ULM, Ambert aerodrome

ULM: "It looks like a moped in the sky".

This week, I finish my ULM adventures atAmbert airfield with Jean-Michel Serre.

“Have you ever flown? Well, that’s nothing to do with it. It’s with these kind words that I meet Jean-Michel Serre, French champion in single-seater hang gliders. Departing from theAmbert aerodrome, it’s with him that I’m going to take off for half an hour. Until now, I’ve never done any flying, but I’ve always dreamed of it…

A flight at an altitude of 1,900 meters. The 30-minute flight is a good compromise for discovering many points of view.

Finally, I feel a little less like a bird when Jean-Michel explains the potential dangers. After listing the safety precautions, the pilot shows me how to get into a microlight. It’s a motorized machine with a propeller and a canopy, but it still allows you to fly with complete peace of mind. In the final analysis, it’s nothing like hang-gliding or paragliding.

ULM, Ambert aerodrome

I put on my helmet, which allows us to communicate during the flight.

It looks like a moped in the sky,” says Jean-Michel, “but the engine makes a lot more noise.

Indeed, he wasn’t wrong. Once set up, the pilot takes advantage of the runway to make the final checks. And off we go for take-off! Pants pockets must be empty to avoid projectiles in the propeller

After a few meters, the glider tenses backwards and gradually pulls away from the ground. My heart beats faster and faster, and I clutch my hands to Jean-Michel’s shoulders. The sensation is terrifying, as it’s totally unnatural to be up in the sky. It’s a good adrenaline rush, but it doesn’t stop my head from spinning in all directions.

Canoeing, Limagne Evasion
ULM, Ambert aerodrome

The view is breathtaking. Everything seems so small, so much so that I mistake cows for sheep. Of course, I giggle when Jean-Michel corrects me.

As we pass the town of Ambert, we reach the Volpie rock and start to get higher and higher. This is where it gets really interesting. While it’s 42 degrees on the ground, the cold wind refreshes my legs and we gain more and more altitude, until we reach 1,900 meters. And then, of course, you say to yourself: “Ah yes, it’s true!

After passing Ambert and arriving above the Volpie rock, the microlight reaches 1,900 metres.

It’s true that it’s not nothing, but it’s better not to think about the height at the time. The turbulence sometimes shakes you up, but in the end it’s not as violent as I’d imagined. Afterwards, passing over Mont Chouvé and Croix du Fossat, I discovered every corner of the Puy-de-Dôme.

At the end of the flight, Jean-Michel cuts the engine. At that precise moment, you forget all about the machine; the only audible noise is that of the wind. Flying conditions are dictated by the weather, and you need to be a real expert to know how to fly properly. Unfortunately, the time has come for us to land. A word of advice: don’t forget to chew during the landing, and your ears will thank you.


 Lucile Brière for La Gazette de Thiers et d'Ambert.

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