Midsummer flying at Leivonmäki



Everyone I'd heard had good to tell about his own visit to Leivonmäki (Skylark Hill), so I just had to try it. And I wasn't disappointed either - a couple of days really perfect flying weather and a couple more - well, as the saying goes nowadays - "challenging" flying. The site is in the middle of farming land reclaimed after peat-lifting: in other words, rather damp. Having flown (in the old days of the 1960s) at Weston On The Green and experienced there the effect of dampness and greenness on soaring flight, I have always been a bit sceptical about theories of the positive effects of wet peatland - or wet anyland - in this respect. But Leivonmäki has its own thermal sources, as I was to find out. 

Friday, 22nd June is celebrated as Midsummer Eve here in Finland, and the weather was perfect: cooler air in rising pressure after a depression, wonderful blue skies and cumulus clouds and - big deal for paragliding - a reasonably light wind. On my first flight at the site I was launched straight into a nice thermal, and enjoyed almost two hours in the air. Others flew good cross-countries. Having been "in the weather business" makes one picky and choosy, and I judged that this wasn't yet the day for my first XC. Ridiculous as it sounds, even (maybe especially) beginners have big dreams!
Over the next few days the weather played all sorts of tricks, but this was a good opportunity to get rid of some of the bugs in my launch technique, thanks to the eagle eye and helpfulness of Mika Pousi, experienced local instructor.
Too soon came my last day at Leivonmäki, but fortunately another short thermal flight over the field. The first video YouTube, here shows the climb, whilst the second YouTube, here shows the approach and landing.

Then goodbyes to the remaining bunch of pilots, some already old acquaintances, others (hallo there, Hanski!) pleasant new faces to me, many whose names I just don't remember. It was a memorable week, thanks to all the good organization and - most important - the easy-going spirit. Be seeing you!
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