Previously published in Cross Country Magazine # 85 Feb/Mar 2003.
As time goes by, some internet adresses and phone numbers may become incorrect.
=NIMBUS=


Norway offers breathtaking nature, uncrowded launch sites and, in mid-summer, never-ending days. Almost all parts of Norway are flyable, offering you anything from spectacular flights over the fjords to hard core XC-flying to gentle coastal soaring - sometimes 24 hours a day, under the midnight sun. Cross Country newshound Frode Halse leads the way.

 

 SOUTH

Close to “The North Sea Oil Capital”, Stavanger, you can fly from Øksnanuten in Gjesdal, frequently used because it is flyable in all wind directions, offering reliable evening soaring.

I
n the Setesdal valley, the best sites are at Aaraksbø, Hovden, Eiken and Valle.

Information: Olav L. Olsen +47 90 91 47 74.

 

 WEST

In Bergen, the launch at Unneland (Arna) is a short drive away from the city.

Further inland Voss is an excellent choice. This area offers several launches, most popular being Hanguren. A gondola takes you up from the heart of the city. The landing is on the shore of Lake Vangsvatnet. From here, it is possible to fly XCs of up to 60-70 Kms.

Information: Endre Tesdal +47 90 68 62 19

The popular ”Ekstrem Sport Veko” (Extreme Sport Week) is a yearly event taking place at Voss the last week of June. This year (2002) top pilots Robby Whitall, Alan Zoller, Alex Louw and Rob Cruitkshank held the paragliding acrobatic & safety-courses and seminars. Other activities included base-jumping, skydiving, rafting, kayaking, skating, big-jump, climbing and mountain biking. Be there next time!

Center of  Voss by the Vangsvatn Lake. Photo: Geir Dyvik.

Center of  Voss by
Lake Vangsvatn. The clearing on the Hanguren Mountain is the main launch, easily accessible by gondola. Landing is on the grassy part of the shore, hanggliders prefer the sandy part. 
(Photo: Geir Dyvik)

Information: http://www.ekstremsportveko.com      
http://home.world-online.no/haaralsk/Voss/Vossatermikk.htm      

Driving N from Voss for an hour, you come to the fjord-community of Aurland. This town is situated on the shore of the famous Aurlandsfjorden, a branch of Sognefjorden. The close relation to the fjord and the 900 meters height difference makes this a superb venue for SIV courses. Flying from here can be recommended as being the ultimate scenic flying experience.

Information: http://www.aurland.com/

After another 30 Kms, with a short ferry ride, S of Voss is Nosi, at Lofthus, another fabulous launch site. This also being ideal for out-and-return tasks, along the mountain range parallel to Sørfjorden.

Going further SW to Rosendal, thermalling up from the Kvitegga take-off will give you a magnificent view over the Sunnmoere Alps between Rosendal and the gigantic Folgefonni glacier. In these surroundings, the local paraglider pilots regularly fly FAI-triangles, clocking in numerous kilometres, thus giving their competitors in the national XC-league a headache.

Information: Ivar Sandstaa +47 92 29 93 15
 

 SOUTH EAST

In the Oslo area, most of the launch sites are TMA restricted by the nearby airports. Still, if you are in Oslo and the itch to fly is killing you (not literally), driving 30 minutes along the E-16 to the take-off at Sundvollen gets you airborne. In summer, this is not recommended for hang- and rusty paraglider pilots due to a minute landing zone. In winter however, this is a great site and landing is on a frozen lake.

Information: http://www.rhlsk.net/

Hemsedal is 3,5 hrs drive from Oslo and is the home and bastion of the famous “Oslo Paraglider Klubb”, Norway’s largest club. “OPK” have a clubhouse at Tuv. In summer, flying is mainly done from the two Grøndalen valley sites.

Information: OPK:
http://www.opk.no/

Øystein Walle +47 91 53 91 56 and Stein Egil Mangseth +47 90 96 58 95    

The National Hanggliding Centre in “Vågå” (4,5 hrs drive from Oslo) is famous for hosting the successful European Hanggliding Championships in 1992 and the not so successful European Paragliding Championships in 1996. Rising costs and recurring floods (twice in the last six years) causing increased insurance premiums threaten the centre’s future. Especially PG pilots focus on its strong-wind reputation, this as the centre is situated in the higher mountains. They would prefer the centre to be moved to a more hospitable place. The average number of flyable days in this area may not be outstanding, but most of the longest XCs and almost all the national free distance records have been flown from this area.

This luxurious centre is usually open from the end of May to mid August. Supplying updated weather and launch site information for the region. The centre is well equipped with a kiosk, living rooms, showers, saunas and a B&B service. This is the perfect place to mingle with other Hang- and Paraglider- pilots and meet fellow XC-fanatics. It is very family friendly if the family has come along for the holiday with plenty of alternative accommodations near the centre, in form of comfortable chalets, camping sites and hotels. If the weather is not flyable then the area offers activities such as climbing, canyoning, hiking, mountain biking, fishing, summer skiing, white-water kayaking, boarding and rafting.

11:00 p.m. , soaring on the northern face of Blåhø. Photo Frode Halse

11:00 p.m. : soaring on the northern face of Blåhø (1617 m.a.s.) in Vågå.

