Ibituruna Tour in Governador Valadares: Part 2

10AM start.

Greet the lads outside the pousada and shove the glider bag into the back of the truck.

Steve mentions a rather curious find by one of his clients that got sucked into a backyard party after a long XC the year previous. A rather phallic looking bottle opener that the hosts of the party sent him home with and has since been upgraded to the ‘Dick of the Day’ Award. Basically the ‘award’ is given by the current holder to a pilot who thought some course of action was a good idea at the time but ended up with a less than optimal outcome. Pretty good way to keep the lads in line in the air, if you ask me -> hazing and peer pressure can work wonders. Simon turns out to be the lucky recipient this morning because we have to start with someone.

Pile into the truck and off to the main LZ to meet up with one of the locals.

Bus to launch.
Speaking of buses: Brazilians do nothing half way, including party buses.

The drive up is uneventful and we arrive to again find the peak wrapped in cloud.

A quick briefing by Dean sets the goal for a short out and return based on the winds. Slowly get ready Dean advises, we will need to wait for base to lift a bit before launching.

Simon and Dean doing a brake line swap on Simon’s Sigma 9.

Base rises ever so slowly…

Phil in contemplation of the day ahead.
The tourists are not sure who is crazier
– the ones chucking themselves off the hill, or the ones chucking themselves down it?

Dean gives a call of hurry up and get ready – gather he sees something he likes (or something coming he doesn’t).


First launch of the day.
Brazilian for wind dummy (aka wind tech): boi de piranha
 -> the weak cow sacrificed to the piranha.

Phil is first off and shortly after he launches someone starts keying their PTT on our channel (wind noise and a vario are all we hear). We suspect it to be Phil, but are not sure. Calls to get the senders attention go unheard (or unheeded) so we jump to the retrieve channel and hope Dean can launch quickly, catch up to Phil, and let him know to switch over.

In the meantime, Simon and I try setting up – working around a pair of Germans who are typically German in that they have laid out their kit to take up the main part of launch and are currently walking around enjoying the sights. There are pages of discussion on this very phenomena on PGForum – one is lead to wonder if it is a key part of the German flying identity.

We manage to make do and Simon is away first. My first launch is an abort, but the second is good. Everything thus far has been forwards – the winds still haven’t gotten to the strength I like for a reverse.

An Ozone Delta 2 that seems to be following me everywhere today.
I see you up there, climbin’ on up, climbin’ on up.
Theres about a dozen of us in the air and it is a big site – so one would expect things not to get too close. But the climbs are weak and short lived, so everyone is milking wherever they can find and pimping off of one another as much as possible. The 1110m cloud base doesn’t exactly help (when the norm is 1500 to 2000m).
Getting cozy.

My headset is on the fritz and I can barely make out what Dean is saying. It sounds like Dean has gotten a hold of Phil and they are heading off on the original flight plan southwards. I figure I am high enough to slip past the Cauldron, hook around the west side of the mountain, catch the southern ridge line and climb up before chasing after them.


Skirting the Cauldron. The climbs in GV are butter smooth except for here.
I’ve had a pair of 30% asymmetric collapses while in GV – both from this thing.
Almost there.
…and clear.
The southern ridge. No sign of Dean or Phil.

I arrive at the ridge with height to spare and begin hunting along it for lift. On the radio, I find out Dean and Phil went east along the ridge rather than over the back and south.

Hunting along the ridge. Not much here lift wise.

Diving in close, I try working every bubble I can find – hoping to climb out (or at least stay up).


Backtrack a bit, get in closer.
 Appears I arrived too early. Slowly sliding off the hill, I start looking for landing options. Power lines (bad), roads (good), livestock (maybe bad) are the key factors in my hunt. All of the surrounding road accessible fields are too far off without a climb but there are sections of the hillside that could work. The launch access road is within reach (and makes for an easy retrieve back to the top of the mountain for a second go – either via Steve or a passing tourist). I radio out my location (the GliderHUD s/w tracks the point of launch and shows bearing and distance to it) and intention to set down along the road to launch. Steve and Dean both reply with confirmation.
My LZ.
Easy retrieve.
Enter a captionNot the prettiest of landings, but down and safe.

