Gliding to Meran

A week ago I made one of my most impressive cross country flights ever. Not with a paraglider, not as a pilot. Instead, I spent six enjoyable, relaxing hours in the passenger seat of a power glider, the Pipistrel Taurus HB-5511. The flight showed me a complete new aspect of the beauty of thermic flying.


The adventure began on the airfield Speck close to Fehraltorf. The flight was a present from the Segelfluggruppe Winterthur for a talk I’d given earlier this year. Not only is a flying experience a perfect gift to me, but fate also provided one of Switzerland’s finest and most experienced glider pilots, Max Hofer, as my companion for the day.


The day started slowly, we took off around noon. To the right: Fehraltorf.


Above the Bachtel, we observed paragliders at Scheidegg near Wald.


The air was still dead, no serious lift at the Churfirsten either. Crossing the Rhine Valley, we used the engine.


The Sassauna provided us with the first sufficient lift of the day. The Prättigau worked reliably as usual: another thermal at the Kreuz, and we gained enough altitude to cross Madrisa into the strong thermal above the Älpeltispitz at Klosters.


A few more kilometeres, until we reached the end of the Prättigau valley. The high passes ahead of us into the Engadin, I hadn’t crossed with an aircraft before.


The Pass dal Fuarn.


Merano. The valley leading towards Bolzano.


This gorgeous view of the Dolomites marked our turnpoint.


On the way back we passed my favourite lake on the route, the „Langsee“, for the second time (2377 m, Spronser Seenplatte). Look at the fine turquoise band that surrounds it! – Mountain in front: Cima Rosa.


Here’s where I discovered taking pictures from the outside. Less reflections, true colours and an icy hand.



We needed to find a last thermal. Clouds above us looked worn out, but there had to be a lift left somewhere around here. Max found the updraft, of course, and once more we climbed to cloud base.


We crossed into the Engiadina Bassa valley. Below us: Scuol.


Same time, same place, view direction Zernez.


Piz Buin and the Silvretta plateau ahead of us.


More of the same.


Above Amden, near the end of the Walensee, a lovely mystic view into the Glarner mountains.


The south banks of the Lake Zurich.


Apart from the breathtaking views, here is what I enjoyed most: It’s still warm at cloud base. Eating during the flight is an option. The glide angel is convincing, and so is the range. Turbulences are less rough than on a paraglider. No need to recover the wing afterwards. It’s comparably quiet. Discussions about the flight tactics with Max. Connecting several known areas in one flight. Orientation in the larger scale made me look stupid 🙂


Who says you need to die to experience a little bit of heaven.