The main launch site is Vole (W-SE) with a height difference of 700 meters, and the well-mowed field outside the centre is large enough to land even a Jumbo jet! This site is well suited for all categories of pilots, but during peak thermal activity between 11:00 to 16:00 hours novices are advised to take the usual precautions.

Within 30 to 60 minute driving distance from the centre, there are several other sites offering other wind directions.

When visiting Vågå and you are unlucky with the weather, Geiranger is only 1,5 hrs drive away, with its famous view from Dalsnibba. Although not for the fainthearted, it’s possible to take-off with the fjord a breathtaking 1 476 meters below.

The main difference from flying in the Alps and Vågå is that most of the region has large plateaus, making valley crossings fairly safe. Finding sound landings is also usually not a problem.

Flying towards NE or SW from Vole, the neighbouring Gudbrandsdalen valley serves as a “highway”. On S winds, taking-off from a launch site further S in the valley might be recommended as good tactics to stretch a XC. 

Gudbrandsdalen valley. Photo: Frode Halse

XC down Gudbrandsdalen Valley.

  On the 9th May 2002, Exxstacy pilot Werner Johannessen followed this recipe by launching at Øyer (90 km SE of Vågå), and landing half way through the Romsdalen valley. This epic 181,6 km flight earned him a new national record for Class 2 hanggliders. Werner also has the Class 1 record of 189 km.

Romsdalen valley is the Northernmost extension of the Gudbrandsdalen valley. It is famous for the Trollveggen rock-face which attracts hundreds of tourists, climbers and base jumpers. Pilots are dreaming of flying past this monument of frightening descent. However, being faced with the valleys narrowness and obvious lack of safe landings, many a good pilot has turned tail or landed at its entrance.

June 2002 the author ended a 103 km flight from “Vaagaa” by flying down the Romsdalen valley as the first ever with a paraglider, a mindboggling experience! Thermalling nerve-wrecking close to vertical rock walls the odd combination of claustrophobia and fear of height threatened to force him down.
To make things even worse the seabreeze pumping up the valley rotored around the valley`s corners, violently testing the Advance Omega 5.

In retrospect he would not have missed it for the world. Taking on the challenge and mastering it, what a feeling! 

( Article about this event in norwegian. However, pointing at the photoes will supply you with english text: Endelig Romsdalen! )

Information: The National Hanggliding Centre at +47 61 23 21 00. 
 

 MIDDLE

The Hovden launch at Oppdal is on top of a ski slope. A gondola will take you to this site.
At Meråker the take-off is in a ski resort as well, but the lift is not running during summer.

Information: Tibor Stern +47 92 21 50 34

 

 NORTH

Close to Bodø is Keiservarden, a costal soaring site that in hanggliding infancy, along with a Hawaiian flying site, was rated amongst the best sites in the world.  Flying here is astounding, you can enjoy a unique panorama view of the costal line and on a good day, you can see over to the Lofoten Islands.

Soaring at Keiservarden. Photo: Ola Sakshaug 

Coastal soaring at Keiservarden. (Photo: Ola Sakshaug)


The annual Midnight Sun Cup takes place at Keiservarden the first weekend of July. At this event, you get a certificate if you fly in midnight sun. After the cup, a flying safari is arranged to the Lofoten where, on a good day, you can soar all the 24 hours of the day. This is a unique flying experience.

Information:
www.bhpgk.no
   
The Bodø site is well within the TMA the airport, so make sure to contact the local club representative before flying: Ola Sakshaug at +47 90 19 26 36

Clubhouse of “Bodoe Hang-& Paraglider-Klubb” at the “Loep” landing by the sea: +47 75 51 03 50

     

Both in Narvik ("Øvre fjellheis"-lift) and Tromsø (“Fjellheisen”-lift) you will find launches at the public lookout points making them easily accessible from the gondolas. Height variance is 1 000 respectively 410 meters. Both areas also have inland sites.

Information: Narvik area, Kjell Christian Krane +47 90 64 66 62. Report to the airport before you fly at +47 76 94 38 77

Information: Tromsø area,Vegar G Gabrielsen +47 91 66 35 51 

Tromsø Paraglider Klubb: http://www.geocities.com/Pipeline/Valley/8908/

Report to the airport before you fly at  +47 77 68 44 25     
 

 MEMBERSHIP STATUS
 
When paragliding was introduced to Norway 1987, the number of hangglider pilots plummeted (again not literally). Now both these aviation activities are experiencing competition from a great variety of other action sports. Para- and hanggliders members are today 1 026 and 306, paraglider members are still slowly increasing but the hangglider members have had a standstill over the last years. Hanggliding is now gaining more interest, the biggest problem being not having enough instructors to serve the students.

 

 OTHER USEFUL HINTS:

The Norwegian developed International Logbook at http://www.kkpg.no/fl  is an invaluable tool for assessing information about launches and establishing where the action is! It contains detailed and comprehensive information about 1000 norwegian flying sites.

NAK, Norwegian Aero Klubb
provides information at: http://www.nak.no/ , and can be reached at nak@nak.no or telephone +47 23 01 04 50


Related article: XC The Norwegian Way
 

 

(Revised 2005-02-17)

 

 

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