Hundreds of flying sites
Each region broken down into accessible chunks
Advice on where to fly
Advice on how to fly each site
Beautifully laid out and illustrated
Fantastic value - over 300 pages
The Alps is a superb destination for hang glider and paraglider pilots. It offers great conditions above high mountains and the most amazing scenery to explore. It is the mecca of free-flying.
This guidebook by Olivier Guenay details the best flying sites in Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland and France, carefully selected for their unique advantages. With many large-format photos, detailed maps and almost 300 pages of information, this is the key to unlock the secrets of the whole Alps region.
Complete coverage of 110 sites, including over 500 alternatives
The most current information based on exhaustive research
Illustrated maps showing the relevant free-flying details
Official launch and landing areas, with GPS coordinates
Expert guidance on flying, XC routes, cautions and tips
Accommodation, directions, contact details and useful info
Alternative sporting and cultural activities in every area
Large format photos on art paper; beautifully bound in hardcover
An Alpine classic is available in English for the first time. Review by Ed Ewing
Is this the book you've been looking for all your free-flying life? In a word, yes. Best Flying Sites of the Alps does what it says on the cover by selecting 110 main sites, plus 500 alternatives and presenting them in a clear, professional, uncluttered way. Hallelujah!
It is written by German paraglider pilot Oliver Guenay and published by Greg Hamerton. But it is not a new project. Oliver, a pilot since the early days, first published a guide to the Alps in German in 1992. Three more editions have followed over the years. This 2011 version is the first English version. Greg Hamerton is a South African pilot and writer who runs a small publishing house. The marriage was made and the result is this.
First the design: The book looks great. It's hardback, 300 pages, stitched together (no nasty glue-binding to collapse leaving a sheaf of loose pages), well printed with good colours and beautiful photographs. Many of the photographers will be familiar names to XCmag readers: Martin Scheel, Olivier Laugero, Andy Busslinger plus more than a dozen others.
The layout is simplicity itself. The first two pages display a map of the Alps with 110 dots on it. The sites are presented by country, and there is a good spread. There are 22 sites listed in France for example, although we know there are hundreds these are the main ones: Chamonix, Annecy, Laragne, St Andre etc.
Each site has at least two pages dedicated to it. All the basics are there: launch, landing, dangers, XC potential, getting there, getting to launch, flying schools, weather, tourism info. Alternative sites are also listed, with websites and phone numbers. Importantly, each site has its own map, too. These show wind directions for takeoffs, landings and important places like camping sites and supermarkets.
What's the info like? It's all good. A general overview is followed with more detailed information. Looking at the sites I know gave me confidence and I nodded along to descriptions and recommendations.
Some of the language is a bit floral: 'A flying holiday of freedom, sensory stimulation and indulgence' is a bit much. But that doesn't put you off - otherwise it is laid out properly and readable.
One complaint that will chime with some, ahem, older, XCmag readers is that of words on top of photos or coloured backgrounds. In some places this makes it difficult to read. However, 90% of it is black on white, although for sure you'll need your reading glasses.
One other observation is it is fat and heavy. It's not like a Lonely Planet guidebook, it's more like a coffee table book or a full-colour textbook. The idea I suppose is you have this collector's edition for your bookshelf, or the car, and you download the digital version to your smartphone, which you take with you.
The digital edition is a pdf or a dedicated ePub for your phone and costs �14.95. The publisher asks that those who buy the pdf do not share it: "it is not protected and is a standard pdf" which displays admiral faith in the 'honesty box' system. An iPad/digital version might have been better for the publisher's coffers.
But these are niggles. If you are like me you will want the proper book for your shelf. It is a genuine must-have for anyone flying the Alps.
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