The Army Paragliding Association has had an active year with Pilots flying in competitions all over the world sponsored by Team Army grants.
11 Members of the UKAF team, including 6 Army Pilots participated in a Cross Country training camp near Bogota in Columbia. It was this training that led to the WO1 Geordie Petts and Cpl Richard Parton being selected for the UKAF team that would compete at The Ozone Chabre event later on in the year. Flights over 50K were achieved daily, with the magic 100k nearly being managed by WO1 Petts.
14 members of the Army Team took part in a training camp in the South Coast Spanish resort or Almunecar, which enabled flying in the Sierra Nevada mountain range as well as coastal flying at La Herradura. The training camp was designed to bring on the lower airtime pilots in conditions not found in the UK at the time of year. All achieved nearly 20hours flying time which allowed for some to progress with their flying qualifications.
UK – Wales
The main Inter Services Championships takes place in Wales every year. Around 50 Pilots from all 3 services, including 4 from the Corps took part in some excellent flying tasks around the Welsh mountains. In a competition environment waypoints are loaded into a Pilots GPS, with the Pilot having to get to within 400m of the point. His flight track is downloaded upon completion and scored for time if the whole route was completed or on distance if the Pilot landed before the goal field.
FRANCE – Laragne
A team of 4 Inter Service Pilots took part in The Ozone Chabre, a competition that takes place in the Laragne region of France (approx 90 mins north of Marseille). Cpl Richard Parton and WO1 Geordie Petts represented the Army at this prestigious event. Flying was conducted in the mix with top international pilots and the UKAF Team winning the Team event. Flying in this region is not for the feint hearted with thermal updrafts in the region of 6-7m per second, and cloud base of nearly 10,000 feet. Tasks were set at around 60-80Km and achieved by most Pilots.
6 Army Pilots participated in the UKAF exped to fly in the Indian Himalayas. The exped was for experienced Pilots only as altitudes above 4000m were achieved on a daily basis. Landing options were few and far between and involved some advance decent techniques. Flying with local Himalyan Griffon Vultures is an experience never to be forgotten. The birds are excellent thermal markers, and flying in close proximity to them comes with its own dangers.
All the above was sponsored using Team Army grant money.
Maj Andy Rudd RE, RSMS 2IC