismissing an Advance Lightness Myth

March 26, 2012

One thing that I kept hearing from people before and even after I bought the lightness, was that because your reserve was connected to the karabiners once you deployed you would be falling in a more horizontal position similar to that of normal flight position.

I decided to let others know that as soon as the reserve opened I was in a feet vertically down position ready to absorb the impact that was coming. For those that have the Lightness it was the same position you hang in if you don’t get into the harness at takeoff, the only difference was that my feet were still in the pod.

luckily for me I don’t mind having a larger reserve, I’m on a Dudek Globe 120. so as soon as it was inflated I had a nice slow ride down to the soft bushes below.

if anyone is interested in a good reserve that opens quickly, is very stable in descent and can handle the rough stuff visit here.

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