Vive la Fayence - A New Dimension of Gliding
A total of 35,536 km in 41 flights with approx. 318 flight hours. On average, 867 km were flown at 117.8 km/h. Actually, 23 times over 1000 km and three times more than 1100 km were achieved. All of this in just seven days!
This is the result of the Youngster Camp 2022. Manfred Dick and Wilfried Grosskinsky invited to experience southern France together at the beginning of August. The safety concept and the overall program was a complete success. In addition to flying, the social part should not be neglected. The exchange of knowledge, joint activities and nice conversations should characterize the reunion of everyone.
The French Alps. An ideal place for gliding. Reliable and exciting weather conditions, breathtaking views and flying until sunset characterize this area. Accordingly, there are many starting places in southern France. Everyone has different preferences: some like the full thrill of gliding during their vacation, others prefer the calmer airfields, or even the opportunity to spend their vacation in other ways besides gliding.
Definitely a difficult choice. But where can you classify our location particularly? Fayence, a small community with almost 6000 inhabitants, around 50 km from Nice and nestles harmoniously in the hilly landscape of the Provence-Alpez-Cotes d'Azur. The airfield is located at the foot of Fayence and offers an excellent view of the city and countryside. As soon as you arrive, you can already guess that there is a decent alternative program for a "classic holiday" in addition to flying.
Some would now claim that Fayence has seen its best days from a glider pilot's perspective. Formerly, in the 1950s, the birthplace of wave flying and the hotspot for high altitude diamonds for European aviators. Over the years, more and more airfields sprouted up and Fayence was somewhat lost sight of by many cross-country enthusiasts.
But ever since the spectacular flight of local matador Baptiste Innocent last year, as he created an FAI triangle with turning points on the island of Corsica and Italy, everyone is talking about Fayence again.
As if Baptiste's achievements weren't reason enough to let the Youngtser camp take place in Fayence, Manfred and Wilfried even managed to win him over as a coach. The youngsters were over the moon!
"Second week of August ist the perfect period for a gliding camp as the weather is often hot and dry, which is the best combination in the Alps. But few days before, we were a little worried about the weather. As early August has been amazing, with great flights and especially one in Massif Central, the forecast was more humid and stormy for the whole week. But as often in summer, this forecast was a little too pessimistic and we could fly every single day. If thunderstorms were indeed developing, they didn't bother the flights too much." -Baptiste Innocent-
It is clear that the probability of good weather conditions at this time of year is high. But the conditions in the planned period were the icing on the cake of what was already an extraordinary top-class event.
Looking at the map, one might think it is a careful selection of exciting flights from an entire season. But far from it, it is the indescribable result of our flight week, which took place from August 5th to 13th, 2022.
The focus was clearly on reconciling safety with long distance flights. New routes were discovered, and well-known areas deepened, with a permanent focus on safe flying in the alpine region. Actually, not only the youngsters should have fun this week, but more on that later. The fact is: on seven days in a row several teams were able to fly distances of more than 1000 km!
Now there is the question of how it was possible to get the maximum experience for everyone, including a steep learning curve. Both, the material and the coaches, could hardly be of a higher quality. A training camp of superlatives! Fortunately, everyone was there for each other and all guides, especially Baptiste, were happy to share their knowledge and gave valuable tips. This cannot be taken for granted and all participants were incredibly grateful for it, merci Baptiste! Basically, three Arcus M (RL, AA, 6) and one Ventus 3M (4i) were available. In addition, Klaus Reinhold and Guy Bechthold could not miss the training camp. The two traveled spontaneously from Fuentemilanos with an EB 28 (3i) and one Arcus M (X).
After arrival, each participant has started with a flight instructor in order to take a close look at the local situation at the airfield, including the local mountains. In addition, there was a detailed opening briefing at the beginning. All relevant things about flying were dealt with in Fayence. Safety is a top priority here, and that's important. A special thanks go to Bernd Haupert, Arny Weber and Hans Ulrich Meuters, all of whom have been flight instructors in Fayence for many years and have excellent local knowledge.
Now things got rolling. There were enough seats and the trainees rotated daily to fly with one of the coaches such as Baptiste Innocent, Simon Schröder, Tobias Welsch or Max Schäfer. Everyone had the opportunity to learn from the best of the best and got to know gliding in a new dimension.
Every morning, there was a detailed briefing from Baptiste, in which the flights from the previous day, the weather and flight tactics for the upcoming flight were discussed. Afterwards, the gliders had been prepared and taken to the runway. The start time was mostly scheduled around 10:15 local time, which is relatively early for southern France. The aim was to fly off together and to be on course in an info-team during the day.
That was the daily routine of the Youngster Camp. As already mentioned, the quality of flights during the week was incredibly high, and everyone landed with a big smile on their faces every evening.
Nevertheless, a couple of days were outstanding: On the second one, the weather conditions were good enough to undertake extensive flights to the north-east. But in the briefing, hardly anyone dared to say that it would almost reach to Samedan in eastern Switzerland.
Bapitste Innocent/Jules Mathay (RL) - green, Tobias Welsch/Joshua Rieger (6) - blue, Max Schäfer/Max Maslak (X) - purple
At the turnpoint, a view into the valley of Samedan was successful the conditions were definitely over there, the weather room was fully utilized. In the evening, the classical convergence formed west of Puimoisson, which invited to stretch our flights. The 16-year-old Jules Mathay from Luxembourg got his flight off a lifetime. Together with grand master Baptiste he managed his biggest flight so far with more than 1000 km! The first four-digit flights from the camp have fallen, and many more should follow.
