Pilots of the Caribbean

By Lee Tryhorn  –  Posted January 30, 2015

O.K so we know winter has taken hold in the UK and some of you will be stuck in snow, but without wanting to rub it in we wanted to let you know that the 2015 season at Free Flight Academy has got off to a great start. We are currently just coming to the end of our second ‘Pilots of the Caribbean’ tour in the Dominican Republic and wanted to share some of our highlights.

With the temperature a steady 28 degrees at our first destination of Azua it was all shorts and T-Shirt flying, with some ground handling on the beach and a few nice lunches by the sea thrown in. As always, we had the whole ridge to ourselves, so what better way to dust off the cobwebs than to spend a pleasant few days soaring the beautiful coastline into the sunset.

sunset azua

Our next stop was Paraiso. This 2000ft mountain next to the sea has a lovely combination of dynamic soaring and thermalling. Landing is not usually the favourite part of the flight, but here, the end of a flight sees you glide out at 1500ft over the crystal blue sea, then you land on a sandy beach where the local kids are very keen to greet you and carry your glider…perfect! Our hotel was also right on the beach, so at the end of each flight we headed down to the sea in front of the hotel for a beer and swim in water as warm as a bath.

close up akis brian

In that first week the weather treated us kindly and we flew everyday enabling some of the group to clock up 8hrs. Fully warmed up and back in the zone we are now at our final destination, the most famous group of sites in the Dominican which starts with Jarabacoa.

The first half of this week saw us getting into thermalling, with Lee and Risto climbing up to base from where Risto made a 10K out and return, whilst Phil Maltby sneaked in a little 7K run up the ridge. At Casa Vito we had a day of two half’s, with Risto again climbing up to base in difficult light conditions and getting in a nice little 20K XC for his trouble. Whilst high pressure saw light winds and slow lift, Sian and Lora still soared the 2000ft take off and Sian got her first taste of thermalling on the front ridge.

Sadly however rain has currently stopped play for a few days. We’ve taken the opportunity to catch up on some theory, with Lee and Akis giving thermal lectures and some of the group have also refused to let a wet day spoil the fun by going white water rafting in the rapids of the Jarabacoa river. It’s been tough but we’ll finish today by chilling out by the pool and relaxing in the rocking chairs, in order to be fully rested for our final days flying tomorrow. It’s looking good for the house mountain, so everything with a charger is plugged in!

raft rapids 1