Tag Archives: Pyrenees

Flight excursion to Montferrand’s phare aeronautique and the Pyrenees

Last Sunday, we took one of the aeroclub’s DR-400 airplanes to make another family flight excursion.

This time the purpose of the flight was twofold: (1) we wanted to spot a couple of phares aéronautiques, i.e., aeronautic lighthouses that were set up in 1920s to allow night flight navigation for l’Aéropostale courriers, close to Toulouse, and (2) we wanted to take benefit from a sunny day around Occitanie to make a tour around the snow-covered Pyrenees, something we already did about a year ago when we completed the route of the Cathar castles (see here a post about it).

See below the quick reference paper navigation log prepared for the flight.

Nav_log_new

A few months ago, a friend of Luca, Tijmen, tipped us on the existence of these aeronautic lighthouses. See in this website a map with the precise location all of them had, including those still standing.

Map_phares

We succesfully spotted the 2 phares closest to the East of Toulouse-Lasbordes aerodrome, located in Montferrand (just to the East of the wind turbines by the A61) and Bazièges (just to the North of the silos marking the waypoint SB). See a picture of the first one below (2 houses to the left of the wing blue tip).

Wind turbines

IMG_20170319_112316917

Once we had spotted the phare in Montferrand, we took to the South to start the climb to above 10,000 ft in order to fly over the Pyrenees.

Pyrenees_afar_1Pyrenees_afar_2

Approaching the Pyrenees, we flew over the old castle of Montsegur, which we had already seen before when we flew over the Cathar castles. See below a couple of pictures, in context and in detail.

Montesegur_1

Montesegur_2

Once up there, we just enjoyed some minutes of flying around, spotting skiing stations, seeing possible routes through the mountains towards Andorra and Spain, enjoying the breathtaking views, taking a few pictures…

Detail_navigation

Over_wing

Over_dashboard

Selfie

Finally, see below the navigation chart with the route followed marked on it and the navigation log as used. The total engine running time of the excursion: 1h28′.

Nav_chart

Navigation_log_used

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Cauterets (skiing)

Since the birth of Andrea, there are some activities which are more difficult to undertake and plan, skiing being one of them. The last time we went skiing was in 2013.

The girls went this weekend to The Netherlands, so I took the opportunity to go skiing with the staff council skiing club. All my colleagues in the end dropped, so I would be going alone (meaning no known people among the half-loaded bus that took us to the resort).

The destination: Cauterets “Cirque du Lys”. It is a medium small resort in the Western part of the French Pyrenees. It has about 36 kilometres spread over 20 runs: 4 green, 7 blue and red, and two black.

Cauterets plan (2014-2015).

Cauterets plan (2014-2015).

I first had to remember the basics, and re-teach myself a little bit skiing. I went all the way up of the Grand Barbat and descended by the different blues: Aconit, Gentiane, Cretes… I didn’t enjoy much this last one, being a narrow corridor from top to the bottom, however the views from it were stunning:

North East View.

North East view.

South view.

South view.

Skiing version of self.

Skiing version of self.

Once I got confident again with the skiing, I was curious on measuring the speed. For that purpose I had brought my Garmin watch. See below the track I recorded (starting from Cretes and diverting to Dryade) and the speed profile, and here the complete record.

Dryade

 

Speedprofile

 

As you can see I was not descending that fast (maximum speeds just over 37km/h), but I went improving times with each descent, so at one point I decided not to measure any more and avoid taking risks at less than a month away from our next marathon.

At the end of the day I tried out a couple of the red runs: Malh Blanc and Ancolie, and it went well. Sometimes the border between blue and red is not so clear. Nevertheless, I did not want to take any risks and preferred enjoying more fluent descents so I kept myself to the blues.

Looking forward to the next opportunity!

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