On the following day, the 1000 km were on the counter too. Although the flights were not quite as far, some teams have reached the Wallis. But on the fourth day conditions were similar to day two and Samedan as turning point was tackled again. Samedan, a dream of many pilots who fly in southern France and only a few pilots circumnavigated the turnpoint successfully. In reality, however, the weather was weaker than we had hoped. But two gliders jumped over the last pass to turn around. The schedule for the turn was set at 3:30 p.m. Unfortunately, the 3i felt this late turn first hand when the jump back failed and had to fly back to Samedan again to make the height for the pass. It was already a struggle there. But all teams, including the 3i, made it back home and the learning factor was enormous. Another 1000 day!
Day five was also a big one. The youngsters were pleased that Manfred Dick, Klaus Reinhold and Guy Bechthold also had the pleasure of flying far north on this day!
The following day, there were flights for eternity again. Baptiste had already announced the night before that it would be possible to jump into the Massive Centrale, west of the French Alps. In the morning, the tactics for the jump and all relevant airspaces were briefed. Ultimately, three gliders took the plunge and were rewarded with conditions suspicious of Namibia. With the thunderstorms in the French Alps constantly in sight, the journey home was started early, and the group landed with 1000 km already at 7 p.m. in Fayence, what an experience!
"If I had to pick up a special day, I would say Wednesday. I had seen the forecast enabling a great flight towards Massif Central few days before. And this forecast was still in force until that day. So I told the whole team about this possibility. They all agreed. So we prepared that flight, and the conditions we encountered were even better. I'd say Namibia-like weather. The way back to Fayence was not easy as big thunderstorms had covered the Eastern part of the Alps, but we did it. And I definitely confirmed that that was the best day of the week seeing all happy faces upon landing." -Baptiste Innocent-
Simon Schröder/Guy Bechthold (X) - green, Max Schäfer/Clemens Pape (3i) - blue, Baptiste Innocent/ Max Maslak (RL) - purple, Tobias Welsch/Florian Heilmann (6) - yellow
Day seven and the magic number was cracked again. This time by the coaches Simon Schröder and Tobias Welsch, who flow together in an Arcus M. On the last flight day, numerous 1000 km were flown again. The highlight definitely was Baptiste's flight, who flew together with Wilfried. Wilfried, known for his countless 1000 km flights from Germany and Namibia, hasn't flown in the Alps for quite a time. Rightly, he has a lot of respect of flying in relief, but still supported the project with enthusiasm, thanks Wilfried! Everyone was happy with him about this flight.
"The flight on the last day with Baptiste in the EB was my flight number 282 over 1,000 km and one of my most eventful ones! From enthusiasm to horror, everything was there." -Wilfried Grosskinsky-
To the delight of all, Manfred did an amazing flight together with Simon Schröder as well.
"Personally, the last day was my best flying experience so far. Simon Schröder in the RL, together with Klaus Reinhold and Max Schäfer with me in the AA. We flew over 10 hours in a close team flight and the two gliders were never separated by more than 500 m. An unbelievable discipline and performance from Simon and Max. In the end it was about 1,020 km each. Many thanks to Max and Simon for this unique experience." -Manfred Dick-
What a week! After a short time, the daily routine was established: Briefing at 8:30 a.m., afterwards getting the glider ready, 10:15 a.m. ready for take-off, flying until sunset, dinner and summing up the day.
When you look at the statistics, you can already guess that the schedule was tight. But in addition to flying, the focus was also on the social side. At the end of the day everyone was there: welding the squad together, processing the experiences and making plans for the future.
Actually, every evening was a highlight, for example the barbecue happening, organized especially for us by the tow pilots from Fayence! A nice gesture that made many new friends. Like Uli Schwenk, who didn't miss the opportunity to visit the event spontaneously over the weekend!
As already mentioned, Fayence offers excellent opportunities for alternative programs. When some of the pilots had days off, trips to nearby lakes and gorges or trips to the city of Cannes or Nice were undertaken. In fact, there was a real holiday feeling alongside flying.
The flights and pictures speak for themselves. A training camp of a lifetime! Everyone will look back on this week with a smile. From Mont Blanc, over the Aletsch Glacier, to the Matterhorn, everything was flown. An experience with unbelievable impressions, perfectly suited to convey the enthusiasm for this kind of flying to the outside world!
And that's exactly what it's all about. To push gliding forward and create a base for the future! A huge thank you to Manfred and Wilfried for organizing/providing the material and furthermore to all the coaches and to the AAPCA Fayence for the great hospitality. The infrastructure of the club is perfect for a gliding vacation. The club offers nice infrastructure with beautiful accommodation, daily towing operations with powerful towing machines and a briefing room with professional, daily briefings. All of this was made available to us by the club. An incredible thanks to Vero, Francois, Helen, Jean, Melodie, Francois, Bernhard, Arny and Ulle who all helped out and to everyone who worked in the background.
All happy faces of the Youngster Camp 2022. From left to right: Maximilian Schäfer, Simon Schröder, Manfred Dick (background), Uli Schwenk, Hans Ulrich Meuters (flight instructor AAPCA), Bernd Haupert (flight instructor AAPCA), Vero (orga AAPCA), Arny Weber (flight instructor AAPCA), Jules Mathay, Markus Uhlig, Joshua Rieger, Kilian Bichele, Max Maslak, Florian Heilmann, Tobias Welsch, Klaus Reinhold, Wilfried Grosskinsky (background), Guy Bechtold, Clemens Pape, Baptiste Innocent (missing).
"The week was fantastic. When Manfred and Wilfried told me about that project, I was totally into it. What can I say about Fayence ? It's where everything started for me. I'm afraid I won't be that objective. But the place is perfect for early starts and late arrivals. And when the day happens to be bad, there are so many things to do around. I've flown from many places in Southern Alps, but I always rank Fayence as number one." -Baptiste Innocent-