So it happened. I  got a chance to go to Armenia for a couple of weeks , where Toha was beckoning me nearly a year. Reporting…

Let’s try to imagine the ideal country for paragliding. It should not be too far from Russia and not too expensive to get and stay there. Of course, there must be mountains, not too big and not too small – well, let’s say, from 2000 to 4000 above sea level. Reliefs should be varied, but not too terrible to fly not to make the flight too simple, but at the same time to be interesting. Of course, these mountains should be covered by an extensive network of roads and generally civilized as possible – so that even in the case of landing in the mountains to have people near the landing area. Cloud base? Well, 5000 I think, is enough) Thermals should be strong, but soft and the weather should last … well, from March to December it’s good. The people of our hypothetical Parastan must, of course, speak in Russian, to be friendly and welcoming. And finally, the country should be very nice to have breathtaking flights and to have something to do in a few non-flying days.

Congratulations! You have just read the description of Armenia. That’s how it is. The specifics, of course, have the place to be, but overall in my rankings of flight seats Armenia claims to be the number one. Honestly, heartily. So, in order …

Transport. Flight from Moscow takes about 3 hours, tickets cost around 15 TR, if you do not attend to hunt for mega-discount airlines and super-shares. Zvartnots Airport is about an hour away from Yerevan, taxi to the city costs something around $ 10, but it is better to negotiate with the main local paragliding expert Armen – he is always ready to organize pick ups. Alternatives – car or bus through Georgia. Like inexpensive, but long enough (at least 2 days, if by car).

Geography. Armenia – a real mountainous country. Mountains in height from about 1500 to 4000 cover a good half of the territory of Armenia. Yerevan, the capital, is already located at altitudes from 900 to 1300 meters above sea level, and the average height of the surrounding area is even more. Reliefs are very diverse – there are free-standing above the plain top with a drop of more than 1000 m (eg, Atis, 30 km from Yerevan.), There are mountain ranges with wide valleys (Aparan region and others.), There are difficult arranged mountain systems. The typical height of the mountains -. Something around 2500-3000 m, while the lower part of the terrain rarely fall below 1000. The highest point of Armenia – Aragats – has a height in the area of ​​4100 m Large (more than 5000) and low (3800). Ararat is the symbol of Armenia and mascots, and visible from almost anywhere in the country, alas, does not belong to Armenia – it is close to the Armenian-Turkish border, but in the territory of modern Turkey. From Largest mountains may be mentioned more Azhdahak Volcano (3600) – the highest point of the ridge Geghama. And, of course,  have to mention the pearl of Armenia – Lake Sevan which is a huge mountainous lake with a length – about 80 km, and the height above sea level – about 2000.

Climate. Very peculiar – and unexpectedly severe! – A combination of the hot southern sun and high altitude above sea level. In September, the weather is sunny, the temperature in the plains south of Yerevan reached 27, with a couple of kilometers above the icy wind blowing. In general, the climate is very dry, rain a little, and all the moisture quickly evaporates. Summer is long, hot and rigid enough for the weather – warm and lack of snow continued until the January. In winter, flying, in principle, is possible – but not very interesting, prevent low inversion and possibly high winds. Spring begins in March, weather routing, but humid, with frequent rain. Good weather routing with the high base set in June and lasts until mid-late September. In October, below the base, more rain and wind.

Specificity of the flight. Remembering known flight places I can compare Armenia mainly with Kuray and Bira. With Kuray Armenia unites unexpectedly with tough climate and very high base, with Bira – the possibility to make a very long and distant closed routes. Raging warming and high altitude reliefs guarantee excellent thermals and very high base, which even in the conditional flyable weather usually does not fall below 3000. A good flying weather in Armenia – is the base for 5000, and an abundance of wide thermals in the area 5. The very kind of weather, however, did not find – below the base in the fall (we had up to 3800), thermals weaker (3.5 to 10 seconds). In the summer, as they say, the strong winds are rare, and the wind often changes direction, allowing you to fly on different days with different starts. The autumn weather did not seem particularly hard in terms of termals (although a steady stream of more than three at the end of September – that’s impressive), strong winds can become the main problem, according to local custom in Armenia. At the same time rely on the speaker is not particularly necessary – all the flights were only thermal, almost without a “hover” at the start, with a fairly rapid departure of the route.

Aerology. Despite the great diversity of reliefs, they are quite soft – few sharp ironed reliefs, valleys are wide enough. Therefore, the rotor, in theory, not so terrible, as anywhere in the Alps. The friendly nature of the reliefs allows to fly in strong winds at the start, without fear of deflation in fatal rotor. I understand that Armenia is characterized by powerful mountain breezes, which is not surprising in this sun and sufficiently large drops in elevation from the start to the valleys. In forecast of 15-20 km / h at the start in fact it is always almost 25-30, and more. Few days were lost due to the winds with gusts up to 14-15 m / s. In preparation of flying here, we should expect a fairly strong wind at the start and be able confidently start in these conditions.

Meteo. Typical weather cycle I will begin with the passage of a cold front. Passage is pretty long, more than a day, accompanied by a cold windy weather and rain. Already the next day after the front, as a rule, you can fly – the climate is dry, and even if it was raining the whole day, the next day, everything dries up in a few hours. After the passage of the front is characterized by the weather with weak breezes, plenty of clouds, very low (3000-3500 m) and very frequent basis, wide, soft thermals. There aren’t pronounced inversion, and it becomes possible to fly at low (by local standards) starts where the height is less than 2000 m. As the good weather establishes the base rises quickly, in a couple of days after the passage of the front reaching 4000-4500 m. Each passing day it gets less cloudy. At the same time at an altitude of about 2000 the inversion starts, which from each day of good weather is becoming more pronounced. As a result, starts at the height less than 2000 meters become no longer interesting for the local pilots – flying with them in this weather is possible, but to get above the inversion is very difficult. But in the mountains, at altitudes of 2500 and above,is set a beautiful route weather with strong breezes and thermals. The highest base can be expected immediately before the approach of the next front, it does not matter – warm or cold.

Requirements for pilots. Armenia – not the easiest country in the flight plan, and in any case it can not be underestimated. Thus, a minimum set:

+ Confident start skills from the slope into a strong and very strong wind
+ Confident landing skills in an unfamiliar area (including rough) in strong and very strong wind
+ Confident piloting skills in a weak and moderate turbulence
+ Basic knowledge of the analysis aerology, a basic understanding of the flow around the relief, the ability to bypass the rotor and choose a safe landing site

So far, I will focus on this. And in general – you can write about Armenia infinitely …

And finally – Photos: