Sunday, November 22, 2015

Flying the Pyrénées from LNFQ

This year again, we did go for 2 weeks joint family & gliding summer holyday close to an airfield. Not in this alps this time, but closer to our home, in the Pyrénées.

The choice : LFNQ - Mont Louis la Quillanne, a quite specific airfield. It is located on east side of Pyrénées very close to spanish border in Catalunya (20km from La Cerdanya), on top of "col de la Quillanne" pass.

One clear interest relates for the nice environement for family activities. There are numerous things to do, like hiking, going to local Zoo, visiting castles (this is a border area...) or bathing in thermal springs. And for sure, an airfield is always a nice place to run and play, providing some ground rules are set !

Another good point : accomodation sits directly on the airfield ! Take off & landing can be spotted from the house...

LFNQ is sitting as high as 1700m (~FL056 QNH) (!), but with a 1100m confortable grass strip.  QFU is either downhill & tailwind for moderate to medium breaze, either uphill when north wing is installed (with some local rotor & dowdraft).
Luckily towing A/C is a typical Morane 894 Rallye with a 235hp engine, that is big engine allows to have a good safety margin when taking off, even with two seaters.

On the other hand, landing is always uphill, with the altitude effect & tailwind more than 140kph ground speed in flare is common ! Still with a quite soft 1100m grass strip, there is quite some room for breaking...

Sending a text before landing is possible to get welcoming crew ! ;-)

In term of flying,I got a "tour" of the neighborhood with Jean louis, a local instructor & X-country pilot. Then I could discover local specificities.
Here are the direct surrounding of the airfield : from right to left,  Mont louis & the airfield over the "col de la quillanne" pass, Matemale lake, Super Bolquere & Font Romeu ski resorts.

I could fly over some place we have visited with the family, like Llivia & (a little area of spanish territory inside fFrance), with its former castle on top of the hill.

Also Dorres outdoor  thermal springs (just on the wing tip).


Bouillouses lake &  Carlit landscape

Mediterranean see is not so far away, and sometime you can see Perpignan. Puigmal montaign is a natural border for humid air coming from the coast, with often clouds over several heights.

My main goal from a X-country flying perspective was to get accustomed to east-Pyrénées area. After some team flying with local pilots, I had learnt enough to understand the big facts & tips to cross Andorra.

We also worked along higher summit along french border - seeing some place I used to come for skiing.

A new area to learn, a new range of summit name to memorize... And sometimes, local name does not fit with wht is written on maps ! This kind of workload means not so many photos, sadly...

Having learnt new areass, I came to the point to make the link with the parts I know when flying from Jaca, on the west part of Pyrénées. Once Aneto was reached, I could almost have flown with the eyes closed... Still flying from the east changes the perspective, and I tried some new ridges & peaks, going further north into Luchon area.

At the end of the stay, weather was so good that I could use all this new knowledge and fly quite far west, as far as Jaca surroundings. Longer flight was crossing more or less 2/3 of the chain with ceiling around 4000m, 230km away from LFNQ - I wish I hadn't forgotten my oxygen at home...

Well, quite a nice holyday period, many thanks to LFNQ people for their welcome !

More information on LFNQ on the website :