On the ground, I ascend to the plateau and begin packing. People pass by asking if I need a lift, but Steve is already on his way. A gent pulls up and starts chatting me up about him having gotten his citizenship in the US via military service and about his return to Brazil. Everyone here loves to talk – especially with the foreigners. Even if neither of you speak the same language.

Shortly there after Steve arrives and tag teams into the conversation (freeing me up to finish packing).

“I assume you want a second go?”


Back at launch for Round 2.

The wind is coming up both sides – Steve recommends trying the south launch as it seems to be better.

I ask about being able to make it back around front.

Don’t worry, the reply. From this height you can make it all the way to the main LZ in town. In anycase, the house thermal is to your left (east), give it a look, if it doesn’t work – make your way west.

This is why one hires a guide – they know what can and can’t be done with the site and the nuances to get the best out of it.

Sky clearing, tourists are out.
I’m sure to make a few Facebook photos/videos today.

Meanwhile one of the local tandem instructors comes over and pulls Steve aside for a quiet discussion.

I yell out, “Wasn’t me!”… just in case.

I find out afterwards that there have been a few GoPros that have gone missing from pilots gear recently and it appears they now have a very good idea who it is. Steve points the gent out to me. A reminder that despite 99% of the pilot community being honest, we will see bad apples pop up like any other part of society. Keep your electronics close kids – if it is not in your possession, it soon will be in someone else’s.

Laid out for yet another forward but this time on the southern launch. I feel the wind at my back but Steve (facing me) feels it on his. Not uncommon at this time of day as thermals climb both sides of the mountain. Normally one would be on the watch for dust devils – but with the high cloud and large amount of moisture still on/in the ground, it is unlikely we will see any.

I wait and watch the northern launch windsock – looking to see the signs that the southern wind flow is pushing far enough up launch. Two minutes pass and Steve chimes, “Feels good.”

Not quite yet. Another half minute and there – no wind on the back of the neck.

Southern launch is a committed one – it is relatively flat and ends in a sudden drop off.


…and running…
… and no more ground.

To the house thermal we go.

Get in close, head for the house.
See if I can find any ‘crawlers’ along the way – thermals that like to stick the hillside until they hit a trigger point at the top.
A few bubbles. Try a bit further out.
Pushing out further, not much here today.

Not much here, back to the cliff to where I know it was working when I launched.

Heading back, going to need some lift to be sure I can make it around the west side.

Yep still working.

‘Bring it around, bring it around, bring it around’ as Kelly would say.
Bank it up.

Wheh! Sigh of relief.

Above launch. Looks I won’t need to go westward and can instead slip over the top and back. Hear word on the radio everyone is going to meet at the Main LZ then head out for food.


Should be able to make a go for it at this height.
Crossing on over to the north.
White t-shirt + jeans + camera. Would love to see the photo they took.


On the north side.

-2.0 m/s of sink all the way out.

Time to skedaddle.

LZ options -> ‘Jurassic Park’ or the Main LZ across the river.

Just as I approach the river, Dean is on the radio asking if I am going for the Main LZ.

I reply with a ‘thinking about it’

‘Good’, the response.

Visiting pilots tend to get intimidated by landing in town – likely due to the absence of any form of bailout. Once you cross the river, there is no going back -> you have the river, buildings, and the height restriction to contend with. Even with a huge LZ, it tends to make newer pilots apprehensive.

A semi-rite of passage for GV, I guess. I recall Chris White once commenting that if we do not continually push the boundaries of our comfort zone flying wise – we will end with a tolerance so narrow, we will stop flying altogether. Deans singular response leads me to believe he feels the same.

Decision time: ‘Jurassic Park’ below or main LZ to left?

Main LZ it is.


Burn altitude over island until ~1000 feet AGL.
Downwind leg, base leg along bridge.
On base.
On final.

Bright idea. Swoop the packing area.


I can do this.
I can still do this.


Ooo.. this gonna be a hot landing..
Slide and pop it up onto feet before the path.

Lets just say the approach was a little hot and there was some baseball-esque sliding involved before popping it up back onto my feet. I suspect I might be a candidate for the ‘Dick of the Day’ award after that.

But for now, onto the local Sunday night pilots hangout – where the beer is cheap and the service questionable. But the beer is cheap.


An impromptu bar in the middle of the street.

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