Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Long flight at the coast

Today was one of those surprising days. Despite it being late November, with low temperatures and a grey sky., I decided to go paragliding at the coast. For once, the wind seemed to be right, both in direction and strength.
Going to Wijk aan Zee was not that easy, though. There was a problem with the tracks close to my station, so it ended up taking one hour longer than normal. When I arrived to the coast, I met three pilots that were packing up. Two had not done any flying, they found the wind too strong, while one had a tiny glider that he flew with.
The wind was rather strong, but not too strong I found. It’s tricky to launch here because you need to pull up your glider on the beach, then kite it backwards up onto the dunes until you get into the lift and can fly. And when the wind is strong, the wing is very lively. I’m not very good at this, but after a few tries, I was airborne. Wonderful!

Now, the full length of dunes were all mine – I was alone in the sky, save for some seagulls. I had this idea that I should try and fly all the way to Castricum or Egmond aan Zee. I have been told this summer that it is possible, but I never tried it myself. Today was the day for that. So I started to fly North. Everything worked fine and the few tricky parts, where the dune has collapsed or where the there is a small dune in front of the bigger one, they went fine. Unfortunately, a light rain came in from the sea further North, but it is not a big problem when soaring the very soft and smooth air from the sea.

I past the beach-cafés on the road to Castricum and then a huge mast on the beach. It was a jubilant feeling to reach Egmond aan Zee, after 13 kilometers of flying, it felt great!
Here, I turned around and flew back to Wijk aan Zee. Now, I was flying slightly into the wind, so the speed was much lower. But I did reach Wijk aan Zee and turned around again. Maybe I could fly all the way back to Egmond and take a bus there?
I tried, but it didn’t happen. Just south of the beach-cafés West of Castricum, I landed. I tried to take off again, but only managed a short flight. Now, my wing was wet and sandy, and so was I. I decided to call it a day. After all, I flew 33 kilometers in 1,5 hours ☺.

I packed up and walked to the cafés and started to hitchhike. And after only 10-15 minutes, I was picked up by a very friendly window-cleaner, who drove me all the way to Uitgeest. Here, I could catch a train home to Amsterdam.
Not a bad day, to be in late November.

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